If any of you have been to Iceland, or know anyone that has, then I guarantee they’ve been to one of the lagoons. Most likely the Blue Lagoon. For the Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most popular destination when it comes to its geothermal pools.
Which is exactly why I didn’t want to go.
The reason is that I’ve gathered the impression it has turned into a tourist trap. Just by looking at the prices of the Blue Lagoon compared to Secret Lagoon, it’s pretty clear to see. Plus, with it being so popular I couldn’t exactly see myself relaxing which is kind of the point of these things.
Let’s be clear though. I wanted to go to a lagoon/geothermal pool when I was in Iceland. It would be criminal not to visit one while in a country as wonderful as Iceland. I just didn’t want to go to the Blue Lagoon. I’ve fallen into enough tourist traps to last a lifetime – a lot of which were in Las Vegas I must say.
So, where did we end up?
Our holiday package included two excursions. The first was a Northern Lights hunt (Which I’ll come back to later) and the other was the Golden Circle. My partner and I ultimately booked our own separate Golden Circle tour and gave the Tui one a miss. Simply because it included a stop at the lesser-known Secret Lagoon. This also meant we could book an excursion to South Iceland to see the waterfalls and glaciers.
Those of you who read my first Iceland post (Click here if you haven’t) will know that our Golden Circle and Secret Lagoon tour was cancelled due to severe weather.
Fortunately for us, we heard a Tui staff member talking about the Sky Lagoon on our transfer to Reykjavik after our arrival.
The Sky Lagoon and the Northern lights
We had a spare day in Reykjavik in the middle of our stay in Iceland. With Sky Lagoon only a 20/25 minute taxi away from our hotel we decided to book entry to the lagoon and make our own way there. Mainly so we weren’t under any form of time restriction because we were on a tour. It is slightly more expensive this way but for what we got out of it I would only recommend doing it this way.
We decided to go in the evening for one simple reason… the Sky Lagoon was purpose-built to see the Northern Lights.
Going back to the aforementioned Northern Lights hunt tour with Tui for a split-second. This is something I wouldn’t recommend. My partner and I only took part because it was included in the price of our holiday. We certainly wouldn’t have paid extra to add it on nor would I recommend that to you.
All the Northern Lights hunt consisted of was boarding a coach at 10pm and being driven to a national park in the middle of nowhere (Away from the light pollution) where you just stand and wait for a few hours – it was baltic.
There’s a mobile phone app that tells you your chances of seeing the Northern Lights based on your GPS location. While we were at the national park the highest it got to was 9%. This basically meant the lights are there, but due to cloud coverage you can’t really see them other than the odd moment they pierce through. Conversely, while we were at Sky Lagoon, the lowest percentage I saw on the app was 68%, with the highest being 86%.
Did we see them? I hear you ask. Yes, we did. Due to Sky Lagoon’s location looking out to the ocean, there’s no need to worry about light pollution.
As you can see from the photos, they aren’t what one expects when you tell them ‘we saw the northern lights’, but they were there. And, unlike the national park in the middle of nowhere, we were in the warm geothermal lagoon. After taking those photos and admiring one of the seven wonders of the natural world, we picked up a drink from the swim-up bar and left only when it was closing time.
Oh, and to make it even better, I didn’t see more than 20 people the whole time we were at Sky Lagoon. At times it really felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.
The Seven Step Ritual
One of the other things that stands out about Sky Lagoon is its seven-step ritual. It’s centred around relaxation and wellbeing, so naturally, I was drawn right in. It’s kind of similar to an extended version of the Wim Hof method, which I have been practising for over a year now (Click here to read my blog post about it). The seven steps and their benefits are as follows…
Step one: Slow down, relax in the lagoon.
Step one is about the journey from the changing room out towards the infinity edge. It’s all about gently entering a state of serenity and calm where you feel relaxed and open to what is to come. Our day in Reykjavik was nice and chilled ahead of our visit. But I would imagine if you’ve had a long journey (or flight) you would notice the relaxation a lot more.
Step two: Cool down with the cold plunge.
Here we are ladies and gentlemen. The obligatory cold exposure. The part of the Wim Hof method that makes people shudder and say no thanks before they give it a go. There are two ways you can do this at Sky Lagoon. By taking a ten-second dip in the cold pool. Or, the way my partner and I opted for, standing in the below zero degree temperatures as we made our way towards step three. The cold exposure stimulates your immune system, decreases blood flow in your body and tightens skin.
Step three: Relax with a view in the sauna.
Pretty self explanatory here. We all love a sauna and know how great they make us feel. The heat opens our pores, remove toxins and cleanses our skin.
Step four: Refresh in a cold fog-mist.
More cold exposure? Oh, go on then. Step four is best compared to absorbing the mist from a cold shower/rainfall. The cold mist rejuvenates the skin and helps prepare you for what comes, which is next…
Step five: The Sky Body Scrub.
Sky Lagoon have developed their own unique sea salt scrub to give our skin a soft healthy feeling. It has a light spring-like scent and exfoliates our skin ahead of the penultimate step.
Step six: Steam room.
Again, pretty self explanatory here and you can stay as long as you like.
Step seven: shower and relax in the lagoon.
These showers aren’t cold but they do a good job of rinsing off the Sky Body Scrub before returning to the lagoon for the rest of your evening. Stepping back into the geothermal pool I felt like every single muscle in my body was relaxed, rejuvenated and energized. It was quite something.
These seven steps, taken in sequence and at a slow pace, can lead to deep relaxation and wellbeing. It is said Icelanders have done this for centuries. And from what I could tell from my four night stay, that is entirely believable. They are genuinely some of the more relaxed and laid back people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.
So, there we have it. A write-up of my trip to Iceland’s Sky Lagoon, albeit later than I originally planned (I’m sorry!).
There are very few things I would describe as perfect in this world, but my experience of Sky Lagoon is up there. Joining things like the final game at the Boleyn Ground and the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.
If you’re ever in Iceland and are looking for an alternative to the Blue Lagoon I cannot recommend this enough. It’s only been a month since my visit but it is already something I look back on fondly.
This post is the second of two centred around my recent trip to Iceland. I have plans for more travels this year (and beyond!) so I’ll be sure to get those written up as and when they happen.
I do get the odd comment here and there about writing too much travel content. It’s not that I’m trying to say it’s the cure for my depression and anxiety, not at all. However, it is arguably the thing that has brought the most joy into my life so naturally I’ll want to do more of it and write about it.
Like what you see? Please take a look at some of my other travel posts below
Back to travelling: Four nights in Iceland
First trip abroad since the pandemic: Budapest
A love letter to New Zealand
Peru: Four years since Machu Picchu
South America throwback: Bolivia
South America throwback: Brazil and Argentina