A diver exploring Iceland’s most famous dive site, Silfra fissure. This image was made at night using two Keldan video lights and a nanolight hand torch
Iceland is not exactly an off-the-radar destination for adventurers or lovers of the outdoors. It is arguably one of the most famous tourist destinations on Earth for its natural splendor and sees millions of visitors each year. However, it would be a mistake for divers to overlook the country. The most famous site in Iceland is Silfra Fissure, a bucket list dive for many. Sporting the world’s best visibility, the ability to touch two continental plates at once, and to say you braved some of the coldest water on the planet, Silfra does draw divers, but there is more to see than “The Crack.”
Iceland is not a one trick dive pony! Sought-after photo subjects like wolffish and lumpfish are relatively common, nudibranchs and gunnels can be found around the country, even around the Icelandic capital, and nowhere else in the world can you scuba on geothermal vents. Come to Iceland for all the stunning landscapes and waterfalls, but make sure to take a dip beneath the frigid surface and explore some of the underwater wonders as well.
The wolffish: A face only a mother (and underwater photographers) could love! While they’re considered an edible fish in Iceland, I much prefer them in their natural habitat. This one was photographed near Reykjavik in the country’s southwest
In northern Iceland are the hydrothermal vents of Strytan. These are the only hydrothermal vents on Earth that are diveable on scuba. This picture was shot at a deeper site known as French Gardens. The site and the life that inhabits it are in pristine condition, as it has been dived by very few people
Ice diving in Þingvallavatn, anglicised as Thingvallavatn, a local lake situated 45 minutes from Silfra. A famous dive site known locally as Davíðsgjá (David’s Crack), where volcanically filtered water comes up from underground and feeds into the lake, results in a unique ice dive with 30 foot visibility. The water temperature is 34°F and the ice can be three feet thick at the peak of the winter. Ice diving season usually runs from January to April
This image shows a diver exploring a frozen waterfall. We were actually diving inside an ice cave at 4,000 feet elevation on top of Langjökull Glacier. This dive can only be done at the end of the winter and beginning of spring when the snow begins to melt, but the ice cave structure is still stable enough to not collapse. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime dive!
Each spring off the north coast of Iceland, large blooms of lion’s mane and egg yolk jellyfish gather in the green, nutrient-rich waters
Freediving in Silfra opens up more freedom to explore and some unique photo opportunities
Right in the city center of Reykjavik, you can find cool critters like this butterfish. It is a type of gunnel and also goes by the common name rock gunnel
This may look like Silfra but it is a completely different site in central Iceland, named Odins Tear. This dive is an adventure just to get to! It requires a six-hour drive from Reykjavik and a modified jeep for numerous river crossings. On arrival you need to hike for 20 minutes across rugged terrain in full kit and cross another river. You arrive at the bottom of a valley to this crystal clear lake. There are no rivers in or out and all the water comes from underground—hence the incredible visibility
Iceland is home to dozens of nudibranch species like this one photographed during a shore dive in the northern part of the country. Under the shelter of a jetty, a plethora of different critters exist in just a few feet of water
Alongside the wolffish, the lumpfish is likely Iceland’s other most iconic fish. In the waters surrounding Arnarnesstrytan, at one of the hydrothermal vents in Eyjafjörður, these fish are quite common and during the summer months can often be found guarding clutches of brightly colored eggs
Another image of a wolffish: This individual is quite famous and is well acquainted with divers at Strytan. You can see this one seems to be coming up to inspect the camera with a small cod entourage
Divers swim into “The Cathedral” in Silfra. Known for having freezing cold water, Silfra has the best visibility in the world. This image is pretty self explanatory with regards to that latter fact
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