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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

Tips for Planning Your Uluru Tour

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Located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the magnificent sandstone of Ayers Rock or Uluru stands tall at 1,142 feet above ground. The natural formation is widely known for being one of the most sacred places to the indigineous peoples in Australia. At the same time, it is also popular for attracting tourists from all over the world to the land down under.

If you want to visit Uluru in order to pay tribute to this wonder of nature, then doing so through the right tour is in your best interest. It’s not only because Uluru is located at least a few hours from civilization, but it also because such a tour allows you to enjoy the picturesque sights that come along the way within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

So what sights are there to see along the way and what other general tours suggestions you should keep in mind while visiting Uluru? To help you answer these and some other important questions, here are 5 top tips to keep in mind while visiting Uluru.

Don’t Climb the Monolith

First things first, while it is legal to climb atop Uluru, it is recommended that you do not attempt such an action in order to show your respect to the indigenous peoples.

It is a pretty easy rule to follow when you pay attention to the emotions of the indigenous tribes who have recommended time and again for people to not climb Uluru.

But that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the natural beauty that Uluru has to offer. In fact, you are encouraged to visit the sandstone and take in its natural glory by standing right beside the formation. That’s why 4WD tour is highly recommended. The tour guides would be able to tell you what you can and can not do.

Visit During Sunset

Ask anyone who has visited Uluru about the best time to see the formation, and you will instantly get the answer as “sunset.”

It’s because Uluru is not an ordinary monolith, but one that is formed through arkosic sandstone. This allows the rock to actually change its color according to the position of the sun. As a result, you can expect the formation to sport a different color depending upon what time of day you reach it.

At sunset, Uluru projects an amber glow that is surreal to take in, especially when you are seeing the formation in person for the very first time. That’s why, it is recommended that you time your trip in a way that allows you to experience this magnificent sight.

3. Take Your Time to Plan the Trip

Perhaps the best way to visit Uluru is through the nearby town of Alice Springs, which has various amenities and accommodation options for tourists who are making their way to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The drive from Alice Springs to Uluru can take around 5 hours, which is why it is recommended that you arrive at least a day before you are planning to tour Uluru.

This way, you can reach the national park while feeling fresh and rested. This also gives you time to plan longer trips to the park in order to enjoy all that it has to offer.

4. Take in the Sight of the Rock Art

Uluru is not just a wonder to look at by itself, but it also holds several little pieces of wonderful art within it.

The caves at the bottom of the formation hold several pieces of rock art that can only be found at Uluru. If you love learning about other cultures through their art, then this will be a must visit.

Just make sure that you take the time to learn about this art through a local tour guide or via the information provided within these exhibits. This ensures that you have an immersive and informative experience which you can remember for a long time.

5. Don’t Forget the Natural Attractions Around the Rock

Enjoying the breathtaking sight of Uluru sounds rewarding enough for a trip to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. But it’s not all that you can do during a tour of Uluru.

From seeing the red kangaroos and other marsupials to spending some time with the camels, and from seeing the one of a kind formations of Kata Tjuta to taking a walk by the Valley of the Winds, there’s so much to see and do around Uluru.

That is why, it is recommended that you take your time at the park and put aside at least two days to enjoy all of the unique activities that the area has to offer. It would give you a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life while also allowing you to make the most out of your long journey to the sandstone.

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Adventure Travel

Best Time to Visit Panama and Costa Rica

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The fact that Costa Rica and Panama are close makes both countries perfect for visiting. During your holiday there, it’s easy to travel back and forth between the two countries and enjoy all the wonders they have to offer. Keep in mind that the timing of your holiday will influence what sorts of sites you can visit and what activities you can make part of your plans. By understanding a little about what to expect, it’s easy to determine the best time of year to visit both countries, based on what you would like to do.

Learning More About the Dry and Rainy Seasons

If you’re the type who prefers the hustle and bustle that comes with holidays during the tourist season, plan on being in Costa Rica and Panama during what’s known as the dry season. Expect plenty of sunshine and warm weather during this part of the year. Many of your activities will be outdoors, although you will find a number of indoor sites that you will want to include in your plans.

The dry seasons in both countries overlap. The dry weather for both typically arrives during the first to the middle part of December. In Costa Rica, the dry season usually lingers until sometime in April. Panama enjoys a slightly shorter dry season, with it usually ending sometime in March.

Keep in mind that since this dry period is the height of the tourist season, the cost of visiting from December to April will be higher than at other times of the year. Even so, if your plans include spending a lot of time exploring the rain forests or soaking in the rays on one or more of the beautiful beaches, the dry season is the only time to consider.

Making the Most of the Dry Seasons

During the dry season in both nations, do expect the weather to be more humid and the day temperatures to be a little higher. There is some variance depending on which regions you plan on visiting. As a general rule, locations nearer the coast will include warmer weather and higher levels of humidity. By contrast, the more mountainous areas will offer slightly cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels.

During this time, do plan on enjoying the lush greenery found in the rain forests. During much of the dry season, the abundance of rain from what’s known as the rainy or green season ensures that the forests are at their best. Consider adding some variety to your holiday by spending time at the beach, soaking in the nightlife along the coast, and doing some shopping at many of the open air districts. This is also the perfect timing to enjoy some of the local cuisine while dining outside.

