Going swimming or to a hot pool has to be one of the family´s favourite things to do, so much so that it has to be spelt out rather than said when discussing what to do, ´cause if the kids hear the word “swimming” then they HAVE to go!
The area around Súðavík is a “cold area” meaning that we don't have a lot if any natural hot water springs around us, but jump in the car and drive for an hour and we can get to quite a few :-) if we can't be bothered with that then each village around these parts have their own and unique swimming pool which if anything is more traditional to the Icelander, to have a chat in a hot tub than to jump in a hole in the ground.
The family enjoying Reykjanes in the winter :-)
Reykjanes hot pool is our family favourite and holds a bit of a cult status in and around these parts. During the summer months, it turns into a bit of a Mecca, with most locals going there at least once if not more for family get togethers or on their way to/from the region and there always seems to be something going on or a party to be had!
It may not be the most natural of natural pools, being 30 metres long, made of concrete and sitting next to the ugly hotel Reykjanes, an old converted boarding school built in the '70s, but its size, heat, views of the mountains and closeness to the road make it a great stop and it really shouldn't be missed.
When there, don't forget to go to the close by SaltVerk artisan salt making buildings or to take a walk around the small peninsula with its weird rock formations, coral on the beaches and seal colonies just off the shore :-)
Heydalur Hot Pool (photo http://www.heydalur.is)
Everybody loves Heydalur “Adventure Valley” and the total experience of it is one of the most quirky and bizarre your likely to have in Iceland, I mean where else will you swim in a greenhouse with grapevines and fruit trees growing all around you, that after eating said fruits in a wonderful homegrown meal complete with fish fresh from the river and talking parrot in the corner, and probably trip over some form of construction equipment and/or a pet Arctic fox in the courtyard!??
When it comes to taking a dip Heydalur offers up 3 unique hot pool experiences all in one place.
Greenhouse, as mentioned above Heydalur grow all of their own fruit and veg on site in a converted sheep shed greenhouse. Inside there is a small lukewarm, traditional style swimming pool and much cosier hot tub. Usually, both are full of floating leaves from the trees and green algae on the swimming pool walls
Outside the “orchard” you find the second hot water attraction which is a human-built but very natural feeling series of 3 hot pools, with water piped into them from the nearby spring. Built of large stones taken from the area this is a really nice relaxing pool and its closeness to the main buildings of Heydalur make it a convenient and popular place for the people staying at the onsite guesthouse to congregate in the evenings.
Heydalur Geothermal Hotpool
The final hot pool at Heydalur is a close to the perfect natural, hole in the ground, middle-of-nowhere hot pool as I have found so far. It's about a 10 minutes walk from the restaurant, down past the fields and over the river but well worth the stroll and it is as it sounds a hole in the ground, right next to the running river and probably big enough for 8 at a squash. Once upon a time a small wooden changing room was set up but that now stands slowly decaying to nature so you have to be prepared to strip off in whatever the conditions are around you, but once you get in the water is the perfect 40 degrees or so and the sounds of the river and birds around you mean you can stay there forever :-)
Hörgshlíð hot pool in the Westfjords
What Hörgshlíð lacks in architecture (concrete rectangle on the ground) it more than makes up for in location (sea level on the rocky beach overlooking the Mjóífjörður fjord). You can easily miss this little pool as you drive along the eastern edge of the fjord but if you keep your eyes open you will see the little changing room and pool down on the coastline as you are nearing the fjords “u-turn” end. This pool is left to nature, and as so is a bit grubby, with algae growing on its sides and the concrete beginning to crack but it has a charm to it and also makes for a great picture opportunity.
Bolungarvík swimming pool, complete with mountain view (photo from http://www.visir.is)
The only slide in this part of the Westfjords (Talknafjörður has another one) means that this swimming pool is a hit with the kids for sure! It's kind of a weird set up tho with an indoor pool and outdoor hot tubs, slide and children's (shallow) tub, but it works great. Throw in the free coffee outside and magnificent mountain views and you have yourself a great afternoon of lounging around
Ísafjörður hospital swimming pool, complete with all the family (and emergency cords:-) )
I know what you are thinking, “hospital??”. but that's right, a hospital. this one is almost a secret to most locals too, and its only because my wife is a nurse there that we even found out about it..but.. down on the basement level of the Ísafjörður hospital is a little 10 metre swimming pool plus jacuzzi hot tub, and its open to the public when not in use for physiotherapy. We love it here as we are nearly always the only ones there so the kids can just do whatever they want, and if you are looking for that random act in your day give it a try, turn up ask for the pool and see what happens…just don't pull on the red emergency cords once you're in or a nurse will come running in to save you (the kids love pulling those cords :-) )
Suðureyri swimming pool (photo www.icelandictimes.is)
You can buy and then eat ice-creams at these outdoor pools and hot tubs…say no more :-)
Þingeyri swimming pool complete with the Morning Club. photo from www.westfjords.com
Þingeyri has a fairly modern and tidy indoor swimming pool and hot tub which is fine to go to if you are staying in the village but I wouldn´t go out of my way to see it. To the locals of the Westfjords it is most famous for its Hot Tub Morning Club where locals get together to discuss the great and the good in the world. Their thoughts are often recounted on the town's website and the club is well known to send open letters to the government offering their opinion on current affairs, much to the love of both local and national newspapers alike :-)