Are you looking to visit some of the most magical black sand beaches in Iceland? You are in luck because this article has got you covered! Black beaches in Iceland are mesmerizing, powerful, beautiful, and should be on everyone’s bucket list. If you are planning a trip to the popular arctic country, black beaches in Iceland should not be missed.
Luckily, the most popular black sand beaches in Iceland are located on Iceland’s south coast so if you are already planning to visit the southern coast of Iceland, you will be able to hit many of these top locations along the way!
Unlike other destinations, beaches in Iceland can get quite cold and black Iceland beaches can actually become dangerous! Certain black sand beaches in Iceland are relatively safe while others are some of the most dangerous areas in the country.
We aren’t telling this to scare you, but to simply provide some safety information and inspiring locations where you can see these stunning black beaches in Iceland! They are unique and unlike any other in the world so before visiting there are a few important things to know to make the most out of your experience.
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5 Magical Black Sand Beaches In Iceland How To Find Them
#1. Reynisfjara Is the Most Popular Black Beach In Iceland
Reynisfjara is the most popular black beach in Iceland and it is no surprise to see why! This is one of the most easily accessible beaches in Iceland and offers stunning views. If you aren’t familiar with the name of this black beach in Iceland, you have probably seen photos from the famous basalt columns. If you want to see the columnar basalt on a black beach in Iceland, Reynisfjara is the beach in Iceland to visit for that purpose!
Reynisfjara black beach is located on Iceland’s south coast, about 2.5 hours away from Reykjavik, give or take your driving speed. It is possible to visit this black beach in Iceland as a day trip from Reykjavik, and many tours in Iceland stop here if you are visiting the south coast. Reynisfjara is easily one of the busiest beaches in Iceland because it is so easily accessible and so popular!
Sadly, Reynisfjara is one of the most dangerous beaches in Iceland, killing a few tourists a year. Now, this black beach in Iceland won’t just kill you for visiting, but it will if you don’t follow the rules and tempt fate. Please see the safety tips section below for more detailed tips on how to be safe at Reynisfjara Beach.
Getting To Reynisfjara Black Beach: You can easily put the term “Reynisfjara” in your GPS and you will be taken right to the beach. The entrance to the road that leads down to the beach is off Highway 1 [the Ring Road] and on top of a hill. If you reach the bottom of the hill or reach the town of Vik, you must turn around and head back. There is a sign that says Reynisfjara but it is quite small so keep your eyes out and trust your GPS.
#2. Solheimasandur Is The Black Beach In Iceland Home To A Plane Wreck
Solheimasandur Plane Wreck is an incredible sight to behold! If you have always wanted to visit this unique location in Iceland, you will get to see a plane wreck on a black sand beach! A few decades ago, a plane crashed on a black sand beach in Iceland and everyone survived which makes visiting this plane crash okay. This is the only one of the many beaches in Iceland that is this unique and it is a pretty cool stop if you have time.
A few years ago, you used to be able to drive your car all the way to Solheimasandur plane wreck, but now you must hike about 4 miles round trip from the Ring Road. The hike is flat and easy but it takes quite a while to get out to the plane wreck as you will be walking on rocky black sand beach the entire time.
The Solheimasandur Wreck is located pretty near Skogafoss Waterfall and there is a large parking area off the Ring Road as the location has become very popular over recent years. If you plan to do this hike, make sure to leave enough time so the sun doesn’t set and leave you out in the dark!
Getting To Solheimasandur Wreck: As mentioned above, the Solheimasandur Wreck is very near Skogafoss Waterfall when heading towards Vik from Reykjavik. It is probably only 10 minutes away, if not closer, and is easy to spot from the road since there are usually many cars. If you put the location in your GPS, you will easily find the parking lot so you can access this black beach in Iceland.
#3. Stokksnes Beach Looks Like You Are On Another Planet
Stokksnes is an area in east Iceland where a giant mountain meets the sea on a black sand beach. When you are standing on the Stokksnes point and looking back on the shore, you will truly feel like you are on another planet. Visiting Stokksnes in winter is even cooler because Vestrahorn mountain is covered in snow so you are watching a snow-capped mountain meet the sea! This is pretty incredible and well worth the 800 Kroner you have to pay to visit Stokksnes Peninsula.
This is truly one of the most unique black sand beaches in Iceland because of the mountain meets the ocean and because of the tall tufts of dark green grass on top of small hills of black sand. Pictures really don’t do Stokksnes justice and we recommend budgeting at least an hour to visit this unique beach in Iceland if you are a regular tourist and 3 hours if you are a photographer.
