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Scuba Diving in Iceland with Dive.is – Review

Freezing crystal clear water and drysuits. My Dive.is review after experiencing one of the greatest adventures you can do while Scuba Diving in Iceland.

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Where have my fingers gone? Is my face meant to hurt this much? Why is my heart beat beating like a 90’s dance club anthem? I am an experienced diver. Surely scuba diving in Iceland shouldn’t be that different to regular diving?

Within minutes of slipping beneath the surface and becoming weightless these questions were tumbling around my head (which was suffering from brain freeze). At the end of the European winter with the outside air temperature tipping past -6 degrees Celsius (21 degrees Fahrenheit) I had decided to go scuba diving.

Was I insane?

Scuba diving in Iceland with Dive.is

Scuba Diving in Iceland with Dive.is

As we listened to our safety briefing I began to have some serious doubts about our decision to go snorkelling and diving in Iceland. Wrapped in our warmest winter jackets, the wind howled across the barren Icelandic landscape, straight from the North Pole.

All we wanted to do was jump back in the van and crank up the heater.

Instead we were told to strip down to our thermals and suit up. Luckily we were given additional thermals that were actually warmer than our winter gear.

Scuba diving in Iceland with Dive.is

Squeezing my head and limbs through the waterproof seals of my drysuit, I felt as if I the drysuit was giving birth to me. But knowing how hard they were to put on, I knew they would keep us dry from the year-round 2 degree water. Water which filtered it’s way through tiny cracks in the earth’s crust from the glaciers to the north.

So clear that you can see over 100m across across Thingvellir Lake. And it’s clean. So clean that you can actually drink it. You don’t even have to worry about people peeing in it since they are in their drysuits.

After loads of fluffing about, as seems normal when going with other divers, we finally waddled our way to the drop in zone. Clambering down the steep staircase there was nothing else to do but dive in.

Scuba diving in Iceland Silfra

As I dropped into the water the cold hit me like a tonne of bricks. My exposed lips switched from a rosy pink to a slight bluish colour and my finger muscles began to spasm. Ok, it wasn’t actually that cold. My drysuit was doing it’s job perfectly fine.

Diving between two continents, the Eurasian and American, can be a little daunting. Especially after the dive instructor told us to stay away from the walls in case they decided to collapse unexpectedly. Although this is highly unlikely as they only drift apart at a rate of 2cm per year.

Cole between tectonic plates in Silfra crack, Iceland

Pushing apart the tectonic plates in Silfra crack, Iceland

Drifting along due to the tiny current, caused by the flowing glacial water, we ascended and descended regularly as we navigated our way past the fallen boulders. Cracks and caves spilt across the open Silfra crack which meant that we were constantly having to adust out buoyancy. A feat made harder by the fresh water.

Entering Thingvellir Lake we make our slow progression across the sandy lake floor. The surface no more than a few metres above our heads. After just 45 minutes in the water our tanks were nearing the 50 bar mark and it was time to hit the surface. Ripples splashed across the lake as we came up out of the calm into the gale force wind again.

Cole Scuba diving in Iceland with Dive.is

While it was only a 5 minute hike back to the car park, with all our gear on our backs, our gloves still managed to freeze with icicles dripping from my fingers like hard tentacles. Nothing that hot chocolates and biscuits to warm me back up again though.

Additional Information about Scuba Diving in Iceland with Dive.is

Dive.is will pick you up from your hotel in Reykjavík for a scenic 45 minute drive to the dive site, Silfra in the middle of Þingvellir National Park. After your dive, and complimentary hot chocolates, they will drop you back again in Reykjavik.

They also bring along a diver to take photos and record your scuba diving in Iceland. Definitely worth the extra krona, or just bring your own camera.

Scuba diving in Iceland with Dive.is

While all the dive gear including drysuits, masks, fins and thermals are provided, you should consider some important things to bring on your dive trip with Dive.is:

  • Your dive certification card and if possible your divers log book.
  • For the actual dive you should wear thermal underwear, a long sleeved t shirt and warm socks.
  • Appropriate clothes for the rest of your tour. This includes a jacket and hat as the wind can be bitterly cold.
  • If you wear glasses make sure you take contact lenses.
  • A towel.

