When thinking of beautiful beaches, one often conjures up the image of silken white sand stretching along a backdrop of palm trees. This, indeed, is a gorgeous sight to behold. But one of the most unique and stunning beaches I’ve ever seen is Reynisfjara Beach in Iceland known as the black sand beach. The white caps of the crashing waves flowing across the glistening black sand sculpt a breathtaking scene. When it’s a sunny day, such as we were lucky to have, the vivid blue sky and majestic clouds add another layer to the dramatic imagery.
One of the most well-known features of Reynisfjara Beach are the basalt sea stacks known as the Reynisdrangar. According to folklore, three trolls named Skessudrangur, Laddrangur, and Langhamar attempted to drag a three-masted ship to land but were caught at dawn by the sunlight and turned into rocks.
When visiting, don’t let the small, gentle-looking waves fool you. There’s a dangerously strong undertow at Reynisfjara Beach, so tourists are warned to stay well away from the water’s edge. The undertow can quickly sweep a person out to sea, so best to remain safely back.
Also striking are the much-photographed columnar basalt formations that form Hálsanefshellir cave. (At the end of this post there’s another photo that shows a more expansive view of the basalt columns.) The hexagonal basalt columns form when basaltic lava slowly cools over time. Perhaps the most famous basaltic columnar formation in the world is the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
No matter which direction you turn, there’s a gorgeous sight to behold.
Even behind the beach is a picturesque snapshot of Icelandic life, complete with a view of a glacier in the distance.
Though being here made me reflect on the affect we all have as tourists. Like many beautiful places around the world, tourism can overtake the area. My photos show very few people but that was intentional; I had to carefully frame each photo. Here’s what it looked like when I didn’t try to avoid the crowds. And yes, that is a bride in her wedding dress posing against the basalt columns. It’s food for thought, how can we as tourists visit the places we want to see and honor the integrity of the place.
Reynisfjara Beach is a stunning beach and unlike any other I’ve been to. I’m grateful for the chance to have seen it. If you go, enjoy its beauty and be mindful.
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