From the northernmost destination, the cute little fishing village of Stykkishólmur, our five-day tour of Iceland continued towards the south coast all the way to Reynisfjara. To where? Reynisfjara might not be the best known the place in Iceland. But it is also known on another name – the Black Beach, a name that is probably more familiar to many.
Reynisfjara is located in the southernmost parts of the country, right next to Vik, which lies more or less half way down the south coast. Reynisfjara is a place where not that many people visiting the country find their way to, mainly because it is already pretty far from the Golden Circle attractions. But, some two hours drive from Reykjavik, you’ll find yet another, completely different type of scenery from what you are used to seeing in Iceland. And it is pretty amazing. So if you are driving on the southern coast, make sure to find your way here. It is only a short drive off the ring road and only around 20 minutes from Skogafoss, which still is a pretty popular attraction, but for some reason many tours turn around and head back to Reykjavik after that, instead of driving just a bit further to see the beach.
Before going to the Reynisfjara, we stopped on the beach right next to it – at Kirkjufjara. Here we were welcomed with a beautiful view along the southern coast – the first actual glimpse of the south coast on our trip. Kirkjufjara beach is quite impressive – rugged rocks, black sand and massive waves slamming into the rocks. On a clear day, when looking east, you will be able to see all the way past the Reynisfjara from here. To the west rises a small hill, where on top of it lies a small and modest looking lighthouse. When looking at the lighthouse from the parking lot, it might seem like it is not worth a visit to go up the hill, but don’t be fooled by the modest appearance, it is beautiful up there!
After less than five minutes drive up the steep and curvy road, you’ll be greeted with spectacular views to both directions down the coast. Also, depending on which direction you look, you will be facing a vertical drop of several tens of meters down to the beach, or directly into the sea. Alternatively, you can watch the bird’s chicks desperate landings attempts on the cliffs in high winds or just admire the small and very un-Icelandic lighthouse on a flat ground with green grass around it. If you are facing the right direction, you might see a view that makes it hard to believe there is any sea or high cliffs nearby, and one that makes you suspect you have been taken to a completely different country all of a sudden, as the views are much more like those in Ireland or Scotland instead of those you are used to see elsewhere in Iceland.
From the lighthouse we continued our way a few kilometers down the coast to Reynisfjara. It actually ended up requiring some 10 kilometers of driving, as the road does not follow the coast here. The Black Beach area is pretty quiet. On the eastern end of the beach there is one small café, and a few cottages accommodating overnight visitors. So a pretty modest area in terms of services. But the beach! Oh, that was really something! Black sand in itself makes the scenery very different, but here the specialty is the black rock wall, that is shaped like giant organ pipes. Next to the roaring sea and the rock wall rising high up towards the sky, this is quite a special looking place. And when you realize that high above the rocks a group of sheep flock to places where you’d not be willing to step your foot into, unless threatened by a gun at the least, you understand that this is yet another pretty unique place.
On the way here from Reykjavik, you can admire a wide variety of different types of landscapes. You might even be amazed by how many churches and sheep there actually can be in a small country besides all those waterfalls. I actually decided to leave alone the sheep that found their way all the way to the highest cliff, but the poor shy ones that were staying on the hills or next to the roads did eventually get their share of a Finnish photo-maniac and her camera. If nothing else, climbing up the hills for the shots worked as a good way of stretching you legs in between all that driving.
After Reynisfjara we pointed our car back towards Keflavik. At that point all I could think of was how much I wished we would have had more time to explore the coast further, but no. Oh well, at lest there was something left for the second trip here I’m already determined of doing at some point in the upcoming years.