Iceland, the country known for its outstanding landscapes, wilderness and violent beauty. The land of ice and fire has also stunning, rare black beaches (they are so rare due to the particularities of their formation) – shaped from cooled magma which turns dark as it cools and solidifies.
Below are my favourite 3 unique black sand beaches you absolutely need to visit when going to Iceland:
Unique Black Beaches
3. Diamond Beach
A huge attraction and the photographer’s paradise located just across the road from Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
Those icebergs, which fill Jökulsárlón, wash out into the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s an iconic place, where the ice chunks spark like diamonds in the contrast with the black sand. The sculptures are all amazingly shaped by nature, so when you visit you don’t know what to expect – this is why many advise you to visit the beach several times a day, because you’ll never know how many icebergs will be on the Diamond beach.
No two visits to the area will see the exact same sights!
The majority of the icebergs are white or transparent, but you’ll get to see blue ones as well. They occur after the snow, that falls on an icy mass (glaciers), is compressed. The air pockets are pressed out and ice crystals extend, making the snow become part of the glacier and causing the ice to appear blue.
When visiting, make sure you wear warm, waterproof clothes, as it gets pretty cold. It was raining when we visited, so unfortunately, we were not able to spend much time there.
Another incredibly loved place by photographers – the epic abandoned plane wreck on the black beach at Sólheimasandur. Trust me, you’ll really feel like you are on another planet.
In 1973, on a cold November day a United States Navy DC aircraft came up short on fuel and crashed on the black shoreline at Sólheimasandur, in the South Coast of Iceland. Luckily, everybody in that plane survived. Today, the wings of the aircraft are no longer connected, and the plane has only half a tail. Sólheimasandur is a glacial outwash plain, meaning that when an earthquake occurs underneath the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, the plane could also be swallowed up by floodwater.
To be honest, the famous plane wreckage isn’t the easiest place to get to, with vehicles being banned on the land by local people, but it is totally worth it.
It is a 4 km walk from the place you are allowed to park your car. Keep in mind that the weather in Iceland is super unpredictable. When we left for the wreckage, the sun was out and there really weren’t that many clouds on the sky. We got there, took literally two photos and then a violent rain started out of nowhere and we had to take shelter inside the aircraft for a good twenty minutes.
1. Reynisfjara Beach
Definitely the most beloved and photographed black beach in Iceland. The beach appeared in the top ten most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world and I can totally see why: it is unique, it is wild, untamed and waste.
The giant basalt stacks (Reynisdrangar) that frame the entrance to the beach are straight out of another world.
It has been said in the Icelandic legend that the Reynisdrangar is the remains of a fight between two local trolls and a three-masted boat. The two trolls were turned into stone at daylight, and the vessel was trapped with them for eternity.
I honestly didn’t find a better location for a proper photoshooting. We visited the beach twice, because I insisted, that was the place I would not leave without some jaw-dropping photographs.
Truth is, the place is pretty crowded during the day, we managed to take the following photos after 11 p.m.
I was wearing the most comfortable water shoes I received from a California-based company – Aleader, whose mission is to inspire people to spend more time outdoors. Their love of adventures, made them create high performance, practical footwear.
What I loved most about the shoes, is that they provided a quick dry, perfect for a rainy day in iceland. They are ideal for any outdoor activity that involves water. These „aqua-socks” are so lightweight and will protect your feet from any rocky shallow cuts, plus they can easily be slipped on and off on the go.
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It is so hard to describe the Reynisfjara Beach in a few words, the rock colonies were not the only ones who gave us a sight to remember! I was able to see colonies of puffins swimming out in the middle of the ocean. I didn’t have my camera-zoom-in lenses because I honestly did not expect to see them, but filmed with my video camera – screaming in excitement „I SEE PUFFINS”. I am going to save you the pain of listening to it and share a few screenshots.
Now I would love to hear from you.
Have you ever visited a black sand beach? Which was your favorite? What was your best non-tropical beach experience?
You can follow our journey in Iceland and see how we spent our first day in Reykjavik – One day in Reykjavik.
And also share a unique black beach you visited!