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Reynisfjara Black beach, basalt columns and sea stacks

Updated: Dec 2, 2022


Renisfjara Black Beach and Sea Stacks
Renisfjara Black Beach and Sea Stacks

Reynisfjara Beach has, in recent years, become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland. To Icelanders, it is not a surprise as the beach and the surrounding area has a lot to offer in terms of natural wonders and spectacular experience. It is a display of magnificent and panoramic natural wonders and a meeting place of immense natural forces.


Reynisfjara is on the South Shore on the map of Iceland
Reynisfjara is on the South Shore on the map of Iceland

Many natural wonders wrapped up in one

Reynisfjara Sea Stacks are close to Vík village
Reynisfjara Sea Stacks are close to Vík village

Reynisfjara is a beautiful black beach stretching on a three-kilometer reef to the west of the small mountain Reynisfjall (340 meters high), where you find the parking lot and a service center with restrooms and a small restaurant. When you enter the beach, a view to the south towards the Atlantic Ocean opens up. Here it is quite unique to watch the powerful waves come in and crawl the beach for their destructive intentions. The large black beach, consists of black sand (originally volcanic ash) and softly shaped small pebbles. Here you can take a short walk to the west along the reef that separates the Atlantic Ocean and the river mouth or the small lagoon Dyrhólaós. Here you can find a peaceful spot and face the breeze from the Atlantic Ocean, even when Reynisfjara is crowded with people. You can also take a walk to the eastern part of Reynisfjara beach, where you have a great view of the spectacular Reynisdrangar basalt stacks right off the shore. When the tide is low, and the wind is calm, you can easily walk the beach and view the 340-meter-high mountain Rynisfjall on one side and the stacks and the ocean on the other side. A spectacular experience as the place is also usually crowded with birds.

Hálsanefshellir cave is one of the few basalt column caves in the world
Hálsanefshellir cave is one of the few basalt column caves in the world

The basalt column formation

When you enter the beach, you will encounter one of the most spectacular basalt column formations in Iceland right in front of you at the foot of the mountain Reynisfjall. A place that one could almost believe was designed thousands of years ago with selfies on a phone camera in mind. It is a beautiful photogenic landscape from every angle and a perfect background for a selfie. One of the most exciting parts of the basalt column is the cave Hálsanefshellir. As the basalt column formation in Iceland is gaining more and more interest, it is worth noticing that Reynisfjara is one of the country's most impressive basalt column sites. This part of the beach could easily be a stand-alone reason to visit black beach. Here we must add that it is also a bit of a dangerous place as there have been several small landslides from the south slopes of the mountain in recent decades, small rocks sometimes fall down from the ceiling of the cave, and when the tide is high and the weather severe (most notably in winter) walking this part of the beach can be dangerous.


The glacier and the mighty volcano

The popular but dangerous Black Beach
The popular but dangerous Black Beach

On a good clear day, even the view from the beach to the north is impressive. From the beach, you have a great view of the mountains south of Mýrdalsjökull glacier and also towards the famous glacier Eyjafjallajökull. The ice cap Mýrdalsjökull is most famous for its dangerous volcano Katla sleeping under the nine-hundred-meter-thick ice. Katla is one of the most notorious volcanos in Iceland and has the habit of waking up at an interval of one hundred years. The last eruption was in 1918. The surrounding of Reynisfjara also has abundant birdlife; from May to late July, you will most likely see some puffins.

Dangerous waves by Reynisfjara Black Beach
Dangerous waves by Reynisfjara Black Beach

Everyone must remember that although the waves might look innocent, they are mighty, strong, and powerful


A place where forces of nature have fought their battles for thousands of years


Raynisfjara is a great place to visit, but take care
Raynisfjara is a great place to visit, but take care

Although a beautiful area of natural wonders, it is also a meeting place, or shall we say a battlefield, of natural forces. Throughout the centuries and even thousands of years, and day by day, the Atlantic Ocean attacks the land, the coastline and bit by bit breaks part from and reshapes the beach, cliffs, and stacks. Everyone must remember that although the waves might look innocent, they are mighty, strong, and powerful, and sometimes highly dangerous. Caution is needed, especially when the tide is high, and the winds are strong. We also must remember that the waves are not equal in size. Every 14th to 20th wave from the Atlantic Ocean is considerably larger than the other waves and floods farther up on the beach. The waves are very deceiving, and everyone needs to take care, and risk-taking is not recommended. When you look to the west to Dyrhólaey and then to the east to the Reynisdrangar stacks, you see the cliffs made of solid rocks and in between the reef consisting of volcanic ash. The geological material that the ocean so desires to demolish, but the volcanic island continues to add and fight the power of the sea.

