Many visitors to Iceland go to the Blue Lagoon either directly after arriving at Keflavik International Airport or on their way to the airport before leaving the country. The geothermal spa is actually closer to the airport than Reykjavik, and you can even store your luggage while you take in the warm waters.
Paul and I, however, arrived at Iceland at night. We could have visited before our afternoon flight back to the U.S., but we opted for a more leisurely experience. So we booked seats on a bus to the Blue Lagoon on a Thursday morning, our first full day in Iceland.
I was looking forward to the visit, but I wasn't sure what to expect. First off, I knew that before entering a spa or public pool in Iceland, you must first shower unclothed -- no swimsuit -- in the locker room. I was never an athlete, and I'm a little bashful in that respect. However, it wasn't a big deal. The Blue Lagoon was sparse when we arrived at 11 a.m., and I found a semi-private shower with a door that mostly shut. Then it was off to the creamy blue waters.
The waters are heated by a nearby geothermal power plant to 98 to 102 degrees, but there are certainly some pockets that are hotter than others. The floor is covered with black sand and smooth, jagged rocks, but you can see neither. Forms become vague two inches below the surface and completely disappear another three inches below that.
The pool has no right angles and is surrounded by large piles of black lava rocks. Out of the pool, the temperature must have been in the high 40s to 50s, and there was an ever-present fog over the water. A breeze created ripples in the water and made my ears cold.
The Blue Lagoon also has saunas, as well as several tubs of silica strategically placed throughout the pool and generously used by visitors to create facemasks. We tried it three times. But mostly we did nothing at all -- just explored the lagoon and sought out the hottest spots of water.
The place got much busier around 5 p.m. -- Icelanders off work? Tourists arriving from the airport? Either way, the lagoon's bar area was lively and the place got much louder. We left shortly after, spending a good 7 hours at the lagoon.
Interestingly, every visitor receives a rubber wristband to wear for the duration of the visit that locks and unlocks your locker and which you can use to charge food, drinks and towel rentals. When we arrived in Iceland we still had some Danish currency, and Paul asked a Blue Lagoon employee if it would be accepted. Yes, the man said. The lagoon basically takes all currency, he went on, and they'd probably even accept jewelry -- they'll get paid somehow. So obviously they see a lot of tourists -- not a surprise since even the New York City subways have advertisements for the Blue Lagoon.
I expected to enjoy the Blue Lagoon, but it was even better than I thought. In fact, I would try to arrange a long layover in Iceland in the future just for a quick return visit -- not so difficult to arrange since it's so close to the airport. It was a relaxing day, and one I hope I'll one day get to repeat.