At the crack of 6:00a.m., I was wide awake. It was probably the jet lag or better yet, the excitement of waking up on an island in the middle of the North Atlantic. As the days get longer moving into summer, it’s difficult to sleep in unless you have total darkness. Perfect. No time for sleep anyways. Cramming into our tiny car, I opened up my little notebook with ideas and numbers jotted down to find our destination: The hidden pool of Seljavallalaug.

My curiosity to find this pool stemmed from a photo someone showed me after my first trip to Iceland. Completely remote and surrounded by nothing but nature. Without an exact address, I entered in the supposed GPS coordinates (63°33’59”N, 19°36’32”W). They brought us to a remote gravel car park, where it promptly started to snow. Continuing on foot through the canyon, we crossed a small stream trickling down from the mountainside. It’s at this point where you need to stop and look at your surroundings. You are miles away from home, familiarity, comfort. You are in a different world.

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Only 29°F outside and snowing, we hurried into the abandoned changing room at the base of the pool and stripped down to our trunks. The water was warm and felt comforting against the chilly air around us. Looking around, you could see where the warm water trickled down the rocks and collected into the pool. We couldn’t help but laugh at what we were doing at that exact moment: Swimming in natural geothermal water while it snows in a river valley near to a still-active volcano, Eyjafjallajökull.

Although other adventurers and travelers alike have swam in this pool for years before me, in that moment, I felt like I had stumbled upon a well kept secret. I felt part of a special club, like it had been waiting for me all these years, bearing the elements for me to come along for a quick swim. During that tiny segment of my life, I was genuinely happy, grinning from ear to ear. It was one of those experiences in life that you’ll someday tell your grandkids about.

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It was the pain of finding the pool that made it much more worthwhile. Aside from the coordinates and photo I had seen, we didn’t really know where we were going. If there had been signs and well paved roads directing you right up to it, it wouldn’t have had the same special feeling. Sure you can take a bus to the famous Blue Lagoon and pay the steep entry fee (albeit worth it), but finding my own adventure is something that I’ll never forget.

Even to this day when I go online and scroll across a photo of Iceland, I can’t help but smile and daydream about when I will return to this special island.

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Stefano Sanchez
Stefano is a southern California native that has been traveling the globe in search of adventure, whether it be to the jungles of the Philippines or simply exploring new areas of his own city. He has visited over 20 countries, but the journey is just getting started. For more of Stefano’s travels visit www.stefano.world or follow him on IG @stefanosanchez.

7 COMMENTS

  1. This place is amazing! Unfortunately I haven’t got there yet but I will one day for sure. Maybe this year 🙂 I wanted to go there last year in October, but when you are hitch-hiking, you can’t get to all these places you would love to.
    I can see from the pictures that you were alone there. Lucky you! I heard that Seljavallalaug is getting more and more popular and it’s not so easy to be there alone. I definitely agree that there are few more pleasant things than getting into warm geothermal water when the weather doesn’t spoil you. Very nice post!

    • Thanks Adam. It truly is amazing. It may be a bit tough hitchhiking there but if you can swing it, go for it. Perhaps, the worse the weather, the better chance you’ll have the pool to yourselves. Safe travels!

  2. Ahhh, what a great story!

    Those travel experiences; the ones where you feel like the only one who’s in on the ‘secret’ are the best. Sure, people have been there done that, but for that moment, it feels like you are the only one who has. We’ve had that a lot lately trekking the Annapurnas in Nepal.

    We can’t wait to get to Iceland and experience this for ourselves.

    • Thank you!
      I definitely agree. Hope you guys get to experience it when you visit. It’s just one of the many amazing things Iceland has to offer!

  3. This was a great read! I’m heading up to Iceland this June and am still trying to decide whether to rent a car or take a bus. Why did you opt for the car?

    Thanks!

    Vanessa 🙂

    • Hi Vanessa,

      Thank you! I would suggest the car as you have much more freedom. It was nice to be able to stop whenever we pleased or just keep on going to the next place. Also, some of these places, including this pool, were not accessible if you were to take a bus. If you do opt for the car rental, I suggest a 4×4, especially if you’re going off any of the main roads!

      Have a great time, safe travels!
      -Stefano

    • Definitely rent a car. I have traveled the island both by riding the Ring Road bus and by renting a car. With the rental car, you have much more freedom to reach the ‘hard to get to’ places. And as Stefano said, a 4×4, because of weather and some off roads. Enjoy! @globalfotog

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