During my recent visit to Iceland I enjoyed a few hours at the Blue Lagoon, listed as one of National Geographic’s 25 wonders of the world. Many may say it is a tourist trap, but it is is an oasis of relaxation nevertheless.
The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, approximately 12 miles (20 km) from the Keflavík International Airport and 24 miles (39 km) from the center of Reykjavík, (roughly a 21-minute drive from the airport and a 50-minute drive from Reykjavík).
The spa is based around the unique properties of the geothermal seawater in the lagoon.
The geothermal water originates 6561 feet (2,000 meters) below the surface, where freshwater and seawater combine at extreme temperatures. It is then harnessed via drilling holes at a nearby geothermal power plant, Svartsengi, to create electricity and hot water for nearby communities.
On its way to the surface, the water picks up silica and minerals. When the water emerges, its temperature is usually between 98-104°F (37°C and 40°C).
The geothermal water has a unique composition, featuring three active ingredients – Silica, Algae & Minerals. The reason the water has a light blue milky color is that the silica reflects sunlight. During summer there can also be a hint of green in the water. This is the result of the algae, which multiplies quickly when exposed to direct sunlight.
The geothermal water has many benefits. But there are a few things that you should keep in mind. The warm waters are rich in minerals like silica and sulfur and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is reputed to help some people suffering from skin diseases such as psoriasis. The Blue Lagoon also operates a research and development facility to help find cures for other skin ailments using the mineral-rich water.
The lagoon is a man-made lagoon which is fed by the water output of the nearby geothermal power plant Svartsengi and is renewed every two days. It is the largest in the World. Superheated water is vented from the ground near a lava flow and used to run turbines that generate electricity. After going through the turbines, the steam and hot water passes through a heat exchanger to provide heat for a municipal water heating system. Then the water is fed into the lagoon for recreational and medicinal users to bathe in.
Iceland has a strict code of hygiene and guests are required to shower prior to enjoying the geothermal spa.
Children age 8 and under are only allowed entry with the use of arm floaters, provided free of charge. The lagoon is not suitable for children under the age of 2 years.
The Blue Lagoon is accessible for wheelchair users with a ramp that extends into the water and a shower chair. There is also a private changing room available for those with special needs, complete with a roll-in shower.
Blue Lagoon is going through a phase of expansion. Construction is ongoing spring 2018, when a new resort complex will open.
A few interesting facts:
The lagoon contains 2377548 gallons or 9000000 liters of water.
The water is self-cleansing – it renews itself every 40 hours.
Blue Lagoon is mostly 2.6 - 3.9 feet (ca. 0.8-1.2 meters) deep. Its deepest point is 4.59 feet (1.4 meters).
If you would like to visit Reykjavik it is recommended to plan well ahead. Hotels in Iceland have not been able to keep up with demand so to avoid disappointments it is recommended to book early
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Lene H. Minyard