Monday, April 1, 2013

Geothermal Bathing, the Last Stop

Our last destination while in Iceland is the famous Blue Lagoon. I would say that nearly all tourists manage to fit this visit into their schedule at some point. While it is wisest (both time-wise and budget-wise) to fit this visit into your arrival day or your departure day, it isn't always possible. But, one should note that the Blue Lagoon is located closer to the Keflavik Airport than the capital of Reykjavik.

The clinic/spa is well reputed for its skin healing properties for psoriasis and eczema. They do a fabulous job marketing the healing properties of the lagoon's waters and the fine while silica mud--which patrons spread over their faces and bodies with vigor. And while the walls and the backdrop of lava fields is primal and stunning simultaneously, it's almost unbelievable that this whole location is man-made and actually the run-off from the nearly geothermal heating station. You can even see the station while lounging in the lagoon.

Check out the geothermal plant in the background!

The water is a strange opaque white--probably from the silica sands and is very warm. Well, I suppose it would have to be, in order to beckon people to get into their swim trunks and go running out into a giant pool during the middle of the winter while temperatures are still below zero degrees centigrade. I live in Canada--the land of ice and snow--I would know. Despite this, people get ready and take the plunge.

You drive through rolling barren lava fields and arrive at what seems like a shack with a simple sign and a winding pathway into the lava fields. You get this almost magical feeling when you arrive; with the planked path itself winding into the lava field as if you're being transported to a fantastical place. Just when you think the path will never end, you arrive at the entrance to the Blue Lagoon and are greeted by attractive, well-groomed uniformed hosts who help you get settled about where to go and what to do.

Now, being a North American, I have no real concept of a bathing house and only have shame for my body and thoughts of chlorine odoured change rooms. They have many change rooms segregated for the genders and their locker system is efficient and quick. You are handed a plastic bracelet that is your key for your bill and your locker. There is no need for coins, wallets or any real money while you're there. You pick a locker after checking what's available (green) on a monitor and head over. Then you pretty much get naked and head to the communal showers with your towel in tow. It is mandatory to take a full washing shower and rub down all those grimy corners before getting into your bathing suit and heading out into the cold.

You're looking at the entrance/exit from the change rooms to the lagoon

The showers offer showering gel (doubles as shampoo) and conditioner. My advice for females especially: take a good wash and envelop your hair in conditioner because you will regret it if you don't. Though, it might not matter if you decide to take a float in the lagoon. Before exiting to the lagoon, it's advisable not to think and just take a deep breath and spot somewhere you'll hang/stuff your towel. Then, don't hesitate and KEEP GOING until you are submerged into the warm lagoon waters.

Once you're comfortable and have your bearings again, seek out the wood boxes which house the fine white silica sands that the lagoon is famed for. Grab a little and rub it over your face and your shoulders; now relax and revel in the fact that people pay nearly $100 CDN for a single tube of this stuff from the gift shop.

There are life guards dressed like they're going out for an Arctic Expedition

If you plan early and have the money, I would suggest to try one of their floating massages! I didn't get the chance to do that but if I return, I am certainly going to do so! Imagine lying down in the water and floating there while being massaged. It sounds heavenly and dreamy, to me. In which case, you should probably plan to spend a day here. Otherwise a few hours in the lagoon are sufficient to take in the experience.

I didn't mention that the water in this lagoon doesn't have any chemical additives like our pools back in Canada. The water is purely geothermal sea water that is being pumped up from the depths of the earth and is cycled out every 40 hours or so. That said, my hair doesn't smell like a public swimming pool but it sure does feel like it's turned to unmanageable straw.... even days later. The only remedy? loads and loads of conditioner for the next few days and not leaving it down for work.


  1. It's also kind of fun to hunt for the warm spots in the lagoon and stake your place! But since these warm spots move around it's like a treasure hunt!

    Oh also, skin feels good after soaking in lagoon.

    1. good thing we were there when it wasn't too busy otherwise i think i'd have been a real cranky pants trying to fight for the hot spots!

  2. That sounds like it was amazing and worth the cold (and potential awkwardness of encountering naked tourists, lol). Perfect last stop on your trip!