Iceland’s black sand beaches are famous all around the world. They may not be as warm as the tropical golden sands of the Mediterranean, but they are sure to take your breath away!
These remarkable black beaches were formed through ancient volcanic activity. But so long as you know what you’re doing, they are perfectly safe for you to visit on your trip to Iceland.
This article will tell you about some of the best Black Sand beaches to visit in Iceland and give you some tips for enjoying them safely. And if you’re wondering what made the shoreline turn that unusual color, we’ll answer all your questions about their formation too!
5 Of The Best Black Sand Beaches In Iceland
Iceland has enough beaches to keep you occupied for a lifetime. But here are five particularly striking black sand beaches for you to check out on your visit.
Due to its outstanding beauty, Reynisfjara is probably Iceland’s most famous black sand beach. It’ll take you just over three hours to drive there from Reykjavik when the weather is good and the trip is worth it! (Plus, it’s on the way to the Glacier Lagoon, so you should definately stop here on the way there).
As well as the black sand, you’ll see the stunning sea stacks in the ocean, which are home to thousands of nesting birds. Legend has it that these towering stones were once trolls who got caught out in the rising sun.
You should not attempt to swim or get too close to the water at Reynisfjara because the water is unpredictable, and the rip currents are powerful. A sneaker wave can come out of nowhere and launch itself far onto the beach, so keep an eye on the water! But so long as you keep your distance from the water, there’s no reason for you to worry.
2. Diamond Beach
If you carry on along the ring road, you’re going to come to the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. While you’re here, make sure you pop over to the diamond beach, where icebergs wash up on shore and scatter across the black sand beach like (you guessed it) diamonds.
As well as the glittering ice, you’ve got a good chance of seeing seals here. And visitors frequently see Orcas from the shore in late spring and early summer. Make sure you keep a respectful distance from wildlife, especially young seal pups. If you think a whale or seal is in trouble, you should call the local police on 898-6638. Don’t try and rescue it yourself unless you’re a professional!
It’s unlikely your visit is going to be that eventful, though. You can walk along the beach and enjoy the natural ice sculptures, which are even more spectacular in winter. You shouldn’t try to climb on any iceberg that is touching or close to the water for your safety. A wave could come in and pull the ice away, taking you along for the ride.
3. Stokksnes Beach
Stokksnes Beach is on the South Eastern peninsula of Iceland. Stokksnes is a private beach, so you have to pay a small fee to enter it. It’s only 800 ISK (about 6 dollars) at the moment, and the money goes to maintain the road that leads up to it.
The positive side of the entrance fee is that the beach will be less crowded than the others in the high season. And the views really are gorgeous! You’ll see towering mountains beside the ocean and bright green grasses growing out of the black dunes.
There’s also a café on hand where you can grab a hot cut of coffee after a brisk walk along the beach.
4. Ytri Tunga
Ytri Tunga is a truly unique beach, which you’ll find on the Snæfellsnes peninsula in the West of Iceland. Snæfellsnes is one of the most breathtaking and biodiverse places in the whole country, and Ytri Tunga beach is no exception.
What’s so cool about Ytri Tunga is it has a mixture of black and golden sand. It’s also the best place to see seals, but make sure you give them enough space, so they don’t feel stressed. (That means 50 yards from the seals. Even if they seem relaxed at the time, getting closer can cause mothers to leave their pups).
Don’t forget to bring your binoculars so that you can get a good look at the four different species of seals at Ytri Tunga.
While you’re on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, you should head down to the beach at Djupalonssandur. The lava formations on this black beach are amazing. As you walk down to the sand, you’ll pass through a rocky canyon until you come to the shore.
Look out for the wreckage of an old British Trawler that washed up in a blizzard in 1948. In respect for the fishermen that lost their lives, visitors are asked not to touch any pieces of the iron shipwreck. It has been left in place in memory of the dead.
You’ll also find the lifting stones on this beach, which captains used to test the strength of Icelandic fishermen. The stone that the men were able to lift would describe their ability. So if they could only lift the 23kg stone called Amlóði, that stuck them with the label of “weakling!”
Safety On Iceland’s Beaches
We’ve already mentioned some safety points for specific beaches. But let’s round up the general advice so that you can enjoy the black sand beaches safely:
- Don’t go in the ocean unless you have researched the currents and conditions. Many Icelandic beaches have strong rip currents that will take you out to sea.
- Don’t get too close to the sea if the beach is known for sneaker waves, such as Reynisfjara.
- Leave plenty of space between you and any wildlife that you see. Seals can be dangerous if frightened, and getting too close to pups can get them abandoned.
- Don’t climb on any icebergs that are close to the water.
- Make sure you read any safety signs and follow their advice.
- Be aware of tides, and don’t walk too far out if the tide is on its way back in.
So long as you follow your common sense, the beaches in Iceland are nothing to worry about!
Why Are Iceland’s Beaches Black?
Sand is typically made out of weathered sea cliffs and the hard parts of marine mammals like shells, dead coral, and bones. In most places in the world, this combination of materials ends up looking tan or golden.
But in Iceland, the beaches are primarily made up of broken-down lava. As the lava ran from the land to the ocean, it would cool and solidify. The powerful waves broke down the lava and deposited it back on the shore, making Iceland beaches black.
Some beaches in Iceland have golden sand or a mix of both black and golden. This happens in places with less volcanic activity or a more diverse range of materials making up the sand.
No vacation in Iceland is complete without a trip to the black sand beaches! Just make sure you exercise sensible caution and don’t turn your back on the ocean because you can’t always trust the waves.
You’ll find lots more helpful information about Icelandic travel on the Play Iceland website, as well as some amazing hand-picked tours. We hope you found this article useful, and we look forward to welcoming you here soon!