Exploring Reynisfjara: Iceland’s Mysterious Black Sand Beach
Iceland’s south coast is one of the most diverse, scenic slices of the country. The landscape is dotted with epic waterfalls, towering volcanos, vast glaciers, and Iceland’s most famous black sand beach, Reynisfjara. If you browse travel reels on Instagram, chances are you’ve seen videos of people standing on this incredible black sand beach in Iceland. It’s even more special in person.
What is Reynisfjara and why should I visit?
Located about 10 km (6 mi) south of the village of Vík, Reynisfjara’s haunting beauty attracts travelers from around the world. The black sand contrasted against the white waves is breathtaking alongside the rugged basalt columns. There aren’t too many places in the world where you can walk on volcanic black sand.
Reynisfjara is one of the most photographed sites on the south coast, loved for its unique beauty. It’s a can’t-miss stop on a tour of the South Coast. Let Gray Line take you there to see it for yourself! On your Iceland holiday, a guided tour from Reykjavík is the perfect way to explore this beautiful part of the island.
Taking a tour to Reynisfjara
Why should you consider taking a guided tour of the South Coast:
- •A comfortable coach will pick you up and drop you off at your Reykjavík hotel
- •Leave the driving to an expert and enjoy the spectacular views along the way
- •Enjoy expert commentary from a knowledgeable, English-speaking guide
- •Gray Line’s coaches are modern and comfortable and offer free Wi-Fi
- •South Coast tours make multiple stops at attractions along the way to Reynisfjara
When to visit Reynisfjara
Reynisfjara is a fantastic attraction any time of year, but it’s incredibly charming during the long summer days. On sunny days the blue skies are divine and offer another colorful contrast to the black sands. That said, the winter is lovely, too, with a light dusting of snow and the soft light of winter.
At the beach’s edge, you’ll find Reynisdrangar, a cluster of striking basalt sea stacks that jut out from the shore. The interesting shapes are begging to be photographed. It’s popular to take a few photos in front of the stacks, then roam the black sand beach, admiring the unique rock formations.
Maybe it’s the jutting rocks in the water, the rugged basalt columns on the cliffs, or just the black sand that brings travelers to Reynisfjara. Icelandic mythology has it that the columns were once trolls who didn’t pull their ship onto shore in time before turning to stone at daylight. The sharp rocks in the ocean are what’s left of their ship; it’s a fun story to consider as you admire the unique formations.
The Black Sand Beach and Geology
The geology of the region is fascinating; the stark black color of the sand comes from the aftermath of eroded volcanic rocks worn down by punishing winds and powerful waves for thousands of years.
Be Prepared for your Black Sand Beach Visit
- •Wear sturdy waterproof shoes with a good grip
- •Dress according to the weather with layers that you can add or take off
- •In the winter, bring a hat, gloves, and a scarf
- •Wear waterproof outer layers in the event of rain
Meanwhile, it’s not just about the beauty of the region and geology. Movie buffs may recognize Reynisfjara in one of several films. The beach has been used as a location in movies like “Noah,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Captain America: Civil War,” the Bollywood film “Dilwale,” and the “Vikings” television series. Travelers are attracted to Reynisfjara for a number of reasons!
Important Safety Information
During your visit to Reynisfjara, your guide will explain the safety protocols in place. Please note that this isn’t a beach to swim at, even in the summer, due to the powerful surf. But there are fantastic rock formations to explore, miles of black sand to stroll along, and plenty of great photo spots.
Pay close attention to the warning signs in the parking lot, as sneaker waves can appear without warning. Sneaker waves are massive, powerful waves that will knock you off your feet and pull you and the sand under your feet back into the ocean. Never turn your back to the sea; even if the waves are small, they can quickly change.
Read any safety signs and the colored lights (red, yellow, and green warnings) and follow directions, not the crowds on the beach, and you’ll have a great time seeing this stunning black sand beach. Nature is a powerful force that’s worthy of our respect and attention, but as long as you’re cautious about how close you are to the water, then visiting Reynisfjara is perfectly safe.
Booking a Tour to Reynisfjara
If you don’t have too much time in Iceland or prefer not to drive yourself, fortunately, Gray Line knows how to help. You can book a tour that allows you to explore the South Coast of Iceland, which includes Reynisfjara, in one day!
Practical Tour Information
- •Day tours last 10 hours from pick-up to drop-off
- •The overall distance driven is 400 km (250 mi)
- •The tour will stop at restaurants/cafes where you can purchase meals
- •Pick-ups are available from all major hotels in the Reykjavík area
Beautiful South Coast Sites
Gray Line’s South Coast Tour visits additional attractions beyond the beach. This is an ideal way to see the breathtaking sites of the South Coast.
The coach driver will stop at Seljalandsfoss, a beautiful, delicate waterfall with a unique feature. Visitors can walk behind the falls on a footpath at the base of the waterfall. Everyone does it—but it’s completely worth it and gives a unique view.
Another stop is at Skógafoss, one of the biggest waterfalls in the country. It looms 82 feet high and has a drop-off of 197 feet! The sheer width of the falls makes it unique, as well as the option to climb a set of stairs to the top.
Volcanoes in South Iceland
In addition to the stops, the coach journey is an event in itself, as you will see fantastic scenery along the way. For instance, the bus will pass by the mighty Eyjafjallajökull volcano, whose enormous eruption halted air traffic for several days in 2010. You will also get to see panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, mountains, and glaciers.
Beautiful Views of Reynisfjara
The south coast is one of the most popular regions tourists visit in Iceland. Another attraction that travelers visit near Reynisfjara is Dyrhólaey, a unique rock formation. The rock arch rises from the sea, peaking at nearly 400 feet, and provides stunning views of Reynisfjara, basalt columns, the ocean, and even puffins during the summer.
Feel the Heat of Icelandic Lava
Another popular south coast attraction is the Icelandic Lava Show, which allows guests to see hot molten lava up close when there isn’t a volcanic eruption. It’s located in the town of Vík, close to Reynisfjara; the exhibition show creates the conditions of an eruption, with molten lava seeping down a display at 2,000°F. Guests get to see the lava, feel its staggering heat, and hear it sizzle and crackle. Another Icelandic Lava Show exhibition recently popped up in Reyjavík!
What You Can Expect on a Tour with Gray Line
- Explore the sweeping iconic black volcanic sand beach of Reynisfjara
- Get up close to the epic Skógafoss waterfall
- Enjoy time exploring the incredible Reynisdrangar sea stacks
- Discover the charming village of Vík, Iceland’s southernmost hamlet
- Witness spectacular views of glaciers and volcanoes
- Walk behind the stunning Seljalandsfoss waterfall
The South Coast of Iceland is a beautiful part of the island, and Reynisfjara is an attraction you can’t miss. Plan to take a tour of the region on your upcoming trip to Iceland!
Gray Line’s South Coast Tour visits additional attractions beyond the beach.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you swim on the black sand beach in Iceland?
No, you cannot swim at Reynisfjara. It is very dangerous as sneaker waves can pull people out to sea, resulting in drowning. It is safe to visit Reynisfjara, but pay attention to warning signs and stay a safe distance from the sea.
Can I bring black sand home from Iceland?
No, due to preservation laws, you are not allowed to bring black sand or rocks home from Iceland.