Scuba diving in Iceland with Dive.is is available all year round but you must be PADI Open Water (or equivalent) certified.

Price: 34,990 Kroner (US$290).

Disclaimer: We were provided with a complimentary dive tour with Dive.is, however, our thoughts and numb fingers are always our own.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Molly Yonderblog

    August 22, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    That water is unbelievably clear! What an amazing experience!

    • Cole Burmester

      August 23, 2013 at 4:04 AM

      It’s so clear because of the purity of the water. The problem is that it is so cold!

  2. Ashleigh

    August 22, 2013 at 10:09 PM

    Thanks Cole.

    What do we do if we aren’t paid qualified. I don’t think we have enough time to be able to get enough experience! Or should we get our buts into gear and get our PADI thing?

    I can’t wait to be there!!

    • Cole Burmester

      August 23, 2013 at 4:03 AM

      No worries mate 😉 You can just do a snorkelling trip with them as well which Adela did. She enjoyed it. To be honest I would do my Padi course somewhere warms like Thailand. Plus it is a lot cheaper!

  3. Kristy of Family Visa

    August 23, 2013 at 1:25 AM

    Wow, I think this diving experience of yours is one of the unforgettable moment that you will cherish for the rest of your life Cole since it’s freezing cold down there.

    • Cole Burmester

      August 23, 2013 at 4:04 AM

      It was freezing Kristy! Can’t wait to dive again in warmer water but this will definitely never be forgotten.

  4. Jackie Hutchings

    August 24, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    This is one of my bucket list dives. I’m a warm water girl normally but there’s something about the concept of diving between two continents which draws me to this site. Did you see any wildlife?

    • Cole Burmester

      August 25, 2013 at 6:39 AM

      Just very tiny fish so not too exciting. Apparently they have bigger fish which Adela saw while Snorkelling. Like you say though, it is about the experience of diving between 2 continents 😉

  5. Jack Kent

    August 26, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    I love diving but I have not tried it yet in a very cold place like Thingvellir Lake. Diving in a clear water would be so perfect but not a good idea of doing it in a cold place. ha ha ha I’m sure this is one of the memorable experience you have that you can be proud of as not all people have that courage to do it in a freezing lake. Two thumbs up for you, and if I have more thumbs, all of those will be UP for you! ha ha ha.

    • Cole Burmester

      August 27, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      Thanks Jack. Diving in Iceland was a very memorable experience.

  6. Charli | Wanderlusters

    August 27, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    Ooooooo you’ve ticked off one of my top Scuba bucket list locations. I’m super jealous! The thought of diving in between two tectonic plates boggles my mind, I need to get dry suit certified and over to Iceland asap!

    • Cole Burmester

      August 27, 2013 at 7:45 PM

      You don’t actually need your dry suit certification Charli 🙂 I don’t have mine and it was fine.

  7. Marian

    September 12, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    That was really an awesome experienced. Great pictures, the water is so clear, that drysuit really helps…

  8. Becky

    September 25, 2013 at 2:40 AM

    I’m feeling cold just looking at your photos! It looks incredible though and on my list of considerations for an upcoming December trip.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 29, 2013 at 6:23 AM

      December will be pretty chilly! Should be beautiful then though 🙂

  9. Lanell Jackson

    May 10, 2014 at 7:07 AM

    I’m PADI Open Water! So I’m good. Always wanted to try out diving in Iceland. When is the best month for it?

    • Cole Burmester

      May 10, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      Well I wouldn’t try it in winter as it was already so cold in April! Water is cold year round though so any time between April – Oct would be awesome.

  10. Selma

    June 16, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Nothing like a winter SCUBA dive to put the ice in Iceland. Great post Cole…!

  11. Sharron Youens

    October 14, 2014 at 4:24 AM

    What a great review. I did exactly the same in February last year only having 9 logged dives so very inexperienced and extremely nervous. Your review is spot on, it is an amazing dive. I’m going back next year to do it again. I also went with Dive.is and can definitely recommend them.

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Adventure Travel

Four Jandals ABC’s of Travel

A journey to the past to look back on our travels from our brief time on this beautiful planet we all call home.

