One of the most common questions that we get is what is the difference between a drysuit and a wetsuit when it comes to snorkeling in Silfra? And which option should you choose? Let’s look at both options and help you decide which option is perfect for you!
Snorkeling in Silfra
Snorkeling in Silfra is one of the most popular activities on the Golden Circle route. It’s no wonder that this activity draws so many visitors, as it is a completely unique experience. Nowhere else in the world are you able to snorkel between two tectonic plates. Silfra is located in Þingvellir National Park, which is where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are slowly moving apart.
No less spectacular is Silfra’s crystal clear water which offers visibility of over 100 meters (328 ft.) on most days. The water in Silfra is melted glacier water which goes through a natural filtering system as it makes it’s way to the Silfra fissure. The water is filtered through lava and it takes between 30 and 100 years for it to travel from the glacier and to the fissure. Once it reaches Silfra the water is crystal clear. While in Silfra you should try it! It’s refreshingly cold and delicious!
Even though Snorkeling in Silfra is a popular activity, availability is limited. This is due to environmentally friendly policies and regulations aimed to protect the environment of Silfra. It’s also to ensure safety in Silfra and give guests the best experience possible!
Good to know before you book
Before we get into which type of suit to choose for your snorkeling tour, here are some good-to-know tips to help you decide if this activity is for you:
- For the snorkeling tour, you do need to know how to swim. You do not need to be an expert or even a strong swimmer, but you need to know how to swim.
- Regardless of what type of suit you book, you will experience some cold. We’ll get into this one a little bit later, but know that no suit will completely protect you from the cold water.
- The age limit in Silfra is 14 years of age. We do sometimes make exceptions if the child is close to 14 years of age, can swim and is physically fit. If you are traveling with a child under 14, be sure to email us before booking your tour!
- All guests must meet some minimum size requirements to be able to go on the tour. To be able to participate in the snorkeling tour you must be at least 150 cm (4’11”) tall and weigh at least 45 kg (99 lbs).
- All guests must read and sign the Silfra snorkeling medical statement.
Now that we’re caught up with the basic, let’s get into the different suit options!
Drysuit snorkeling in Silfra
The original snorkeling in Silfra tour features drysuits. As the name implies, drysuits are waterproof and designed to keep your body dry while you are in the water. As the water in Silfra has a temperature of about 2°C year-round, this is the most common way to snorkel in Silfra.
Drysuits come with a cap that covers your head but it will not fully cover your face. Most of the drysuits have booties attached which will also keep your feet dry. You will also get gloves, but these are not waterproof. When wearing a drysuit you are most likely to feel the cold on your face (lips especially) and hands. For most people, the cold sensation goes away quickly as you adjust to the water temperature.
The drysuits used for this tour are of top quality, but there is always a possibility that water will leak into your suit. To minimize this potential, your guide may use straps or other materials to tighten your suit around your ankles, wrists and/or neck. This can sometimes feel uncomfortable, but it will help keep you dry.
Because of the drysuit’s design, air is present inside the suit. This will keep you buoyant in the water so you spend the majority of your time gently floating on the surface of the water.
If you choose a drysuit, we recommend wearing thermal underwear under your suit. Go for wool or synthetic materials and avoid cotton. Your base layer will help keep you warm, and it will also feel more comfortable for you to have a layer of personal clothing. You will also get a so-called “teddy suit” which you’ll put on over your personal layer, before putting on the dry suit.
The drysuit is for you if you:
- Prefer to be as dry and warm in the water as possible under the circumstances
- Can swim but are not a strong swimmer
- Would like to gently float on the surface instead of playing around in the water
Wetsuit Snorkeling in Silfra
Wetsuits are a relative newcomer in Silfra. Although this option has been available for some time, it’s only recently become a popular option for travelers. Unlike drysuits, wetsuits are not waterproof and therefore you will get wet. The water inside your suit will slowly be warmed up by your natural body temperature, but you will not be as warm as you would be in a drysuit.
When you wear a wetsuit, less air is present inside the suit as compared to the drysuit. This means that you will not float on the surface as easily as when you wear a drysuit. Less air inside the suit means that you will have more mobility in the water and you can dive underneath the surface.
If you choose a wetsuit we recommend that you wear a swimsuit underneath your suit. It’s also good to bring a towel.
The wetsuit is for you if you:
- Are prepared to get wet and possibly experience cold during the tour
- Are a strong swimmer
- Want to be able to move more freely under the water
- Have a secret desire to be a mermaid for a day
Booking your Silfra Snorkeling tour:
Now that you are all the wiser about which type of suit to choose for Silfra, all that’s left is to book your tour.
No matter which type of suit you choose, you will need to provide us with some details about your size. In the booking process, you will need to provide us with your height, weight and shoe size. Being honest about your size is very important here, as having a properly fitted suit will greatly enhance your experience.
When booking the Golden Circle combo tour, you will be able to choose a suit type after adding the tour to your shopping cart.
Booking with different suit selections
So what happens when you want to snorkel in a wetsuit, but your travel partner wants to snorkel in a drysuit? Not to worry, there is an easy solution to this! Just follow these easy steps:
- Start by making sure there is enough availability on the date and time you have selected. You can do this by going into the drysuit option and selecting the date. Available time slots on that day will appear beneath the booking calendar. If there are limited spots available, an orange icon will appear next to the time to show how many spots are left. If you have a large group of people, you can also select the drop-down menu under “Participants” and see the number of spots left on the tour. Note that availability is shared between the drysuit and wetsuit options, so if there are 10 spots available for the drysuit option there are a total of 10 spots available regardless of suit type.
- Once you have checked that enough spots are available, go ahead and book the drysuit option for those who want to snorkel in a drysuit. Select the number of participants, remember to add transportation if needed and hit the “Book” button. You will be taken to an order summary page. Instead of checking out, click “continue shopping” or navigate to another page on the website. Your drysuit tour will stay in your shopping cart.
- Navigate to the wetsuit option, select the same date, time and how many persons for the wetsuit. Remember to add transportation if needed and hit the “Book” button again.
- You can now either continue to shop for tours or you can check out with both the drysuit tour and wetsuit tour in the same order. Before checking out you will need to add information about your size so that we can select the right suit for you.
- Having both options in one cart helps us identify groups that are traveling together. It also makes the checkout process easier for you as you will only have to enter payment once.
Book your tour
Now that you know all about the different suit options for snorkeling in Silfra, the only thing left to do is book your tour! You can view tours in Silfra here:
Golden Circle & Snorkeling in Silfra Tour (choose either option for the suit)