Stokksnes is one of the best beaches in Iceland for seeing the Northern Lights because it is so dark! Compared to other popular black beaches in Iceland, Stokksnes is actually quite devoid of tourists so if you are looking to get off the beaten track, this is the beach for you!
Getting to Stokksnes. Stokksnes is about 6 hours away from Reykjavik, so this black beach in Iceland is best to visit if you have a few days to spend in Iceland. It is located near the town of Hofn in the east coast of Iceland. You can drive your car all the way down the Stokksnes Peninsula and then park and walk straight on the black sand beach. You will have to pay 800 Kroner to get through the gate.
#4. You Can Walk Among Glacial Ice At Iceland’s Diamond Beach
Located about 45 minutes away from Stokksness, suggested above, the Diamond Beach in Iceland is a sight to behold. It is located across the street from Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. We highly recommend you stop at Jokulsarlon Lagoon as well because the view is incredible and you can see icebergs calving off a nearby glacier and floating around in a large body of water. When the tide goes in or out, the icebergs are carried by the ocean out of the lagoon and fall on a black sand beach.
The glacier pieces on the black beach in Iceland are where the name Diamond Beach lovingly came from because the clear ice looks like chunks of diamonds sitting on a pure black beach. The amount of “diamonds” on this beach in Iceland is directly related to the tide and how many icebergs are in Jokulsarlon Lagoon. Sometimes there are lots of huge ice chunks the size of a person and sometimes there are smaller chunks, only a foot tall! Either way, this is truly one of the most unique beaches in Iceland and totally worth a visit!
Getting To Diamond Beach: When visiting Jokulsarlon, you will be parking near a visitor center and walking to see the lagoon. If you want to visit Iceland’s Diamond Beach, you will have to drive your car to the other side of the Ring Road, directly opposite the Jokulsarlon Lagoon. There is another parking lot there and you will park your car and walk down to the beach. There is a bridge near Jokulsarlon Lagoon and you will go over it when driving on the Ring Road. You can visit Diamond Beach in Iceland on either side of this bridge, but the right side is more popular!
#5. Dyrholaey Offers A Birds-Eye View Of An Incredible Black Beach In Iceland
Unlike the other black beaches in Iceland that you can walk on, Dyrholaey offers a birds-eye view! Dyrholaey is a popular rock that is located on a black Iceland beach but it is no small rock. It is a massive piece of land with arches and viewpoints. Dyrholaey provides one of the best views of black beaches in Iceland because you are up so high!
Dyrholaey is located very near Reynesfjara which was the first beach in Iceland we mentioned above. You can easily visit two of the beaches in Iceland on the same trip because they are so close by. In addition to one of the best views of black sand beaches in Iceland, Dyrholaey is also home to puffins nesting during the summer. If you visit during the warmer months, make sure to keep an eye out for these cute birds! On top of Dyrholaey rock, you can also find a lighthouse which is pretty cool to check out too!
Getting To Dyrholaey: If you want to walk on the black sand beach beneath Dyrholaey, you are going to have to park your car in one of the small parking lots at the bottom of the rock and walk. Driving on beaches in Iceland is strictly illegal.
We recommend heading to Dyrholaey so you get a birds-eye view of the black beach below and save the walking on for other locations. If you want to visit the most popular viewpoint on Dyrholaey, you are going to head down the road and then turn right up the steep and badly-kept dirt road. We have driven this road in a 2×2 and during the winter so it is accessible any time of year and in any car. If you are trying to drive up Dyrholaey in a 2×2, be sure to take it slowly as the road is in bad shape!
Things To Know Before Visiting Beaches In Iceland
Iceland Beaches Are Very Dangerous And Should Be Approached With Caution
The single most important thing to know about beaches in Iceland is that they are dangerous. Iceland’s beaches are so dangerous that people have actually died. Now, keep in mind that the Iceland beach itself isn’t going to kill you if proper caution is exercised. It must be noted that tourists often disregard the large safety warnings and walk too close to the water. Black sand beaches in Iceland such as Reynisfjara are home to deadly “sneaker waves.”
This means that the waves may appear safe, but every so often a huge one comes by that is a lot larger than all the rest. We have seen people flirt with disaster time and time again at many of the black sand beaches in Iceland and even get knocked down and dragged out to sea by these sneaker waves.
When visiting some of the best beaches in Iceland, it is best to exercise caution, heed the warnings, and stay far away from the water. At best, getting wet while you are on one of the many longer tours in Iceland will be uncomfortable. At worst, losing your life just isn’t worth it to get a selfie at one of Iceland’s black sand beaches.
