Two years ago, Blue Lagoon in Iceland was named as one of National Geographic’s 25 Wonders of the World for its natural beauty in a ‘geothermal paradise.’ But what is it exactly that makes Iceland’s most recognisable attraction so extraordinary and unique from other spas?
Firstly, from a healing perspective Blue Lagoon is remarkable in its own right. The lagoon’s unearthly blue and milky waters contain silica known to soothe and, in some cases, dramatically alleviate the symptoms of skin conditions such as psoriasis, which affects 2-4% of the world’s population. On top of that, the naturally occurring algae contain nutrients that improve and revitalise the quality of the skin. Bathers will commonly slather on mud from the poolsides to help cleanse the skin’s pores.
Secondly, there’s nothing quite like it. Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa, which means it relies on the heat produced under the Earth’s crust to warm its waters. Iceland is an isolated body of land occupying two oceans and surfaces the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – a gap between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Iceland is one of the handful of islands to do so, and it is this portion of the ridge, the Reykjanes Ridge, which is responsible for the island’s tectonic activity. As the plates move apart and the Reykjanes Ridge widens, the heat from the exposed magma warms the seawater above it. This seawater is channelled and pooled, and by this point is a comfortable 39°C – right on the sweet spot for visiting bathers.
Blue Lagoon is situated amidst encrusted lava fields and surrounded by (mostly) dormant volcanoes. Iceland in general is an incredibly tectonic area, containing around 130 volcanic mountains, and the landscape has beautifully sculpted as a result. Even at the time of writing, the volcano Bardarbunga continues to spew fountains of lava, which makes for quite a spectacle, especially against the backdrop of the Northern Lights.
In light of its volcanism and surrounding natural charm, it’s difficult to top Blue Lagoon for its location and therapeutic allure. Condé Nast Traveller readers deem it the best medical spa on the planet, while many might suggest the outwardly experience that accompanies Blue Lagoon makes it the best medical spa on this planet or off it.