Dyrhólaey arch on the South Coast
Dyrhólaey is a naturally formed arch on the shoreline west of the tiny village of Vík on the south coast in Iceland. It is one of the main attractions on the South Shore and one of the most impressive stops when driving the Ring Road in Iceland. The 120 m high basalt rock is a former volcanic island, formed in an eruption some one hundred thousand years ago. The raging Atlantic Ocean has shaped the cliffs since the Ice Age. The hole in the middle was carved out by the ocean digging out the weaker remaining rocks over a long period. In addition to the arch, interesting stacks are standing tall just south of the Dyrhólaey cliffs. All have names like Kvistdrangur, Mávadrangur, Kambur, and Háidrangur (56 meters high). When you look at Háidrangur, you can picture when it was first climed in 1893 by a famous daredevil named Eldeyjar-Hjalti. His task was to put nails into the cliff to make it easier for others to climb and collect eggs.
A rare natural wonder it is
The whole formation, the island, the black beach and rocky shoreline around the island, the stacks and the arch is a spectacular natural phenomenon. Officially there are two ways to view Dyrhólaey: From the top by the parking area by the old lighthouse that was built in 1910 and renovated in 1927, and on the east side of the arch by the new service center and parking lot. Both offer great views, and if you have taken the time to visit Dyrhólaey you should stop by both of them. From the lower level, you also have an excellent view to the famous Reynisfjara black beach east of Dyrhólaey.
Dyrhólaey is a nature reserve
Consequently, in addition to being a great natural wonder, Dyrhólaey is a beautiful location for birdwatching. Needless to say, there are of course infinitive photo opportunities by Dyrhólaey. Not only from the top but also from both viewing panels. In 1978 Dyrhólaey became a nature reserve as nature and birdlife during spring, and early summer is quite sensitive and requires monitoring. Keep in mind that the Dyrhólaey area is sometimes closed in May and early June. During late summer, autumn and winter the site is a spectacular place to observe the huge and aggressive ocean waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The waves that are continually molding the south coast of Iceland. But during storms and high tides, extreme caution is needed.
Caution is needed if you choose to walk the black beach
Some years ago, the black beach surrounding Dyrhólaey was accessible by walking down to Kirkjufjara beach by the lower parking lot. Although a marvelous place when the tide is low, and winds are still it is a hazardous place in different situations, and even life-threatening. After some horrifying accidents, the beach was closed, and access is not allowed. We can only emphasize that you should stay on marked trails and keep in mind that the waves are extremely dangerous and unpredictable.
Dyrhólaey is easily accessible from the Ring Road.
When you are driving on Suðurlandsvegur or the southern part of the Ring Road, you take a turn to the south on the road Dyrhólavegur nr. 218. The drive to the top of the Dyrhólaey island by the Lighthouse is approximately six kilometers. And between the parking lots, you only drive about 500 meters.