Ever since i decided to go backpacking in Iceland and was planning and researching on what to do there, i came across the Silfra dive at Thingvellir National Park on the popular Golden Circle route. It immediately caught my attention and i had to do it! Not only did the pics look gorgeous but it was also geographically unique, geologically special and would definitely be quite an adventure!
So i began looking to what it would take to do it. Having never been SCUBA diving before, i was a little apprehensive about it. A quick search online, and i signed up with a local dive shop in Boulder, CO for the open water diver course. The first part of the certification (the class room and pool dives) was completed the third weekend of June. I did pretty well in the pool, after initially struggling with the treading water skill, but overall totally enjoyed the underwater breathing experience. The open water dives at Blue Hole,NM were quite the experience. The water was absolutely blue, a cool 64F when it was over 95F outside and was a zoo, with over 20 divers in the hole at any given time. Up until my certifications, id decided how id do in class and trials and then decide whether to dive Silfra or not. Before my open water dives i was at a 40% yes, but after i was at around 95%. The only thing still holding me back was that Silfra was going to be a dry suite dive in almost freezing water, and the weather of the day.Ultimately by first week of July, i took the plunge and signed up with DIVE.IS for their Golden Circle and Dive Silfra combo day trip for July 17th. The count down had begun.
On 17th the guide and divemaster AJ from DIVE.IS picked me up at the hostel and the only other 2 people in our dive group -a couple from Mexico- and we were off for the day. We hit all the usual stops on the Golden circle, and reached Thingvellir at 4PM for our dive. AJ was a local Icelander and very friendly, we chatted the whole day and time flew by. At the dive site there were other groups too – a diving and a couple snorkeling groups. CJ was going to be our divemaster while AJ had been assigned a snorkeling group that day. CJ went over the dive plan by the entrance area and gave us an overview of what lay ahead. The couple in my group were celebrating their 30th anniversary and had already done a lot of diving. The lady was a bit apprehensive about the dry suite dive, and though internally i may have been more nervous than her; this being my first dive, i was actually pretty excited and looking forward to it! CJ decided i should be next in line after her so she could keep an eye on me.
We all got geared up. It took a while. First our base layers/thermals, then the thick onsie that they gave us for insulation. Over that went the dry suite, with special precautions and care while fitting the handcuffs and neck linings. Then went our hood, gloves and mask and we were off to the dive site. The crew from DIVE.IS were very friendly, professional and thorough. I really appreciated their help and encouragement, especially CJ. Once we had our fins on, first we did a face down peen underwater, just to get a sense of the temperature- i dint feel cold at all, probably the deep blue view i got masked everything else! Next was the weight check one by one. I was fine, with 12kgs on. Then was the buoyancy check. Here i struggled a little. I descended rapidly, and when i had to level off id inflate my BCD slightly as well as a slight puff into the dry suite, and hover for some time, but if id stary kicking or swimming, id head straight to the surface. Then i had to deflate again and get the balance. It took me a couple tries, but i finally managed to get buoyant at the level CJ wanted. The other 2 managed it with no trouble at all.
Once we were set, we were off, down the Silfra Hall, into the Silfra Cathedral and then finally banking left and ascending into the Silfra lagoon. It was magical !! The sunlight was also doing its thing and making the clear water even more awesome, bathing the steely rocks in light and making the green trolls tail moss look little sparkly.
A picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Here are some shots from our dive. From one Continental divide at 1 mile above sea level in the heart of the Rockies, down into the other continental divide at the separation of the Eurasian and North american plates in crystal clear glacial water was over, and is now enshrined in memory forever!! giving me some serious bragging rights on having completed Silfra as my first open water dive!!