House of Coco knows a thing or two about island escapes (what’s not to love about sandy beaches, sunshine and fresh coconut juice, right?) so we accepted an impromptu invite from Iceland Travel, and boy, were we in for a sea change!
Being dubbed ‘The Land of Fire and Ice’ doesn’t exactly scream bikini-weather but don’t let Iceland’s arctic appearance scare you. With 130 volcanoes and only 325,671 inhabitants, this is no ordinary island! Imagine entering your very own giant snow globe and feeling mesmerised at every single shake… Iceland is a whole new kind of gorgeous, and believe it or not, we left feeling more rejuvenated than a week at a 5-star spa hotel.
Here’s our list of top five must-dos if you want an invigorating holiday experience:
- Tick off the bucket list, spot the Aurora Borealis: One of the biggest draws for visitors to Iceland is the hunt for the marvellous Northern Lights. We opted to search for this natural phenomenon by Super Jeep for a spot of off-road fun. Unlike the buses, which park side-by-side at designated spots, we didn’t just sit and wait for action. We were true light detectives, pointing out clear patches of sky and, shortly before turning into frozen pumpkins, the lights finally danced for us at the stroke of midnight, a priceless show!
- Rain, hail or shine, get a pamper: After Aurora-chasing until the early hours at sub-zero temperatures, the most rewarding way to thaw off is neck deep in the Blue Lagoon. Naturally therapeutic, (even during a snow storm, as we discovered!), the lagoon’s six million litres of geothermal (37-39°C) seawater is filled with nurturing ingredients. Lather up with the free clay mask and don’t forget to drench your hair in conditioner: it will save you from a few bad (dry) hair days.
- Go for a ride, Lara Croft style: With over 300 glaciers on the island, we just had to get to one, and quick! The Mountaineers of Iceland had the perfect solution, a thrilling two-hour snowmobile adventure on the Langjökull glacier, the second largest ice cap in Iceland. If zooming around wasn’t epic enough, the panoramic view was the icing on the cake. Imagine a winter wonderland version of the Sahara desert – you’ll definitely be in awe when you catch a glimpse of how surreal the Icelandic landscape is, especially the Gullfoss Waterfall.
- Take a daring plunge, for love: How romantic can diving in 1°C water be? As our Scuba Iceland guide told us, enough to spark a couple of underwater proposals! We couldn’t miss one of the top dive sites in the world – the Silfra Fissure – a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents, meaning that you literally dive (or snorkel) between two tectonic plates. Luckily they’re drifting about 2cm apart, and not together, each year. Oh, we should mention the dry-suits…not exactly Fashion Week worthy when you look like a rubbery Michelin-man, but looks go out of the window when glacial waters are involved.
- Sample the good, and the wacky: The rumours are true! Iceland does have some odd culinary fads, but rest assured, there was no rotting shark or horse on our menu! We did, however, sample what we judge to be the best lobster soup in the world at Sægreifinn, the Sea Baron Restaurant. This cute little fishmonger also serves fresh fish skewers and the local delicacy for more courageous eaters is the Mink Whale. The bite size option was sufficient for us! For sweet-tooth’s we suggest the delicious Risa Hraun bar, although, don’t get confused (like us) by the name. It’s Icelandic for “Big Lava” and not “Big Lover”!
The list could go on… Iceland sure is one fabulous island destination, but don’t just live it vicariously through us… wrap up warm, put on your hiking boots and don’t forget to pack your bikini!
PS: House of Coco absolutely loved Kex, a trendy hostel housed in an old biscuit factory in Reykjavik city. The chef rocked our socks off and the bar is a known hangout for locals, whom we forgot to mention are extremely friendly, stylish, and big coffee lovers!