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Located on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Djúpalónssandur is an amazing black sand beach in West Iceland. Translating to “Deep Lagoon Sand”, Djúpalónssandur is known for its stunning natural beauty and unique geological features like its black pebble beach. It’s a can’t-miss attraction when travelling on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, along with visiting mountains, cliffs and charming villages.
A person standint at Djúpalónssandur beach in the Snæfellsnes peninsula in Iceland.

Djúpalónssandur, on the southwestern edge of the Snæfellsnes, is one of the region’s highlights. The vast beach is covered by black sand and small black stones shaped by the tides’ power and punishing winds. Visitors love to wander among the vast lava landscapes and the interesting rock formations. It’s a unique view of the volcanic landscape of Iceland. There aren’t too many places in the world that has black sand beaches.

Best time to visit
All year round
Coordinates
64.74979135433327, -23.91304001580907
Distance from Reykjavík
205km (127mi)

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Wonders of Snæfellsnes National Park - Small Group Tour

The Snæfellsnes peninsula is often referred to as “Iceland in miniature”, as you get a little bit of everything. The diverse landscape includes natural wonders like vast black sand beaches, magnificent mountains, large volcanic craters, rich birdlife, and the mighty glacier, Snæfellsjökull. This intimate tour is perfect for those who like to get off the beaten paths.

€133
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The geology of Djúpalónssandur

The black sand is composed of small, smooth volcanic rocks that the forces of the ocean have shaped over time. Walking along the beach provides a captivating experience, as you can see the contrast between the stark black sand and the crashing white waves of the ocean. The landscape is hauntingly beautiful, and Djúpalónssandur is a must-see attraction when travelling around West Iceland.

The surrounding scenery boasts dramatic cliffs and rock formations, adding to its unique allure. The ridges are remnants of ancient volcanic activity and are a testament to Iceland’s geological history. They provide a picturesque backdrop for visitors to enjoy while exploring the area and snapping photos.

A man testing his strength by attempting to lift the traditional Icelandic lifting stones on Djúpalónssandur beach, with the rugged coastline and crashing waves as a backdrop.

What makes Djúpalónssandur special

One unique feature of Djúpalónssandur is the collection of mysterious iron remnants scattered across the beach. The metal pieces are the remains of a British trawler called the “Epine,” which was stranded off the coast in 1948. The wreckage serves as a poignant reminder of the ocean’s precarious nature and the challenges sailors face navigating the waters surrounding Iceland.

In addition to the wreckage, Djúpalónssandur is home to four large stones known as “lifting stones,” which have become an attraction in their own right. These stones were traditionally used to test the strength and fitness of fishermen who wanted to find work on fishing boats. Each stone has a specific weight, ranging from 23 kg to 154 kg, and lifting them was a way for fishermen to demonstrate their physical prowess. Today, visitors can try raising the stones themselves and see how they measure up to the strength of the fishermen of old. Spoiler alert: it’s not easy!

Kirkjufell, the iconic mountain of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, adorned with a delicate blanket of snow contrasting with the surrounding yellow-brown grass
Kirkjufell, the most famous attraction on the Snæfellsnes peninsula

Djúpalónssandur’s location

Djúpalónssandur is part of Snæfellsjökull National Park, which encompasses the Snæfellsjökull glacier and its surrounding area. It’s a beautiful slice of Iceland and a region that is popular for travellers. The national park offers numerous hiking trails, and Djúpalónssandur is often included as a stop on these routes. Snæfellsnes is a popular destination for nature lovers, photographers and those seeking some outdoor adventure. There are glacier walking and ice climbing tours available on Snæfellsnesjökull.

How to prepare for a visit to Djúpalónssandur

When planning a visit to Djúpalónssandur, it is essential to remember that the beach can be pretty exposed and very windy. Dressing warmly and wearing sturdy footwear for exploring the area is crucial. It’s always better to dress in layers to remove if you get warm instead of not having enough warm clothing. It is also vital to respect the natural environment and refrain from taking any artefacts or disturbing the landscape. Don’t take any sand, and never leave litter.

Black basalt rock formations in the Snæfellsnes area in Iceland

What causes black sand beaches in Iceland?

Iceland’s beaches are known for their distinctive black sand, which is primarily composed of volcanic minerals. There are a few reasons why Iceland’s beaches have black sand, including that Iceland is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a tectonic boundary where the North American and Eurasian plates meet. Iceland has a high concentration of volcanoes, both active and dormant. When volcanic eruptions occur, molten lava flows into the surrounding areas and eventually cools down, forming basalt rock. Weathering and erosion break down basalt rock over time, resulting in black volcanic sand.

Additionally, basalt, a common volcanic rock, contributes to the black sands. Basalt is rich in iron and magnesium, giving it a dark colour. When the basaltic rock is fragmented into sand-sized particles, it creates the black sand that covers Iceland’s beaches.

Another reason for the black colour of Iceland’s beaches is the absence of organic matter, such as decomposed flora and fauna, which is common in beaches with lighter-coloured sands. The volcanic nature of the sand and the relatively sparse vegetation in Iceland results in a lack of organic material, making the dark volcanic particles even more striking.

Lastly, as Iceland is home to numerous glaciers, they significantly impact the landscape and contribute to black sands. As glaciers move, freeze and melt, they erode the rocks beneath them, including volcanic material. The eroded volcanic stones are transported by rushing rivers and deposited along the coastline, contributing to the formation of black sand beaches.

Are all of Iceland’s beaches dark?

While Iceland is famous for its black sand beaches, there are also beaches with different colours, including golden and red beaches. The colour of a beach’s sand is influenced by various factors, including the geological composition of the area and the processes that shape the coastline. Iceland’s diverse landscape leads to different coloured beaches throughout the island.

Imposing sea stack stands tall against a backdrop of the sky awash with warm sunset hues of oranges, pinks, and purples

What to expect from a visit to Djúpalónssandur

Djúpalónssandur is worth visiting during a trip to the west of Iceland. Travellers can expect dramatic cliffs, rock formations and the contrasting colours of the black sands against the blue Atlantic Ocean.

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