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Toronto Skyline Four Jandals

We were recently tagged by the hilarious Lucy from On the Luce and D.J. from the World of Deej in the Travel Blogger’s “A to Z of Travel” meme that has been doing the rounds on the interweb for the last few months. We thought it would be a great chance to look back at not only our last 2 and a half years of travel as a couple but also our travels individually.

All of the questions were pre-picked so grab a cup of coffee / tea / juice sipper and sit back and join us on our journey into the past…

A: Age you went on your first international trip:

Cole – Does it count if I was in my Mum’s tummy when she travelled to Canada? If not then probably when I was a few years old to hop across the ditch to Surfer’s Paradise with the family. Went back several times and always loved the beach, weather and theme parks.

Adela – Not sure if this is the first trip but it is certainly the first one I remember. We went on a family trip to Noumea and I think I was about Seven. Having the luck that my family does it rained every day! And me being the bossy/naughty kid I was, I ran off from Mum and Dad when we were in town. Needless to say I was on a very short leash for the rest of the trip!

Toronto Skyline Four Jandals

Travelling as a couple on our extended Round The World trip

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:

Cole – Tough call but having a cold Bintang in Jimbaran Bay, Bali, always springs to mind when thinking about tasty beers. I think it’s more about the setting rather than the beer!

Adela – Singa beer in Thailand. I agree with Cole its all about the setting. Drinking in an outdoor bar right on the beach is pretty damn good!

C: Cuisine (favorite):

Cole – Since it’s about travel it has to be France apart from when I ordered just a plate full of beans for Adela with my hopeless grasp of the French language. Otherwise BBQ’s in New Zealand win hands down.

Adela – Italian! I could eat pasta every day!

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:

Cole – Favourite to date would be Jasper National Park because of it’s beauty. Least favourite would be Marrakech after kissing a snake and getting the runs for 2 weeks.

Adela – Favourite; Munich is an awesome city. The buildings are beautiful, especially the glockenspiel. The feel of the place is awesome with beer gardens and awesome food markets. Least favourite; London is just too big for me!

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:

Cole – Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Egypt.

Pyramids of Giza in Cairo Egypt

Adela – Going to the “Edge of the World” in Jasper National Park.

F: Favorite mode of transportation:

Cole – Bicycling anywhere whether it is Mountain Biking in Scotland or cruising in Paris.

Adela – I definitely agree with Cole unless snowboarding counts?

G: Greatest feeling while traveling:

Cole – The freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

Adela – Seeing places that you have dreamed of and saved for months then turning those into memories that you will treasure forever.

Lake Annette Jasper National Park

Living the Dream

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to:

Cole – Definitely not Scotland! But I would say Marrakech was fairly hot and we were only there in the off-peak season.

Adela – Probably Thailand. Lots of afternoon naps required.

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:

Cole – Always staying with friends and family when we travel. It is so nice to have a “local” show you around an area and cook a nice home cooked meal when you are on the road. Beats 5 stars every time (but that’s because we never stay in 5 star places haha).

Adela – I am goingto be cheesy and say we had some damn good service in Canada but then their motive is getting a tip. So its not really genuine good service haha.

J: Journey that took the longest:

Cole – We had to rush back home to New Zealand from Scotland when a loved one was sick. Not only was it the longest trip in terms of time, 37 hours, but it was also hard not knowing if we would make it in time.

Adela – Journeys that feel the longest are the ones where you get delayed. If you do get delayed use a company like Flight Delay Claims 4 U as you will not be ready for the time you have to spend in the airport otherwise! On the way back from Egypt we sat on the runway in Amsterdam for an hour and didn’t take off before spending a further few hours in the airport. Not fun.

K: Keepsake from your travels:

Cole – Photographs and this travel blog are our only ones at the moment. I did use to collect nail clippers until they started restricting them on flights!

Adela – Badges that I sew on my backpack. Except my backpack broke so now I am just adding to the pile of badges under my bed.

L: Let-down sight, why and where:

Cole and Adela – The Mona Lisa. Its smaller than we pictured it and you have to fight your way to get a spot to actually see it. In fact the whole of the Louvre was pretty boring. Have been to wayyy better museums elsewhere.

