International Travel: The Blue Lagoon (Reykjavik, Iceland)

DSC_3935In 2012 we made a trip to UK to visit our family. We ended up cashing in miles for our flights and found seats on Iceland Air which meant we had a layover in Reykjavik. On our way home we decided that we might not get back to Iceland in the foreseeable future and we should get out and have a quick look around. There were several things we wanted to check out based on recommendations from people we knew and books we had read and the Blue Lagoon was one of them.

Bathing is a big part of the Icelandic culture. There are public baths in every town, but the Blue Lagoon is different than the others. The Blue Lagoon (Bláa lónið) is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland, where you get to swim in the byproduct of the geothermal energy plant. This is like the ultimate hot tub and has been known to help with various skin ailments, the most prominent being psoriasis. The water has several properties containing a unique composition of three active ingredients – Silica, Algae & Minerals. This helps with skin conditions and makes the water appear blue in color.

As you drive (or ride if you take one of the many tour buses) to the resort you feel as though you are traveling across the moon. The volcanic landscape is very lunar in feel. Word is that NASA sent astronauts to Iceland for training before the Apollo missions to get a sense of what it might be like once they got to the moon.

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The Blue Lagoon is part of a resort complex that is currently undergoing expansion. There was building going on while we were there 5 years ago too. I mentioned before that this is a hugely popular tourist stop and it has gotten even more popular as trips to Iceland have become more popular and available. Despite the number of people there we found the swimming areas massive and like we had enough space, but you will not be alone.

Before you arrive you will need to book your visit ahead of time. Tickets for the most basic package will cost 6100ISK (about $59US) before March 2018. There are several different packages and the prices go up from here. If you are planning a visit after March of 2018 the starting price is set to rise to 6990ISK ($68US) but includes the use of a towel and a drink (there are 2 other packages that are currently available on the website as well). The resort has a hotel attached with luxurious accommodations for you to book (see their website for details…we didn’t stay here during our trip).

DSC_3961When you check in you will be given a wristband that is the key for your locker and is attached to your credit card so you don’t have to carry a wallet or money with you. The changing rooms are really lovely spaces and have everything you need. If you have forgotten anything, they have suits and towels to rent and all sorts of beautiful spa items for purchase.

Before swimming and bathing the rules dictate that you must shower completely naked and wash your whole body with soap before putting on your swim suit and entering the pools. Most Americans might be surprised by the strict hygienic rules before entering any swimming or bathing pool in Iceland but there is incredible advantage here – they don’t have to use as much (or any) chlorine, which is healthier for your body. This is a natural body of water and they don’t want people getting sick. Just be prepared for this. Like much of Europe, being naked is not a big deal and there is nothing to be ashamed of. It is part of life and I honestly felt quite liberated!

DSC_3942There are lots of things kids will find fun while swimming in the Lagoon. There is a cave area to hang out in, silica mud to rub all over you, bridges to swim under and waterfalls to stand under. Children are required to wear water wings, which is a good thing, because you cannot see even a half inch down into the water. If they go under it will be quite impossible to locate them. The water wings are available to borrow at the entrance to the lagoon. There are lifeguards on duty as well and the lagoon isn’t very deep, but it was a nice safety feature for the smallest visitors. The bright orange made it easy to find them quickly!

The bottom of the lagoon is covered in silica which feels really squishy between your toes, but you get used to it. The water is really nice and warm (between 98-104°F) and so you will want to make sure you take breaks and drink lots of fluids. Our son had swim goggles on only because the sun was so bright (they are tinted), but you can not see anything below the surface of the water, so sunglasses are a much better item to have to help with the reflection of the sun on bright days.

This was a really wonderful way to end our trip to Iceland. It was very relaxing and even 5 years later our son is asking to go back again. He really enjoyed it. It is truly a one of a kind experience unique to Iceland and worth the cost to experience.

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