Imagine a beach, black as midnight and littered with dozens of glittering diamonds. Now imagine it surrounded by a turquoise lagoon and mammoth, floating chunks of ice on one side and the open ocean on the other. Sounds like something out of a fairytale, right?
Iceland’s Diamond Beach, also known as Breiðamerkursandur, located on the south coast of Iceland, might be one of the most photographed locations in the entire country – and that’s saying something for this stunning outdoor destination. Read on for the ultimate guide on how to visit this natural wonder in Southern Iceland.
What is Diamond Beach Iceland?
So you might be wondering, what exactly is Diamond Beach? Is there a literal treasure trove of diamonds to be found here?
Diamond Beach is a volcanic beach, essentially a black sand beach, that is located near the famous Jökulsárlón Lagoon. Scientifically, this area is actually a glacial outwash plain and gets its name from the chunks of glacier that break off from the Breiðamerkursandur Glacier, float along the Jökulsárlón Lagoon, and wash out into the sea, eventually ending up on its ebony shores.
Where is Diamond Beach, Iceland?
Diamond Beach is located on the southern coast of Iceland, along a remote stretch of the famous Ring Road, also known as Route 1. If you’re looking for the Jökulsárlón Lagoon, you’ll find Diamond Beach right next to it near the ocean.
When is the Best Time to Visit Diamond Beach?
Diamond Beach is technically accessible year-round. The best time to visit depends on what kind of scenery you’re looking for. Want to see snow, ice, maybe even the northern lights, and have it all to yourself?
Winter is your best bet. Want warmer weather and the midnight sun shining on your adventures, but don’t mind crowds? Summer is better suited to you.
Shoulder season is also a wonderful time to stop by as the temperatures aren’t at either extreme but you won’t be fighting the summer crowds or have to worry about driving in treacherous conditions.
How to Get to Diamond Beach, Iceland
Reaching Diamond Beach in Iceland is a straightforward journey that showcases the country’s stunning landscapes. From wherever you are in Iceland, find your way to the Ring Road (Route 1). This well-maintained road circles the island and is the main route to Diamond Beach. As you drive, enjoy the scenic vistas of Iceland’s diverse terrain, from rolling green hills to rugged coastal cliffs.
The beauty of driving in Iceland is the freedom it gives you to explore at your own pace. Along the way, you might want to stop at other noteworthy sights, like the enchanting waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, or the picturesque village of Vík with its stunning black sand beach.
Upon arriving near Diamond Beach, you’ll find a spacious and free parking lot. This lot is well-organized and just a short stroll from the beach itself, making it convenient for visitors to park their vehicles and explore the area on foot. The parking lot is large enough to accommodate a good number of vehicles, ensuring that even during peak tourist seasons, you should find a spot without much hassle.
How Far is Diamond Beach From Reykjavik?
Drive from Reykjavik to Diamond Beach takes about 4 to 5 hours and covers approximately 235 miles (379 km), depending on traffic and weather conditions. While it can be a long drive, the route is filled with stunning views that make the journey part of the adventure.
When planning this road trip, consider renting a car that suits your travel needs. Firefly Iceland Car Rentals offers a variety of vehicles to choose from. In the summer months, a standard car should suffice for the journey.
However, if you’re traveling in winter or during the shoulder seasons, renting a 4×4 vehicle is advisable. The 4×4 provides better handling and safety on potentially icy or snow-covered roads.
Additionally, renting a car with GPS navigation can be a great help, especially for those who are navigating the Icelandic roads for the first time. Remember, while driving in Iceland, always keep an eye on the weather forecast and road conditions, as they can change rapidly.
Best Thing To Do at Diamond Beach
The best thing to do at Diamond Beach is to simply explore it! Walk along this volcanic stretch of sand and admire the mammoth glacier chunks that gave the beach its name, glittering in the sun.
Because Diamond Beach is located right next to the Jökulsárlón glacial Lagoon, this is also the perfect opportunity to experience another of Iceland’s famous natural features.
Boat tours that sail among the lagoons icebergs float and up to the breiðamerkurjökull Glacier make for an incredible adventure. These tours run from April to October.
You can also go on a kayak tour in the summer months! In winter, the nearby ice caves at the Vatnajökull Glacier can also be discovered with a guided tour group. Most tours run from November to March and aren’t available in summer.
Wildlife and Bird Watching at Diamond Beach
Beyond its icy allure, Diamond Beach is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. It’s not uncommon to spot seals basking on the floating icebergs, especially during the summer months. For birdwatchers, the beach is a paradise, frequented by native bird species such as Arctic Terns and Great Skuas. The area is a protected conservation zone, so remember to respect the wildlife and maintain a safe distance.
Photography Tips for Capturing Diamond Beach’s Magic
For those who love to capture nature’s beauty through the lens, Diamond Beach offers a surreal backdrop. The contrast of the shimmering ice against the black sand creates a photographer’s dream scene. The best times for photography are early morning or late evening when the light is soft, and the beach is less crowded. Capturing the Northern Lights here in winter adds an ethereal touch to any photo collection.
Nearby Attractions for a Full-Day Adventure
To make the most of your trip, consider exploring nearby attractions. Just a stone’s throw away is the mesmerizing Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, where large icebergs drift serenely in the lagoon. The Vatnajökull National Park and Skaftafell Nature Reserve are also within driving distance, offering hiking trails and more stunning views of Iceland’s natural beauty.
Accommodation Options Near Diamond Beach
For those planning a longer stay, there are several accommodation options near Diamond Beach. From cozy guesthouses to comfortable hotels, there’s something for every budget. Some notable options include the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon and Hali Country Hotel, both offering comfortable stays with scenic views.
Safety Rules When Visiting Diamond Beach
Safety is a concern when visiting Diamond Beach whether on the beach itself or attempting to get there.
Renting the right kind of car is an important consideration before making your way to Diamond Beach. In winter and the shoulder seasons, it’s a good idea to rent a 4×4 vehicle in case the weather turns. In summer, visitors can easily reach the beach with a standard car. No need for 4×4!
Be extra cautious when walking near the ocean itself as sneaker waves are notorious on Iceland’s southern coast. Many visitors have been sucked into the ocean unexpectedly.
Dress in warm layers as temperatures can drop to near-freezing even in the summer months. In winter you’ll need to bundle up in gear that can withstand negative temperatures along with snow and ice. Sturdy footwear is also recommended.
Always respect posted rules and warnings in Iceland. They are posted for a reason and could save your life or save you from a hefty fine.
Exploring Diamond Beach is one of Iceland’s bucket list adventures and there’s no better way to see it than with your own set of wheels!
Rent an inexpensive car with Firefly Iceland Car Rentals, whether it be a 4×4 or standard vehicle, and get started exploring Iceland as soon as possible.