Black Beaches In Iceland Are Pretty Easily Accessible
One of the great things about visiting the beach in Iceland is that many are easily accessible either by car or foot. If you are planning an Icelandic road trip, be sure to stop at as many as you can! You can drive up to or even on certain beaches and since Iceland is an island, there is plenty of coasts to explore. That being said, driving off-road is illegal in Iceland. If there isn’t specific information or a sign regarding driving on beaches in Iceland, be sure to proceed with caution as driving off-road is illegal and harmful to the ecosystem.
Whether you are staying around Reykjavik or visiting the far-flung Westfjords, you can easily explore some of the best beaches in Iceland. If you are planning to hang around the capital, many beautiful beaches are easily within your reach.
After all, Reykjavik is surrounded by water so all you have to do is walk to the coast and beaches will be within your reach. That being said the beaches near Reykjavik are on the rockier side and less pristine than the black sand beaches found in other parts of Iceland.
But a beach is a beach so you will still get to enjoy the water! If you rent a car and have the time, just a short 1-2 hour drive will open up a world of possibilities and you will be able to explore a variety of famous Iceland beaches.
Black Beaches In Iceland Get Their Color From Volcanic Ash
The majority of Iceland’s beaches are made up of jet black sand. This is a result of the volcanic nature of the island. The rocks and ash are ground down over time and eventually become the black sand that makes up these vast stretches of shore.
The contrast between the black sand beaches, the thunderous waves, and the atmosphere of Iceland is something visitors won’t soon forget. That being said, not all beaches in Iceland have black sand. Some have lighter-toned sands but we prefer the phenomenal black sand beaches in Iceland because of how unique they are.
Since we are focusing on black beaches in Iceland in this article, we only thought it fair to tell you that some beaches have pure white sand or even red sand! If you want to visit a red sand beach, check out the Westfjords in Iceland because that is the only place you can find a red beach in the country!
Iceland Beaches Are Totally Worth Visiting In Winter
Have you ever considered going to one of Iceland’s beaches in the dead of winter? While visiting Iceland beaches in summer is wonderful, the experience is transformative in winter. If you are visiting during the off-season there is a good chance you will be one of the lucky ones who will see the beaches in Iceland all covered in snow.
When visiting beaches in Iceland during the winter, make sure that you are dressed appropriately and follow proper safety protocol. Weather in Iceland, especially on the coast and along the beach, can change rapidly, especially in winter.
Make sure you pack warm and waterproof clothing and wear waterproof shoes. If you follow those simple packing rules, you should be good to go! There is nothing worse than being cold and wet and that is no way to enjoy the beaches in Iceland.
There is nothing more majestic than the contrast between an Icelandic black sand beach and the snow that covers the surrounding landscape. Beaches in Iceland are beautiful all year round, but they are particularly photo-worthy when the rest of the landscape is draped in winter glory. If you plan to travel to Iceland in winter, be sure to add a beach as one of your stops!
Safety Tips For Visiting Black Sand Beaches In Iceland
Always Pay Attention To The Weather At Black Beaches In Iceland
Do not head to the beach in inclement weather. Make sure to always check the forecast before heading to beaches in Iceland so that you are aware. If the weather is bad, avoid going to the beach that day. It will be tempting, but you must make wise decisions and do something else if the weather for beaches in Iceland is not good.
When the weather gets bad, black beaches in Iceland tend to have more violent waves and wind. The violent Icelandic wind will whip up the black sand from the beach and will throw it at speeds up to 75mph which really stings and hurts and is quite dangerous. Heed weather warnings and make wise decisions when visiting black beaches in Iceland.
Watch Out For Sneaker Waves, Especially Along Iceland’s South Coast
As mentioned above, sneaker waves are dangerous and have claimed many tourist lives in Iceland. If you are visiting a beach along the south coast of Iceland such as the black sand beaches near Vik such as Reynisfjara Beach, sneaker waves are a big problem but they are easily avoided.
To avoid being caught in a sneaker wave, simply stay very far back from the surf break. You will see many people along the beach in Iceland who will go close to the water for selfies. Do not be one of these people. Safety over selfies. While Reynisfjara Beach is pretty epic, it isn’t worth your life!
Make Sure To Dress In Waterproof And Windproof Clothing When Visiting Beaches In Iceland
It is essential to stay warm and dry when visiting beaches in Iceland. Being dressed inappropriately can leave your body open to windburn and hypothermia.
