Rauðasandur Beach in the Westfjords of Iceland

Rauðasandur beach or Red Sands beach is a beautiful red beach in a very remote area in the Westfjords of Iceland. Most beaches in Iceland are black, but the beaches in the Westfjords are golden or pink. 

Rauðasandur is kind of reddish in colour and the name of the beach is most likely derived from the colour of the sand. But the name can also derive from the settler in this area, Ármóður rauði Þorbjarnarson or Ármóður the Red. You might also notice that the beach is either called Rauðisandur or Rauðasandur, but either of these names is valid.

The sand changes in colour from being yellow to red to black.

Rauðisandur beach in the Westfjords of Iceland

Rauðasandur beach stretches for around 10 km from Látrabjarg bird-cliff in the west towards Skorarhlíðar mountainside in the east. The roads in this part of the Westfjords are not paved. The road leading to Rauðisandur is a gravel road, winding and steep so drive it slowly. Some call it the most frightening road in the Westfjords, but to me, it looks ok, just very winding.

Once down the mountain, Rauðasandur can be reached from both the right-hand side and the left-hand side, where there is a camping area. There is a couple of km's drive and the car can be parked in a small parking lot.  

By the parking lot, there is a map explaining how to get to the beach. Handwritten on it in Icelandic were directions that there is a 1 km's walk to the beach and a shallow river has to be waded.

Rauðisandur beach in the Westfjords of Iceland

Funny troll signs lead the way :) Ok, now, wading a shallow river - how shallow and how wide is that river and where is it?  

We walked for around 30 minutes by the ocean seeing Rauðasandur on the other side, wondering when we would get there. French tourists followed us, wondering the same thing, how to get to the red sandy beach on the other side of the sea.

All of a sudden I spotted a man walking on the sea in the distance. It was a surreal sight - it looked like he was actually walking on water. I walked faster so I could ask him how to get to the other side.

Rauðasandur Beach in the Westfjords of Iceland

The man was the farmer in this area and had been to the beach to collect whale bones from a whale which had stranded on the beach 2 years earlier. His daughter made artwork from the whale bones.

The farmer said that it was easy to pass the river (sea) and that it was shallow. It was indeed shallow and easily passable but ice cold.

Rauðisandur beach in the Westfjords of Iceland

Although it is a bit difficult getting here, driving to this remote area of Iceland, driving down the steep mountain, walking for half an hour and wading the cold sea/river, it is so worth it when you reach the destination, the red sands. 

It is just lovely being here in the tranquillity and beautiful nature. And one can take beautiful photos here, given that the light is right.

Rauðasandur Beach in the Westfjords of Iceland

A crime story is related to this area. By the farm Sjöundá around the year 1800, there lived two married couples. Bjarni and Steinunn, the husband from one marriage and Steinunn, the wife from the other marriage, had an affair.

They ended up murdering their spouses. They were placed under arrest and trialled for the murders. They were found guilty and sentenced to death. Bjarni was executed in 1805 in Norway but Steinunn died in prison in Reykjavík.

You can reach Sjöundá from the camping place on the east side of the beach.

Rauðasandur Beach in the Westfjords of Iceland

This is also a historical place for Icelanders and all of us had to learn by heart a poem in school which is directly related to this area.

It is a poem by our beloved poet, Matthías Jochumsson, on Eggert Ólafsson, who drowned in 1768 off the shore by Skor on the eastern part of Rauðasandur.

Rauðasandur Beach in the Westfjords of Iceland

Grey seals are often spotted at Rauðasandur in the summertime and I have been told that as many as 100 seals can be spotted sunbathing together on the red beach.

To visit this area you can join the tours, which start in Patreksfjörður village and are operated by Westfjord Adventures:


Rauðasandur Beach in the Westfjords of Iceland

You can also rent a car in Reykjavík and drive to Rauðasandur yourself, but the gravel road down to the beach is steep with some pretty steep turns as well, so it is not for everybody.

Here you can see the exact location of Rauðasandur on the map.

Rauðasandur Beach in the Westfjords of Iceland

I have written several other travel-blogs on the beautiful Westfjords of Iceland and will be adding many more:

Have a lovely time in the Westfjords :)

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