Exploring Vik & Dyrhólaey: Black Sand Beaches, Cliffs & Puffins


Exploring Vik & Dyrhólaey: Black Sand Beaches, Cliffs & Puffins

Two of my favorite stops on our 5-day south coast road trip in Iceland were also the most picturesque: Vik for its famous black sand beach guarded by towering basalt columns & Dyrhólaey for its stunning views & an up-close look at some of its most famous residents – puffins.

Vik

Located about two hours from Reykjavik, the small town of Vik (population: 291 – a bit smaller than we expected) is a great pit stop for petrol, snacks & a stroll along the beautiful black sand beach, under some of the country’s most beautiful basalt columns. The columns on the side of the Reynisfjall mountain were formed millions of years ago as seawater met basaltic lava &, as the lava cooled, these soaring columns & a beautiful cave were left behind. Sadly, the area has become famous in recent years due to a number of drownings & near-drownings of visitors being washed out to sea from unexpectedly powerful waves. Luckily, the day we visited, the sea was incredibly calm & we were able to explore deep into the cave.

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(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

columns climbing

(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

columns

(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

columns2

(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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inside the cave
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

Just off the coast are the Reynisdrangar sea stacks, which according to legend, were formed when two giants tried to tow a three-sailed ship to the shore. Daylight broke before they could reach the shore & they were turned to stone. These impressive rocks can be seen from miles down the coast.

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Reynisdrangar
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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view of Reynisdrangar from Dyrhólaey
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

Dyrhólaey

Tucked away down a little side street off the main road, Dyrhólaey (like many places in Iceland) would be easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it. But what a shame it would be to skip this detour off the main route. Home to hundreds of nesting puffins & sweeping views of the south coast, these seaside cliffs are easily accessible & incredibly impressive. The lower area is where you’ll see puffins & after a short drive up a steep hill of switchbacks to the lighthouse, you’ll be rewarded with a view of the south coast which seems to stretch all the way to Reykjavik.

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(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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Dyrhólaey’s namesake (literally: arch with the hole), as seen from the lighthouse
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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puffin!
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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another puffin!
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

Dyv

(l) gorgeous sweeping coastline; (r) Dyrhólaey
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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6 Comments
  • Tag Along Deb
    Posted at 10:51h, 18 September Reply

    This was one of my favourite spots in Iceland when we visited a few years ago. We ran along the beach and it felt like we were part of some kind of lunar landscape. Such an incredibly beautiful, austere place.

    • christina
      Posted at 12:08h, 18 September Reply

      Isn’t it amazing?! The landscape is just otherworldly – of course, I feel like I said that about a lot of Iceland :)

  • Rhonda
    Posted at 12:15h, 19 March Reply

    We are visiting Iceland in July and are so excited about our trip! At Dyrholaey can you drive up the hill to the lighthouse in a regular car or do you need a 4WD vehicle?

    • christina
      Posted at 14:01h, 22 March Reply

      You’re going to love your trip! I think you could do it in a regular car, you’d just need to take it slow. It’s steep and gravel, but doable. It’s well worth a stop!

  • Trix Abbott
    Posted at 18:32h, 21 April Reply

    I’m staying at the Icelandair Hotel Vik in May, 2018 and I’m hoping I can catch a ride with someone to see the puffins at Dyrhólaey and explore the black-sand beaches and basalt columns. Hopefully someone will have a vehicle and I can come along with them.

  • Trix Abbott
    Posted at 18:34h, 21 April Reply

    I’m hoping to see the puffins at Dyrhólaey in May, 2018, as well at the black-sand beaches and basalt columns. Staying at the Icelandair Hotel Vik. I’m wanting to catch a ride with someone who is doing the same, just for an afternoon of exploring and taking photos. I’ll be wanting to do this May 12th, 2018

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