#dyrholaey

 

Most of the natural wonders attractions in Iceland have easy access and are relatively straightforward to view and visit. Some of the places need caution as they have high cliffs, powerful rivers, boiling water, dangerous waves, landslides and slippery ice.  Some areas require more caution than others and all visitors to such places should read warning signs and take notice of the warnings.  One such place is Kirkjusandur beach east of Dyrhólaey arch in the Southern Region in Iceland.  It is a fascinating and beautiful place that can turn lethal in seconds. The beach is stunning and wonderful to visit and walk when the tide is low and the weather is calm. Preferably not windy. Even on such a day a walk near the cliffs on the beach can be dangerous as the cliffs can burst with a landslide at any time.  Especially after days of rain.

Don't not enter the Kirkjufjara beach when tide is high

There are two parking lots to view Dyrhólaey arch. One at the highest point by the small lighthouse and the other one is a bit east by Kirkjufjara beach.  From the parking lot you have an excellent view to Dyrhólaey arch from the cliffs and you also have a spectacular view of the Reynisdrangar stacks and Reynisfjara black beach to the east.  A toilet is also available by the parking lot, From there is a narrow path down to Kirkjusandur beach with two to three meter small cliffs on both sides.  This is the only entrance to the beach. Since January 2017 the Kirkjufjara beach has been closed due to life-threatening waves and possible landslides.  The beach is located under a much higher cliff with the immensely forceful Atlantic Ocean on the other side. Anyone thinking about entering the beach should understand that waves are not equal in size. Every 15th or 20th wave there is a much larger wave that stretches much farther inland than others, and that is the highly dangerous sneaker wave.  So even if the waves seem calm and innocent on a day with high tides, a much larger one is due at any time floating up the walking path. On such a day, especially when the winds are strong and the tide is high no one should enter the Kirkjusandur beach. If a wave from the Atlantic Ocean grabs you, the fight is extremely tough.  Enjoying the view to the east and the west from the parking lot is great and gives everyone great photographic opportunities.

Access is easy from the Ring Road in the Southern Region

Entering the parking lot to Kirkjusandur beach is the same road as the road leading to Dyrholaey arch.  On the Ring Road Nr. 1 you turn south to Dyrhólavegur road Nr. 218. This Road will lead to both parking lots to view Dyrhólaey and Kirkjufjara.  

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Below is the location of Kirkjufjara beach on the map of Iceland

Some of the places need caution, one such place is Kirkjufjara

 

Reynisfjara Beach has in recent years become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland. And for a reason as the spectacular beach has a lot to offer.  It is a beautiful black beach stretching on a three-kilometer reef to the west from the parking lot by the service center.  With the Atlantic Ocean on the south side and Dyrhólaós lagoon on the northern side.  The large black pebble beach, consisting of black sand and pebbles, is a joy to view and by taking a short walk along the reef, you can find a peaceful spot and face the breeze from the Atlantic ocean even when the beach is floating with people.  From the easternmost part of Reynisfjara beach, you have a great view of the spectacular Reynisdrangar basalt stacks right off the shore. 

A place with spectacular view in any direction

While viewing the stacks you also have one of the most spectacular basalt column formations in Iceland right in front of you.  A place that one could almost believe was designed thousands of years ago with selfies on a phone camera in mind.  On a good clear day, even the view from the beach to the north is spectacular, to the mountains and the glacier Mýrdalsjökull.  And also to the west where another spectacular natural wonder Dyrhólaey, the southernmost part of Iceland, stretches out to the Atlantic ocean.

A place where forces of nature have fought their battles for thousands of years

Although a beautiful place of natural wonders it is also a meeting place of natural forces. Throughout the centuries and even thousands of years, and day by day, the Atlantic Ocean attacks the land and bit by bit takes part from and reshapes the beach, cliffs, and stacks. Everyone must remember that although the waves might look innocent, they are very powerful and sometimes highly dangerous. A caution is needed, especially when the tide is high and the winds are strong.  We also must remember that the waves are not equal in size. Every 14th to 20th wave from the Atlantic ocean is considerably larger the other waves and floods farther up on the beach.  The waves are very deceiving and everyone needs to take care and risk taking is not recommended.