At the minimum, you will want to be sporting a waterproof pair of shoes and a windproof coat with layers underneath when visiting beaches in Iceland. Ideally, you should also be wearing a balaclava and a hat as your head is the number one way you can lose heat quickly!
If you plan to hike to Sólheimasandur Wreck, we highly recommend proper clothing. This is a popular black beach in Iceland for windstorms and people hike for hours in the crazy wind and rain. Avoid hypothermia and windburn by dressing in windproof and waterproof layers if Sólheimasandur is one of the beaches in Iceland you plan to visit! You will thank us later!
Quick Travel Tips For Beaches In Iceland
Always Have A Change Of Clothes In Case You Get Wet
Getting wet is never fun! If you don’t heed our safety advice for visiting the beaches in Iceland, you may end up, best case, getting wet. We don’t want you to be hours away from your accommodation and stuck without any clothes. Visiting beaches in Iceland is only fun if you are safe, warm, and dry!
That being said, you may get caught in the rain or snow, and we want you to stay dry! If you are visiting beaches in Iceland during rainy season or winter, you won’t want to let a little rain or snow stop you from having fun so it is better to invest a little and be prepared!
Wear Waterproof Shoes When Visiting Black Beaches In Iceland
Even though you may not be walking in or even near the water, the sand on Iceland’s beaches may be wet. Wearing shoes such as Converse or Nike workout shoes to visit beaches in Iceland is a no-no since they are not waterproof. Your feet will get wet and will stay damp in the Icelandic cold for hours.
We highly recommend investing in a good-quality pair of hiking boots for Iceland. If you cannot afford it or don’t want to, you can simply bring a pair of rain boots.
Rain boots are actually perfect for exploring any black beaches in Iceland because they will keep your feet 100% dry and will easily wash off if they become dirty! Just make sure you wear a pair of thick wool socks inside so your feet stay warm too as rain boots are often not insulated!
Black Sand Beaches In Iceland Make For Incredible Photography
If you are a photographer or just a lover of pretty things, make sure to bring a camera when visiting the black beaches in Iceland! Even if you have seen black sand beaches elsewhere such as in Hawaii, the beaches in Iceland are totally different and totally unique!
You will want to document them so be sure to bring your camera of choice, a sturdy tripod, and a waterproof carrying case.
The Diamond Beach is probably our favorite black beach in Iceland for photography because you never know how many icebergs will be on the beach or how big they will be! Diamond Beach is the perfect place to wear rain boots or high waterproof shoes if you want to take close-up photos of the ice chunks on the beach!
Go Early If You Want To Enjoy The Beaches Without Crowds
Beaches in Iceland are a huge tourist attraction and, as a result, many tour buses visit every day. In addition to the tour buses, self-drive travelers visit the beaches in Iceland on their own as well. If you are looking to enjoy the beauty of the beaches in Iceland without all of the crowds, make sure to visit early in the morning, before 10am. If you are visiting Iceland in the winter when the sun doesn’t rise until 10:45am, you can even catch a stunning sunrise on the beach all alone!
If you are visiting popular beaches in Iceland on the south coast such as the Basalt Beach, you will want to beat all the tour buses so be there no later than 10 am. Some black beaches in Iceland such as Dryholey are not places that tour buses stop so you will only be competing with other tourists for the best black beach view. Stokksness is the least visited black beach in Iceland from this list, so you should be good to go at any time of day.
“Leave No Trace” When Visiting
Essentially, don’t leave any garbage or food behind on any of Iceland’s beautiful beaches. This will harm the wildlife and ecosystem. Even if you think an apple core or banana peel will decompose in the ground, think twice before tossing it. Organic matter that isn’t native to Iceland will be harmful to the ecosystem in the country. Take all of your garbage with you when you are finished admiring the beaches in Iceland.
Since more and more tourists are visiting Iceland, we want to work together to ensure the landscape is kept beautiful for many more people to come! When you go to a black beach in Iceland, you can do your part by not littering, following the safety rules, and taking everything with you when you leave!
Map Of The Best Black Beaches In Iceland
If you want to see where a specific black beach in Iceland is located, check out this map! This will help you keep all of the top black beaches in Iceland handy during your trip to Iceland! If you are more visual, this will help you plan your trip so you can see which is the best black beach in Iceland near where you currently are! Many are located on the south coast of Iceland, so if you are visiting this area, you will get to see a few of the best black beaches in Iceland!
Have you ever visited a beach in Iceland? Which do you think was the best beach in Iceland and what would you pass up? We want to hear if you love Black Sand Beaches in Iceland as much as we do!