When you think of SCUBA diving, you normally think of blue, tropical waters, colorful fish and maybe a playful dolphin or two. Most people would balk at a dive that requires a drysuit, a frost-proof regulator and several 10,000 ton icebergs. You need a real sense of adventure to dive the icy, blue waters that surround the largest island in the world.
Diving in Greenland takes special equipment — Photo courtesy of ilovegreenland
When you dive the waters of Greenland, you will be venturing where only a handful of divers have ever been. The 1,646 mile long island, which is under the administration of the Kingdom of Denmark, is inhabited mostly by Inuit. Contrary to its name, about 80 percent of it is covered in ice and snow and the island contains about 50 glaciers and some icebergs that are as tall as a 15-story building.
As these ice structures melt, the fresh water mixes with the ocean's salt water and forms layers which create an underwater a kaleidoscope of color and light that divers say is like nothing else in the world. Not to mention because of the lack of pollution on the island, the water clarity is infinite.
During a typical dive off the coast of Greenland, divers will see wildlife like Atlantic wolf-fish, lumpfish and cod, sugar wrack, red sea cucumbers, sea urchins, crabs, scallops, starfish and sea anemones. Larger animals include ringed, harp and hooded seals, Minke and Beluga whales and the unicorn-like Narwhal which can be seen in Melville Bay in Northeast Greenland.
Some divers have run into the elusive Greenland Shark which seems to be indifferent to divers. To add to the adventure, plan for a wreck dive. Several of the shipwrecks around Greenland are very accessible and since so few people have visited them, the cargo and equipment are generally intact. The triple masted schooner, "Borgin" sank in 1954 with a hold full of salted fish. She lies at only 26 meters and you can dive through the crew's bunks and washing facilities.
Some icebergs in Greenland are as tall as a building — Photo courtesy of kaet44
The waters around Greenland are close to freezing, so certain certificates and equipment are mandatory for diving its icy depths. A minimum of PADI AWO (cold water certificate) and drysuit training will be required as well as a frost-proof regulator and a redundant air supply.
The best times of year for diving in Greenland are during the summer months from April to August. During this time, Greenland becomes the Land of the Midnight Sun and island visitors will experience daylight for the majority of the day, and divers can dive day or night.
The ice-colored Beluga whale may visit you on your Arctic dive — Photo courtesy of brian.gratwicke
A popular spot for both land visitors and divers is the mirror-like Disko Bay which contains the world's largest fjord and enormous icebergs. International dive companies like Tropic Ice Dive visit this bay as well as the larger icebergs. They supply the dive boat, rental of appropriate ice-diving equipment, food and beverages and some tour packages of the island.
A typical seven day package will cost about $400. When you want to warm up after your icy adventure, on Disko Island and in East Greenland there are thousands of hot springs. These pools of hot water (heated by the deep layers of the earth's crust rubbing against each other) are about 98-100 degrees Fahrenheit and offer a nice bathtub break from your underwater arctic adventures.