“Don’t turn your back on the ocean. Don’t EVER turn your back to the ocean in Iceland. Okay? Enjoy!”
Those were our GeoIceland guide’s last words to us as we disembarked from our bus in Vík to experience Reynisfjara, Iceland’s famed Black Sand Beach.
The Boyfriend Perspective: Because, you know, that’s what you like to hear as a tourist! Sure.
You know the beach. Pictures of Dragon Age-looking basalt columns everywhere, black stones and sand, incredibly gorgeous, yadda yadda.However, like any famous natural sight, there are plenty of pros and cons to your potential visit.
Pray for patience before you enter this crazy, uber-modern looking restaurant. Apparently, just about every South Coast tour uses this as its lunch stop. So, it will be packed to the absolute gills with tourists.
When we arrived, the line was to the front door and every table taken. After about 20 minutes of waiting, we grabbed trays and bowls, helped ourselves to soup, and finished our orders at the register. Understandably, none of the staff felt terribly chatty – stupidly busy days will do that. Luke and I split up at the register, and I went in search of a table.
Note that if you don’t eat lamb or other meats, you may have a hard time finding a warm meal. And you will 100% want a warm meal, because the “sea breeze” in winter is paralyzingly cold. Luckily, they served turnip soup while we were there. I was incredibly skeptical, but pleasantly surprised to find it – and their skyr cheesecake – very, very tasty.
The Boyfriend Perspective: My meal was pretty typical – fries, fried fish, and a “marriage happiness” bar for dessert – and not half bad, either. It’s pricey because of tourism, but it’s also not the kind of tourist food you immediately regret.
Finally, we finished our meal and decided it was time to explore the beach.
If you visit in winter, bring a balaclava. Bring a wool hat. And bring a windproof layer!
While the wind wasn’t as brutal here as it was in other parts of the South Coast, the combo of Icelandic wind plus “sea breeze” will make your face hurt pretty badly. Also, you’ll be exploring the beach at the same time as every tourist you just ate with.
As with any tourist attraction, if you’d like undisturbed photos, I highly recommend arriving as early as possible, or late in the afternoon. If, however, you’re just here for the lovely views and amazing experience, any time is a good time!
The Boyfriend Perspective: Also, wear dark shoes. Neither of us got that memo, but beach sand is wet. And what does wet sand do? It sticks to shoes and makes a mess. And what color is the sand here? Yeah. Dark shoes, guys.
Note that there’s not a ton to do here, other than looking at the ocean, looking at the cliffs, and looking at the sand. But damn, if that’s not enough 🙂
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Also published on Medium.