So, I thought I'd kick off my trio of posts about my Iceland trip with my absolute highlight; bathing in the famous Blue Lagoon, one of the best experiences of my life. Quite close to the airport, approximately a 40 minute drive through the etherial lava fields where they practiced for the moon landings, away from the capitol of Reykjavik, sits the most beautiful body of silica and sulphur rich water. What was originally a man made waste water pool from the next door geothermal energy plant has been turned into one of the most awesome natural (recreational, medicinal and research) health spas in the world.
It is not as cold as you'd expect around the water, because of the steam and the sheer natural warmth coming off of the lagoon. I know I keep on saying this about my trip, but these photos, or my words could never do the amazing, dazzling milky blue colour of the pool justice. You step down into the water, and the only comparison I can make is stepping into a nice warm, but so much more nourishing bath, just slightly cooler than a hot tub. Well, that is the temperature by the steps. Due to geothermal heat spots different parts of the lagoon are warmer than others. The real heat is in the bit around behind the bar (yes, there is a bar in the lagoon, more on that in a moment!), but what really blew my mind was a bit near that. You could be walking along, and suddenly step forward into a patch that is much, much hotter than where you were just standing. Too hot really. Then you take another step forward, and you're back to the original temperature.
So, the bar. The little wristbands everyone in the spa wears to get into their lockers double up for payment to get drinks at the bar in the middle of the lagoon. You can get wine, beer, green juice, slushies and Skyr smoothies, as well as some additional mud mineral mud masks (again, more on those in a moment!) Skyr is a pretty beloved yogurt type product in Iceland, which we'll explore later in my Reykjavik food post. It is a by-product of local cheese making, and tastes a lot like low fat greek yogurt. Now, Southern Californian living has basically ingrained the green juice gene into me, but I was to tempted by the idea (as long as I did not think too much about all the additives!) of a ice cold slushie consumed in the hot water. It is to be recommended!
You might notice white stuff all over the faces of some of the people in the photos I snapped once I'd got out of the lagoon. Dotted around the far edges of the lagoon are buckets of lagoon algae rich mud, designed to use as a face mask. Honestly, that mud is the only mask that has ever worked on me, and really cleared my skin, which was lovely over the next few days. Part of me wishes I had picked up a tube in the shop on the way out (or in their store on the main street in Reykjavik), but the other part of me things that it was a great part of the experience, and it probably would not be as effective without the wonderful lagoon water (that needs no chemicals because of its anti-bacterial algae) which made my skin perfectly smooth and soft all over. Into The Gloss has recently featured a great piece on Icelandic natural beauty and skincare, which includes the lagoon.
Aside from the water, there are also some other great spa options at the lagoon. You can pay to have extra massages and spa treatments in the water, but my two favourite free options were the steam room (geothermal heated with spa water on the steamer, self explanatory, really!) and the waterfall. Just outside the steam rooms and sauna there is a massive great waterfall, which at first glance looks just like a cascade of water, but is actually weighted to provide a powerful and loosing massage. I've always had back problems stemming from an old rowing injury, and I can tell you that the waterfall was utter bliss.
The lagoon is the number one thing I'd recommend anyone on a trip to this part of Iceland, but I do have a few hints and tips for you if you're visiting. First, don't take a towel you care about. Everyone hangs them on a peg next to the lagoon for use when you get out. It did not bother me as much as I was not cold, an hour and a half in the water had lifted my core body temperature right up, but mine got stolen while I was bathing. Luckily the girls in the locker rooms lent me one of the lagoons own for after my shower (which you have to do when you get in and out, without swimwear. Don't worry if you don't like nudity, there are cubicles!) Speaking of the shower, the silica in the lagoon water will wreck your hair. You can wear a swim or shower cap (a fair few people do), but drenching your hair in conditioner and putting it up in a top knot to keep it away from the water should do the trick. They provide great vats of the lagoons own natural conditioner in the showers, which I used on the way in and the way out of the water. Their algae shower gel they also provide also makes for an okay shampoo. However, one thing that is not free and your skin will be screaming for when you get out is a good, deep moisturiser, so take that with you.
How many of you have had the chance to head to the lagoon, beloved of tourists and locals alike? You can check out the 360 tour on their website if you'd like a closer look. I fell totally in love with Iceland, so I will be back soon, and I will be going in the lagoon yet again, probably on the way to the airport, as I'd love to be able to recreate the experience as often as possible, and try their fantastic looking spa restaurant, too. I did not eat nearly enough local food on the island!