Traveling to Iceland without visiting the Blue Lagoon (or a similar Hot Springs Spa) would be like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower or travelling to Rome without passing by the Colosseum! It's an activity anyone will enjoy as it lets you experience a truly unique aspect of Iceland's earthly power.
Our visit to the Blue Lagoon began as soon as we landed in Reykjavik. Our flight arrived so early in the morning that even the cafes were still shut in the airport. It would be hours before we could check into our hotel and the Blue Lagoon offers a service for this very problem. You can board a bus directly from the airport that brings you and your luggage, straight to the spa. They store your bags free of charge when you arrive, and you can enjoy the rest of your day in the waters. It's the perfect remedy for jetlag!
As of 2018, pre-booking is required due to the popularity of this spa. There are others in Iceland which provide a similar experience, but this is the best of the best when it comes to geothermal spas. The Blue Lagoon is about 45 minutes outside Reykjavik. As we drove out there, we saw more of this gorgeous and strange country. The houses outside the city were so unique. Bright metal siding and colourful roofs decorated the barren landscape.
As we drove along the coast, we saw statues all along the water's edge. They were giant rocks carved into the shapes of people, their bodies leaning into the surf, the wind blowing in their hair.
But to me, the thing that grabbed my attention the most was the earth itself. It was such a strange colour, almost as if the entirety of the soil here was made of nothing but moss. There were pretty much no trees anywhere you looked. Just ground and mountains. This allows the landscape to stand out as there is nothing obscuring the view. It was almost like seeing the surface of Mars.
Soon, in the distance, we saw the hills part and a faint trail of smoke leading up to the sky where the hot springs were located. The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa. Unlike some of the naturally formed hot springs in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is man-made and uses the geothermal water from the nearby power plant. Don't worry; it's completely safe. Even more than that, the waters are thought to be some of the most healing on the planet.
The lava formations which create the pools are all natural and filled with geothermal water run-off. The water's main healing ingredients are silica, algae & other minerals. The blue colour comes from the reflection of the silica in the sunlight.
There are two main types of tickets into the spa. The COMFORT package gets you entrance into Blue Lagoon, a Silica Mud Mask, use of one towel and a drink of your choice costs at the bar. This package costs $70 USD and I think is the best value. Next is PREMIUM package which features entrance to Blue Lagoon, a Silica Mud Mask, use of towel, 1st Drink of your choice, Algae Mask, use of Bathrobe, slippers at LAVA (their on-site restaurant), and a sparkling wine if dining at LAVA. This package runs you $100 USD, but I think only encourages you to spend more money by getting you into the dining room which isn't the greatest and very overpriced. Each of these packages allows you to add other spa treatments for additional costs.
When we arrived at the lagoon, we quickly jumped out of the coach and passed the massive rock formations on the way inside to reception. Despite it being May, it was far from being warm outside, although I recommend taking your time since the scenery on the way into the spa is very unusual.
I was very keen to get an in-water massage as an addition to my entry. I love getting messages, and the ones offered at Blue Lagoon are unlike any others in the world. In-water means just that; you have the massage while laying on a floating bed in the healing waters. When you check-in, you are given a small blue wristband that will let you in and out of the pools and a bright blue towel to use all day. You could also buy a robe or slipper, but we didn't feel the need to have it. If you visited in the colder months, I can see why the robe would be a plus.
The change room is public - unless you opt for the super expensive couples package but arriving as early in the morning as we did, there weren't many people there anyway so we felt like it was private enough. After you change into your bathing suit, you need to take a cleansing shower before getting into the pools. I made sure to take advance of the soaps and scrubs in the shower that the spa provides free of charge.
Immediately as I walked through the doors to the outdoor pools, I was stunned and in awe. The vivid blue waters glowed in the sunlight and puffs of steam rose off the water like clouds in the sky. The pools were framed against the rough and rugged black molten rocks. It seemed impossible that the earth created something so incredible. I was one of the only people outside since it was early in the day and walking across the bridges and platforms over to the massage area I felt so lucky to be experiencing something not many people would ever get to see - an empty blue lagoon.
