Swimming beside colossal slabs of ice may not seem idyllic to most divers, yet the possibility of iceberg diving is quite real in the frigid waters of Greenland.
Extremely exclusive, there are only a handful of operations that will take divers underwater in eastern Greenland to encounter glaciers, whales and icebergs. Diving is possible year-round here, as the water temperatures never vary much, remaining just above freezing. Drift diving in the fjords is also a possibility.
The ice here is sensationally beautiful, with a deep, glacial-blue coloring and golf-ball patterning. No iceberg is alike. Some are hundreds of feet tall — and remember that only one-third of an iceberg is visible above the surface. The real exploration begins underneath the frigid waters. The fjords are crystal-clear here as well, and quite noisy despite being so isolated, with the constant crackling of the ice making an eerie sound.
Dramatic landscape aside, the fjords are not always fathomlessly deep either. In fact, divers are allowed to descend to depths of 90 feet (25 m), which can often mean reaching the bottom. Deep walls and kelp forests greet divers and provide another opportunity for exploration and photography. Greenland’s underwater world is a macro photographer’s paradise, with many rarely photographed creatures making the fjords their home.
Apart from the icebergs, visitors will often encounter humpback whales from the boat as they feed on krill in the nutrient-rich waters. Seals and Arctic birdlife are also common in Greenland; lucky birdwatchers may spot auks, razorbills and rock ptarmigans. Those interested in history can visit an abandoned American WWII military base with remnants of vehicles and other machinery.
Divers can get to Greenland via Denmark or Iceland on multiple flights per week depending on the time of year. Your tour company will likely coordinate onward transportation once you arrive in Greenland.
In the height of the Arctic summer you’ll experience the Midnight Sun, with few if any hours of darkness. By September there may be the chance to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) as it lights up the sky with its splendid spectrum of colors. Air temperature varies between 37 and 47 Fahrenheit (3 to 8 C) in the summer, while water temperatures average around 38 F (3 C), so warm clothes are a must as well as a drysuit certification and two separate cold-water regulators in case of freezing.