In june 2017 I did a ringroad trip around Iceland. Ofcourse I went diving there as well…
After crossing off my bucketlist-dive Silfra (twice!),I didn’t plan to do some other diving in Iceland. That was until I heard about Strytan… It was my Belgian dive instructor at Silfra, Julian, who told me about this place. It was in no tourist guide nor was it mentioned in top dive-site lists on the internet.
Julian told me about the wonderful underwater hydrothermal chimneys which are unique in its kind (on a diveable level).The enthousiasm of Julian got me.. and I promised him to at least pass by and check out the hottub at the divecenter (yes they have a hottub, see further).
Checking on a map, I learned that Strytan dive center was situated up north, a bit further up then Akureyri. I was still far down in the south and continued my ringroad trip while giving to dive or not to dive Strytan some thoughts. Diving in Iceland is expensive so some budget calculations came into play….But ofcourse, the day before arriving at Akureyri, I contacted the divecenter and booked their Strytan day tour.
Getting there and the welcoming
After getting at the divecenter, I was amazed by the location . The supernice view straight at the fjord got me immediately in the mood.
The owner, Erlendur, welcomed me, asked me in and I got some coffe while meeting my 2 other divebuddies,an American couple. The guy was an ex-commercial diver with +1000 logged dives, very friendly and modest guy. His wife,an advanced open water with about 35 dives and very very proud/loud about her husband’s dive-experience.
Before we started the material preparation and the divebriefing, Erlendur showed us his “private museum” of stuff he collected whiled diving. Quite impressive!
The divebriefing was great. There was a clear plan, a map, pictures, a good briefing,… Erlendur explained us that we had 2 dives planned. First one would be Arnarnesstrýtan, which contained a small chimney and was considered a “testdive”. If you succeeded, you could take on the 2nd dive, which would be Strytan, the big chimney, which was the flagship dive of this center.Material was fine. The drysuits were pretty new as were the BCD’s and regulators. All packed up we took off in a speedboat for the first dive, which was only 5 minutes out.
Arriving at the spot, I was a bit stressed about the dry suit diving since this was only my 5th drysuit dive and ofcourse about the cold… Silfra had been cold but our max depth there was around 10m. This dive was going to twice as deep and I expected it to be even colder. But once in the water, everything went well.(with special thanks to the great quality drysuits).
Dive 1 – Arnaresstrytan
Arnarnesstrýtan turned out to be a great dive! For the first time I saw wolfish and one of them, Stephanie, is a personal friend of Erlendur, so she was close at us the whole time. The little chimney was amazing.. I took off my glove and felt really hot water at around 15m depth in 2°degrees water. Amazing!
Dive 2 – Strytan
After going back to the divcenter, warming up a bit, having a great snack and a hot tea, changing the tanks and getting dressed again, we were ready for dive 2: Strytan, or the big chimney. The woman was not allowed to go diving anymore after having some troubles dealing with the moderate visibility at the first dive. I must say that Erlendur is kinda strict on who he lets to dive or not, but I don’t think that is a bad thing.
Strytan was a dive to remember. Only being about ten minutes out, we arrived at this divespot quite fast as well. First, we went down to 31.5meter and then started circling up the big chimney till the surface. Just amazing. I noted a 1° temperature at 31,5meter. Even with a good dry suit, after already haven done a dive, that is cold. But the kinda frozen/senseless lips and cheeks were totally worth it .
The whale watching
As an extra bonus, Erlendur took us whalewatching on the way back. For at least 20 minutes, we spotted whale after whale. Erlendur was easily manoeuvring his speedboat right next to the spots where the humpbacks would come up. This was simply amazing.. Seeing a humpback tail coming out of the water before diving down (in water you were diving just before) is a great experience. We saw at least 7, which made it an unbelievable day.
The hot tub
And then ofcourse…After getting back in the center after 2 succesfull dives and the extra whalewatching, we filled in the logbooks and talked a bit. I really loved the atmosphere of this divecenter and actually stayed the whole noon there. People were coming by to have a coffee or to have a jump in the hottub. Ofcourse I did my part in that as well..
Getting a beer in a hottub with this panoramic environment, after two unique dives and a whalewatch tour… I can honestly say this was one of my best days in Iceland. So many many thanks Erlendur and strytandivecenter!
If you are near, go visit them! http://www.strytan.is/