The black sand beaches of Iceland, are an awe inspiring landscape texture travelers often flock to. I mean you can go anywhere else in the world and bask on golden or white sands. But in Iceland you do not come to the black beach in Iceland to layout and relax on. Rather you come to explore and marvel over its picture perfect creation!
Discovering a black beach with your loved ones will be something you always remember. From the volcanic feel of the sand, basalt or lava rocks, to the sound of the ocean waves take your pick! There are for sure more black sand beaches than white, yellow, or golden especially along the southern coast of Iceland!
Why are the beaches black in Iceland?
With over 100 volcanos across the island, Iceland is one of the most volcanic landscapes in the world. Likewise, the very reason why it is also abundant with an endless supply of black sand beaches. Specifically our hometown of Vik in Southern Iceland is incredibly rich lava fragments and minerals which create the black sands.
Where is Reynisfjara Beach?
One of the most famous places in Iceland and a “must go to” when you day trip around Iceland, is Reynisfjara Beach. From downtown Reykjavik, you can expect the trip to get there in 2 hours and 30 minutes (map link). Or better yet, if staying at our Volcano Apartments, it is only a 1 hour drive (85km)!
There is a reason why Reynisfjara has been voted “the most Instagramable beach” in the world. Nothing can quite reach its uniqueness with crazy basalt stacks piercing into the skyline. Plus on the same beach there are a few caves to adventure in, basalt columns to get your picture taken on, and never-ending bird watching opportunities (hello summer Puffin sightings!).
Truly it is a special place not to be missed when you embark on your 3, 5, 7 or 10 day Iceland itinerary. Did you know from the town of Vik, there is also a hiking trail you can take to the top of the mountain? There you will have 360 views of the southern coast which include 2 glaciers, Dyrholaey Sea Arch and the Reynisdrangar basalt rocks. Good news too, if you’re not a hiker but still want to visit the stop of the mountain you can book out “Best of Vik” tour, as our team has special permission to drive to the top!
Safety considerations when visiting Reynisfjara Beach
Although Reynisfjara Black Beach is a stunning beach to photograph, there is some responsibility that comes with visiting as a traveler. When arriving to the area, please make sure you park where directed (not on grassy areas, only stone / pavement). Next, take the time to read the signs (they are in English). Reynisfjara can be a very dangerous beach due to sneaker waves and riptides. For example, you could be watching the waves for 10 minutes and see the waves vary in length they come up. And then one in a set of 5-10 always has a pull attached and goes further up a dry beach.
Nature rules here, so respect it. Do not try to dip your toes in the water or walk where the stones / sand appear wet. Keep a safe distance from the water and the rock formations. Also know during the months of October to April the cave is not typically accessible safely. Special Note: In this area, there has been several deaths so please heed our warnings and be careful when visiting Reynisfjara.
Which movies were filmed on Reynisfjara Black Beach?
It is no secret that Iceland has been a very popular filming location for Hollywood movies. 2014 movie, Noah with Russel Crow is hands down likely the most known film that has been shot on Reynisfjara black beach. Literally the last 20 minutes is all filmed there featuring the beach, cave, and rock formations as the “new world.” Fun Fact, our local super jeep guide, David Geir Jonasson worked on the film personally and would be happy to provide you with more intimate knowledge if you’re on a tour with him!
Reynisdrangar and the Legend of the Trolls
Not only does this infamous beach come with picturesque beauty, but it also comes with a memorable Icelandic folklore legend! Curious? Pretty sure our Vik super jeep guides tell it better than I’ll write it bu I’ll give it a go!
To illustrate, two trolls were told how beautiful the south coast of Iceland is, so they decided to relocate. Dragging their 3 mast ship in the night the husband and wife troll couple spotted the cave at Reynisfjara in the distance and went for it. Sadly, they were not quick enough to make it there before dawn broke and they were turned to stone!
Standing there in the water, the husband, wife, and their ship dragging behind still stand there as a reminder and warning to other trolls to not venture towards the beach. After all the cave on that beach is in the light or sun for a good part of the day!
Is Reynisfjara the only black sand beach in Iceland?
Contrary to popular belief, Reynisfjara is not the only black beach in Iceland. In fact, there are countless! Ideas for visiting Iceland black beaches on your own… Firstly, if you hike from Reynisfjara going west (ocean on your left side) you’ll find the black beaches of Dyrholaey. Secondly, in the town of Vik, you’ll find a different view of the basalt stacks at the Vik Black Beach.
Thirdly, if you plan on visiting the Westmann Islands, there is a lovely black beach where the primary ferry leaves that has a shipwreck and a fantastic view of the islands. Fourthly, ever dream about having dinner overlooking a black sand beach? The seaside restaurant, Hafið Bláa has a jaw dropping view of black sand dunes! Fourth, if you are game for a hike and want to see a piece of American history crashed on a black beach / desert then you can take a hike out to the abandoned Solheimasandur DC-3 Plane Wreck (about a 45-60 minute hike 1 way).
Lastly, if your trip to Iceland brings you further east than Vik and all the way to Hofn, we encourage you to check out a local favorite. The black beach of Stokksnes with the magical Vestarahorn Mountain behind is unforgettable! Please note there is an entrance fee you must pay to the landowner (inside the café) but it also allows you entrance into the aging Viking village too! When you visit and pay the fee, you’ll be able to drive down a bit or park at the café and spend the afternoon exploring by foot!
What Iceland Tours Visit Black Beaches:
Maybe you are a bit shy with directions and driving in Iceland and want a professional to take the wheel? Several of our Vik super jeep tours will provide you an up closer and personal experience on driving on a black sand beach in Iceland and exploring! Imagine yourself right now in the super jeep cruising down the beach next to the crashing waves… Really an invigorating experience!
On that same note, the Best of Vik – 1 Hour Express Tour will also give you inspiring views of several black beaches in Iceland!
How would you like to visit a private black sand beach in Iceland?
Visiting an Icelandic black beach is often a highlight for so many. There is just something so mysterious yet so alive feeling when you experience it. Adding in the fact that Iceland south coast beaches also come with interesting features like sea arches, waterfalls, dunes, basalt stacks, etc you cannot choose a bad one!
Furthermore, our Vik Iceland tour guides and super jeeps can also take you to several private property black sand beaches. Being able to get permission from the local landowners goes a long way and amping up your adventure too! Because having a black beach all to yourself is a really special experience. You’ll get an intimate “just discovered it” feeling and that’s pretty powerful among the tourist locations.
Feel free to inquire about a custom tour with us if you find yourself yearning to explore more black sand beaches in Iceland!
Your Adventure Awaits,
–Guðjón and the Katlatrack Team