This travel-blog is a continuation of my travel-blog A Lovely 3-day-stay in Reykhólar in the Westfjords - Part 1. That travel-blog was becoming so long, that I had to create 2 more parts as there is just so much to see and do here at Reykhólar and in the vicinity.
After visiting the beautiful area of the loons the day was only to get better, as now I popped in at the Reykhólar Seabaths to see if they had a spot for me as the weather was heavenly. We had decided on hiking to the northernmost glacier in Iceland, Drangajökull glacier, on this day, but I so wanted to try out the sea baths.
I had forever wanted to soak in seaweed; from the first time that I heard about these sea baths when they opened back in 2011.
Seaweed is such a good product and I can never get enough of it. I studied the art of cooking Macrobiotic style almost 30 years ago in London. In Macrobiotics, which is based on Japanese vegan cooking, a lot of various types of seaweed is used in cooking. Until that time I had only ever eaten dulse (söl) from time to time in Iceland.
I fell head over heels in love with seaweed in London, especially the Nori type of seaweed, which is also used for sushi. This was way before people started raving about sushi. Imported seaweed is very expensive in Iceland, so every time I go abroad I fill my suitcase with Nori seaweed. And here in Iceland, we are surrounded by the sea, just imagine that I have to import seaweed to Iceland!
Knowing how nutritious and precious seaweed is I often wondered through the years why we Icelanders didn't use it more, apart from collecting dulse.
One of the claimed benefits one can get from seaweed is that it slows down the ageing of the skin, delaying wrinkles, as it is so rich in antioxidants and it is believed that seaweed increases the elasticity of the skin.
When I arrived a lovely lady prepared my seaweed bath while I took a shower. I couldn't wait to get it; it was a bit strange stepping into the green water, but once in it felt heavenly, it was even a bit oily which I hadn't expected.
Every muscle in my body relaxed and I felt like I never wanted to get out of this water. I felt like I was being hugged by the seaweed in the water. It was sunny and warm and sitting in the hot tub seaweed bath in this lovely weather, looking at the lush green fields in front of me, I felt so happy and was thinking to myself: "This is life!". And I am not the type who can relax easily.
What a fantastic day this had been, first the myriad of loons which sang for me - and now being pampered like this.
After soaking for a while I got a plate with green seaweed paste to put on my face. I couldn't put it on evenly as I didn't have a mirror, so I got help. The same thing happens in the Blue Lagoon, when I want to put the white silica paste on my face I would need a mirror to put it on evenly.
I always end up looking like a white monster, when others look so good with the silica on their face. Anyhow, it was nice feeling the seaweed paste on my face, knowing that it was sinking into my skin.
After a while I felt that I had become hungry from the smell of seaweed ;) Make sure to drink a lot of water while in the seaweed bath. A bottle of cold, clean Icelandic water is provided.
After stepping out of the seaweed hot tub after 40 minutes or so, my skin felt very refreshed and I didn't want to take a shower immediately, I just wanted this nutritious seaweed to envelop me, imagining the benefits it was making. When you shower though don't use soap, just rinse it off, also the seaweed in your hair.
Afterwards, I could still smell the seaweed and it lingered until I had a shower the next morning, but that didn't bother me as I love the smell of seaweed. My skin felt like silk. I bought some seaweed powder to take home with me, as I want to experience this again. Now I just have to find somebody, who owns a hot tub ;)
Sjávarsmiðjan - Reykhólar Seabaths is a family run business, located in an old restored workshop in which they also run a café. They sell seaweed products like seaweed flakes, seaweed salt and the seaweed powder, which I soaked in. Inside their café, I saw this green powder in 2 bowls, this is the seaweed powder used in the sea baths.
I heard on the news last spring that there are plans of expanding and opening up additional sea baths on the shore south of the village. I think that is a very good idea and will have to try them out as well - hopefully, next year.
The seaweed comes from a very environmentally friendly factory, Þörungaverksmiðjan Thorverk, which is the only seaweed processing factory in Iceland. It is located at Karlsey island below Reykhólar village. So it is quite fitting that there are seaweed baths in Reykhólar village.
Þörungaverksmiðjan Thorverk factory started operating in 1975 using hot geothermal water from Reykhólar, of which there is plenty, as an energizer. The seaweed (kelp) is dried by geothermal energy and milled into a powder. This is the powder used for the seaweed baths and as a facial mask. This powder is called Algae Náttúra and is a 100% pure natural product. And certified organic.
Þörungaverksmiðjan Thorverk harvests seaweed from Breiðafjörður bay. It is pretty amazing watching these huge orange seaweed harvesting machines out in the ocean harvesting seaweed.
I saw them for the first time from the other side of the fjord when I was driving on Skarðsströnd a couple of years ago. I stopped the car and stepped out as it was so amazing seeing these huge machines out in the ocean.
There is another factory opposite the Þörungaverksmiðjan Thorverk factory - Saltverksmiðjan Salt factory, which has been operating since 2013, uses waste heat from Þörungaverksmiðjan Thorverk factory - talking about being environmental - the factory is powered by geothermal heat from the wastewater!!
If you drive down to the harbour at Reykhólar you will see both factories. From the sea by the Saltverksmiðjan Salt factory, there is steam coming up from the wastewater. This factory uses only the heat from the water as an energizer and then the remaining tepid water is released back into the environment. Brilliant, I think!
In my next travel-blog A Lovely 3-Day-Stay at Reykhólar in the Westfjords - Part 3 I will tell you a little more about Reykhólar and show you their museum and the church amongst other things of interest in this area, f.ex. the only original turf house left in the Westfjords and the market town of the elves!
Reykhólar is located some 228 km away from Reykjavík which is a 3-hour-drive. It is perfect staying here for the first night when you are visiting the Westfjords of Iceland. Or more nights; I stayed there for 3 nights and don't think I saw everything I wanted to see.
Have a lovely time at Reykhólar :)