Basalt column in Reynisfjara
Basalt column in Reynisfjara

When you enter the beach, you will encounter one of the most spectacular basalt column formations in Iceland


Access is quite straightforward and easy

Reynisfjara, a view from Dyrhólaey
Reynisfjara, a view from Dyrhólaey

Like many natural wonders in Iceland, access and free admission are simple. If you are traveling the Ring Road Nr. 1. It is located on the south shore west of the small village of Vík. When traveling from Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, you take a turn south on the road Reynishverfisvegur Nr. 215 and drive approximately 6 kilometers. This is the only road to Reynisfjara beach, and you cannot access this place from the village Vík. You should take notice of the farm Reynir as it has been part of Icelandic history form more than eleven hundred years and is mentioned in our book of settlement. It is also an area with many fascinating folklore stories, including an interesting story about the church and how it was built.


When is the best time to visit Reynisfjara?

Photographing the natural wonder at Reynisfjara Black Beach
Photographing the natural wonder at Reynisfjara Black Beach

Iceland is placed on planet earth up north near the arctic and has four clear and distinctive seasons. There is a clear difference between spring, summer, autumn, and winter. This also means that every place in Icelandic nature is different depending on the season. This affects everything you see and experience in an area like Reynisfjara. The beach is accessible all year round, and every season has its charm, but often in winter, the weather makes it challenging to visit as the roads are difficult, slippery, and even closed. If you want to enjoy this magnificent place in its full blossom and color, the best time is from late April until late September. If, on the other hand, you want to experience the full and mighty force of nature and see big waves and harsh environments, it is a good idea to visit Reynisfjara from October and March.


I hope you enjoy our website and information when planning a tour to Iceland, and below, you find more information about nearby places.

The view to the Sea Stacks from Vík village
The view to the Sea Stacks from Vík village

The Atlantic Ocean is quite the sculptor, much apparent in various locations around Iceland. Reynisdrangar, just south of the dramatic black beaches of Vík village are three spiky basalt sea stacks rising from the ocean 66 m into the air. Legend has it that the three stacks were formerly two trolls dragging a three-mast ship towards land throughout a night. Alas, it was a slow maneuver and the night wasn't long at that time of year. At the break of dawn up rose the Sun and cast its rays on the trolls, instantly turning them into stone. The stack next to land, Landdrangur, is the fogy, Langsamur the ship is in the middle with the old hag, Háidrangur, at the rear end.


Photogenic stone trolls

Reynisfjara black beach is popular around the year
Reynisfjara black beach is popular around the year

This disaster was, by no means the end of the trolls. Even today you can hear their wails and laments when you drive from Vík village to observe them up close. They never have and never will accept their destiny. So close to their warm and cozy home in Mount Katla, the most ferocious volcano in Iceland and all their labor lost. But fortunately for us, the two trolls and their looted ship are incredibly photogenic and always worth visiting.

Be on alert and aware of the DANGEROUS waves on the beach


The sea stacks at Reynisfjara Black Beach
The sea stacks at Reynisfjara Black Beach

Although both folklore story and landscape are fascinating for the camera and anyone's imagination, you must remember if you visit Reynisdrangar, either from the east side from Vík or from Reynisfjara on the west side, that the ocean and the waves are often extremely DANGEROUS. Much more dangerous than trolls. Especially when the tide is high and winds are strong. The waves might look innocent and calm as they softly crawl in and cover the beach, but they are often quite strong and demanding on the way out; almost unpredictable. Everyone visiting should read the signs and understand that the waves are not only dangerous in high tide and strong winds. Everyone visiting Reynisfjara should BE CAREFUL.