On New Years Eve, over rosemary-infused kombucha prosecco, Emma and I brainstormed our goals for 2018. An important one on our lists was to meet a puffin. In order to make that goal happen, we decided to book a trip to Iceland. Since I was heading to Canada for my annual family tour, I booked a stopover in Iceland on my way back to London from my Canada visit, and Emma hopped over to meet me. I landed in Iceland around 6am after a sleepless flight, picked up the rental car, cruised the 45 min to fetch Emma from Reykjavik, and we started our adventure. Our first stop was to Icelandic grocery store chain (Bonus) to secure road trip snacks and giant jugs of apple juice. Emma hilariously discovered we actually had purchased apple cider vinegar by taking a generous swig and proceeding to spend several moments completely incapacitated. With her coughing and sputtering, we were off, zooming south back towards the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon is expensive, touristy, but was on the top of my list none-the-less. Any opportunity to spend day actively relaxing is a good one in my books, and this natural geothermally-heated volcanic hot tub was as magical as promised – milky teal water surrounded by other-worldy black volcanic rocks. We did the obligatory photoshoot, careful not to drop my phone in the water.
And spent the next few hours lazily swimming around, alternating between languid floating and exploring the lagoon. There is a swim-up bar, where you can get a complimentary beer/prosecco/smoothie. You can also head over to the facial hut to slather your face with a dollop of silica mud.
Interestingly, the Blue Lagoon is not exactly a “natural” phenomenon. The Blue Lagoon website and various informational plaques emphasize how the spa is fed by searingly hot sea water, which loses its heat as moves towards the surface, and on this journey, picks up minerals (including silica and algae) on its way to the lagoon, creating the famous mineral waters. The spa environment emphasizes the “natural” properties of the healing waters, but the water in the Lagoon is actually from the power plant, which sounds a little bit less posh, which is probably why the Lagoon does not discuss the actual life cycle of the water.
What they intentionally avoid mentioning is that the water is actually from the nearby geothermal power plant which takes advantage of the unique volcanic topography of Iceland to pipe up the hot water, which goes through turbines to generate the electricity that powers a large part of Reykjavik. This water is then piped into the volcanic basin that is the Blue Lagoon. This is a very clever and ingenious use of the cooling water from the power plant, but I think it is slightly misleading to believe the romantic notion that the Blue Lagoon is a naturally occurring phenomenon.
The mineral rich water is said to have powerful medicinal properties, with beneficial effects on skin conditions like psoriasis. I did feel like my skin was super soft following my hours of soaking, but my face did not love the silica mud face mask (my skin seemed sensitive and I had a bit of a break out after the mud mask), and your hair takes a bit of a beating, even if coated in conditioner before heading into the Lagoon. As a beauty treatment, it didn’t really do it for me, but as a surreal and relaxing experience, I give it top marks. It was particularly blissful to have a long soak after my 5 hour flight from Canada.
The Blue Lagoon may be pricy, packed with tourists, and not 100% “natural” but it I really enjoyed our visit. I felt blissed out to the max and it is absolutely an experience I would recommend if you happen to have a few hours to spare in Iceland.
A few more practical notes:
Definitely book online in advance: We did very little planning in advance of our trip and didn’t realize that the time slots filled up quickly. We were luckily able to snag a spot that worked for our plans, but I would recommend booking your visit early once you know when you hope to visit. We spent around 4 hours in total, including a nap outside of the Lagoon between soaking sessions, lazing in a sunny spot in the building overlooking the Lagoon.
Sun safety: One of the challenges of outdoor spas is sunburn! You can definitely get sunburn in the land of fire and ice, and it is challenging if you are spending the day soaking in a pool of water. You can see that Emma and I both rocked long-sleeve bathing suits, which was a really prudent choice. I did get a touch of sun on my face, but I am not sure what the best option to deal with this would be (maybe a nerdy hat?).