With 130 large and small volcanoes, Iceland owns several black sand beaches born from the ashes of volcanic lava. The most famous is, no doubt, Reynisfjara beach, which has a charming but haunting landscape.
We visited Reynisfjara as one of our stops along Iceland’s South Coast and had a wonderful time here.
In this Reynisfjara travel guide, I share useful information you should know before visiting this famous black sand beach, including how to get there, things to see, the best time to visit, safety tips, and more.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Reynisfjara is a beautiful black sand beach near the small fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal in Southern Iceland.
The pitch-black beach brings a huge contrast against the explosive white waves and blue seawater.
This landmark also impresses visitors with a great stack of basalt columns, caves, smooth pebbles and stones, Reynisdrangur sea stacks, and outstanding views west to Dyrhólaey.
Things to see atReynisfjara Black Sand Beach
The basalt columns
Along Reynisfjara beach is the stunning Gardar cliff with angular basalt columns that resemble a church organ.
These octagonal basalt pillars were formed when the lava cooled down suddenly, creating symmetric and geometrical shapes.
The columns’ height varies, with some just about 0.5 m, while others can reach up to 20 meters.
Gardar cliff is also home to thousands of puffins in the summer, and you can also spot arctic terns and fulmars here.
Hálsanefshellir sea cave
At the base of Reynisfjall mountain, you can also visit the Hálsanefshellir sea cave. It also has fascinating rock formations and an impressive view.
Offshore from Reynisfara is Reynisdrangur, Vík’s most iconic cluster of sea stacks. The legend says that they are the remains of the trolls who were stealing a ship before the sun caught them.
From Reynisfjara, you can also see Dyrahólaey, a massive sea arch at Iceland’s southernmost tip.
Dyrahólaey is 120 meters high, stretching out into the sea. It connects the mainland with a shallow inland lagoon filled with sea birds. You can also see a white lighthouse here.
How to get toReynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Reynisfjara is about 180 kilometers (112 miles) from Reykjavik, and it takes about 2.5 hours to drive there.
From Reykjavik, you can take Route 1 (Ring Road) in the direction of Vík and then turn right to route 215 for 5 km to reach Reynisfjara. It’s located on the western side of Reynisfjall.
If you can’t drive a car or have a short time, I recommend joining a South Coast tour to explore Reynisfjara and other landmarks.
Places to stay nearReynisfjara Black Sand Beach.
If you want to stay near Reynisfjara, Vík town is the best area.
We enjoyed our stay at Hótel Kría, a stylish hotel near the black beach. The staff was friendly and helpful, and we loved the mountain view from our room.
IsReynisfjara Black Sand Beach safe?
Reynisfjara is one of the most dangerous places in Iceland with its sneaky waves.
There’s been many accidents and even deaths when tourists come too close to the shore. The waves off Reynisfjara can rise quickly, sweeping people up in seconds.
Therefore, I recommend you stay far from the water’s edges and look for warning signs.
Best time to visitReynisfjara Black Sand Beach
You can visit Reynisfjara any time throughout the year. It’s as beautiful in the summer with sunshine and blue sky as in the winter when it’s covered in snow.
Reynisfjara can be pretty crowded, so the best time to visit Reynisfjara is in the early mornings or late in the afternoon.
Where to eat near Reynisfjara
If you’re hungry, head to Black beach restaurant for a coffee or a light meal. You can also find some restaurants in the coastal town of Vik.
Here are some suggestions:
- Halldórskaffi: a local restaurant that offers delicious Icelandic and international meals.
- Strondin Pub Vik: a great local pub for beer and fish and chips
- The soup company: a family-owned restaurant that serves various types of delicious soups. Try their Red hot lava soup – a spicy meat soup in a black bread bowl.
- Suður-Vík: an excellent place for pizza and homemade European cuisine.