Iceland Is Always A Good Idea

2.03.2015

pc: Flickr

The flights are booked and I could not be any more excited about our upcoming island vacation. Four whole days of black sand beaches, snorkeling in crystal clear water, breathtaking waterfalls, stretches of totally secluded coastline...

And ice caves.

Here is where I should also mention how that black sand comes from volcanoes, that crystal clear water will be just above freezing, and those stretches of totally secluded coastline could (and probably will) be completely covered in snow while we're there. Because the island that we're going to? Yeah, it's freakin' Iceland.

ICELAND!

In case you haven't heard, Iceland is really hot right now. Bey and Jay vacationed there a couple of months ago, it just topped Forbes's list of travel destinations for 2015, it's a major Game of Thrones filming location, a volcano has been erupting there since the fall.... I mean, figuratively and literally hot.

But that's not what got me interested in Iceland as a vacation destination intially. A couple of years ago, I was wasting endless amounts of time on Pinterest when I came across some pictures of the Northern Lights. I got sucked into a black hole of research about the Aurora Borealis and learned that for these past couple of winters, a phenomenon called Solar Maximum was allowing for prime conditions to see the Lights. The Solar Maximum, a cycle that lasts 11 years, hit its peak in April 2014, and has since slowly started its decline, making the Northern Lights increasingly difficult to spot over the next five years, until eventually hitting the opposite, a Solar Minimum.


That day, I decided that the Northern Lights was definitely something I wanted to put on my bucket list, And two weeks ago, I decided that it was now or never. In 11 years, when the Solar Maximum reaches its peak again, I'll be pushing 40 and who knows what will be going on in my life and if I'll be able to drop everything and go Aurora hunting. But today we can. So we are.

While I know that you can see the Lights in other places, I also know that there's a chance we won't see them at all. We decided that if we were going to travel somewhere to hunt for them, we had to be sure it was going to be an incredible trip no matter what. Which led me to Iceland.

Guys, Iceland is amazing.


The more I started researching it, the more I realized how many incredible sights there were to see and how many different ways there were to see them. In the end, we decided that an amazing day tour company, Reykjavik Excursions, was the best way to see Iceland. After carefully considering all of our options like glacier ice climbing, whale watching, snowmobiling and lava tours, we finally decided on four amazing experiences with RE:

The Golden Circle


The Golden Circle is an Iceland tourism staple, so I knew that this would be a must-see on our list. The "Circle" refers to three main attractions: Geysir, Gulfoss, and ├×ingvellir National Park. Geysir is Iceland's most active geyser, shooting water 100 feet in the air every ten minutes or so. Gulfoss is one of the country's most breathtaking waterfalls. And ├×ingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site full of geological phenomena. 




To increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights, you have to get away from the capital's light pollution. There are two ways to do this if you're going the tour route: you can take a bus or you can take a boat. We decided that the boat tour sounded like a lot of fun, plus, if you don't see the Lights on your first ride, you can take a second ride free the next available night. The boat tour leaves Reykjavik's old harbor at around 9pm in the winter and takes you on a 2-3 hour hunt through the Icelandic waters.



Thanks to Reykjavik Excursion's partner, Dive.IS, we get to go snorkeling in what is arguably the clearest water in the world. And snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure is crazy for two more reasons: 1. The average water temperature is just above freezing, about 35°F. It's so cold that in the winter, snowflakes float on top of the water for a bit before melting and 2. The "Fissure" is actually the fissure between two continental plates, North America and Europe. I am so beyond excited to wiggle into a drysuit and try this once in a lifetime aqua experience. 





The Blue Lagoon is Iceland's famous man-made geothermal spa, known for its milky blue waters and 100° F temps. Since the Lagoon is between Reykjavik and the airport, many tourists choose to stop at this giant spa on their way to or from the airport. We're taking the Flybus out of Reyjkavik and opted to do a transfer to the Blue Lagoon on our way back to the airport, spending our last few hours drinking beers in the warm mineral waters.

We leave for Iceland in 18 days (!!!) and I can't wait to share a whole series of posts on our chilly adventure. But first... us San Diegans have to find some winter clothes...

Thank you to Reykjavik Excursions and Dive.IS for sponsoring this post! 
We can't wait to tour Iceland with you!
Kate Lately said...

I have friends that travelled there last year and said it was breathtaking. A true once in a lifetime experience. They actually camped out, too! Have so much fun, I cannot wait to see photos!

www.katelately.com

Rachel Richards said...

FUN! Iceland is definitely on my bucket list. Can't wait to see recaps of your travels!

jen @ marshmallows and margaritas said...

OMG! I'm so jealous! This trip sounds absolutely amazing!!

I'm not so sure about snorkeling in 35-degree water, though. I went on a night dive off Catalina when I was in elementary school that required two wetsuits, and it was still crazy cold. I'm sure a dry suit is much warmer, though.

Emily said...

These pictures are beautiful--can't wait to get started on doing some traveling of my own! :]
-Emily
http://itsreallyrosie.blogspot.com

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