Reynisdrangar

If you have been to Iceland it is most likely that you have travelled to this location, Reynisfjara, also known as "The Black Sand Beach". 

The Black Beach of Reynisfjara is one of the most popular tourist locations in Iceland, and in the summer you might expect to find hundreds of people there.

Next to the beach is a good restaurant which serves coffee and lunch and you can also use the bathrooms there.

The photo you see here above I shot 9 years ago (2011) from a familiar viewpoint that you might already have seen for your self. The rocks you see there in the foreground protruding into the ocean were a part of the famous basalt columns at Hálsanef.

Around the corner is the Hálsanefshellir cave, which is famous for the basalt columns inside it. The ocean waves have formed the cave for decades.

Hálsanef basalt columns, the view to Dyrhólaey.

Let's take a closer look at the photo above.

This is the view to the other direction along the beach to the West, looking at Dyrhólaey peninsula, another great photography location which I will tell you about later.

There you see a big rock lying in the surf just in front of the basalt columns.

This looks a lot different today, as the big rock in the surf is nowhere to be found now. It has been broken down by the heavy waves pounding the coast and the shape of the basalt columns is also different, higher columns next to the sea.

The powerful waves of the Atlantic keep on grinding and breaking the rock down, making smaller pebbles and finally creating the black sand that everybody admires.

Big waves breaking on the basalt columns.

Dangerous location

Here is a more recent photo that I shot during a storm when huge waves were breaking on the basalt columns cliff, causing life-threatening conditions.

This shows how the rocks have changed because of the breaking waves that keep pounding on the basalt columns and the beach 24/7.

The black sand beach is also changing a lot as the ocean carries the sand around, usually from east to west as that is the direction of the usual current along the coast.

We often hear of or even have witnessed ourself when people getting caught by the waves and nearly escaping the powerful surge that wants to pull them out into the ocean.

The current is very strong near the beach and if the waves sweep you off your feet it is most likely that you will be carried out to sea by the current. Be careful out there, please! 

I want to make it clear that this beach is not a place to let kids or adults go and play close to the waves.

Take care, the ocean has already claimed a few lives there.

Aerial shot of Reynisfjara beach and the basalt columns.

Photo opportunities

This location is very photogenic in all seasons and often very crowded with tourists.

Therefore I recommend that you show up early to capture the sunrise at the Reynisdrangar sea-stacks, beating the crowds to the feast.

Another option is in the afternoon to capture the sunset which is often spectacular in the direction of Dyrhólaey peninsula.

You must at all times keep an eye on the ocean, and preferably going there on low-tide to get more space of sand to move around and usually, the waves are smaller and do not reach as far up on the sand.

A few months ago there was a big landslide at the east end of the beach near the sea stacks, leaving a huge pile of rocks and gravel on the beach and into the ocean.

For that reason, I do not recommend that anyone goes close to that area now. 

The photo above was shot with a drone above the beach early February at sunrise.

At that time of day, there were only a handful of people on the beach as my workshop group was capturing the sunrise behind Reynisdrangar sea stacks.

Below is one of the shots that I have captured there at sunrise. This was shot with a telephoto lens, 70-200mm, which comes in very handy when you can not get close.

One of the Reynisdrangar sea stacks at sunrise.

Workshops and other activities

You can check my photography workshops listed on Guide to Iceland if you are interested in photography, a South coast photo day-tour or other multi-day tours that I offer that visit this location and many more. Other activities that I recommend you can do in the area are for example the Sólheimajökul Glacier Hike 3 hours, an unforgettable experience. 

Aurora Borealis and the Milky way above Dyrhólaey.

Contactez Landscape Photography Iceland