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Beginner’s Guide to Snorkeling

What to know before entering the waters of Silfra Fissure

|November 30, 2023
Konstancija is a writer who enjoys long walks and hikes in nature, "hunts" for second-hand goods, and is a frequent guest in public libraries where she loves to read and roam around stacks of books.

Want to try something new or witness the charm that’s hidden underwater? Then, start by learning all about snorkeling in Iceland.

Snorkeling is a fun activity that allows you to explore the underworld's beauty. In Iceland, snorkeling is especially extraordinary because it takes place in the Silfra Fissure. Silfra is famous for being the only place in the world where you can find yourself in between two tectonic plates. Keep on reading to find out everything there is to know about snorkeling and start planning your next adventure!

Person explores underwater by snorkeling

What is snorkeling?

You’ve probably heard about snorkeling and scuba diving many times. And while these two activities might seem self-explanatory and even similar, there’s actually a great difference between them. So, what does snorkeling mean? 

In the meaning of snorkeling hides an enjoyable and mesmerizing activity. While snorkeling, you swim along the surface of the water, exploring the underwater world and soaking up all its beauty thanks to clear waters such as in Iceland’s Silfra Fissure.  

Snorkeling allows you to see what lies deep in the water without having to dive deep. While scuba diving is as exciting, it requires more preparation than snorkeling, especially if you’re not trained or certified for this activity. In case you’re curious to know more about the difference between snorkeling and diving, read here.

Required snorkeling gear

To fully enjoy this activity, you'll need some gear. Note that if you book a tour, the snorkeling gear is already provided, and a tour guide will be more than willing to help you with it.

Person who snorkels in between two tectonic plates


One of the most important elements needed when going snorkeling. There are three types of snorkels: a basic or classic snorkel, a semi-dry snorkel, and a dry snorkel. A basic snorkel is a simple traditional breathing tube formed like the letter J. A semi-dry snorkel is a bit more complex as it has a splash guard that filters water out. A dry snorkel not only has a splash guard but also a dry top that blocks water from the opening. 

Which one of these is the best for the beginner? For your first time, try a semi-dry or dry snorkel, as its splash guard prevents water from entering into the gear piece. 

What happens if water enters the tube? No worries, as you can simply blow it out.


It's a great addition to the list of snorkeling gear as a mask allows you to see the underwater better and notice all the hidden beauty. Your mask may fog, but there are ways to defog it. Before entering the water, apply baby shampoo, spirit, or anti-fog spray on your mask.


With the right flippers (or fins), you'll be able to move faster and more comfortably without having to use too much of your own energy. This is especially important when you snorkel for the first time, so once in the water, take time to get used to your new "feet."

Dry suit

Considering that the water temperature in Silfra Fissure ranges between 2 and 4°C, it's important to wear the right clothing. This includes wearing thermo clothing and wool socks, an undersuit, a dry suit, and accessories such as a hood and gloves. Keep in mind that if you go on a snorkeling tour, essentials such as an undersuit and dry suit will be provided to you by the guide.

What to know before you go snorkeling?

 Scuba diving at Silfra rift, where Eurasian and American tectonic plate are divided

One of the main things about snorkeling is that it's more related to floating rather than swimming. So, if you're keen on trying snorkeling but are not an avid diver or swimmer, don't worry; it requires no special training. Nevertheless, knowing how to swim is a useful skill to have. You might wonder what other things you should know before going on this adventure. 

Here are some useful tips and tricks:

  • Don't go alone. Especially if it's your first time, for safety reasons, it's best to go with someone who could help you in case something happens. If you booked a snorkeling tour, make sure to listen to your guide. 

  • Check if your gear fits you. It's important that you feel comfortable and safe during your snorkeling experience, so always make sure your gear is in place.

  • Keep your snorkel above water. This might sound funny, but once you're busy exploring what's underwater, you might dive too far or just forget about the snorkel and its position. Also, take time to adjust to using a snorkel as it provides you with less air than usual.

  • Relax and save your energy. When in water, you'll need to navigate your movements, making sure not to use too much energy but also stay afloat. Remember that the slower and calmer you are, the better the experience you'll have.

How to snorkel?

Is snorkeling hard? Snorkeling for beginners might seem tricky, but with the right preparations and a little bit of practice, it’s going to be smooth sailing. First of all, you need to put your gear on, which shouldn’t take long, especially if you have someone experienced (such as a guide or a diver) to help you with it. In general, trust your guide and listen to their advice.

Snorkeling between two tectonic plates in a blue water

Now, how do you snorkel? Once you’re sure that your gear is all set and you’re in the water, remember the things you learned before: to keep your snorkel above water for constant airflow, manage your breathing by keeping it stable and calm, and control your movements to save as much energy as possible. 

Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the experience and the underwater scenery.

FAQ about snorkeling

What is snorkeling in simple terms?

Snorkeling is an activity that takes place underwater and requires certain gear, such as snorkel, mask, and flippers. While snorkeling, you don’t have to dive deep into the water, you can explore while floating near the surface.

Can you breathe while snorkeling?

Yes, this is why one of the gear components for snorkeling includes a snorkel, which allows you to breathe underwater. Remember that for this, you need to stay near the water surface to get the air supplies from above.

What is the point of a snorkel?

A snorkel is an important device that allows you to breathe underwater and explore it for as long as you wish.

Is snorkeling safe for non-swimmers?

If you’re not a strong swimmer, you can still snorkel. Nevertheless, for you to be able to enjoy snorkeling and all its benefits, you have to feel comfortable in the water. So, it’s a plus if you’re not afraid of a waterbody and know how to swim, as it will allow you to adapt faster once you’re in snorkeling gear and ready to go into the water.

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