Black Pearl Beach: Djúpalónssandur & Dritvík

Amazing view of the beach

This was one of the last stops we made on our Snaefellsnes tour. When you park, the only sign that you’re near a huge beach is, quite literally, a landmark sign.

Then, we hiked it down a bumpy, muddy – and sometimes quite steep – path past tons of moss, and several lovely rock formations that looked almost Martian. Finally, we got to sea level – and the glare was almost unbearable.

Now, let’s be clear. Sunset in Iceland seems to take absolutely forever. Seriously. Virginia dusk takes maybe an hour. Here, though, the sun seems to descend at a snail’s pace, which made the light at several of our stops somewhat challenging.

When we got to Djúpalónssandur around 6pm, the sun was low enough to make the ocean a brilliant, blinding gold; the wind was blustery and constant; and there were more tourists than we’d seen during our entire tour. In short, photography was challenging, at best.

 

Djúpalónssandur & Dritvík

The history of the beach, itself, is fascinating. The remains of a shipwreck, oxidized from the elements and half embedded in the beach, litter the shoreline. And, when fishing had an even greater economic hold on this part of the country, this beach saw fishermen, bringing in their boats, and sitting on the shore to clean their catches.

Perhaps the most entertaining historical nugget is around the stacks and stacks of stones. For time immemorial, men have had a desire to play games that prove their manliness, often through proof of strength. So, the fishermen would often challenge each other to lifting heavier and heavier stones, to see who the strongest among them was. Nowadays, Icelandic guides think it’s hilarious to challenge tourists to stone lifting contests – even if they fudge the weight of the stones a little, for entertainment’s sake 😉

Boyfriend Perspective: My manliness wanted nothing but to lift the stones. I imagined myself roaring like an anime character to boost my strength for the largest stone. But reason, Meagan’s questioning look, and threat of embarrassment kept me from trying. Alas.

 

Finally, as we were preparing to hike back up to the car, we noticed a small creature running around nearby, skittish but paying the groups of humans a fair bit of attention. It turned out to be an Arctic Fox, who – thanks to the uncharacteristically warm weather – had already shed his bright white coat in favor of plushy chestnut fuzz. The sad part was that he appeared to have been injured, as he refused to put much weight on his front left paw. Apparently, even though they’re Iceland’s largest natural predator, they’re quite used to begging and scavenging from tourists. Doesn’t mean you should feed them… but a wounded fox is a tough one to resist!

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Final thoughts

We’d definitely recommend visiting Djúpalónssandur on your trip across Snaefellsnes, but would heartily recommend visiting much further in advance of sunset. Also, don’t do what I did, by assuming that the day would be all landscapes so a wider lens was all I needed. PACK YOUR DAMN ZOOM 🙂

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Also published on Medium.

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