Beach lovers around the world have come to crave sunny spots to set up towels atop warm, bright sands. Quartz-rich sediments provide the traditional beigey-white color people have flocked to for centuries. But what happens when volcanic debris, beaten by wind, rain, and waves, erodes over thousands of years? You get a beach that looks like it’s from another planet entirely.

The black sand beaches of Iceland are the antithesis of conventional beach imagery. Though a few Icelandic beaches have garnered fame by being stunning natural sets for movies and television shows, there are several somber shorelines to explore along the coasts. Take the road less traveled and check out this list of darkly beautiful black sand beaches in Iceland.

UPDATE: 2022/09/07 10:32 EST BY GABRIEL KIRELLOS

More Black Sand Beaches In Iceland

Iceland is home to several beautiful and unique black sand beaches. This list was updated to include additional places like these to visit in the stunning country, such as Vik's black sand beach and Djupivogur beach.

10 Diamond Beach

Located approximately 5 hours outside the capital of Iceland, Diamond Beach sparkles in the darkest way. The Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon has fed chunks of glaciers into the Atlantic Ocean, where they flow back to shore after being shaped by the water. Even in the summer months, when the sun shines warm and bright, the beach is filled with a constantly changing array of glimmering ice fragments that sit atop a blanket of black sand. On sunny days, the ice catches the light and casts otherworldly rays across the shore.

9 Stokksnes

Along the southeastern coast of Iceland, a black sand beach meets a mountain view at Stokksnes. As part of Vatnajokull National Park, it’s impossible to take a bad photograph of this beautiful place. Tide rolls in and out, coating the black beach in water that reflects the surroundings like rain on a blacktop. Vibrant, green grasses grow from the dark dunes, which have been referred to as "sleeping dragons" by visitors. Stokksnes is a great place to view the Northern Lights, the already ethereal event amplified by the silhouette of snow-capped Vestrahorn mountain.

8 Djúpalónssandur (Black Lava Pearl Beach)

On a peninsula along the western coast, Black Lava Pearl Beach offers stunning views of mossy rocks and open water. Four famous rocks, called the Dritvik Stones, were once used as tools to test the strength of fishermen. A coastline that was once dotted by boats and home to a bountiful fishing village is now uninhabited. The unimpeded view of the ocean draws sightseers to the shore, which is covered by smooth, black, pearl-like stones. A remarkable, dark red lava rock called Söngklettur, or Singing Stone, rises from the sand. According to Icelandic lore, the rock belongs to elves, who use it as a church.

7 Sólheimasandur

One of the largest tourist destinations lies rusting on the beach of Sólheimasandur, located on the southern coast of Iceland. A United States navy plane crashed near the shore of the water in the early 1970s, where it has remained for almost fifty years. The wrecked, white plane stands in stark contrast to the rocky, black beach, creating an eerie, apocalyptic vibe. Unlike many of the other beaches, the terrain is mostly flat, the sheet of black gravel and sand increasing the supernatural ambiance.

Related: This Is What It's Like To Hike Iceland's Volcanic Deserts, Known As The Highlands

6 Dyrhólaey

On the southernmost point of Iceland’s mainland, the beach of Dyrhólaey offers views in every direction. The name of the beach translates to “the hill island with the door hole,” referring to the amazing, 400-foot tall arch that protrudes over the sea. A walk to the ocean’s edge across the arch is guaranteed to stir all sorts of emotions. Stretches of the smooth, black beach are seemingly endless. The white of the constantly rolling tide creates a truly stunning sight of the ocean, with views of mountains in the distance providing even more to be taken aback by.

5 Skaftafell

Skaftafell is often cited as one of the most beautiful places in all of Iceland, and it’s no wonder why. Every soul filled with wanderlust should visit the painter’s palette of a beach before the ink is dry. Located in the Vatnajokull National Park, the beach is known for the volcanic yellow brook that runs parallel to the blue ocean, separated by a stretch of rich, black sand. Further up the beach, lush, green fields provide yet another gorgeous color to add to the mix.

Related: 20 Breathtaking Photos Of Iceland That Will Make You Book A Flight Instantly

4 Dalvik

Resorts line the coast of Dalvik Beach in northern Iceland. While other black beaches require greater lengths to get to, Dalvik makes it easy for travelers who want a taste of both black sands and room service. Visitors can walk along the gorgeous shore and take in the sights of the snow-covered mountains nearby. There are several hiking trails to enjoy, as well as whale watching tours and fisheries.

3 Reynisfjara

Arguably the most famous beach in all of Iceland, Reynifjara was used as a filming spot for the popular show Game of Thrones. Located near the small fishing town of Vik, the beach is easily accessible to visitors. Strange rock columns protrude from the black sands. According to lore, the interesting formations were caused by a trio of trolls turned to stone by the sun. There are particularly violent waves at the beach, and visitors are advised to remain a safe distance from the shore. "Sneakers," or waves that crash further up than they appear they should, are common, so it's important to never turn your back on the ocean. This magical beach, with its hidden dangers and rich folklore, is a must-see for anyone traveling to Iceland.

2 Vik's Black Sand Beach

The South Coast of Iceland is home to iconic towns, and Vik is one of these. The latter houses a long stretch of black sand with sea stacks and the cliff at the West Tip. During high tide, the section closest to Vik almost disappears. People visiting when the tide is low will enjoy the mesmerizing contrasting colors of this black sand beach.

  • Duration: The drive from Reykjavik to Vik needs 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete.
  • How to get there: It's easy to access Vik since the town is located right by the beach on the Ring Road.

1 Djupivogur

Djupivogur is one of the most beautiful black sand beaches in Iceland. It's home to an iconic monolith and stunning East fjords with plunging mountains into the sea. This is an amazing place to explore with fewer crowds than other areas. People heading there will also have the chance to drive on an airport track.

Next: What To Know About Visiting Iceland's Most Iconic Black Sand Beach