The first time I went to Iceland’s Blue Lagoon was during Airwaves 2012. I entered on a press pass and listened to DJs while I soaked in the milky blue water, surrounded by lava rock. It was so cold and windy that day they couldn’t keep the water warm enough, but I stuck it out long enough to get a drink from the swim-up bar and experience each of the pool’s special features – waterfall, sauna, silica face mask. I concluded the Blue Lagoon was cool, but overpriced and over-hyped. Despite the pretty setting, the difference from normal Icelandic swimming pools didn’t justify the price.
Still, when I brought my whole family to Iceland this April, it felt obligatory. And now I’ve had to rethink my opinion.
This time, I did the Blue Lagoon like most tourists. After an overnight flight, we rented a car and drove straight there from the rental agency (it’s kind of on the way into the city). The kids were so excited that they stayed awake for the whole flight, so by the time we hit the road they had been awake for some 18-20 hours (a record for them) and they crashed as soon as we got in the car.
We got to the Blue Lagoon about half an hour before our pre-booked entrance time, and since the kids were asleep, sat in the car watching rain drip down the windshield before we went in. Between the early hour and the timed ticketing, the line wasn’t long once we woke the kids. In the wake of our sleepless night, however, we lost a lot of time trying to figure out the locker room system and navigate showers and suits for me and the kids out of a shared carry-on bag.
When we finally got to the water, the first thing that happened was my 8-year-old’s magnetic bracelet fell off in the water. She was just too skinny to keep it on, even on the tightest setting. We found the band (not easy in opaque water), and I put it on her ankle. It fell off again. I finally fastened it to the shoulder strap on my bathing suit.
The Blue Lagoon is pretty shallow, and people mostly walk around in the water instead of swimming. I’m short, and there were only a couple of places where I needed to swim, but my 8-year-old had to wear floaties (she knows how to swim, but she was tired and swimming is a lot of work). Once we started moving around outside, both girls perked up. We ended up spending a couple of hours in the pool. We got drinks, put goop on our faces (horrifying our 12-year-old), explored all the little coves and inlets of the Blue Lagoon, and didn’t leave until we started to get hungry.
It was still cold and raining when we walked back out to the car, but now we were all wide awake. Instead of feeling like weary travelers seeking rest, we felt like adventurers setting out to explore. In the car, we ate snacks purchased at the airport. We parked close to our hotel and walked down to Kolaportid, the Saturday flea market near the water, where we grabbed more snacks (in my experience, successful travel with kids is as simple as reverting to an infant’s feeding schedule). We had an early dinner at Hverfisgata 12, and went to bed around eight. Compared to our trip to Terceira six months earlier (another overnight flight), where we all crashed by 3 p.m. and only left the hotel for dinner, we fit so much more into our first day.
So, I have to revise my earlier assessment of the Blue Lagoon.
But it is also the perfect substitute for a night’s sleep after an overnight flight, a perfect introduction to Iceland’s bathing culture (seriously, every other pool changing room seemed so simple after this one) and a wonderful way to start a trip to Iceland.
I think I might make a habit of booking time at the Blue Lagoon on arrival for every trip to Iceland. I will still buy the cheaper ticket that requires me to bring my own towel, and skip the gift shop, fancy skincare products and glorified cafeteria, though, or else I won’t be able to afford repeat visits.
PS – I may be a cheapskate, but I’m not that person. You know, the one paddling around the swimming pool with a selfie stick. So I’m sorry to my readers, but my Blue Lagoon photos are from the earlier press visit. To everyone who was at the Blue Lagoon with me in April, you’re welcome.
<div style=”position:relative;height:0;padding-bottom:56.25%”><iframe src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/79DijItQXMM?ecver=2″ width=”640″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ style=”position:absolute;width:100%;height:100%;left:0″ allowfullscreen>