One of the few experiences I knew about Iceland before coming here was the Blue Lagoon. No, not the 1980 Brooke Shields movie. The geothermally heated, ice blue water is one of Iceland’s most famous attractions, and an entry ticket is included in the package we purchased last June. We don’t get to choose our day or time, so we get what we get. After our day exploring Reykjavik, we catch the FlyBus again back towards the airport and the steaming pools of the Blue Lagoon.
All tickets to the Blue Lagoon are for a timed entry, and often require being purchased weeks in advance. It is possible to just show up and get in, but as this place gets more and more popular (both Iceland and the Blue Lagoon itself), simply walking in will become harder and harder. Our ticket is for 5pm at the Comfort Level. It comes with the use of a towel and any drink we choose. The higher levels include reservations at the restaurant and more skin care products, but the Comfort Level is all you really need to fully experience the Blue Lagoon.
When we arrive, the line is nearly out the door. While Emma graciously waits in it for us to check in, I wander around outside taking pictures. You can’t tell, but it’s pouring down rain.
The crane you see to the right in the photo below is part of an expansion project the Blue Lagoon is currently going through. They’re building a hotel and almost doubling the size of the swimming area. Obviously those tourism campaigns Iceland has been putting out have been working well as this place is incredibly popular.
Back inside, we check in, receive our towels and a green wristband pre-loaded with our first drink. This is how we’ll pay for anything we’ll drink while in the lagoon. When we check out, they will scan the wristband and we’ll pay for everything with a credit card or cash. It’s a great way to avoid having to stick your money in your swimsuit and risk losing it.
We head into the locker room and while Emma changes and prepares to get into the warm water, I head back outside to the rain with my camera to take a few more photos. It’s all I can do to keep it dry, so I make it quick.
Back in the corner is where you can get a massage while floating in the water. I would love to take advantage, but pass this time.
This is where you can get the lotion and algae masks for your face. You start with the hydrating lotion for 10 minutes, rinse it off, then put the algae paste on for another 10 minutes.
As a lifeguard in a former life (and well acquainted with the associated boredom), I do not envy these guys. It’s freezing cold, pouring down rain, and they have to stand there watching everyone else relax in the warm water. I hope they are paid really well!
Ok, one last photo and then it’s time for me to find Emma and relax in some warm water myself!
I stow my gear, grab my GoPro, change into my swimsuit, take the obligatory shower and head in. I’d read several reports about how hard the minerals in the water can be on hair, so I put mine up to keep it dry(ish). There’s plenty of shampoo and conditioner provided in the showers, but even if you wet your hair and put conditioner in first, most people still report it taking time for their hair to go back to feeling normal. I don’t wet my hair in my shower before entering as I’d like to stay as warm as possible in that crazy rain outside. At least for a little while.
First things first, face mask! It’s kind of hard to get it all on without getting it in my eyes, but I manage. And on that note, I’d also read to avoid getting the water in your eyes as it can sting for awhile. Perhaps it’s all the years spent in heavily chlorinated pools, but it doesn’t bother Emma or me (we actually met years ago on a swim team). Something to be aware of though, if you wear contacts or have sensitive eyes.
For our included drink, we find the most expensive item on the list – strawberry wine champagne something! I can’t remember exactly. I’m not sure how much alcohol is in it, but it’s tasty. You are apparently only allowed 3 drinks per wristband as an effort to prevent people from getting too drunk.
I haven’t had anything to drink here, I’m just terrible at making decent faces while taking selfies.
For our second drink, Emma has a cider and I try the strawberry Skyr smoothie. Skyr is an Icelandic yogurt and the smoothies come pre-made. It’s delicious (and my selfie game is much stronger)!
Hot water is constantly being pumped in to the lagoon. We frequently hear the pumps turn on and off, and when they are on, the hot water coming out is delightful. Until it gets too hot for me. Emma loves it. We find one near the back of the lagoon and sit and chat for awhile.
The Blue Lagoon is actually a man-made lagoon. You can read a more detailed explanation here, but basically Iceland heats all its buildings geothermally. The leftover water is full of silica and sulfur and not fit to be used to heat the homes any longer, so they figured they could dump it out onto the lava fields and the water would soak back down into the earth. Unfortunately (or fortunately), all that silica and sulfur prevented the water from seeping into the rocks and the Blue Lagoon was created. For obvious reasons, this disposal method is not used anywhere else, but I think it turned out pretty well for us tourists.
Since we’re here in the evening, we stay until closing. The weather gets worse and worse, but at least we’re warm from the neck down.
It’s so hard to tell how stormy it is from pictures, but I really feel like you need to understand, so I shoot a quick video. The popping you hear is the raindrops being flung onto the camera.
Ok, so maybe that still doesn’t do it justice. But by 730, Emma’s over it and we decide to head in to the showers. It’s so cold getting out, but it’s quick. Once we’re dressed and dry, we pay our drink tab and wait in the lobby for the FlyBus back to our hotel. It’s been a much needed slower paced day, and after all that warm water relaxing, we both sleep very well!