Search This Blog

Friday, November 10, 2017

Iceberg Ahead: Jökulsárlón, Fjallsárlón, and Diamond Beach


This....
This is one of the posts I have been most excited to share about my trip to Iceland.  Before I left for Iceland, I knew the iceberg lagoon was going to be one of my favorite stops and I was correct.  Icebergs and beautiful diamond-like masses of ice sitting in the quietest lagoon, surrounded by a foggy mist or on a black sandy beach with waves washing in and out.  The ice-blue popping out from this large body of water with seals splashing and birds swimming. 

 The icebergs making their way out of this lagoon, under the bridge, and out to sea or even better, washing up on something called Diamond Beach.  From the crystalline blue to the crystal clear diamond like masses of ice on a bed of black sand, an afternoon at Jökulsárlón, Fjallsárlón and Diamond Beach is a traveler's dream and one of the best stops in Iceland.  Best yet, these spots are all right off the Ring Road and were some of my favorite stops of the entire trip around Iceland.

Jökulsárlón





The word Jökulsárlón translates to "glacial river lagoon".  This lagoon sits at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier which is located at the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. This lagoon developed into a lake after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.  It recently became the deepest lake in Iceland, at over 248 m (814 ft).  The size of the lake is ever increasing and it is considered to be one of the natural wonders of Iceland.

Jökulsárlón
Jökulsárlón

If you are heading counterclockwise around the Ring Road, stop at one of the pullover/small parking areas just off the road BEFORE you get to the single one-lane bridge by Diamond Beach where the main parking area is and you can see the icebergs heading out to sea.  Here, there are several walking paths and we basically had the area to ourselves which was such a treat in an area as popular as this one.  In the distance, we could see birds swimming, and a few tour boats out in the lagoon making laps around the icebergs (Glacier Lagoon has been running boat rides at Jokulsarlon for nearly 30 years).  You can also see seals swimming in the lagoon if you are lucky. 


Jökulsárlón

It was slightly eerie and so peacefully quiet here that with some sunshine, a lawn chair and a bottle of wine, I am quite confident I could have spent the day here.  What I find most fascinating is how this lagoon changes just about every time I google it, read about it, or look up photos online.  This isn't some static same-photograph-sort-of-place.  You can come to this lagoon year and year and get a completely different photo every time. 

GPS:  64°04′13″N 16°12′42″W
Amenities:  A large parking lot, bathrooms, a gift shop, coffee shop/food and tour guides can be found in the main parking area by the bridge.

Jökulsárlón

Icebergs calve (break off from the edge of a glacier) and move towards the river mouth where they get stuck at the bottom. They start floating as icebergs when their size is small enough to drift to the sea (icebergs have an average “lifespan” of about seven years until they melt to a sufficiently small enough size and can float away). You can see two different shades of color in the icebergs a milky white and a bright blue. Catch this lagoon at sunset or sunrise and see an even more amazing site.  We caught the lagoon on an overcast foggy rainy day.  While I was initially bummed about the weather, there was something about the fog in the lagoon that made the area so fun to see and photograph.

Jökulsárlón

In Films: Jökulsárlón has been a setting for A View to a Kill, Die Another Day, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Batman Begins, as well as the reality TV series Amazing Race.

Jökulsárlón

Jökulsárlón

After spending some time at Jökulsárlón, we jumped back in the car for a quick drive over the bridge where the icebergs exit and often wash up on Breiðamerkursandur, Diamond Beach.  This is definitely a more crowded area but thanks to the torrential rain and freezing temperatures, we could still find some solitude among the other tourists.

River leaving Jökulsárlón

One-way bridge by Jökulsárlón


Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach, known as "Breiðamerkursandur" by the locals, is where leftover chunks of ice or melting iceberg potentially wash up on land.  The black sandy beach actually looks like it is littered with large icey diamonds.  Some of the ice chunks are crystal clear, and some are that beautiful blue hue.  This is a great (and safer) spot to get up close to an iceberg, and see these unique and insanely beautiful masses of ice up close.  Like the lagoons, it is hard to take a bad picture here and the scenery is always changing fast. 

GPS: 38.9596° N, 74.8524° W
Amenities:  None- parking area.

Diamond Beach

Unfortunately the downpour was on by the time we got here so our visit was short.  However, seeing these blocks of ice up close and personal was a highlight for the trip and an awesome contrast to the two glacier lagoons which larger masses of ice sitting out in the lagoon. 


Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach

Fjallsárlón is the other glacier lagoon, uniquely beautiful and not as popular as Jökulsárlón.  You actually pass this lagoon on your way to Jökulsárlón, but we had an order and we were sticking to it. This lagoon had far less icebergs, but was unique in that you could see the large glacial tongue jetting out into the lagoon.  

Fjallsárlón 

Fjallsárlón also has boat tours and a cafe/restaurant with bathrooms.  There are also marked walking trail called the Breidormark trail where you can walk between the three lagoons, from Jökulsárlón lagoon in Breiðamerkursandur to Breiðárlón lagoon and finally Fjallsárlón lagoon, 15 km in total. Find a map and more information HERE.  Of course my regret is not spending (or having) the time to follow this trail between the two lagoons.  You can also take boat tours through this lagoon and try something called an "iceberg safari".  Stop in the cafe to warm up or grab a bite before leaving the area. 

GPS: N 63° 54' 26.529" W 16° 42' 28.117"
Amenities:  A large parking lot, bathrooms and coffee shop/food and tour guides can be found here. 

Fjallsárlón and Trail Map

As I end this post, let me remind you to leave every area better than you found it, and to respect your surroundings.  And I repeat, don't climb on the glaciers.  These are incredibly slippery, always moving and standing on them puts you in immediate danger of falling through and into this icy lagoon. Climbing on these icebergs makes the charts at #2 of the Dumbest Things You Can Do in Iceland and in Things That Can Kill You in Iceland. 

Jökulsárlón

Ending Day 4

Dinner:  Hofn is known for their lobster but it can be hard to find at a price point under $60 .  We found just that at Z Bistro in Hofn- Lobster Pizza ($22) and a Lobster Sandwich ($22) and a low alcohol beer ($3) for two people ($50)



Lodging:  Sefdalur Sudio Apartment (one apartment sleeps four- $317 for four people). Beautiful little guest house just off their main house. The women who ran it was very friendly and accommodating. Bedroom with two beds and a pull out sofa bed (same one you see all over Iceland).

No comments :

Post a Comment

Let's Chat!