In the north of Iceland, three beautiful pools cling to the cliffs above the Skjálfandi bay. In the ocean below, a few whales or dolphins splashed in the water. Sitting in the hot water and staring at the snow-capped Kinnarfjöll mountains in the distance, you experience the remarkable contrast that is Iceland: fire and ice. These are the GeoSea Geothermal Sea Baths, the most beautiful hot springs in the world.
Of all the geothermal pools in Iceland, the GeoSea Baths is the absolute best. They are unique in their use of saltwater and unparalleled in their beauty. The idyllic location and the thoughtfulness of the design make this geothermal pool perfection.
During our visit, even in the cold of winter, it was amazing. It’s easy to see why Time magazine says this is one of the 100 most beautiful places on the planet. We’d certainly agree!
Visiting GeoSea Baths
We came to the Husavik hot springs while exploring the north of Iceland. We did our day trip to GeoSea from Akureyri in the dead of winter. The two days before our visit, Northern Iceland received more snow than at any point in the last 20 years. There were feet of snow everywhere.
On arriving, the parking lot was icy and the entrance was completely snowed under. We needed to use the lower entrance near the yellow lighthouse and pools. A cold, hard wind blew down from the mountain and out to the bay. The buildings sheltered the pools from the biting wind.
We moved from pool sampling the different temperatures. We spent most of the time in the upper pool, sheltered from the wind, drinking prosecco and enjoying the views.
At one point, while in the lower pool, we thought we saw a whale or dolphin breaching in the water. It happened three times before stopping. We were reminded of our first trip to Husavik, when we went whale watching.
While we were here in the daytime, we couldn’t help but fantasize about coming at night and potentially seeing the Northern Lights in Husavik. We saw them that evening in Lake Myvatn and again the next night, but this would be the perfect place to see the lights in Iceland, provided the clouds cooperated.
Growing up, I spent much of childhood exploring the hot springs of Colorado. This passion has continued and we love seeking out hot springs on our travels around the world. But visiting GeoSea was something truly exceptional. This has become our favorite hot springs in the world.
How to Visit GeoSea in Husavik
The impressive GeoSea Sea Baths was designed by the same architectural firm that designed the Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik. Like its more famous cousin, it evokes a strong sense of place. In all ways, the design is intended to blend seamlessly into the mountain and not disrupt the views of the ocean – and they are truly incredible views.
The entrance leads gently down into the ground. The buildings and pools are made of polished black lava rock and gray slate stone. Making the entire structure seem like it disappears into the mountain.
Upon arriving, you pay for your admission. You’re given an electronic bracelet to wear during your time (similar to electronic bracelets at other Icelandic hot springs, such as the Blue Lagoon). The bracelet lets you into the GeoSea spa area. It will open and lock your locker. And you can charge drinks at the swim-up bar to your bracelet.
After paying your admission, you go through the turnstile using your bracelet. Shoes are removed and left on shoe racks.
In the locker room (which are separated by gender), leave your clothes in the locker and take your bathing suit to the shower. Iceland has very peculiar bathing rituals when it comes to visiting hot springs or spas. You take a fully shower completely in the nude washing your hair, feet, and private areas. Only then do you put on your bathing suit.
When you leave the hot springs for the day, you’ll pay your bar tab and then exit. You’ll use your wrist band to swipe out and then exit the turnstile.
Using the wristbands is straightforward, although it can give newcomers a bit of a pause. If you’re confused by anything, just follow a local, or ask questions from the helpful staff.
The Infinity Pools
There are three different hot springs pools at GeoSea. The upper pool is tucked into a corner of the building and is the middle of the three in terms of temperature. This pool also has a swim-up window to order drinks. You can get beer, wine, sodas, and juices. These drinks are then charged to your wrist band and paid for when you leave. If you just want water, that is free of charge.
The pool furthest away from the yellow lighthouse and the one immediately outside the locker rooms is the hottest pool (particularly along the edge closest to the hillside) where the hot water comes into the pool. Near this pool, there is also a steam room.
The largest pool is also the coolest in terms of temperature. Given the large circular design, this is the most famous infinity pool in Iceland. From its edge, you can see the entirety of Skjalfandi bay.
The water at GeoSea flows through the pools constantly and at a rate of over 20 litres per second. This means the saltwater does not need to be chlorinated or treated with chemicals. All of the water in the pools circulates every three hours – keeping it both hot and clean.
Where Does the Geothermal Seawater Come From?
As the town of Husavik, Iceland was expanding, the city turned to the free, abundant energy located throughout Iceland: geothermal water. On the mountain above the town, a bore hole was drilled looking for hot water that could be used for geothermal energy.
Unfortunately, the drill broke through into a fissure that was filled with hot seawater. This turned out to be too corrosive and rich in minerals to heat houses.
Enterprising locals carted an old cheese barrel (Ostakerið) up the mountain. Instead of using the large tub for making Icelandic cheese, they decided to use it for bathing in the seawater. Icelanders love geo thermal pools or a good hot springs for soaking!
