southern iceland guide

S30 – Reynisfjara Beach **

Famous black sand beach
how to get there
Distance from Vik ~ 10 km (6 mi)
Travel time ~ 10 min.

From Vik, follow Route 1 towards the capital then turn onto 215, which leads to the beach.
The volcanic black sand beach of Reynisfjara stretches for five kilometers (3 mi) near the town of Vik and Cape Dyrhólaey. In 1991, Island Magazine voted Reynisfjara as one of the Top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world. On the east side, the beach borders Mt Reynisfjall, which is most famously known for its beautiful rectangular-shaped basalt formations, resulting from a geological phenomenon of a volcanic eruption. Reynisfjall is a 340 m (1116 ft) high and 800 m (2625 ft) wide tuff mountain that boasts an abundance of birdlife, the Atlantic puffins in particular. At the foot of the Reynisfjall mountain, inside the basalt rock, there's the Hálsanefshellir Cave, one of the most popular and largest in Iceland.
Reynisfjara is a dangerous place. The beach is not only famous for its beautiful views of the cliffs but also for rolling, roaring waves, which are particularly violent, hence the name -- "sneaker-waves." The waves can appear when least expected, even on still days. The same happens with the wind, which is very powerful. The phenomenon of killer waves can be explained by the lack of land in between Antarctica and the shores of Reynisfjara, meaning waves have thousands of kilometers to build.
Please, ensure you follow the beach safety rules. Also, make sure you protect your camera. Watch the waves and wear backpacks on your backs without leaving them on the shore unattended.

There is a restaurant in the parking lot where you can have a snack and wait for the low tide.
Basalt columns can be photographed at any time of day. However, in order to capture the rock formations (32 – Reynisdrangar ***), you will have to go to the eastern part of the beach. Check the tide times in advance, since the entire coast can be flooded with water and it's only possible to reach the place at low tide. Be careful while walking along the shore so as not to be struck or washed away by the wave.