I am a little uptight. I can admit that. So when planning our family trip to Iceland recently, the thought of visiting a European/Scandinavian Spa and the famous Blue Lagoon was not high on my list of “must sees”.
We always try to find an authentic local experience when we travel, and utilizing their favorite swimming destination seemed like a great idea to get to know the locals a little. Then I saw the images online and read several descriptions about the beauty, the serenity and the unique experience the Blue Lagoon provides. I read about the swim up bar and medicinal qualities of the water and I was little more intrigued. The silica and other minerals are known to have healing properties for a variety of ailments, and I began to consider trying to get over some of my many hangups. I realized that it is also one of the top visited destinations in Iceland, so I decided to try to let go of my Puritanical mindset, and when in Iceland, do as Icelanders ( and a whole lot of tourists) do.
Iceland is known for their love of all things aquatic. Heated outdoor pools are open year round for fun, relaxation and recreation. There are several naturally heated lagoons also popular and available year round. Their most famous pool, The Blue Lagoon, is not a recreational facility, but a man made, naturally heated geothermal pool, open all year for rest, rejuvenation and relaxation. It is one of the most popular attractions in Southern Iceland, and very convenient to Keflavík Airport.
If you ask my children, the Blue Lagoon was their favorite experience in Iceland. My four year old asks weekly when we will be returning, so she can visit “the moon pool”. It was so much more than what I had envisioned: it was fun, relaxing, tranquil, beautiful, soothing, and one of the most unique experiences we have had as a family. If you are anything like me, and the thought of stranger’s sneaking a peak of you in your birthday suit doesn’t appeal, here is a list of things you should know before booking your entry to this tranquil Spa.
1. Your entry must be booked in advance.
Tickets are sold for entry on the hour, but you can stay as long as you like. There are no walk in entry tickets. There are several types of pre-booked tickets to choose from, and add ons for spa treatments, meals, beverages, and even a private dressing room. I would recommend at least booking the algae mask, mud mask and one drink with entry.
2. Children are free and under 2 are not allowed in the water. Children 8 and under must wear arm flotation devices, provided for you. The water temperature is just about 95 degrees Fahrenheit; so children must be monitored and kept hydrated.
3. Bathing suits are NOT optional. No need to worry about uneven tan lines in Iceland.
4. A secure locker is provided with your entry ticket. Upon entry, you will receive a bracelet (think Disney World) that locks and unlocks your locker, and is scanned each time you make a purchase. Your bill is tallied, upon exiting.
5. You must shower naked prior to entry in the Lagoon. There are no chemicals in the water of the lagoon, and all patrons must cleanse thoroughly prior to entry. There are attendants monitoring the shower room. The water in the lagoon is constantly moving and renews itself every 48 hours.
6. There are doors on most of the showers and private changing rooms in the main locker room, providing privacy for those who are not into flashing a little skin. I read several times in various descriptions patrons are subjected to a gang shower and open changing areas. I found that to be completely untrue, much to my relief (and my teenage daughter’s relief). Of course, most patrons have no problem just showering with the door open and walking around in the nude, so be prepared for an eyeful. If you are not into the camaraderie of a locker room, a ticket that provides access to a private dressing room is available.
7. This is a world renowned spa: Don’t hesitate to make this the experience of your dreams. Celebrities such as Beyoncé have been known to visit the spa…peruse the treatment menu, sample their exclusive skincare products, consider an in-water massage.
8. Don’t rush it: be sure and visit the restaurant, the observation decks, and the steam rooms. We took the opportunity to make this our first destination. Most International flights arrive and depart at the same time, and most patrons will make this a stop just prior to return flights in the afternoon/early evening, as the Lagoon is near the airport, and at least 30 minutes from Reykjavik. We arrived just as they were opening, and we witnessed a gorgeous sunrise and small crowds. We were able to relax, use the lounge chairs and booked a table in the restaurant.
9. Don’t be a tourist and pay 4.00 for a bottle of water. Iceland is known to have the cleanest water in the world, running through its plumbing. There is a faucet just to the right of the first floor snack bar, with cups provided. There are also spigots under the bridges in the lagoon for drinking and rinsing.
10. Towels (and bathrobes, if you buy the splurge entry) are provided, and if you forget your suit, a bathing suit can even be rented. All towels are identical; however we brought our children their own, so they were easily identified. If you have the suitcase room and don’t like the thought of sharing, consider bringing your own.
Getting There: Fly direct into Keflavik Airport from over 80 destinations in Europe in North America.