Rafting and Jet Boats in Iceland: 6 Questions We Get Asked
Have you ever considered Iceland as a top-tier extreme water sports destination? First on the list for hikers, snowmobilers and horse enthusiasts, Iceland is also one of the best destinations for extreme water sports like rafting, kayaking, and jet boats. Here are some of the questions we get in our office about jet boats and rafting in Iceland in particular.
1. Is Iceland a good destination for water sports?
You bet! Iceland’s glacial rivers are some of the clearest and freshest in the world. Plus, most of the white water rapids here are accessible to all skill levels, so newbies and pros alike can join in on the fun.
The best time to head out on the water and get wet is summer, of course! The summer season in Iceland usually lasts from May to September, when the warmer weather melts ice from the glaciers and the levels of the river rise.
2. What’s the difference between Rafting and Jet Boats, anyway?
Basically, a raft is operated with manpower and a jet boat has an engine. A white water raft is a large, inflatable boat used to navigate a river. Popular since the 1950s, these rafts are equipped with paddles or oars. Our rafts in Iceland usually accommodate 10-12 people and one guide per raft, depending on the size of the boat.
By contrast, a jet boat is engine-powered. The first was designed in the 1950s, with a pump that sucks up the water underneath the boat and shoots it behind, propelling the vehicle forward. Most jet boats zip by on 80-350 horsepower. Our jet boats carry up to 11 passengers each.
3. What’s so special about white water in Iceland?
Iceland is well-known for its glaciers. People travel from all over the world just to come face to face with a towering ice cap. In Iceland, all the best rivers for rafting and jet boat adventures draw their source from these glaciers — so you can bet the water is as crystal-clear and clean as can be.
The Hvítá River in South Iceland originates from the second largest ice cap in the country, Langjökull Glacier.
North Iceland features two rivers beloved by rafting enthusiasts. Jökulsá Vestari (West Glacial River) and Austari-Jökulsá (East Glacial River) are filled with the meltwater from Hofsjökull Glacier Volcano, the largest active volcano in Iceland.
These rivers stand out among rapids around the world for their clean turquoise waters. But don’t be fooled — while these colors give out a tropical vibe in photos, the water temperature is nothing close to that in the Bahamas!
4. How fit should you be to join a Rafting or Jet Boat Tour in Iceland?
White water rafting and jet boats in Iceland are not any riskier than elsewhere. As with most physical adventures, you should be reasonably fit. We do require all participants to know how to swim and everyone will be provided with a life jacket. However, we do class most of our white water adventures as Easy.
5. Isn’t it a bit risky?
The jet boat adventures are totally safe even as you ride the rapids in Gullfoss Canyon. As for rafting, there are rivers in Iceland to suit both beginners and experienced rafters. The popular Hvita River is graded as a Class II river and is best for novices who are comfortable with a little maneuvering. The Jökulsá Vestari (West Glacial River) is the most relaxed, suitable for children and absolute novices. The Austari-Jökulsá (East Glacial River) is the most thrilling, at Class 4, requiring advanced maneuvers and scouting.
There will be a professional, specially trained and certified, river guide with you on your rafting tour,. Our boating and rafting guides will provide all the necessary equipment and safety instructions, all so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
Be sure to wear swimwear under your clothes, and a layer of wool over that. Prepare to get wet!
6. What are the best places for Rafting or Jet Boating in Iceland?
Hvita River is an excellent destination for water sports in Iceland because it’s such a short distance from Reykjavik. Rafts and jet boats have a mix of calm waters and enthusiastic rapids to choose from. The river flows from Langjokull, Iceland’s second biggest glacier, before moving through Bruarhlod River Gorge and feeding into Gullfoss Waterfall. The rafting fun lasts 60-90 minutes and introduces water riders to Iceland’s beautiful natural scenery. You might even end up soaking in the Drumbo sauna afterward!
Easily combine your hours on the rapids of the Hvita River with a tour of the Golden Circle, a morning of horse riding, or a soak in the Secret Lagoon.