Iceland - South Coast
Life | Travel

Iceland – The South Coast + Black Sand Beaches

Iceland - South CoastRead about our visits to Reykjavik and the Golden Circle

After a good night’s sleep, Liz and I were up early for our last full day in Iceland, which centered around a day trip to the Southern Coast, again with Geoiceland. This was the day I was the most excited about. The black sand beaches were practically calling my name. We made a quick trip to our favorite grocery store for breakfast, then headed to our pick up location.

Our guide for the day was Walle, who may well have been my favorite guide of our whole trip, a tall order, given that all of our guides were top notch. The southern coast is a bit of a drive from Reykjavik, but Walle kept us entertained with lots of history and facts about Iceland and the landscape we drove through. Some of his information was similar to what Siff told us the day before, but enough of it was fresh that I didn’t mind the recap.

Iceland - SeljalandsfossStop one of the day was Seljalandsfoss, another waterfall. Liz and I were dying to fill our water bottles from a glacier, and this stop provided us with the chance to do just that. Do you know how hard it is to maintain your balance on a solid sheet of ice, while wearing many many layers, and trying not to fall into the water and/or get your hand wet? It’s really hard.

Iceland - SeljalandsfossIt’s also worth it.

Iceland - SeljalandsfossThat was the coldest, freshest water I have ever had. The waterfall was also beautiful. But what really got me pumped up? There was a coffee stand selling LARGE cups of coffee! It was the first and only place I found while in Iceland that served more than an 8oz cup of coffee.

Iceland - Vik

Iceland - VikFrom there, it was off to Vik, a coastal town. The drive provided some of the most stunning scenes from the whole trip. Volcanoes, glaciers, geysers… It’s not something I can describe well enough to do it justice. Once in Vik, Walle drove us to a church on a hill that provided incredible views of the town. It looked like a postcard! We ate lunch – I’m still thinking about the pasta dish I had – and headed to the black sand beach. 

Iceland - Black Sand Beach ReynisfjaraThe sand is really tiny pebbles and bigger, smooth rocks. The ocean looks so calm and gentle. There are no big, crashing waves. At first glance, you think it would be nice to swim, perhaps even put in a float and enjoy the sun during the warmer summer months. Except it’s actually one of the most dangerous places in the country. The waves are deceptive. They are small, but they creep further up on the beach than one might think, and they have a very strong pull. A number of people have been pulled out to sea while taking photos, or sticking their toes in the water. Walle was very clear that we should “never turn your back to the water.”

Iceland - Black Sand Beach Reynisfjara - Basalt Columns
This photo is entirely staged… Liz: “Say something funny.” I won’t repeat what I said, but it got me this look.

The beach is also the location of a series of basalt columns. Liz and I climbed all over them – her more than me as I found out quickly I was a bit too short to get myself very far on those things – and took some great photos. I maybe smuggled a rock home to remember the place by.

Iceland - DyrhólaeyWe were chasing daylight – and running just slightly behind schedule – but Walle really wanted to take us to Dyrhólaey to an overlook that wasn’t exactly the safest place to drive to, but like the previous day, the sun was shining and it was “warm” (40s), and he knew we would be able to see for miles. The road up the mountain was narrow, winding, and full of hairpin turns, but Walle got us up there and

Iceland - DyrhólaeyLiz and I may have broken a rule about climbing over a rope to take a picture… All the rule-breaking might have occurred on this day…

SolheimajokullOur next stop was Solheimajokull. Sunset at a glacier? Sign me up. Liz and I walked around with Walle while there, and learned so much about both him and Iceland. He told us Icelandic schools require students to learn Icelandic, English, and Danish, and most learn a fourth language while they’re at it. We also learned that Walle is very pro dog. We deemed him our kind of people.

SkogafossThe last stop of the day was Skogafoss, our last waterfall of the trip. In the summer, you can walk behind the waterfall, but the path was closed due to the ice and snow. We still managed to get some great photos. It was a full day of exploring, and I slept most of the way back to Reykjavik.

One of our goals in Iceland was to try their famous hot dog stand, Baejarins Beztu Pylsur (don’t even try to pronounce it). Walle happened to have a drop off location right by the stand, so Liz and I hopped off.

Icelandic Hot Dog - Baejarins Beztu PylsurHoly hotdog, batman.

For $7, we got two hot dogs and a drink and both of us were completely obsessed. The hot dog itself is Icelandic lamb, and the buns are slightly toasted. You don’t get to say “put this, this, and this” on it. They pass you your dog slathered in three sauces – ketchup, sweet brown mustard, and remoulade – as well as crispy onions and raw onions and that’s that. We stood right there on the sidewalk and devoured both dogs. I utterly hate ketchup on my hot dogs in the states, let alone onions, but in Iceland? Pass the ketchup.

It’s funny how that happens with food. I hate tomatoes, too, but I loved them in Italy and Nicaragua. I still don’t like them – or ketchup on my hot dogs – in the States.

We visited a few shops as we made our way back to our AirBnB, of course making a pit stop at the grocery store for late night snacks, and breakfast for the next morning. We begrudgingly packed our bags as we had to be at our bus stop at 6:30am for our Blue Lagoon visit before heading to the airport, and then attempted to go to bed. Except all the travel, jet lag, minimal daylight hours, and bus naps caught up with us. We were both up until the wee hours of the morning, reading and telling ourselves we needed to sleep.

As with the Golden Coast tour the previous day, I was highly impressed with GeoIceland. Walle was a great guide, and he made sure we got the best experience possible, even when a few of our tour group members were less than pleasant. I kind of miss Walle, to be honest. I felt like I knew him, his wife, his baby, and their dog well by the end of our day together.

Up next, the final installment of our Iceland adventure – the Blue Lagoon!

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