All about Iceland’s Diamond Beach
If you’ve heard of the Glacier Lagoon at Jökulsárlón, you might have heard about another stunning spectacle nearby.
The incredible icebergs that calve from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier tongue will float around the Glacier Lagoon for some time, even years, before the tides finally pull them out to the Atlantic Ocean.
Once captured by the sea, the subtle sculpturing of the icebergs in the Glacier Lagoon is quickly replaced by pounding waves and the fierce winds that cross this dramatic black sand beach.
Those gigantic chunks of ice are soon reduced into bizarre shapes and sizes, ending up as tiny glittering fragments scattered like precious jewels on a velvet cushion.
This is the Diamond Beach!
No trip to this part of Iceland is complete without a stroll along this astonishing coastline.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Diamond Beach.
Where is the Diamond Beach?
The Diamond Beach is in southeast Iceland, about 375 kilometers from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík.
Driving there will take about six hours altogether.
It’s a few minutes walk from the Glacier Lagoon at Jökulsárlón.
What’s the Diamond Beach like?
The Diamond Beach is on the seaward side of the Ring Road, compared to the Glacier Lagoon at Jökulsárlón, which lies just inland.
The Breiðamerkurjökull glacier tongue used to reach as far as the sea, with its icebergs calving directly into the ocean.
Since the 1930s, the glacier tongue has retreated further inland, leaving the Glacier Lagoon carved out of the ground behind it.
That means the icebergs now calve from the glacier several kilometers away.
As a result, the bergs take much longer to reach the ocean, eventually heading down the river Jökulsá, which connects the lagoon to the Atlantic.
When that happens, the wind and the tides scatter the remaining fragments along a black volcanic sand beach, stretching as far as the eye can see.
You can walk amongst these fabulous fragments and see icebergs at all stages of melting until there’s nothing less than tiny pieces left!
The contrast between the stark black sands and the gleaming white and blue ice fragments creates images you’ll never forget.
Like the icebergs in the Glacier Lagoon, some of the “Diamonds” will be striped with black volcanic ash, reminders of the volcanoes that rock Iceland when they want to!
How did Iceland’s Diamond Beach get its name?
The “proper” Icelandic name for this stretch of coast is Breiðamerkursandur, which means Breiðamerkur beach.
Breiðamerkursandur is a glacial outwash plain, and it’s more than 18 kilometers wide.
The Diamond Beach is the popular name for this part of the coastline, but some locals might call it Fellsfjara.
Eystri-Fellsfjara is on the eastern side of the river, and Vestri-Fellsfjara is on the west.
Nobody knows who came up with the Diamond Beach instead, but everyone agrees that it’s a better name!
What facilities does the Diamond Beach offer?
There are no facilities at all on the Diamond Beach, so if you’re hungry or want to use the restroom, take advantage of the services at the café in the Glacier Lagoon, just a few minutes away.
When is the best time to visit the Diamond Beach?
Icebergs “calve” from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier tongue as soon as the spring thaw begins, so the best time to visit the Diamond Beach is from April onwards.
When winter arrives, the lagoon will freeze over, trapping the icebergs in place until the subsequent thaw. That means very few fragments will escape to the shoreline, so the Diamond Beach will be less of a spectacle.
So, our Glacier Lagoon tours follow that natural pattern, with trips available for booking when the views are at their best!
As with all trips in Iceland, the weather is the most critical factor; of course, it’s very unpredictable. So we’ll read the weather forecast to ensure you have the best experience possible.
What should I bring with me to the Diamond Beach?
Bring a camera. Or your smartphone. You’re going to take a LOT of pictures!
As always, dress in layers that are comfortable and easy to take off. It’s a long drive, and the temperatures will vary, so you need to be prepared.
Bring scarves, gloves, hats, windproof pants, and sturdy shoes.
Depending on the season, you might need all of these!
- Thermal undershirt
- Thermal leggings/tights
- Thick socks
- Long-sleeved shirt
- Warm fleece
- Touch screen gloves (to access your phone’s camera) and mittens
- Heavy-duty waterproof parka
Safety at Iceland’s Diamond Beach
Unlike Reynisfjara (Black Sand Beach), the Diamond Beach is not dangerous for visitors.
Just keep clear of the water’s edge and watch the waves.
And don’t even think about swimming – the water is freezing!
But it’s essential to remember one more thing.
Do not stand on the icebergs.
It may seem like a great idea, but the icebergs are unstable, toppling over if you try to climb on top.
Don’t risk injury from a fall or a soaking if you land in the freezing waters of the Atlantic.
No picture is worth risking your life!
We offer a range of Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach tours for you to choose from, with different schedules and formats.
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