Dive IS was an operator that was recommended to me by various friends. I have loved Iceland since my first visit and was always keen to return to Silfra. I was also keen to check out as many tour operators as possible to see what the difference is and this time it was about seeing if Silfra was easily accessible by backpackers and non divers.
The frustrating thing with amazing dives around the world is when you don’t dive. I have lots of friends in this situation, avid travellers who just haven’t got round to learning to dive yet and it creates a barrier to some fairly epic places.
My mission was to approach Silfra as a snorkeler to see if it offered up the same experience and if it was easy to plan and execute.
Silfra Fissure is without a doubt a challenging spot in as much as the water temperature and the location. It requires a certain amount of interest to get you there in the first place and that is why I was so drawn to Dive IS. Their marketing initially caught my eye. Professional looking, a strong website with up to date information and easy to explore. I was also drawn to them because of their environmentally aware ethos and was keen to find out more.
Operating since 1997 and offering a range of package tours to investigate other Icelandic dive sites, this dive company was started by Tomas J Knutsson who arguably set the standard and raised the bar for dive and snorkel tours in Iceland. Being extremely motivated by the environmental side of ocean life, Tomas founded and manages a subdivision of PADI’s Project Aware, called Blue Army. The Portsmouth girl in me grinned at this.
Tomas is also a big adventurer himself and I resinated with that in a big way. His determination to search Iceland high and low for new dive sites to develop new potential managed tours for people to access them was inspirational. Like any diver I crave finding new spots and so the ethos of this company was attractive to me.
Silfra with arguably the clearest water in the world filling its tectonic plate crack cavern is of course a wonderful dive but I wanted to know if you could get the same experience from a snorkel there and if for non divers it was too complicated.
Rocking up in the car park surrounded by divers I was keen to get ready and join them. We met our dive guide, lovely Siobhan White, guide and technician, a fellow Brit who had begun working a season in Iceland and then fallen hard in love with it and stayed and who had only beautiful things to say about the country and the reasons why she loved working for IS.
The group we were snorkelling with were a group of American women, super fun, vibrant and chatty which got everyone stoked and excited. We couldn’t have asked for a better group and so myself and photographer, Radoslaw Krol kitted up and headed in.
For anyone who has been to Silfra before you will know that the initial shock of the cold water is in a way wonderful, although deadly if not approached with the correct exposure suit. The freshness of being in glacier water is amazing. You feel completely in the moment and the sensation and pure kind of ‘oh my god, Im actually here’ thought, that runs through your mind, make you not want to blink so that you don’t miss a second of it.
We moved through the hall and cathedral and into the lagoon and were given plenty of time to explore at the end, supervised and not rushed. This was key because when you head out to a different country to a dive site that you have longed to see, time is important and you want as much of it there as you can get.
The snorkel offered up a perspective that I am not sure a dive could. The light at the top of the water, framing the rocks was a strangely glowing blue and almost fluorescent green. Looking down into the depths the huge rocks and shadow complimented it well but it was actually fantastic to see it from both points of view.
Some of the girls who joined us had never snorkelled before and although nervous were, with the support of the guide, relaxed into it all which is awesome considering how daunting climbing into clingy drysuits with tight neck seals can be for the first time.
We ended the snorkel and sipped hot drinks on the surface talking about our favourite bits and that dive vibe that I am so used to was in full swing. Being able to access the water via a dive or snorkel is neither here nor there, its about having the opportunity to do so in the first place and this dive company made this dive available to non divers and really promoted how fun snorkelling can be.
I had a great time and would absolutely dive with Dive IS again. I left the site scanning through other sites they offer and the list was long. Another trip is a must!
To find out more about Dive IS visit their website, follow them on Twitter or Facebook and check out their Instagram.
All photography by Radoslaw Krol