Black sand beaches are made up of volcanic materials and lava fragments. When lava contacts water, it cools rapidly and shatters into sand and fragments into pieces of all sizes. My first experience with the black sand beaches were by Superjeep. Our guide sped up to the edge of the sheer piece of ice we had been driving on that was clearly farmland in the summer, and drifted onto the infamous black sand beaches of Iceland. We hugged the shore as he rode up and down the sand drifts while kicking up pieces of ancient volcanic eruptions. The black sand beaches are so unique, and totally worth making the trek to go see. Being on the ground was really great, but I feel like I need to see it from the air to truly appreciate it’s mystique!
In Iceland, you will find these beaches on the south coast, near Vik. There is an area of vast expanse where the beach seems to go on forever. And further up is where you find the free standing basalt rock formations the line the coast as cliffs or standing alone, slowly being worn out by the tireless sea. This place is called Dyrhólaey. As a Canadian, the black sand beaches are a beautiful reminder that there are places that can feel so familiar yet strange. I’ve spent summers growing up on a lake front beach in Canada so it felt slightly comforting, but never have I experienced black sand near the ocean. There’s a first time for everything, and this is a phrase I seem to be using often in Iceland as there is no place like it.
By: Kelsey Heide