#coastline

The two large pillars towering over their surroundings at the shore near Hellnar in Snæfellsnes are Lóndrangar. The two towers are believed to be ancient volcanic plugs that have endured the forces of nature for tens of thousands of years. They have sustained the wind, the forces of the ocean and even eruptions that have pushed more lava around them some thousands of years ago.  The higher one is 75 meters high, and the shorter is 61 meters high.

A place that has always captivated Icelanders throughout centuries

Icelanders have noticed the two pillars ever since the island was settled around twelve hundred years ago.  In our Book of Settlement, it was documented that a troll was sitting on the larger pillar when gentlemen by the name Laugarbrekku-Einar passed by at one time.  Although the troll did not harm anyone, it helped us understand that the pillars were always a big part of the inhabitants who lived in the area. Much later when our first natural scientists started to document Iceland's nature, and geology in the 18th and 19th century, Lóndragar were of course among the natural phenomenon they examined.

A challenge

Pillars like the two Lóndrangar are somehow made to challenge people. Throughout the centuries, they were considered unclimbable. But in May 1735, a daredevil from the Westman Islands by the name Ásgrímur Böðvarsson climbed the taller one. But in recent years few have taken on the challenge.

A fishing station at Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Although a small fishing station was operated on a small scale by the shore some centuries ago, conditions never developed into a village, like in many other parts of Iceland. Today the pillars are mostly home to many species of birds and a joy to view from many angles.  By the roadside, there is a parking lot and a viewpoint where you can see the magnificent pillars and the rocky shore on its eastern side.  If you want to see the up close the best option is to drive a bit farther west than the parking lot and take a left turn to the lighthouse at Malarrif. From the lighthouse, there is a relatively easy walking path all the way to Lóndrangar. It is an enjoyable scenic walk where you can experience the power of the ocean if there is a bit of wind. But then again one must always keep in mind when approaching the ocean on a beach in Iceland that waves can be very dangerous although they look innocent.
 

 

The two large pillars towering over their surroundings at the shore near Hellnar in Snæfellsnes are Lóndrangar.

 

Dyrahólaey is a naturally formed arch just offshore near the tiny village of Vík on the south shore in Iceland. The 120 m high basalt rock is a former volcanic island that has been carved and shaped by the raging Atlantic Ocean since the Ice Age. The hole in the middle is big enough for fishing vessels to sail through, not recommended though as you never know how the tide is going to behave. Remarkably, in 1995 two adventurers did a stunt flight in a small aircraft through the whole and lived to tell the tale. Not recommended either as you never know how the wind is going to behave.

Easily accessible and part of the Ring Road road trip drive

The best view of Dyrhólaey is from its lighthouse built in 1927 and in earlier time there used to be a fishing station to the east of the arch.  Dyrhólaey is easily accessible from the Ring Road, road nr. 1.  During the summer, Dyhólaey is a bird sanctuary while all seabird species found in Iceland hatch their eggs. It is most certainly an ideal location for bird-watchers as you will be able to observe the mating and breeding behavior of e.g. the arctic tern, kittiwake, fulmar, plover, whimbrel, and puffins.

A caution is needed if you choose to walk the black beach

A black beach that is quite pleasant for a stroll surrounds Dyrhólaey. It is a good vantage point to appreciate the peninsula's enormous size and elephant-like form. Here a caution is needed as there is a considerable difference between high tide and low tide and the waves can be extremely dangerous when the tide is high.

Below is the location of Dyrhólaey on the map of Iceland

Dyrholaey is the southern most part of Iceland

If there is one place horse-riders love in Iceland, it is Löngufjörur on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.  Contrary to other beaches in Iceland it is white – with a brownish hue and stretches for miles and miles. Some horse-riders say riding along Löngufjörur feels like riding through eternity. The sands are resistant, though soft on the hoof and seem to go on forever.

During your ride, you'll have the pristine Snæfellsjökull in front of you the whole time and the beautiful Ljósufjöll (Light Mountains) to your right. It is just you and your horse in harmony with Mother Nature. The only sound is the ocean waves gently washing ashore nearby.

Of course, if you are not a horse rider, you can always go for a walk on the beach. But beware. All is not what it seems, and this is a dangerous place. No one should venture onto the sands without guidance. When the tide comes in the currents are strong. They will wash over the sands in a matter of minutes obliterating all footprints and hoof-marks.  They are forceful enough to drown both horses and riders.

If you wish to experience this extraordinary place, be sure to seek advice from the local farmers, hire a local guide or join a organized tour with a horse-riding company.
 

If there is one place horse-riders love in Iceland, it is Löngufjörur on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Djúpalónssandur or Deeplagoonsand is a fascinating place for many reasons. The name is traced back to some of the first settlers in Iceland some twelve hundred years ago.  It was the landing place of Bárður Snæfellsás and his family and crew.  It is also a place where farmers and people at Snæfellsne Peninsula used as a fishing station for centuries.  And last but not least it is a beautiful place with stunning landforms.

