On the southern coast of Iceland, near the tiny fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal, loom the enormous basalt stacks of Reynisfjara, keeping watch over one of the world’s most beautiful black sand beaches.
Legend has it that the basalt columns are ancient trolls that used to stand on the shore and pull ships in from the ocean. The trolls stayed out too late hunting passing ships, however, and as the sun broke over the horizon, the trolls turned to stone, doomed to stand guard over the shore for eternity.
While the black sands of Reynisfjara beach attract visitors from all over the world, the waters of the Atlantic merit the careful attention of visitors. Even when the surface of the sea appears relatively calm, violent waves known as “sneaker waves” can come roaring out of nowhere, threatening to take anything they can reach back out to sea.
Reynisfjara is consistently rated as one of the world’s most beautiful non-tropical beaches for its dramatic landscape and rare black sand. Unlike most beaches that are formed from small shell and rock particles, black sand is created from eroded volcanic rock. There are over 25 types of volcanic rock on the island – each contributing its own texture to the shimmering black sands.
Thanks to its otherworldly landscape, Reynisfjara has been featured in several notable television shows and major motion pictures, including “Game of Thrones,” “Rogue One: a Star Wars Story” and “Star Trek Into Darkness.” One look at the stone backdrop contrasted against the black sand, and it is easy to see why it is a favorite location for sci-fi filmmakers.
The island is home to several acclaimed hotels and restaurants, and guided tours are available. With lighthouses, caves, and rock formations to explore, Reynisfjara is a wild and rugged wonder that visitors will not soon forget.