The Louvre

The Louvre – Big time boring

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:

Cole – I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love travel. It was always just one giant adventure as a kid and when solo travelling and now with a partner it is completely different again.

Adela – I used to browse through travel brochures as a kid. Probably a sign I was always addicted to travel.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:

Cole – No places immediately jump out at me. I guess I am too much of a cheap-ass to afford a nice place.

Adela – Kata Beach Hotel in Thailand. Right on the beach, amazing pool and great value for money.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:

Cole – Landscapes. Nothing beats Mother Nature. I just hate that my pictures never look as good as the human eye but I am getting better.

Adela – Capturing the locals in their daily lives.

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?:

Cole – Wow I had no idea how many Countries I have been to (with an overnight stay) until now! So make that 18 countries with at least another 2 to be added over the next couple of months.

Adela – No one will stamp my British passport as I am part of the EU which sucks!

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:

Cole – Drumheller in Canada where they have the world’s largest T-Rex statue.

Adela – There is a bridge in Paris where people stick locks on to show there love for their partner. There are so many on there its crazy!

Drumheller Dinosaur Park T Rex

Drumheller Dinosaur Park in Alberta, Canada

R: Recommended sight, event or experience:

Cole – Oktoberfest was a highlight from last year although I cannot remember a fair chunk of it…

Adela – Snowboarding in the Canadian Rockies.

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:

Cole – We are stingy when we travel and hate forking out for a cup of coffee to warm our freezing hands. But for the sake of a good night sleep we usually stay away from hostel dorms unless sharing with friends.

Adela – Fruit. Its really lame but I have to eat healthy even when I am away. Gotta keep up the 5 plus a day.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done:

Cole – Funny and stupid touristy photos wins whether it is in front of the Eiffel Tower or the Pyramids. We nearly even won free travel trip through our stupid photos!

Adela – I felt the most touristy on the tour in Egypt. On the bus, off the bus, on the bus, off the bus. But a tour is the best way to go as its safer and you know you are not getting scammed for your money as you have a local guide.

U: Unforgettable travel memory:

Cole – Every time we travel it is unforgettable. I love waking up in different countries.

Adela – Sailing around New York Harbour watching the sunset over an incredible skyline.

New York Harbour Sunset Statue of Liberty Cruise

V: Visas, how many and for where?:

Cole – My first visa was for 5 months to work at Mammoth Mountain, California for a winter in 2006. Then Jasper to work at Marmot Basin Ski Area and as a White Water Rafting Guide in Canada for a year in 2009/2010. Now we are living it up in Scotland and have been here for just over a year now. Looking to extend that before heading to Asia to teach English in the not to distant future.

Adela – Canada for a year but it was not long enough! Plus I am one of the lucky ones who has a british passport 🙂

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?:

Cole and Adela – We are not really wino’s unless it is at a BYO somewhere and then it is always the cheapest from the local supermarket.

X: eXcellent view and from where?:

Cole and Adela – Sshhhh, it’s a secret spot in Jasper called “Edge of the World”.

Edge of the World in Jasper

Y: Years spent traveling?:

Cole – If we just take our current trip in to consideration then 2 and a half years so far. I would say we are about halfway at the moment!

Adela – 26? travel with mum and dad, with sport, with friends and now with Cole. Enjoyed every bit of it.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:

Cole – Kiwi’s are proud supporters anywhere the All Blacks play even though we act all staunch but we have nothing on Europeans and their fanatical watching of football.

Adela – I  realy like the tennis especially Nadal 🙂 Sorry Cole hahaha.

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Adventure Travel

The Best International Travel Tips for First Time Travelers

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Travelling abroad for the first time can be intimidating, but travel can also expand your horizons, show you the great beauty of the world and develop many important life skills. If it is your first time travelling abroad, here are a few simple tips for a fun, successful and valuable experience.

Choose Somewhere Easy

If you have the luxury of choosing where you are travelling to, be sure to pick somewhere simple – even veteran travelers can feel intimidated travelling to strange, far away places. Pick somewhere that is not too far, easy to reach and you can speak the language/there are a lot of people who can speak your language.

