iceland: the blue lagoon

Monday, August 15:  After resting for a while in our room, we drive about an hour southwest of Reykjavík to the Blue Lagoon, which sits in the lava fields of Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula.  Our original plan was to stop here on our way from Keflavik the day after we flew in to Iceland, as it’s only 20 minutes from the airport, but we waited too long to buy our tickets and the Sunday morning spots were all taken by the time we got online to book.  Thus we bought 8:00 tickets for this evening, figuring we’d enjoy a relaxing time in the hot pools before we take off tomorrow morning for our long drive around the Ring Road.

The lava fields of Grindavik are a surreal landscape of scattered multi-hued rocks covered in moss and interspersed with grasses.   It isn’t a landscape that invites walks, although apparently there is quite a demand for ATV adventures, or quad-bike rides.

the strange landscape on the way to the Blue Lagoon
the strange landscape on the way to the Blue Lagoon
Iceland's volcanic past as captured in its landscape
Iceland’s volcanic past as captured in its landscape
Icelandic landscape on the way to the Blue Lagoon
Icelandic landscape on the way to the Blue Lagoon

We arrive a half-hour before our 8:00 timed entry.  We walk down this paved walkway with an icy wind blowing right through us.

walkway to the Blue Lagoon
walkway to the Blue Lagoon
Entrance to the Blue Lagoon
Entrance to the Blue Lagoon

As it’s too early to check in, we follow other people along a path to the right of the entrance and spend some time walking around mineral lakes in a permeable lava field just outside of the Blue Lagoon.  Because of its mineral concentration, water from the Blue Lagoon cannot be recycled and must be disposed of here.

the natural surrounds of Blue Lagoon
the natural surrounds of Blue Lagoon
the Blue Lagoon surrounds
the Blue Lagoon surrounds
volcanic rock at Blue Lagooon
volcanic rock at Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon surrounds
Blue Lagoon surrounds
Blue Lagoon surrounds
Blue Lagoon surrounds
Blue Lagoon surrounds
Blue Lagoon surrounds
Blue Lagoon surrounds
Blue Lagoon surrounds
lava formations surrounding the Blue Lagoon
lava formations surrounding the Blue Lagoon
lava formations surrounding the Blue Lagoon
lava formations surrounding the Blue Lagoon
lava formations surrounding the Blue Lagoon
lava formations surrounding the Blue Lagoon

At one end of the natural pools, we can see the Svartsengi geothermal power plant.  The man-made Blue Lagoon was formed in 1976 during the plant’s operation. It is fed by the water output of the plant and is renewed every two days. Superheated water is vented from the ground near a lava flow and is used to run turbines that generate electricity. After going through the turbines, the steam and hot water passes through a heat exchanger to provide heat for a municipal water heating system. Then the water is fed into the lagoon for recreational and medicinal users to bathe in (Wikipedia: Blue Lagoon (geothermal spa)).

Blue Lagoon surrounds
Blue Lagoon surrounds

The silicate minerals are the primary cause of that water’s milky blue shade.

Blue Lagoon surrounds
Blue Lagoon surrounds
Blue Lagoon surrounds
Blue Lagoon surrounds
natural pools at Blue Lagoon
natural pools at Blue Lagoon
natural pools at Blue Lagoon
natural pools at Blue Lagoon
natural pools at Blue Lagoon
natural pools at Blue Lagoon
natural pools at Blue Lagoon
natural pools at Blue Lagoon
natural pools at Blue Lagoon
natural pools at Blue Lagoon

Finally, it’s near 8:00 and we enter the facility.  For our ~$70 (each) ticket, the “comfort” package, we get one beverage of our choice, a towel, and two masks: a silica mask and a green algae mask.

Inside, I don my bathing suit and try to figure out the confusing lock system on the lockers.  There is one scanner for a whole wall of lockers.  When you shut the door of your locker, you scan your wrist band and it locks the door, flashing the number of your locker (#233).  If you accidentally scan it twice, it opens the locker right back up again.  I keep closing and opening the locker — yes, because I’m a klutz and technologically challenged(!) — and I’m a little leery that it is actually going to stay locked.  As all my belongings are in the locker — passport, money, camera — I am worried it won’t stay locked when I leave the room.

Before entering the spa, all people must practice Icelandic etiquette: we must be naked for our pre-pool showering.  There are lots of official-looking women in the shower area to make sure we do just that.  I am already in my bathing suit, but have to take it off to shower thoroughly!

I don’t want to take my camera into the spa because I want to relax and not worry about getting it wet.  We float around the pool and stop to get our silica mask, which we apply and leave on for 10 minutes; after that time, we simply wash off in the water.  We float over to the swim-up bar and get some white wine, which we drink next to the vents, where the water is hottest.  Then we lollygag over to the spa area and get our green algae mask.  It’s funny to see all the people floating about with their masks on and wine glasses or beers in their hands.  It’s all rather otherworldly.

The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon

After lingering in the Blue Lagoon for over an hour, we finally get showered and dressed and prepare to drive back to Reykjavik.  We have a long drive tomorrow on the Ring Road to the north.

me at The Blue Lagoon
me at The Blue Lagoon

On our way back, we make a stop at a grocery store to pick up some snack food for our road trip tomorrow: destination Akureyri.

Total steps for today, Monday, August 15: 13,734 ( ~ 5.82 miles).

 

17 thoughts on “iceland: the blue lagoon

    1. It was a wonderful experience. I love baths under any circumstances, and this was particularly relaxing with the masks and the wine and the dream-like steam rising from the pool. I definitely felt like a new woman!🙂

  1. The landscape is very other-wordly isn’t it? Thank you for taking us on your visit but I’m afraid I laughed at your experience with showers, and then the lockers – it sounds like the makings of a good comedy sketch! I loved the Blue Lagoon when we visited but we didn’t have a particular package with masks and wine – that sounds very relaxing.

    1. The landscapes all over Iceland were amazing, Elaine, and this is only one of the stranger ones. Those lockers and the showers were quite an experience. It would definitely make a good comedy sketch! The wine and mask package was well worth the extra $15 dollars over the standard rate. I’d highly recommend it if you went back.🙂

  2. Kat, I’m wondering how hot the water is there. I love wallowing in warm or hot water. I’m not 100% sure, Kat, but I think I’ve watched a movie called ‘The Blue Lagoon’. It’s nothing like your Icelandic one though.

    1. According to the website: the temperature is generally between 37°C and 40°C (98-104°F). But owing to variables outside of our control – including weather and time of year – the water temperature sometimes fluctuates beyond this range.

      There is a movie called Blue Lagoon, but I don’t think it’s related at all to this Blue Lagoon.🙂

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