White waves crash onto the inky Icelandic shore, creating foamy holographic patterns on the sweeping pitch-black sandy beach. Infamous for its perpetual volcanic activity and rugged scenery, Iceland’s black sand beaches draw crowds from far and wide. Age old lava is broken down into glistening onyx-coloured sand to form one of the most beautiful yet unearthly attractions that tourists can explore. A visit to some of the island’s volcanic beaches is a must for budding photographers, geography enthusiasts and those who admire the sheer wonders of the Icelandic landscape. Below is our selection of the best black sand beaches in Iceland…
Reynisfjara is the most well-known of Iceland’s black sand beaches and is a popular filming location with its otherworldly lunar landscape providing the perfect backdrop for movies such as Rogue one: A Star Wars Story and Oblivion. As you venture nearer to the water (watch out for the powerful ‘sneaker waves’), the vast beauty of this famous beach becomes apparent. A dark and imposing cave towers over the beach, with angular basalt columns pouring out either side like a giant’s steppingstones, making visitors feel tiny in comparison to their vast size. Be on the lookout for puffins dashing by with beaks as orange as the midnight sun and feathers the colour of the black sand itself. Reynisfjara is by far one of the best black sand beaches in Iceland.
For a little more adventure, wander around the headland to Vik beach on Iceland’s wild south coast for a ride on an Icelandic horse through volcanically scarred scenery. Steam along the black beach atop your short-legged steed in a traditional Icelandic beer tolt (charge), while trying not to let a drop of the golden liquid spill from your glass. The emerald grass-covered hills and crystal-clear skies typical of Icelandic summer soften the harsh, rocky scenery below, as the sun glints on the coarse blackened sand. Vik is one of the best black sand beaches in Iceland for adventure and wilderness.
Diamond Beach is an otherworldly sight all year round and is without a doubt one of the coolest things to see in Iceland. As its name infers, clear blue diamonds of ice coat the beach having made their way down from the looming Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. Keep your eyes peeled for the bobbing head of an Icelandic seal or the impressive dorsal fin of an Orca emerging from the white, icy waves.
Nature is not the only thing on offer on Iceland’s black sand beaches. Venture to Sólheimasandur where you’ll find one of Iceland’s most iconic photo stops – the abandoned American plane. Once at the wreckage, the wind takes your breath away as you overlook the coal-coloured expanse of volcanic sand. Behind you is the ultimate juxtaposition between the natural world and what humans have left in it.
Head south away from the tourist hoards for a more off-the-beaten-track adventure. Explore the untouched beauty of Stokksness, where you will be greeted by a vast black sand beach and Viking village nestled beneath a jagged wall of mountains which are often topped by an all-encompassing blanket of cloud. Embrace traditional folklore by wandering through the rich green mounds of grass that are scattered across the dark sand, imagining the Icelandic elves and trolls residing within them. This is one of best black sand beaches in Iceland to experience authentic yet mystical coastal living.