Research

Fully research where you are travelling to and this will help to build confidence and teach you what to expect. You should research exactly where you are going, where you are staying, how to get around, currency, language, local customs, tourist attractions, how to stay safe and whether or not you need a visa.

Preparation

Following on from this, be sure to get your paperwork together well in advance of the trip. This includes making sure that your passport is valid, obtaining any necessary visas and getting travel insurance. It is also wise to make photocopies of key documents and leave one set with somebody that you trust. You should also inform your bank of the dates you will be abroad and where you will be travelling.

Packing

Carefully consider what the climate will be and what activities you will be doing – this should help you to pack exactly what you need. There is advice for packing online, but one top tip is to use an international courier service to send items you no longer need home or to have items shipped out to you. This can be easy and affordable with companies like TNT.

Don’t Plan Too Much

One of the major mistakes that first-time travelers make is attempting to see and do too much. This can cause a great deal of stress, stop you from enjoying yourself and embracing the experience. Take your time, schedule time to relax and recover and be flexible with your itinerary.

Relax

Feeling anxious or stressed is perfectly understandable, but try to relax and stay calm at all times. Not everything will go to plan, but this is fine and all part of the experience.

Travelling overseas can be stressful and especially for first timers, but the above advice should reduce stress and allow for a great trip.

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Adventure Travel

Swimming, Shopping and Stars – 6 Fantastic Reasons to Visit Darwin, Australia

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Darwin, Australia is often overlooked as a holiday destination for many visitors and Australians alike. It seems so remote all the way at the top of our country, and there never seems to be any national news stories coming from it, so why visit it? It’s wildlife is astounding, the views of the natural landscape are to die for, and the culture present is palpable, and that’s just naming a few on the spur of the moment.

Grabbing yourself a Darwin serviced apartment and taking a few weeks to look around up there is one of the most worthwhile things you can do on holiday, and we’ll explain why in this segment.

Nature

First up is the nature. The nature explorations in Darwin are incredible, and Mary River National Park is a must-visit destination for the nature lover in you. The camping areas are astounding, combining the solitude of the bush with the camaraderie of a campground, and you’re never far from an amazing river or beautiful billabong in Darwin.

Ocean Exploration

For those less inclined toward the jungle thickets and bush of the northern territory, the ocean has a lot to offer in the way of life and interesting exploration. Being careful to avoid the seasons where deadly man-o-war box jellyfish swarm the waters, the warm ocean of Darwin is a great place for diving and snorkeling, and tiger sharks are regular visitors closer to the coast.

Wildlife

The wildlife of Darwin is the big seller, as the Northern Territory has the largest population of saltwater crocodiles in Australia. Saltwater crocodiles are the largest, most dangerous crocodiles found anywhere in the world, and their impressive size has to be seen to be believed. As well as this, barramundi regularly flood the rivers and waterways of the national parks, making the fishing in these waters reliably prosperous.

Views

If looking down on sweeping valleys, towering peaks, and endless forests sounds like something you’d enjoy, then the scenery of Darwin is your personal draw card. With a sprawling, beautiful national park on either side of the city of Darwin, there’s no shortage of breathtaking sights, and with many days’ worth of adventure at your fingertips from a central hub in the city, there’s no reason not to explore.

History

The history of Darwin is rich and plentiful, having been established as a city by European settlers in 1869. The indigenous histories of the greater Darwin area are fascinating, and such a rich culture and past has to be experienced first-hand to be fully understood. With many ancient history sites such as Mt Borradaile, which needs special permits to access, Darwin is brimming with history lessons for all that have a thirst for knowledge.

Art

Art culture is alive and well in the Northern Territory, and Darwin boasts many art galleries both large and small. The Northern Centre for Contemporary Art is one such place, and the modern art installations within are as poignant as they are fascinating. Hours could be spent poring over each individual piece, but to see it is to really appreciate it.

As you can see, Darwin is a place of some considerable renown. There’s absolutely no reason not to pack up your things right now and set off for this gorgeous, interesting, fun city as soon as possible, so wait no longer!

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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