There are special events to celebrate during the dry season. President’s Day in Costa Rica occurs during this period. Along with locals, you can enjoy a number of celebrations, open-air festivals, and just about any type of entertainment that one can imagine.

Since the dry season does attract more tourists, it pays to book your lodgings in advance. Along with President’s Day, there’s also spring break and the Easter Season to consider. While you could look at different hotels and other properties near beaches, there are also hostels that make perfect places to sleep. After all, how much time do you plan on spending indoors when there’s so much to do?

Things to Do During the Rainy Seasons

In spite of the name, it isn’t always raining during the rainy or green season. Most days, there will be brief periods of sunshine that do allow you to spend some time at the beach and other outdoor venues. Do expect the evenings to be cooler. At times, the temperature may make wearing long sleeves or possibly a sweater a good idea.

Even if you’re out and about while it’s raining, there are plenty of things to see. Towns and cities in both nations offer indoor concerts, a number of restaurants catering to all sorts of tastes, and clubs and other settings for entertainment. You will find museums that will tell you more about the history of indigenous peoples and the complexity of their cultures.

What are some of the activities you can enjoy during this time of year? Both Costa Rica and Panama offer options to go horseback riding. Generally, this will happen during the morning when the sun is most likely to be out. Walking tours are also a great way to learn more about the culture and possibly find some interesting places that you will want to return to a little later. Don’t overlook the opportunity to get in some fishing when there’s a sunny morning coming your way. There are changes to engage in freshwater fishing as well as charter boats that will take you to some of the better places to enjoy salt-water fishing.

Coffee and rum tours are also something to consider during the rainy season. These tours allow you the opportunity to see different facilities and how they produce their products. As a bonus, you get to enjoy some taste-testing at many of the places that you visit along the tour. Some of the sites will also have bistros or restaurants included, allowing you to enjoy a nice meal or snack with your coffee or rum.

In terms of museums to visit, San Jose offers some of the most interesting museums in Costa Rica. Many of them are located in or adjacent to what’s known as the Central Market. It’s a great way to enjoy time indoors during the rainy afternoons and early evenings.

In Panama, check out the Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo. You can make use of headphones that offer the guided tour in multiple languages. If you happen to be proficient in Spanish, feel free to check out each exhibit on your own. You can also check out the Biodiversity Museum, which features exhibits on the over 1,000 species of animals and plants that are found in the country. Make the most of the discounts offered on Sundays. Retirees also get to enjoy discounts when visiting these museums.

Which season is the best time to visit Costa Rica and Panama? It’s really up to you. For those who prefer a slower pace and don’t mind rain during the afternoons and evenings, the raining season is ideal. Those who thrive on activity, sunshine, and plenty of tourist activities will enjoy going during the dry season. Whatever your choice, plan on coming back a second time. It’s rare for anyone to see everything they want to see during a single holiday.

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Adventure Travel

Most Underrated Travel Destinations

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Everyone knows about Paris and Rome and London but there are so many other beautiful travel destinations that are amazingly underrated. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy. Not only because so many people are missing out on rich cultures and picturesque views, but also because a lot of these destinations tend to be a lot cheaper to travel to than popular cities. 

A majority of Americans, when asked about traveling abroad, will likely shake their head and say they can’t afford such trips. Many people deal with multiple monthly bills, such as mortgage or rent, student loans, and title loans, which are all stress inducing. 

But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are gorgeous, underrated foreign cities one can visit for a fraction of the price of touristy European cities. Forbes recently published a collection of the ten most underrated destinations you should consider visiting. 

Here are a few of them:

Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is known for its magnificent sights of Mount Ararat, historical monasteries, and its many striking temple ruins. Armenian cuisine is other worldly with classic dishes like rabbit stew, sautéed eggplant rolls, and lamb tartare. 

Telč, Czechia

Telč is a colorful town with Italian influences in Czechia. It boasts of Baroque-Renaissance architecture and has a castle of its own with exciting tunnels and passageways that you can explore underneath the town.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile and features gorgeous architecture from the neoclassical era. There are towering cathedrals and, of course, plenty of quality Chilean wine. Plus, the city of Santiago is a great place to kick off your exploration of Chile’s wine country. 

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Rotterdam is often ignored due to the popular neighboring city of Amsterdam, but it is a bastion of underground music and street art. The architecture is strikingly modern since the city was heavily bombed during World War II and thus had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The city is filled to the brim with amazing cuisine and museums.

Lagos, Nigeria

If you are looking for a big city destination, Lagos is a metropolis that has plenty to see and do so that you’ll never be bored. And whenever you need a break from the urban marketplaces, private beaches are just a short drive away.

Con Dao, Vietnam

Con Dao is a Southeast Asian island that makes an excellent beach destination with two resorts and tons of fascinating history. Once host to a brutal French prison, the island is also home to the tomb of the Vietnamese martyr Vo Thi Sau. 

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay dating back to the 17th century. The city has a vibrantly decorated historic quarter and a three-century-old convent. It’s also only a short trip away from the bigger city of Montevideo.

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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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