The waters, rich in algae, silica and sulfur, possess a degree of medicinal properties, and are effective treatments against skin diseases such as psoriasis, among other things.
In recent years, the Blue Lagoon has grown from what was once a natural wonder into something more like a super-jazzy health facility. The Blue Lagoon has come to market its own skin products, and now features a spa, clinic, restaurant, and even conference rooms for business meetings. The locker rooms are something out of a science fiction novel, traditional methods such as keys and combinations snubbed in favor of space-age bracelets that activate electronic locks. Even the pool itself seems tamer nowadays. As if surgically removed, the sharp volcanic rocks that use to poke up from the pool floor have been sanded away, and the hottest water now gushes only from the man-made geysir in a corner of the pool. Even the silica gel is only available from daily stocked buckets brought to the poolside.
In sort of a tourist red mist, I took a trip to the Blue Lagoon over the weekend, highly anticipating a soak in such a famously therapeutic place. I was excited stepping in, the balmy water swallowing me up from tail to tip. It wasn’t until I had been there for some time before I began to have my doubts. I quickly noticed a bar, perched on top of a little little island in the middle of the lagoon. A couple, drinks in hand, took the opportunity to enjoy an intimate moment in the middle of the pool. I remembered I had heard something about not drinking in hot tubs, but I let it go. My guidebook had recommended diving down to the bottom for the plentiful silica clay, free conditioner to fend off desiccation. I uncovered only a little, what I could find stringy already with hair. I moved quickly back to the other side of the pool. Near the bar, several people were clinking plastic cups filled to the brim with beer, spilling into the pool. The golden liquid snaked down into the milky blue. My foot brushed against something thin and brittle lodged in the sand, revealed to be a shard of a plastic cup on closer inspection. I glanced back to the boozers, already getting loopy, and got out of the pool.
The Blue Lagoon is not a bad experience by any means, but it is definitely a mixed bag. I was wilted and relaxed coming out after a thorough soaking, and my skin felt strong and nourished. Leaving, I was confident that I had enjoyed the experience. Even so, the lagoon, in accommodating its chronic deluge of visitors, seems to have lost a considerable amount of its charm. The Blue Lagoon as turned away from of a natural gem in favor of an world-class spa, and this wouldn’t be a bad thing, if they just could have done it a little more gracefully. Iceland seems to have made a habit of inviting unsavory guests, from Alcan to reckless drunks spilling their beer in the lagoon. And we might all be the better for it, if we just asked them to leave their shoes at the door.