Out of the Blue [Lagoon]

The nearby Svartsengi geothermal plant turned created the Blue Lagoon into money-making machine by an accident. The plant was discharging water, silica, and algae. The viscosity of these elements formed a pool of water with the elements mixed in. When the locals tried bathing in it, they found that the water treated symptoms of skin diseases.

Disclaimer: The Blue Lagoon is a very popular tourist attraction and is often sold out daily. Advanced reservations are required. If you’re looking for something that’s not “touristy”, I suggest looking up some of the other hot springs in Iceland. However, if you’re looking for convenience and an easy way to relax and unwind while in Iceland, I recommend visiting The Blue Lagoon – just one hour away from Reykjavik, or 20 minutes away from Keflavík Airport.

On the Road Again

Jet lag makes it hard to travel as a lack of sleep can make one grumpy. To avoid this, I wanted to block some hours on our second day in Iceland to relax and catch up with the local time zone. My mother and I woke to gusty winds and heavy snow flurries. Snow was starting to accumulate on the road. Given that we were an hour away, we quickly got dressed and headed on our way.

From Reykjavik, simply take Highway 41 south, exit onto Highway 43, and follow that all the way to the Blue Lagoon entrance. If only it was that easy... on our drive down, the blowing snow made visibility less than a half-mile ahead of us. The powdered snow made the roads very difficult to navigate - people were driving in "formation" assuming where the lane markers were by following tire tracks left from previous drivers. Iceland highways don't have that bump that we have here in Washington where you can feel the lanes if the roads are covered. As a bonus, all street signs were covered in snow.

About a quarter of the way on highway 41, traffic came to a standstill. There was a head-on collision involving three cars which blocked both lanes of traffic. Because the highways are two-way streets, traffic was halted in both directions. Twenty minutes later, a tow-truck cleared up some of the vehicles impacted, and emergency crews were dispatched to flag traffic in one direction at a time. With the stress of arriving beyond our designated entry time window, as well as slick roads and heavy winds, I knew that I deserved some time at the lagoon to mellow out.

Blue Lagoon? More Like White-Out

We finally arrived one hour after anticipated. Winds were still howling, and it was a chilling walk from the frozen tundra that is the parking lot to the steamy spa... at the front (closest to the parking lot) is a luggage check facility. For those coming straight from the airport, Blue Lagoon can hold your bags while you relax at the spa. If you have several hours before your next flight when connecting at KEF, there's another incentive for you to visit!

Rules are Rules...

With tickets in hand, we were ready to relax! But first thing's first - the rules and logistics of Blue Lagoon. Here's a heads up in case you come across this article before planning your visit:

  • Upon entry, you'll be given a wristband with a RFID chip. You'll use this wristband to secure a locker and make purchases during your stay.
    • You'll be charged a fee to replace the wristband if it is lost.
  • You're required to shower without a bathing suit before entering the lagoon. Soap and conditioner are provided
    • Don't fret - the locker rooms are much better than a standard gym locker and there are curtains in each stall
  • When washing your hair, leave the hair conditioner in without rinsing it off. The lagoon will wash it off, and it make fixing your hairdo easier after your stay
  • Remove your glasses or contacts before entering the lagoon. Your eyes will thank you.

Once you go through the locker room, you're on the other side with the option to enter the hot spring from the inside. Or you can brave the cold, step outside, and slide on in while the outdoor air temperature is below freezing. For you Legend of Zelda fans out there, cue up the Zora's Domain music before continuing.

Hot N Cold

Now I don't have any pictures of me inside the water because I didn't want to risk dropping my phone into the hot water; same goes for my DSLR - sorry not sorry (for you visual readers out there, this is for you!). They sell water-protector bags for your phone at $25, so I recommend that if you want to take your phone with you, buy that bag on Amazon for $10 before your visit.

I'm sure this was on Katy Perry's mind when she sang Hot N Cold. There I was standing in the middle of the lagoon with wind speeds at 25mph, and the wind chill at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but the water was a comfortable 105 degrees Fahrenheit. It was so weird being able to feel so warm and comfortable only swim trunks on, and yet be outside able to withstand the cold weather. The only issue I had was that my face would feel wind burnt, and I had to dunk my head in the water several times to keep my face from freezing. I've always wanted to be in a position where I was hot and cold at the same time - something like jumping into a hot tub in the middle of winter... I once dated someone who had a hot tub and the coldest it got outside was 50°F ... but I digress.

Not quite, Ash...

The nearby Svartsengi geothermal plant turned created the Blue Lagoon into money-making machine by an accident. The plant was discharging water, silica, and algae. The viscosity of these elements formed a pool of water with the elements mixed in. When the locals tried bathing in it, they found that the water treated symptoms of skin diseases.

When I waded into the lagoon, I felt that the ground was super soft. This was the silica that had sunk into the ground and was a super easy way to treat my feet. With me being physically inflexible, this was super convenient for my feet. Near some volcanic rock, a bunch of silica gel had formed in the gaps. I helped myself to some natural gel and applied it on my arms and face. Consider this an organic treatment!

Mask-erade

Included with admission (of all levels) is the silica mud mask. There is a bar along the west side of the lagoon that has an attendant mixing a silica mud mask. This is apparently the same product that is sold in the gift shop in bottles (around $115 USD for 100mL). Simply apply it to your face and leave it on for 10 minutes.

If you booked the Comfort (or higher tier) option, you also get the algae mask which is to be applied after the silica mud mask. The two creams remind me of sour cream (mud mask) and guacamole (algae mask). And as we all know, one of the principles of life is that "guacamole" costs extra...

After the mud mask for 10 minutes, rinsing, and then applying the algae mask for 10 minutes and rinsing off, I noticed that my face had felt super smooth. Maybe these two elements are the miracle to skin issues after all, and not a marketing scheme...

Tourist Tête-à-tête

After spending about two hours at the lagoon, daylight broke, and I felt that I had my fill. Before hopping out of the lagoon, I had met two tourists from London who were visiting Iceland for the first time. Luckily for us, London was our next stop! I had shared my experiences with Iceland from the only day that I was here, and asked the Londoners for travel tips on things to do in their hometown. I had asked about the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, and one of the ladies mentioned that she had no idea what that was and had never seen it in her life.

I guess locals' minds and tourists' minds are wired differently. And it makes sense... when one lives in a city for a long time, he or she often doesn't notice the attractions that people who spend a short time in the city want to visit. Like a native-Seattleite who has never visited the Space Needle, or a native-Chicagoan who has never been up the  ̶W̶i̶l̶l̶i̶s̶ ̶T̶o̶w̶e̶r̶  Sears Tower.

Final Thoughts

Although its considered a tourist trap, The Blue Lagoon was well-worth the visit especially after the flight and jet lag. With it being so close to the airport, it's easy to get to for a pitstop before catching your next flight. And for those staying in Reykjavik, it's not too far away from the city. Even though the price is a little hefty, I was completely satisfied with everything it had to offer. Just be sure to book a day or two ahead of time so that you're guaranteed admission - pre-booking is required.

Oh, and I almost forgot - don't forget to claim your free drink while visiting (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)! Cocktail prices are around $11-15, and smoothies were around $7-10.

Now here are some pictures I took from outside the water after my stay!

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