Today, day five of our @windstarcruises seven-night Iceland circumnavigation, we pulled into Akureyri, the island’s second-largest town (pop. 18,000), considered the capital of the north.
A 90-minute bus ride later we arrived to take the waters at Myvatn thermal pools. The water here comes from more than 8,000 feet underground, and ranges between 98 and 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Rich in minerals and purported to soothe both skin and spirit, it smells distinctly of sulphur. And as you bob in the pool, surrounded by steam that rises in clouds from the fissures in the surrounding lava rock, it certainly feels like its working! My skin tingled slightly as I entered and almost instantly my legs felt velvety smooth to the touch.
So how does Myvatn compare to the Blue Lagoon? Well, it’s on the opposite (northern) coast, about a four-hour drive from Reykjavík. The operation, though commercialized, is nowhere near as slick as the Blue Lagoon, with far fewer visitors. Myvatn’s water is about the same comfortingly hot temp as the Blue Lagoon but it’s not as blue; its particular mineral composition makes it feel slippery against the skin; and it does have that pungent sulfur odor. And while the (man-made) Blue Lagoon is lined with textured concrete, Myvatn’s natural pool has fine gravel on the bottom.
What to know before you go: You’re expected to shower before entering the pool and BEFORE putting on your swimsuit. This is how Icelanders do it. No one bats an eye at your makes bod, so leave your modesty behind. Bring instead a pair of flip-flops for the changing room and mad dash out to the pool; a plastic bag for your we suit (unlike the Blue Lagoon), Myvatn doesn’t provide them; and bring a bottle of body moisturize because sulfur can be drying to the skin.
See more about my day in Arureyri on my Stories, and keep a look out for my feature on small-ship website QuirkyCruise.com this fall.
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