Now the water for the GeoSea Husavik spa comes directly from these two drillholes (one on the cliffs by the spa and the other down the cliffs near the sea). And in late 2018, the GeoSea Spa was opened to visitors. The use of seawater makes this place unique among all the hot springs pools in Iceland.
What to Bring with You
If you’re coming to GeoSea, there are a few things that will make your experience more enjoyable.
Bathing suit. It is required to wear a bathing suit in the pools.
Towel. You’ll need a towel after your shower. If you don’t have one, one can be rented.
Robe. Many visitors bring a robe and wear it between the locker rooms and the pools. There are hooks along the wall where you can hang them. A robe is not necessary, but could be helpful in cold weather.
Water shoes. Unlike many other hot springs in Iceland, this is an entirely man-made construction. The bottom is smooth, so you’re unlikely to stub your toe or hit rocks. However, the gray rocks can be hot in the summer sun. We just feel more comfortable in water shoes anyway.
Biodegradable sunscreen. Even though you’re nearly at the Arctic Circle, it can be quite warm in the summer. Getting a sunburn is possible.
How to Get Here
It is located on the sea cliffs above the town of Husavik and Skjálfandi bay. It’s located about 35-45 minutes off the Ring Road. If driving the Ring Road, Husavik makes a small detour.
Most travelers come here from Akureyri. From Akureyri, take Route 1 through the Vaðlaheiði tunnel (note: the tunnel has tolls and speed cameras!). On the other side of the tunnel, take the second highway heading north–highway 85 in the direction of Husavik.
Once in town, you’ll pass the big church on the right and the harbor on the left. Just past the harbor, look for the second road heading uphill to the left (Laugarbrekka). From here, follow the GeoSea signs. This will take you uphill, where you will take a right on Höfðavegur. It will be on your left. Just look for the big, yellow lighthouse. Note: GPS and mobile apps can give incorrect directions that lead into the harbor.
GPS Coordinates: 66.052130, -17.361757
The hot springs are open daily, including Christmas Day. During the peak of the summer season (May 1st to September 30th), GeoSea is open from early morning to very late at night (usually 9am-midnight). In the off-peak and winter season, the hours are reduced (generally noon-10pm). Hours can vary and be changed unexpectedly. We recommend consulting the GeoSea website for current opening hours.
GeoSea is significantly less expensive than the incredibly popular Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik. It is also less expensive than the nearby Myvatn Nature Baths located about 40 minutes away. Currently the cost of GeoSea is ISK 4500 for adults and ISK 2000 for children under 16.
GeoSea is a small facility and pre-booking is recommended. You can pre-book admission here.
What to Do in Husavik
Nearly everyone comes to this small town to go whale watching in Husavik. Skjálfandi bay is home to a great many whales and many different species can be found here. We went whale watching in Husavik during our first trip Iceland. If you have time in your schedule, we highly recommend going out to see these magnificent creatures. There are two popular whale watching companies in Husavik: Gentle Giants and North Sailing.
Husavik is also a popular destination on the newly launched touring route in Northern Iceland: The Diamond Circle. This new Iceland attraction links together some of the best sights in the north: waterfalls, fjords, and stunning peaks. Along its entire 250km length, the Diamond Circle stuns around every turn.
Where to Stay
It’s certainly possible to visit GeoSea Baths as a day trip fro Akuryeri or the Lake Myvatn area. During our trip, we stayed in Akuryeri and did this as a GeoSea day trip. However, if you want to do both the sea baths and whale watching, it would make more sense to stay the night.
Here are our recommendations for where to stay:
Fosshotel Husavik. This large hotel option is as big as it gets in Husavik. This is the one full-service hotel option with 24-hour reception and on-site restaurant. It’s also located one block off the main street and is within a four block walk of all restaurants and museums. 1.4km/19 minute walk to Geosea. Book a room here.
Bjarnabúð Apartments. Husavik makes a great base to explore the Diamond Circle, plus whale watching. Consider an apartment like Bjarnabúð, which overlooks the port and has excellent wifi. There’s not a better location in town. 1.2km/17 minute walk to Geosea. Book a room here.
Husavik Cape Hotel. This small, guesthouse/hotel option is the closest to the geothermal baths. It features simple, cozy rooms on the hill overlooking the port and town. Free buffet breakfast is included. 650m/10 minute walk to Geosea. Book a room here.
Where to Eat
There is a small café at GeoSea. The offerings are rather limited, although seemed to be a good quality (we did not eat there). There is a soup, several sandwich options, and a bunch of snacks.
If you’re looking for something more substantial, there are some good restaurant options in Husavik:
Salka Restaurant. This is the most popular full restaurant in town. They have a surprisingly broad menu featuring local Icelandic delights and international favorites. During our visit, there was a lunch special that was a really good value and the pizzas are fantastic.
Naustid. A small, family run restaurant focusing on local, Icelandic cuisine featuring lots of seafood. The fish soup is excellent. It is located off the main street and caters to a mix of visitors and locals.