I walked to the end pool where I was told to wait for my masseur. I dipped my toe in the water, and it was so hot, but since it was Iceland, and the air was freezing, I jumped right in to escape the cold. I breathed a sigh of relief as the warm water surrounded me. I gently swam around my tiny waiting pool and watched as a man with a severe skin condition rubbed the silica mud all over himself. To my amazement, after he left it on for a few minutes, when he washed it off, the redness in his skin had all but disappeared. It was like magic. After washing in the showers, he quickly left, without even using the waters. I found out later that he is a regular who's doctor gave him private entry to the spa to help heal his severe eczema since it was the only thing that brought him any relief. Magic.
Finally, it was time for my massage. You lie on a floating blue mat in the water. A small pillow is placed under your head and a large wet towel covers your body to keep you warm. Unlike any other massage I'd had before, here you feel weightless. My masseur could massage parts of my body I don't think you can explore in a regular massage. Floating there, weightless, she could move around me like a fish. After she was done, she pushed my mat over to another part of the lagoon where I lay for a few minutes, eye closed, letting that sense of perfect calmness flow over me. I almost fell asleep but soon I opened my eyes, and to my surprise, when I sat up I saw that the entire pool was now filled with hundreds of people.
I pulled my jelly-like appendages off the mat and went to find my friend and get around to swimming in these crystal blue waters. I quickly found her deep at the back of the main pool, and I ran/swam over to join her. The water was so salty, and I also noticed that different areas of the pools were varying degrees of warmth since there were heated by the natural temperature of the earth.
We went and put silica mud on our face to moisturize and exfoliate. As we swam around and loved squishing the silica between our toes. We giggled and laughed as it felt like we were kids again, playing in the mud and splashing around in the pool.
The geothermal water cannot hold onto bacteria so the waters do not need any chlorinator, therefore, its devoid of any chemicals which might dry out your skin. The lagoon had a few little nooks where you could sit and relax. There was even a waterfall which was so powerful, that when you stood underneath it, you thought it much crush you. But oddly enough it felt great on sore muscles.
There were also steam rooms which were insanely hot but great for getting rid of impurities in the skin. The steam rooms looked like little hobbit holes in the hillsides. When you stepped inside, it was almost pitch black, with bursts of steam rising from the ground. Sitting inside on one of the benches, it felt like I was breathing in hot lava. It was a mysterious but enjoyable experience. I was too scared to stay in there for an extended period but we stayed long enough to decompress and let the hot air fill out lungs and purge our skin of city pollution.
Eventually, after what seemed like hours and hours in the pool, when I became too pruney to resemble a human anymore, we decided it was time to get out. After getting out of the waters, it's important to keep hydrated. And even while you're relaxing to make sure to take breaks to grab a drink, so you don't pass out. It is also essential to use the conditioner provided in the showers before you leave. Take this piece of advice seriously! The waters are extremely dehydrating for your hair, but the super moisturizing conditions they provide are perfect to bring all that soft texture back. So don't just shower and run. Some people even like to put some conditioner on their hair while they get dressed.
As we left, we walked past the small pools of water that flowed out of the lagoon. In the distance, the smokestacks of the power plant puffed up towards the sky. Geothermal energy is being harnessed every minute of the day to power the entire city.
We jumped back on the bus which drove us right to our hotel. Our room was very small, but it had a great view of the ocean. We dumped our bags, grabbed our maps and headed out the door to find something to eat. The sun sets exceptionally early, even in the springtime, and the lights of the cities were all illuminated as we walked. We marvelled at the fact that all these little glowing orbs were being powered by the waters we had just been soaking in.
Iceland is an incredible city, unlike any other in the world. Mystical, magical and a must-see for anyone a desire to seek out the strange and mysterious sides of this great place we call earth.