Black sand beaches are often closely associated with Iceland, despite the fact that Iceland is not the only place in the world where you can find them. Volcanic activity created the island of Iceland itself. There are over 70 hundred volcanoes on the island and many of them are still active and capable of shaping the terrain around them. I’m sure you all know by now that the explanation for the sand being black lies in the island’s simmering volcanic activity. The characteristic black sand has been naturally formed by boiling hot lava coming from a volcano, spreading and floating across a beach and when entering the cold water, cooling down so rapidly that the lava solidifies and breaks into debris and sand instantly. Perhaps the most famous black sand beach in Iceland is Reynisfjara Beach, visited by tens of thousands of tourists every year. It’s no doubt a breath-taking and worth visiting beach, but what if I told you there is a black sand beach with amazing views no one really visits. Sound too good to be true? Let me take you there.
Landeyjahöfn beach is a hidden gem that’s still under the radar for most tourists, which makes it a perfect place if you want to escape the crowds of tourists and have the ‘endless‘ black sand beach just to yourself. Even though this place is lesser-known, it offers its visitors unforgettable views and experience. One of the most striking features of the Landeyjahöfnbeach is its black sand which creates a dramatic contrast against the blue waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, making it for sure a stunning sight. Moreover, from Landeyjahöfn beach, the views of the Westman Islands are lying right in front of you, beckoning you to marvel at their natural beauty.
Still not sure whether to visit or not? The beach is also home to a shipwreck, the remains of a Swedish cargo ship Sigurður Gísli, VE 127, built in 1946, that caught fire in 1974 while sailing from the Westman Islands. The ship was carrying a cargo of cement and timber when it ignited, forcing the crew to abandon the ship immediately. The burning vessel was eventually beached at Landeyjahöfn, where it was left to deteriorate without any attempt to salvage or repair it. Today, the wreck is still visible on the beach at Landeyjahöfn, but it is just an irreparable piece of history.
Amidst the tranquil beauty of the ocean views, embrace the thrilling violence of the crashing waves, experiencing both serenity and excitement all at once while feeling the rich history of the ocean’s ever-changing tides and the weight of its past shipwrecks.
Location: To reach the shipwreck, you walk straight across the beach for approximately 25 minutes (about 1.5 km from the parking area). Landeyjahöfn beach is located on the southern coast of Iceland, about 150 km southeast of Reykjavik and right next to the Landeyjahöfn harbour where ferries to Westman Islands depart. It’s just 20 minutes‘ drive from Eyvindarholt Hill House and Cabins and 15 minutes from Seljalandfoss waterfall.
Parking: When approaching the harbour area, you can park your car on the right side with no parking fees.
Duration: max. 50-minute-long walk from the parking area to the shipwreck and back.
Keep a safe distance from the ocean at all times. Don’t go anywhere near where the waves are landing. Never turn your back to the ocean. Do not swim or bath in the ocean. (This all applies to most beaches in Iceland.)In bad weather conditions, the views of the Westman Islands may be obscured by clouds, fog, and heavy rain, so you won’t be able to see them. Due to strong winds the shipwreck may be (almost entirely or fully) covered with sand.
Be smart, stay safe.