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5 Black beaches to visit in Iceland

There are many places in the world where you will find a black sand beach but the ones in Iceland are different and you will find in this blog why. The relief and the landscape make the black beaches in Iceland special. Those beaches are not usual beaches, each of them having an interesting particularity.

The process of forming black sand beaches involves hot volcanic lava that touches the cold oceanic water and transforms into many small pieces that look like sand. So you will find black beaches on volcanic islands.

In this blog, you will read about five black sand beaches that you should visit in Iceland.

Starting from the south coast, one of the most famous black sand beaches in Iceland and the most dangerous one as well, Reynisfjara near Vík í Mýrdal.

Reynisfjara

Situated beside the fishing town of Vík í Mýrdal, Black Sand Beach, or in Icelandic Reynisfjara, is one of the most known black beaches on the south coast of Iceland. Its beauty was recognized in 1991 by National Geographic and it was voted as one of the Top 10 non-tropical beaches on Earth.

Its enormous basalt columns and ocean waves roaring on the beach attract thousands of tourists every year and also is a must-see for photographers. You will observe some rocky formations shaped in time by the ocean waves. Reynisdrangar is the name of those formations that are sitting on the shoreline.

There are some legends about those formations and the basalt columns. In local folklore, these large basalt columns were once trolls who were trying to pull the ships from the ocean to the shore. Once they went out too late in the night and when the sun started to rise the trolls turned into solid rocks.

About Reynisdrangar, it is believed in the local folklore that a man’s wife was kidnapped and killed by two trolls. Then the man followed the trolls to the Reynisfjara where he froze them so they could never kill again.

You will see that many locations in Iceland were used in filming scenes of the HBO series Game of Thrones.  Also, you will recognize Reynisdrangar from season 7 of the series in the scene ‘Eastwatch-by-the-Sea’.

Being close to Dyrhólaey peninsula, on Reynisfjara you will also see some species of birds like puffins, fulmars, and guillemots which are usually nesting there.

As beautiful as it is, this beach is dangerous. Ocean currents are powerful and the waves are really strong there. You will find signs everywhere on the beach that tells you to not approach the waves as it can cost you your life. There were some cases when people died because they got too close to the ocean and the waves pull them into the water. So be careful and do not put yourself in danger.

Diamond Beach

Going further in South-East, near the famous Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon you will find the most famous black sand beaches in Iceland, Breiðamerkursanður or Diamond beach as it is known by tourists.

Diamond Beach is a black sand beach woven by ocean waves with many beautiful ice blocks which slipped from the lagoon into the ocean.

If there is a sunny day, ice blocks will reflect the sunlight just like there are diamonds on the beach. That is actually where the name of the beach came from. But if it is cloudy outside and the wind is blowing, you will see how the waves break into the large blocks of ice and create spectacular views. Do not adventure close to the water if there are waves, it might be quite dangerous.

Diamond Beach has its charm. It changes almost every day as the ice blocks may melt, broke or be carried away by waves. So you will get a different landscape every time you will visit it. During winter you may not see every time so many ice blocks or big ice blocks as the glacier is frozen in the cold. But during summer you have the chance to see enormous ice blocks on the beach.

Stokksnes

At a one-hour driving distance from Diamond Beach, there is another amazing black sand beach, my favourite one if I can be subjective, Stokksnes beach.

Located in East Iceland, at less than a 20-minute drive to the east from the town of Höfn, the Stokksnes peninsula is a unique place, guarded by the majestic Vestrahorn mountains. Even though the mountains are just 454 meters high (1490 ft), they give dimension to the landscape. At the foot of the mountains lies a wide black sand beach that is washed by the ocean waves. The ocean waves that are washing the beach are creating a stunning mirror effect which many photographers are looking for.

The place is less touristy and is also a photographer’s paradise as the whole landscape is changing its look under the midnight sun, the Northern Lights, the foggy clouds, and sunny days. It is the place where the mountains, the beach, the ocean, and the sky met together in a stunningly beautiful landscape. The photos can explain why it is my favourite place in Iceland.

The beach at the Stokksnes is private but you can get access to it in exchange for a small fee that helps the owner to maintain the road on and to the beach. Where you will pay is also a small cafe where you can stop as well.

The Stokksnes peninsula was also an important base for the British army during World War Two.

Stokksnes is accessible from Road 1 and it is at a one-hour drive north from the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and less than 20-minute drive from the town of Höfn.

Hvalnes

Hvalnes is a Nature Reserve due to its rich birdlife and flora. Near the rocky deadland, there is a strip of black sand beach that is locking the water inside the bay and creates a lagoon where you will find different species of birds with lots of whooper swans gathering around during the summertime.

The beach and lagoon near Hvalnes is the perfect place for them to breed. The lagoon that forms in the bay due to the strip of black sand beach has clear untouched water which creates beautiful reflections of the surrounding mountains. The whole place looks like the point where the sky is melting into the ocean.

Djúpalónssandur

On the other side of the country, in West Iceland In the west part of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, you will find Djúpalónssandur. Is a beautiful pebbled beach, with a series of rocks of mysterious form emerging from the ocean. This is one of the few areas that lead down to the sea along this coast with its high dramatic cliffs.

On Djúpalónssandur beach you will find a pellicular rock formation with a hole in it and through that hole, you can see Snæfellsjökull glacier. Also on the beach, you will find iron pieces from the British trawler Epine GY7, which was wrecked east of Dritvik town on the night of 13th March 1948. On that night fourteen men lost their lives and the other five were saved by the local rescue team. In that night was a blizzard on the ocean and the fishermen lost their grip and started to fall down into the cold ocean.

To get to the beach from the main road, you have to follow the path named Nautastígur which means the Path of the Bull. The name of the path was given from the fact that there were actually bulls that were led on this path to drink water from the lagoon.

You can visit all those black sand beaches on a self-drive tour around Iceland or you can plan a trip on your wish together with our travel designer. Share your adventures with us on social media.

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