When blue goes green


Early last Saturday morning I treated myself with a trip to the Blue Lagoon. It was everything it promised to be; relaxing, soothing, refreshing... just not blue.

It was not any shade of green that might be able to pass as blue either; aquamarine or turquoise – it was emerald green. I have nothing against green, I happen to find emerald green a beautiful color, but when you buy a ticket for something called the Blue Lagoon you expect it to be, well, blue.

Now I know this is not just one big scam, because I’ve been to the Blue Lagoon on a few occasions before and the water was always as blue as the pictures make it out to be. Apparently, the blue color is caused by a mixture of different minerals, silica and algae in the water, which is also supposed to have healing powers and is known to cure skin diseases like psoriasis.

So why was the water green on Saturday, I wonder.

The weather was not particularly good; windy and rainy as it often is on Reykjanes peninsula. Could the rainwater have made the blue fade into green? Could the wind that rippled the water have made it appear green instead of blue? Or could the cocktail of minerals, silica and algae that usually creates the exotic blue color have been mixed incorrectly that Saturday morning? Shaken instead of stirred?

Or maybe, as my friend jokingly suggested, so many people had peed in the water that it turned green. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Mix blue and yellow and you’ll get green.

Blue or green, the swim was as reviving as ever, especially on a cold summer morning at 8 am, when the lagoon was still relatively devoid of visitors. But it didn’t take long for the tourists to appear. By noon groups of French, American, Swedish and Japanese tourists had filled the lagoon to the brim, which is when I decided to depart.

The foreign swimmers didn’t seem to mind the weather and no one commented on the color of the water that I could hear. I thought at least the Americans would demand their ISK 1,800 (USD 28.90, EUR 21.53) back for false advertisement.

Which brings me to a different topic. I really would recommend a trip to the Blue Lagoon to any tourist who visits Iceland. It’s a unique experience and a good way to start or end a journey, and the lagoon is just a stone’s throw away from Keflavík international airport. But isn’t ISK 1,800 a bit over the top? The lagoon’s popularity is on the rise as far as I can tell, but the price has also been rising. If the price continues to go up, I fear tourists will stop playing along. There is a limit to everything.

Like the Rolling Stones, still popular after almost 50 years, but constantly raising the price of tickets for their concerts. Mick Jagger was once quoted saying the ticket price depended on the market, like fish. But now the German fans have had it. The Stones are not filling stadiums in Germany anymore. They pushed it too far.

I worry the same may happen to the tourism industry in Iceland. Iceland is already an expensive country, way more expensive than the home countries of most people who visit. You wouldn’t have to pay ISK 750 (USD 12, EUR 9) for a pint of beer in many other countries, which I had to shell out in a pub in downtown Reykjavík the other day.

Iceland is a hit and the tourist industry is growing, which is great. But let’s not take advantage of the good people who have been saving for months to be able to pay us a visit.

ESA – [email protected]

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.