Sorry for the long blogging hiatus, but, oh man guys, the diving we did in Iceland was out of this world! No joke, it has probably spoiled a lot of cold water diving for us. The people were great, the diving amazing, and the weather beautiful. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's rewind a bit and let me tell you about our first couple dives in Iceland.
We had booked the 3 Day Reykjavik tour with Dive.IS about two months ago. The tour includes 2 dives in the ocean, 1 dive in a geothermal hot spring (which we didn't do, but I'll tell that story later), and 2 dives in the famous Silfra. A couple days before our tour started, we were told that we would be doing the ocean dives the first day, the geothermal dive on the second day, and would be ending our tour at Silfra. In retrospect, this was the perfect way to do it. The diving started off amazing and just got better!
On Friday, we were picked up around 1:30 in the afternoon from our hotel by the guys at Dive.IS. They already had our tanks and weights, we had our gear, so we headed directly to the dive site. We dive at Garður, which means garden in Icelandic, and was about an hour away. The dives were along a pier that was flanked by some coral and lots of kelp, but not exactly a kelp forest.
At once, we got to setting up our gear. This was our second time using our new back plate and wings, and they are so much easier to set up than our normal BCs are. Tanks attached, regulator on, weights adjusted, we were just about ready to go. We then donned our dry suits, got kitted up, and prepared for the giant stride into the water, about 8 feet high from the pier. Once in the water, a quick check of our gear to make sure everything was good to go, and we were under. That first moment of putting your face into frigid waters, and the first flooding of your hood are never easy. Thankfully, your cheeks numb pretty quickly and the hood doesn't allow a fresh exchange of cold water, so you warm up a little bit. Well, as warm as one can be in 37°F water.
These were my first cold water ocean dives. I've done warm water ocean dives, but never cold water. I was amazed at all the life! I'm more used to diving in fresh water, which has very little life compared to the ocean. We saw lots of flat fish, tons of teeny tiny baby star fish, and even a couple of nudibranchs! The best sight came in the second dive. Shortly after dropping down, as we were swimming along the pier, there was a GIANT school of fish slightly longer than my hand. And we go to swim straight through the school. It's quite an experience to look around you and not be able to see anything but fish. They give you a fairly wide berth (the sound of the bubbles scares them a bit), but they don't immediately all swim away.
We did two dives on our first day. In between dives, we were able to warm up a bit with hot chocolate and replace some of the calories we had burned with local Icelandic cookies. Afterwards, we spent some time chilling on the pier, enjoying the Icelandic sun. A word of warning though, there are no bathrooms at the pier. For guys, this isn't a big issue, but girls, if you're doing this dive, be prepared.
After we were done diving, we headed back to Reykjavik. I was surprised to look at my watch and see that it was already 7. And what surprised me even more was that when we were heading back from dinner, at about 10:30, that it was still light out. Even though it wasn't quite the midnight sun, there were still about 20 hours or so of daylight. Crazy! Diving at Gardur was a great way to spend our first day in Iceland.