Why go scuba diving in Iceland?
As an island nation in the heart of the North Atlantic Ocean, dotted with lakes, lagoons, and geothermal springs, Iceland is a diver’s paradise. Expect incredible wildlife, breathtaking underwater landscapes, and an opportunity to swim between continents.
The most popular diving experience in Iceland is at Silfra, the iconic trench in Lake Þingvallavatn in the Þingvellir National Park. Here, you can go diving between continents, as Silfra is the fissure that has opened up between two tectonic plates, Europe and North America.
But that’s not Silfra’s only claim to fame. It also boasts some of the clearest waters on the planet, with visibility to a distance of 120 metres. As such, a Silfra diving tour gives you jaw-dropping views over the pinnacles and spires that leap up out of the depths. It’s a sight that most visitors to Iceland don’t dream of seeing.
While Silfra is by far the most famous diving tour from Reykjavík, there are many other places to go diving in Iceland. For example, in Lake Þingvallavatn too there is the much less visited Davíðsgjá, or “David’s fissure”, known as Silfra’s wilder and darker sibling.
Alternatively, take a dive in the North Atlantic Ocean. One popular saltwater dive is about an hour from Reykjavík on the tip of the Reykjanes peninsula. Here at Garður, you can see some of the wildlife Iceland’s seas have to offer, including coral, wolffish, and even whales. Or close by, try the saltwater fissure known as Bjarnagjá.
Whichever Iceland scuba diving tour you choose, you’ll see an underwater world unlike any you’ve seen elsewhere. Explore your options for diving in Iceland to plan your trip.
You can dive throughout the year in Iceland. The summer months are the most popular, but if you want to dive with fewer people around you might prefer to visit in the spring or autumn.
That said, any month you choose will offer you a very special experience.
The cost of dives will depend on where you dive, which tour options you choose, and any other experiences you add to your visit. For example, if you need transport from Reykjavík or want to enjoy multiple dives in a day, you can expect to pay more.
Explore the individual tour pages to see up to date prices.
Iceland has incredible opportunities for scuba diving. In fact, many people say it’s up there with some of the best diving in the world.
Silfra is the most popular dive site in Iceland. You’ll see some of the world’s clearest waters, swim between two continents, and witness some of the breathtaking rock formations beneath the surface.
Explore our tours to see more of the best diving tours in Iceland.
Yes, you can dive in Silfra in winter. Tours are available all year round. The water itself maintains a stable temperature throughout the year of around 2 – 4°C (35.6 – 39.2°F). That said, the air outside is much colder in the winter, so make sure you bring some warm clothes!
It is possible to dive in Silfra without a tour. But you’ll need to buy a permit from the Þingvellir National Park authority and prove that you have the required experience.
Unless you are highly experienced, we do recommend that you take a tour, however. It’s the safest way to enjoy your dive.
The water at Silfra maintains a stable temperature of 2 – 4°C (35.6 – 39.2°F) throughout the year. So, it’s pretty cold!
However, you will be equipped with dry suits that will keep most of that chill off. Beneath your suit, we recommend wearing thermal layers and warm socks.
You need to be at least 17 years old to dive in Silfra. As Silfra is in the Þingvellir National Park, it follows Icelandic law which defines the minimum age.
Most other dive sites in Iceland have the same age restrictions.
To dive in Silfra, you will need to be at the level of PADI Open Water Diver or above (or an equivalent level). You’ll also need to have a dry suit dive certification or have 10 logged dry suit dives within the last two years of the dive tour date. In the latter case, you’ll need be to provide written proof from a diving instructor of these dry suit dives.
If you don’t have these certifications or experience, you can take the basic certification while you’re in Iceland. Alternatively, you can take a snorkelling tour of Silfra instead.
The cave systems in the Silfra rift reach depths of about 60 metres. However, when diving you won’t reach such depths. The maximum permitted depth of your dive will be 18 metres.
You can dive in Iceland in winter, at Silfra and other sites too. While the water temperature at Silfra remains stable throughout the year, sea temperatures do drop in the winter. So, while you will be wearing a dry suit, you should expect it to be cold.
There is not really a best time of day to dive in Iceland.
Typically, it’s said that you should dive when the sun is highest in the sky, as the light has a better chance to penetrate deep into the water. However many people enjoy atmospheric nocturnal dives just as much.
In Iceland’s summer, you have sunlight throughout the day, and you can happily dive throughout whenever you want.
You can dive throughout the year in Iceland.
Silfra diving tours, for example, can be enjoyed year-round, as the temperature of the water remains stable. That said, summer is the most popular period for diving, while spring and autumn tend to be quieter—and you may even have the water to yourself.
In other destinations, you may only be able to dive through the summer months. Check out individual tours for more information.
You can dive in Silfra throughout the year and at multiple times throughout the day. In the summer, there are three dive times to choose from: 08:00, 11:00, and 14:00. In the winter, due to the reduced hours of sunlight, there are only two dives each day, at 10:00 and 13:30.
Most Silfra diving tours last for about 2.5 to 3 hours. Typically, in the first hour, you’ll be equipped with gear, given safety instructions, and get prepared for your dive. The dive itself will last for about 45 minutes.
If you require pick up from Reykjavík, expect a further 2.5 hours to be added to the length of the tour due to the transport times.