The pebble beach, small lakes, and stunning lava formation

When you visit Djúpalónssandur take care as the path to the beach is short, narrow and harsh. But once at the beach, you pass an interesting lava rock with a hole in the middle. On the beach, you will also see many other interesting lava formations and rocks, some that are connected to local stories and folklore.  On the shore behind the lava on your right side when walking the path is a small pond, a beautiful sight.  Specifically, if you are at Djupalonssandur on a clear day with the glacier in the background.  The beach is also quite unique with its many pebbles of various sizes.  It is a great place to take children and give them time to play with the small stones by the beach.

Djúpalónssandur pond Svörtulón

The pond Svörtulón or Black Lagoon is an adventurous place

Take your time at Djúpalónssandur and Black Lagoon

This strange black sand cove on the south coast of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is curiously close to the Icelandic heart. It is covered with black pearly pebbles, constantly being brought in by the ocean waves. Still, picking them – or nicking them – is strictly forbidden. It's not that they keep a pebble-police at Djúpalónssandur, the Icelanders just don't want their stones removed. Not a single one of them. In the old day, just like so many coves in this area, Djúpalónssandur used to be a fishing station similar to the nearby Dritvík.  And, being the temple of stones in Iceland, on this beach you will find four larger rocks, significant to the cove's history. Those are the four lifting stones where workers at the fishing stations would test the strength. The smallest one is Amlóði (Bungler) at 23 kilos, followed by Hálfdrættingur (Weak) at 54 kilos, then there is Hálfsterkur (Half-Strength) at 100 kilos a last, but not least, Fullsterkur (Full-Strength) at 154 kilos. Half Strength marked the frontier of wimpy and those who couldn't lift it was deemed unsuitable for life at sea. At the beach, you will also see rusted metal from the English trawler Eding, which was wrecked at the Djúpalón beach in 1948.

The lifting stones where workers at the fishing stations would test the strength

Access to Djúpalónssandur Cove

To reach Djúpalónssandur, you need to drive Útnesvegur road on Snæfellsnes Peninsula nr. 574.  You take a turn to the south when you reach the intersection nr. 572 Dritvíkkurvegur road.  There is a parking lot by Djúpalónssandur cove.

 

This strange black sand cove on the south coast of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is curiously close to the Icelandic heart. It is covered with black pearly pebbles, constantly being brought in by the ocean waves.

Básendar at Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland, once a small, prosperous hamlet, was destroyed in a matter of hours. Básendar, also referred to as Bátsendar in annals, was an old fishing and trading post. Located a short distance from the town of Sandgerði, it was one of the ports for the Danish Trade Monopoly and covered the whole southern shore of the Reykjanes Peninsula. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Básendar was a prosperous place serving English and Dutch ships. But, all that came to and ended when the Danes decided to monopolize trading in the late 16th century.

The storm that destroyed the small hamlet

In a matter of hours on 9th January 1799, the small hamlet was destroyed in a storm surge.  Nobody suspected how doomed this village was.  The terrifying storm was quite unexpected. With the sea flooding the whole area, the cottages were fast filling with murky seawater. The only means of escape was through the roofs. The residents had to run for their lives, barefoot and in their nightwear. They lost their homes, their livelihood, and all their belongings. Miraculously, though, only one old woman lost her life.

You can still view the ruins

Básendar were not the only area devastated by the storm. All along the south coast of Iceland, ships tied to their moorings were broken to pieces, churches were blown from their foundations, farmsteads were rendered inhabitable, and harbors were ruined. But, Básendar, the hamlet playing a central role in Iceland’s commerce and trade for three centuries, was the only community destroyed.
The area was never inhabited again, but today the ruins are a stark reminder of the busy life lead in this quiet fishing village serving as a kind of international port. The cottage foundations, the staples for tying down the merchant's vessels, the remnants of fishermen's huts are all there. Also, the moorings and the sheep pens, the Cairns and the rock layer walls, as well as, the common well.

Access to Básendar is relatively easy.  You need to drive to Road Nr. 45 Stafnesvegur at the Reykjanes Peninsula. From there you take a turn on Road Nr. 4187 to the cluster of small old farms Stafnes.  Here you park the car and walk the few hundred meters south towards the ruins.

Básendar, once a prosperous village, was destroyed in a matter of hours.

The Reykjanes Peninsula offers many spectacular natural wonders to visit for those who travel to Iceland.  The Reykjanes Peninsula countryside is a place one should surely drive while in Iceland. It is an ideal choice for stopover passengers or those who choose to take a brief trip to Iceland.  The Reykjanes Peninsula offers spectacular cliffs, fantastic landscape and coastline, interesting lakes, geological phenomenon, and magnificent hot springs. It is the home of the famous Blue Lagoon and is one of the places you should not miss if you visit Iceland. An ideal drive is the Reykjanes Peninsula drive if you rent a car and is comfortable day tour if you are staying in Reykjavík or in the towns near the International Airport in Iceland. It also has many great spots and places to see the Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis on clear evenings during winter.