Let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Carson and I’m a travel photographer based in Canada. I had the opportunity to get a behind a scenes look at DIVE.IS’ Midnight Sun tour.
Sometimes we read online reviews and we still can’t visualize what to expect. I’m hoping this post will provide a visual journey of each step of the tours and my own personal experience with DIVE.IS.
Our very first interaction with DIVE.IS was being picked up from Reykjavik. Our guide, Deyan, came out to introduce himself.
To be honest, we were nervous about the tour. We read the FAQs and we read the information sent to us. But how it all turns out in reality, we didn’t know what to expect. Deyan coming to greet us and to pick us up became the first step to make us feel at ease.
The road to Silfra
If you do a tour with DIVE.IS - get a pick-up if you can. You can drive there yourself, snorkel or dive, and then be on your way. It can be a simple, transactional tour. But it’s a better experience if you... dive into it.
The drive with our guide was one of our favourite parts of the entire tour. Deyan pointed out landmarks for us, the history of the Þingvellir national park, and the areas that marked the tectonic plates.
These facts gave context and weight to where we are. It became much more than a snorkeling tour. It became the difference between, "I snorkeled in water” and" I snorkeled between two tectonic plates, how cool is that”. If not for Deyan, we would have never have known that we stood where Alþingi, the national parliament of Iceland and one of the oldest parliaments in the world, was founded.
And that’s pretty cool.
The importance of details
As important as it is to have fun, there are a lot of things that has to happen in the background to make sure the experience is safe.
It’s all in the details. Before we got ready to snorkel, Deyan made sure we reviewed the medical forms.
It could have been easily one of those administrative things where the company hands you a form, asks you to sign it quickly without reading it, and then you can move on.
However, by reminding us to take the time to read over everything carefully, Deyan gave us confidence that the entire company is set up for safety.
It’s all in the details.
The meeting place
On the day of the tour, my friends and I had already been in Iceland for 8 days. We had great weather during the entire trip. Then on our last day, and the day of our tour, it rained. Sometimes these things happen.
Before we arrived. there was definitely a moment of dread as our minds imagined how it’s going to be snorkeling in the rain. In Iceland. In glacier water.
As approached the meeting point, there was a sigh of relief. Everything was set up, including the equipment and the heated changing rooms. Everything was designed to make it more comfortable for us.
Even the washrooms were heated.
Details is what DIVE.IS focused on. And details makes all the difference.
It comes down to the people. TripAdvisor or Google has plenty of reviews of the guides at DIVE.IS.
But let me take a moment to highlight what happens behind the scenes.
I mentioned Deyan already - originally from Bulgaria, he has travelled all over the world to teach and dive, from the Philippines to the Maldives.
We met up with another guide, Remco, from the Netherlands, who greeted us in the rain with a smile.
The most amazing thing we’ve experienced that you don’t read about in the reviews, is how the guides are in unfavourable weather conditions.
In the cold, crappy weather, Deyan and Remco still did things the right way. They got the equipment together while braving standing in the rain. Still, they soldiered on and made us feel like family.
We’ll experience this throughout the tour, but their job wasn’t just to be our guide, their job was making us feel comfortable, even when they’re not. Their amazing spirit ties this tour together.
They didn’t rush us, or as we were waiting for two other participants that were running late, they didn’t take the easy way out and go ahead without them. They wanted everyone to get the same experience. So they waited. It’s because they love what they do.
The guides come from a diverse backgrounds, much like us as tourists. And this is what these tours are about. Bringing people from all over the world.
After arriving, we were led to the heated changing rooms to get our initial gear on. The one thing we were worried about was being wet outside of the water. The changing room was dry and warm, and it’s those little details again that makes the difference.
A big part of the tour wasn’t just snorkeling. It was about learning more about the environment we were in. When I’m travelling, the most important thing to me personally was understanding the country I’m exploring. The understanding of the why and the how.
Deyan took the time to go through where we are, where we are going, and why it’s important.
The Suit Up
Time to get suited up.
Deyan and Remco very patiently helped us with every piece of equipment. There was even a wooden platform for us to get dressed in a clean environment. This platform was well thought out; there was a place to sit up so we can put on our boots without touching the wet floor.
Each suit was carefully inspected, Deyan and Remco never rushed us, never skipped a step. For diving/snorkeling, it’s all in the details.
Details keeps us safe and warm, and we felt that. The guides made us laugh and feel at ease, as we prepared to brave the cold waters of Iceland.
For the Instagram
Again the details. Part of the guides’ role is to take photos as keepsakes of the tour. It is important because not everyone is equipped with a dive-friendly camera.
I was very thankful for Deyan and Remco for taking these photos and providing it to us. It helps us to remember moments that we could not photograph ourselves.
One of these moments are the crystal clear waters of Silfra.
This next section includes the moments that DIVE.IS captured.
10:30PM - In the water, it was definitely cold. But not as cold as we thought. Tips by Deyan helped.
Even at 10:30 at night, the sun was still out. The benefit of the Midnight Sun in June. Underwater, the lighting as perfect even as it’s raining above water.
During the day tours, there are multiple tour groups operating in the same space and it can be busy. But this Midnight Sun tour, we were the only ones there. We felt this freedom to enjoy where we are. I don’t think we could have had this experience during the day tours. We really felt like we were the only ones in the entire park.
As we wrapped up our snorkeling and arrive back at camp, you would think we would be in bad spirits. We just came out of cold water, it’s still rainy, it’s still cold. But we weren’t. Even at the end, everything is done properly by Deyan and Remco. The same patience at the end as at the beginning.
After the cold day, perfect end was to have some hot chocolate in the heated changing room. Personally made by Deyan.
The next picture encapsulates what I respect from Deyan and Remco. While we as guests were hiding out in the van, with the heater blaring (nice touch by Deyan), those two were packing up. It was still raining and it was still cold. Everything was meticulously packed up and stored.
I think it comes down to doing what they love, once you do, the care you put into your work shows the respect you have for it.
This is my favourite picture of the tour.
There are other diving companies out there in Iceland. DIVE.IS was the first one to set up these kind of tours, and they’ve had to continue to innovate as other companies joined the industry.
And I can’t speak to the other companies but our experience with DIVE.IS is that they truly care about what they do. This is reflected in the employees in the office and the guides out in-field. You can’t fake care in the age of online reviews. It is in the details that you find the truth and heart of a company.
Thank you to the entire team for making the experience so wonderful.