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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.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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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

Walking the Camino de Santiago Photos

These are my favourite Camino de Santiago Photos from my pilgrimage along the French Way in March. A truly beautiful way to spend a few weeks.

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Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

El Camino de Santiago kicked my ass. Well technically it kicked my feet. Turns out my minimal preparation for the Camino de Santiago was terrible. After a miserable effort of only 4 days, the doctor in Legrono told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on until me feet healed. I had walked just over 100 km’s and my feet were bloodied and blistered.

To be honest, I was relieved.

The thought of putting back on my shoes made my shudder. For the last 9 km’s I had stumbled along in jandals and socks. One of the travelling fashion sins I vowed I would never break.

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

So while I have unfinished business with the Way of St James (an upcoming post), I did want to share with you some of my favourite photos from the Camino de Santiago. Because I had yet to reach some of the more “unsavoury” parts of the Camino that Sherry Ott had discovered, every step of my pilgrimage had been beautiful.

Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

Puenta La Reina Bridge – Camino de Santiago Arrows

There is no way you can get lost on the Camino de Santiago. Arrows, scallop shells and signs point you in the right direction at every bridge, road crossing and intersection.

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Reaching the top of Alto Pedron gave views back the way I had come from Pamplona, as well as views to where I was going. The rocky path on the way down proved to be my ultimate downfall, as my too small shoes caused my toes to smash into the front.

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

There were so many beautiful old churches along the Camino de Santiago. But since I was walking in early March, it seemed that most were yet to open for the busier summer season.

Church of Obanos

The Church of Obanos

And between every small village the well-maintained pathways of the French Way wound across the spectacular Spanish countryside.

The French Way - Camino de Santiago

The French Way – Camino de Santiago Photos

Puenta La Reina

Puenta La Reina in the evening

Puenta La Reina has one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen. It was also the 1st village I had the pleasure of sleeping in after busy Pamplona.

Puenta la Reina Bridge and Sunrise

Puenta la Reina Bridge at sunrise

Most mornings I was up and walking before the sun began to sprinkle across the horizon.

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Every village and town was built on a small hill. Sure it looks beautiful until you realise you have to go back up again to go through them all!

Church of Santa Maria - Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria in Los Arcos

While there were only about 20 pilgrims walking each section every day, it wasn’t uncommon for you to encounter them all. The people I met along the Camino de Santiago were some of the most inspiring and remarkable people I have ever spoken to. They are the ones that make the pilrgimage so special.

The endless French Way

The endless French Way

Irache Wine Fountain - Fuente del Vino

The free flowing Irache Wine Fountain or “Fuente del Vino”

Hay bales along the French Way

Hay bales along the French Way

Every village had at least one ancient church and it wasn’t uncommon to find them dotting the landscape in remote locations either.

Ermita de San Miguel

Ermita de San Miguel

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

I have travelled through Spain in the past, including cycling in Costa Brava and surfing in San Sebastian with both independent planning and a vacation planner. But having the opportunity to walk at my own pace through some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain on the Camino de Santiago has so far topped them all.

Natural arches - Camino de Santiago

Natural arches on the Camino de Santiago

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Adventure Travel

Hammock vs Tent Camping

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Camping with a hammock is slowly but surely becoming more popular in recent years with new and improved hammock designs being preferred by some campers, compared to the traditional tent.

In this article we will discuss some of the key benefits and drawbacks of sleeping without a tent, and analyze key criteria so that you can choose your preferred shelter choice!

Weatherproof

Most tents work well in the rain; however, you’ll need to bring a tarp if you’re using a hammock. Traditional hammocks are not waterproof, and are generally open at the top, allowing water to find itself inside if you don’t have an adequate tarp. Moreover, a decent under quilt is also a good idea so that you can stay warm and cozy during cold and stormy nights.

Packing up your hammock after a long night of rain isn’t too bad, whereas packing up a soaking wet tent is always annoying. You almost always get wet in the process.

Setup

For first time campers, pop-up tents are the simplest to setup. All you need to do is find flat ground, and bam, your setup is complete! The beauty of pop-up tents is that you don’t need to worry about figuring out where to insert the poles and erect the tent. Although, traditional tents are usually more robust, and have a longer life span.

Essentially, a tent is simple, but a hammock can become a little more complicated for first timers. You’ll need to find 2 trees facing a good direction and tie each end of the hammock to them. If your hammock setup is too tight, you will generally wake up with sore ancles, but if it’s too loose, you run the risk of the hammock touching the floor, and insects crawling in with you.

If your campground doesn’t have many trees, or if the trees are dead (they could break and injure you), hammock stands come to the rescue! Basically, hammock stands allow you to pitch a hammock if there are no trees nearby. They are portable, adjustable, and are easy to setup. The only drawback is that the ground should be relatively flat, whereas if you were to hang a hammock between 2 trees, there won’t be any stands touching the ground, so a rocky floor wouldn’t be a problem.

Comfort

One of the main reasons for choosing a hammock is the comfort that it provides you! It has a basically has in-built seat which is arguably more comfortable than a standard blow up mattress. You need to pick your tree’s wisely though! You don’t want a pinecone falling on your face mid-sleep.

If you have constant back pain and find it hard to sleep inside tents, you should give hammocks a try as they cause you to sleep sideways, similar to a banana shape, which a lot people find much more comfortable.

Price

Hammocks are usually lighter and don’t include a wealth of poles and gear that tents do. Depending on the type of hammock that you purchase, they are usually quite similar to tents. You can however, find very cheap tents <$60, but they most likely won’t last long.

A good tent or hammock can cost between $200-500 without accessories. If you need a hammock stand, that will add to your cost, just like a mattress and other tent necessities will to its cost.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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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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