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Everything you need to know about Diamond Beach in Iceland

Small icebergs on a black sand beach

If you’re planning a trip to Iceland, chances are you’ve heard of Diamond Beach. It’s become one of the most popular destinations in the country, and with good reason. But if you’re not exactly sure of what, where and how, why not look at our brief guide? Here’s everything you need to know about Diamond Beach in Iceland.

What is Diamond Beach?

The alternative names for the renowned Diamond Beach in Iceland are Breiðamerkursandur, Fellsfjara, Fellsfjara Eystri, and Vestri-Fellsfjara. We, as Icelanders, recognize the challenge faced by foreign visitors in pronouncing or recalling the Icelandic names of famous locations. As a result, nicknames frequently become a convenient alternative. Diamond Beach is a black sand beach in the south of Iceland, very close to the famous Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon and its neighbour Fjallsárlón. Part of the reason Diamond Beach has become so well-known is because of its proximity to these two visitor destinations, but it’s equally worthy. 

This isn’t your usual, run-of-the-mill beach. You certainly won’t want to swim here: even in summer the water can be extremely cold. Thanks to the size of the waves coupled with strong currents and the unpredictable, rapidly changing weather, it’s not safe to swim here – or even paddle. But you won’t mind at all once you discover just how much there is to see on the beach itself.

So, what’s all the fuss about?

Many of the icebergs that calve from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier are swept gently out to sea. Atlantic breakers then wash them back onto the shore where they eventually melt into the sand. The contrast between the dark charcoal colour of the sand and the blue ice is a dramatic one. On a fine day, they’re especially photogenic, and glitter in the sunshine like diamonds – hence the name.

The waves that reach this part of Iceland can pack quite a punch as they’ve travelled many miles over the open ocean. As they reach the shallower water along the coastline, they break over the hunks of ice, sculpting them into curious shapes in the process. Come as often as you like: no two visits will ever be the same, sometimes the beach is flooded with icebergs, sometimes not much. In the soft light at the beginning or end of the day, the beach is at its most magnificent and is sure to be one of the most breathtaking and memorable stops of your entire trip.

Don’t confuse Diamond Beach with Iceland’s most notorious beach

You might be wondering if Diamond Beach in Iceland is that beach, you know, the one with the basalt columns and the dangerous sneaker waves. In fact, it’s not – the other one is Reynisfjara Beach, nicknamed the Black Beach and is located just west of Vik, about a three-hour drive away. These remarkable beaches both have the same striking volcanic sand, which is perhaps why they are sometimes confused by first-time visitors.

How do you get to Diamond Beach, Iceland?

If you’re on a self-drive holiday with your own rental car, it’s easy to get to Diamond Beach in Iceland. The beach is located about a five-hour drive east of Reykjavik and is right alongside the ring road, Route 1 – no gravel to contend with or challenging highland roads, just smooth tarmac all the way! 

Coming from the capital, look out for a single-track bridge where you pull in to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Just before it, there’s a turn-off on your right where you’ll find a spacious car park. Alternatively, some travellers prefer to park at Jökulsárlón itself, though it can get more crowded. There’s a footpath that leads right beneath the bridge and onto the beach. 

Incidentally, Fjallsárlón is about 10 km west of Diamond Beach, so it makes sense to drive the short distance between the two rather than walk. If you don’t fancy getting behind the wheel yourself, you can easily find day and overnight excursions that combine this unforgettable place with other must-sees along Iceland’s scenic south coast. Trust us, though: you won’t want to miss this extraordinary part of Iceland.

Photos in correct order from https://unsplash.com/
Alessio-zappatore
Juliana-chyzhova
Tony-reid
Dave-herring

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