The mysterious English label Secret Lagoon may be misplaced for one of Iceland’s top three swimming pools whose popularity increases steadily. Yes, to mention it beforehand: If you want to have the pool all for yourself, it would be a good idea to either turn up early in the morning, to take a late night dip just before closing time – or to stay all day and wait for a few minutes of solitude.
We went for the third option and spent a whole day at the lagoon (and in total three days in the village of Flúðir). For sure, it was a wonderful day with a maximum of relaxation. Still, after 8 hours in the 40°C hot water of the lagoon, I ended up being dehydrated and Óskar had to rescue me. But Óskar is good at rescuing me anyway, so it was nothing new. 🙂 After some cups of hot tea, I felt better. And would do it all again!
The Secret Lagoon is supposed to be one of the oldest natural hot pots in Iceland, and that’s where the Icelandic name “Gamla laugin” comes from. What makes this lagoon so charming is the conceptual imperfection that plays with the old and the new. Of course, there are artificial water pipes today in order to keep the fluid running and clean. But the heat of the water still comes from geothermal sources encircling the pool.
The hot springs and little geysirs around the lagoon make it a quite special place. Any time you need a small pause from the water, you can have a walk around the pool. It’s truly refreshing to have a look at boiling geothermal water or the surrounding greenhouses while walking in cold air.
Still, the very fact that there is “only” one pool has the potential to disappoint the local visitors! Óskar and I overheard an adorable Icelandic toddler whose first reaction was: “Er þetta bara EIN sundlaug?” (“Is there only ONE swimming pool?”). For sure, he was used to having differently heated hot pots next to a big sports pool and a water slide. After having been in the pouts for several minutes, the little boy enjoyed his stay nevertheless. Acutally, the free pool noodles helped a lot.
In fact, there’s almost no hidden gem in Iceland where you don’t stumble over the “tourist thing”. Unfortunately, Óskar and I were quite shocked that there was no Icelandic speaking staff at the Secret Lagoon. The place is run by foreigners who really know how to keep it relaxed and simple, but still… I think it’s a no-go to have an English-only policy at an Icelandic pool. Honestly speaking, it’s somewhat impolite for locals who want to join the adventure without feeling left behind.
A few days ago, I’ve read a thoughtul article in the English newspaper The Reykjavík Grapevine. It was about Icelandic nostalgy and the “old” Iceland. About Iceland before it was overrun by 1.6 million tourists per year although it’s only a small island with limited capacity. The short essay is entitled Thank You for Coming. Funnily enough, it’s framed by a photograph of the Secret Lagoon.