Access is quite straight forward and easy

Like many natural wonders in Iceland access is simple from the Ring Road Nr. 1. It is located on the south shore west of the small village of Vík.  When traveling from Reykjavík the capital of Iceland you take a turn south on the road Reynishverfisvegur Nr. 215 and drive approximately 6 kilometers. This is the only road to Reynisfjara beach, and you can not access this place from the village Vík.

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Below is the location of Reynisfjara on the map of Iceland

Reynisfjara Beach has in recent years become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland

 

Dyrhólaey is a naturally formed arch on the shoreline west of the tiny village of Vík on the south coast in Iceland. It is one of the main attractions on the South Shore Tours and one of the most impressive stops when driving the Ring Road in Iceland. The 120 m high basalt rock is a former volcanic island, formed in an eruption some one hundred thousand years ago. The raging Atlantic Ocean has shaped the cliffs since the Ice Age. The hole in the middle was carved out by the ocean digging out the weaker remaining rocks over a long period.  In addition to the arch, interesting stacks are standing tall just south of the Dyrhólaey cliffs.  All have names like Kvistdrangur, Mávadrangur, Kambur, and Háidrangur (56 meters high).  When you look at Háidrangur, you can picture when it was first climed in 1893 by a famous daredevil named Eldeyjar-Hjalti. His task was to put nails into the cliff to make it easier for others to climb and collect eggs.

Dyrhólaey island and arch

Observe the huge and aggressive ocean waves of the Atlantic Ocean

A rare natural wonder it is

The whole formation, the island, the black beach and rocky shoreline around the island, the stacks and the arch is a spectacular natural phenomenon.  Officially there are two ways to view Dyrhólaey: From the top by the parking area by the old lighthouse that was built in 1910 and renovated in 1927, and on the east side of the arch by the new service center and parking lot. Both offer great views, and if you have taken the time to visit Dyrhólaey you should stop by both of them.  From the lower level, you also have an excellent view to the famous Reynisfjara black beach east of Dyrhólaey.

Dyrhólaey is a nature reserve

Consequently, in addition to being a great natural wonder, Dyrhólaey is a beautiful location for birdwatching. Needless to say, there are of course infinitive photo opportunities by Dyrhólaey.  Not only from the top but also from both viewing panels.   In 1978 Dyrhólaey became a nature reserve as nature and birdlife during spring, and early summer is quite sensitive and requires monitoring. Keep in mind that the Dyrhólaey area is sometimes closed in May and early June. During late summer, autumn and winter the site is a spectacular place to observe the huge and aggressive ocean waves of the Atlantic Ocean.  The waves that are continually molding the south coast of Iceland.  But during storms and high tides, extreme caution is needed.

A view to the Reynisfjara beach

A view to the Reynisfjara beach

Caution is needed if you choose to walk the black beach

Some years ago, the black beach surrounding Dyrhólaey was accessible by walking down to Kirkjufjara beach by the lower parking lot.  Although a marvelous place when the tide is low, and winds are still it is a hazardous place in different situations, and even life-threatening.  After some horrifying accidents, the beach was closed, and access is not allowed. We can only emphasize that you should stay on marked trails and keep in mind that the waves are extremely dangerous and unpredictable.

Dyrhólaey is easily accessible from the Ring Road.

When you are driving on Suðurlandsvegur or the southern part of the Ring Road, you take a turn to the south on the road Dyrhólavegur nr. 218.  The drive to the top of the Dyrhólaey island by the Lighthouse is approximately six kilometers.  And between the parking lots, you only drive about 500 meters. 

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Below is the location of Dyrhólaey on the map of Iceland

Dyrholaey is one of the southern most part of Iceland