There are just some beaches that deserve to be seen and not every beach is a Caribbean paradise. Sometimes, the perfect beach isn't a sparkling, white sand beach at all but rather, a gothic-style, striking contrast to what many think of in their heads as the perfect vacation.

Iceland is home to many stunning beaches but Reynisfjara is by far one of the most visually captivating, with shores lined with black sand and a moody ocean spray that comes up from the ocean at its coastline. Surrounded by cliffs that appear to have been carved out by an artist and geological features that echo the beach's natural erosion and creation, it's truly a sight to behold. While many know of the black sand beaches in this gorgeous country, not many know why Reynisfjara looks the way it does or how it came to be that way.


Why Is The Sand Black?

While a beach with black sand sounds dramatic and moody compared to most, Reynisfjara is actually quite beautiful. The sand was actually formed from lava as it erupted from the nearby volcano and as the lava cooled and met the Atlantic ocean, it hardened and got its finer texture the way that sand normally does - from the ocean's constant motion. It's thanks to this that the beach glimmers when the light is just right, especially at sunset. The larger, more coarse pieces of sand shimmer in daylight and reflect light back, making for a gorgeous display if visitors can time their visit just right.

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It's Not The Only One Of Its Kind

Iceland is actually known for many black sand beaches, not just Reynisfjara. Thanks to its volcanic history, these can be seen throughout various parts of the island, with rocks decorating the shorelines as larger pieces of cooled lava broke off and got left behind. Those visiting these beaches will find that these cooled pieces of lava rocks have holes throughout them which is due to the process of cooling, making for interesting shapes. These also give the beach an overall unique appearance and one that's unlike any other in the world.

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Basalt Walls That Are Like Something Out Of A Fairy Tale World

These unbelievable features are like no other in the world and are created thanks to basalt. The enormous basalt walls that line the cliffs of Reynisfjara tower over its visitors, with various blocks that seem to fit together seamlessly. It's incredible to know that these have all been made by Mother Nature without any human interference, and are just one unique feature of this beach. In stark contrast to the black sand, these walls are a tan shade, making for a bold contrast that reflects like back at both sunrise and sunset. The blocks themselves are large enough for a person to sit on (just be wary of wildlife) and the only other location on earth that they're seen is in Ireland on the Giant's Causeway.

Folklore And Fame

The basalt walls go by the name of Reynisdrangar and while they are beautiful to look at, they also have a unique story to accompany their presence on the beach. As with many natural formations in Iceland, those that can't be explained through a scientific history can certainly be explained through legend. The basalt wall, in particular, follows a story of giant trolls that once dwelled on the beach. The story goes that these enormously large trolls were making an attempt to pull ships just as large onto the beach, however, they got started a little bit too late. As they set out to pull the ships in, the sun slowly rose and as it did, the trolls were instantly turned into stone - hence the basalt wall. A secondary troll legend about the wall tells of a man whose wife was actually kidnapped by two of those same trolls. The man followed the trolls down the beach and froze them in punishment for what they did and so that they would never again kidnap anyone else - thus they became part of the massive wall.

As far as film sightings go, many might even recognize this beautiful landmark from HBO's Game of Thrones. They were used during the 'North of the Wall' scenes and make for a pretty spectacular and striking backdrop. While they have been seen both in legend and on the big screen, they do serve a purpose in Iceland's natural ecosystem. Native Icelandic birds, puffins, use them to build homes (which is why visitors should be careful where they step), and can also be home to guillemots and fulmars.

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