Iceland’s Best Diving, Kayaking, & Rafting Adventures

Iceland is crossed by dozens of glacial rivers and surrounded by ocean. To properly explore it, you’re going to have to get your feet wet.

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Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

Want to swim between two tectonic plates? Visit the famous Silfra fissure in Þingvellir, a huge rift between the North American and Eurasian continents. This meltwater-fed fissure has become a mecca for divers thanks to the incredible visibility of up to 330ft (100m), allowing for sweeping 360° views of stunning underwater geology.

Not yet PADI certified? No problem – simply don a snorkel mask and a wetsuit and you’re good to go.

Iceland is very snorkel-friendly – if you have time, be sure to visit Litlaa, a geothermally-heated river with dancing volcanic sands and multi-colored sediments turning the riverbed into a rainbow.

For divers, Iceland is famed for unique experiences. Want to see how life could exist on a planet without a star? Check out the hydrothermal vents Strytan and little Strytan in Eyjafjordur.

These are the only known underwater geothermal chimneys shallow enough to be reached by the average diver. They attract abundant marine life and it’s been speculated that they provide perfect conditions for life when there is no solar power source available.

Diving in the Silfra fissure. Photo credit: iStock

White-water Rafting

If you want to kick the adrenaline up a couple of notches, Iceland’s raging rivers offer some of the best whitewater rafting in all of Europe. 

The most famous spot is the relatively chill Hvita River in the South, which is perfect for beginners. Commonly known as the White River, this Class II river is just a couple of hours’ drive from Reykjavik.

Want even more adrenaline? Jökulsá Austari, known as the Beast of the East, is a Grade IV river offering turbulent white water, steep drops, and the need to work as a team. Challenging rapids like the ‘Alarm Clock’ and ‘Deep Fry’ will keep you on your toes as you glide, perhaps not so gracefully, through the amazing glacial landscape of the Austurdalur wilderness.

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Kayaking

If you want more of a personal experience with Iceland’s stunning landscapes, kayaks are the best way to explore the country’s serene glacial lagoons and sparkling bays. One of the best kayaking destinations is the gorgeous Breiðafjöður Bay in West Iceland – paddlers here are likely to have encounters with puffins, seals, and even whales.

Or go kayaking between icebergs in the dazzling glacial lagoons at the edge of massive Vatnajökull glacier. Jökulsárlón is the most famous, but kayaking tours of the more peaceful Heinabergslón lagoon are also available.

Kayaking on Lake Myvatn. Photo credit: iStock

Want to know more about Iceland? Check out our podcast. We chat about where to capture the best photos in Iceland, how to speak like a Viking (almost), and how a social policy got the country to the World Cup.

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