The Secret Lagoon is a man-made hot spring of natural resources located at Hverahólmi, the geothermal area next to the village of Flúðir in southern Iceland. It is the oldest pool in the country, and one of the most popular for locals and tourists alike.
Though not as busy as the Blue Lagoon, it still requires pre-booking in the summer.
The hot spring is situated within the range of popular tourist route the Golden Circle, close to the waterfall of Gullfoss, in the village of Flúðir.
This village is renowned for its greenhouse activity, which is used for horticulture and agriculture in the form of many greenhouses. This helps Iceland produce fresh food throughout the year.
Another major advantage of this geothermal activity is the natural and age-old thermal pools to be found in the area. Hrunalaug is one of those, a minuscule natural hot spring that has regrettably undergone a great deal of damage in the last years due to increased numbers of visitors.
The Secret Lagoon, however, has been modified to accommodate a much larger number of people. It makes use of its natural terrain and geothermal heating, leaving the water at a temperature of 38-40° Celsius (100° Fahrenheit) all year long.
The area all around the hot spring consists of mossy lava fields and geothermal hot-spots, including a small geyser that erupts every 5 minutes or so, which can be seen from the pool. A path by the pool allows you to explore this area with ease.
The steam that rises from the surrounding terrain into the air gives the place its distinct and magical atmosphere.
The pool was constructed in 1891 and is officially the oldest swimming pool in the entire country. Icelanders simply call it 'the old pool' or 'gamla laugin'.
In the year 1909, the first swimming lessons took place in the pool, which continued until relocated to the new pool in Flúðir in 1947. Before the 1900s, the Icelandic people rarely knew how to swim, in spite of being a nation of fishermen surrounded by an ocean.
Today, near every single Icelandic person is an able swimmer, since swimming lessons are conducted in pools and are mandatory for every Icelandic child.
After the opening of the new pool in Flúðir, the Secret Lagoon was all but forgotten, falling into disrepair. Once its ownership changed hands, however, it underwent a renaissance. It has since then been thoroughly renovated, although maintains both a natural charm and air of abandoned, fairytale-like mystery.
It now attracts hundreds of people every day.
The Secret Lagoon is often compared favourable to the Blue Lagoon, for being cheaper and less busy. While true, the Blue Lagoon has more facilities, such as saunas and steam rooms, and a wealth of unique properties, such as its azure waters and silica masks, that distinguish it.
It is also closer to Reykjavík, near to Keflavík International Airport. This means that it can be visited to refresh after a long flight, or in preparation for one.
Both, however, are in beautiful, serene locations and have their own distinct charm, so many visitors indulge in trips to both.