Reykjanes is a peninsula in south-west Iceland, characterised by immense lava fields, volcanoes and heightened geothermal activity.
Volcanic & Geothermal Activity
The Reykjanes Peninsula runs along the Mid-Atlantic Rift, where the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates are drifting apart. Due to this geological setting, the whole peninsula is extremely volcanically active, covered with lava fields, and eruptions and earthquakes are very common here.
During the Middle Ages, many eruptions occurred in Reykjanes, but no eruptions have been recorded here for the last 500 years. This is simply a period of dormancy, however; they could start again at any time.
Earthquakes are still common. In 2001, one occurred beneath the lake Kleifarvatn and drained it to the extent that it lost 25 per cent of its surface area. Since then, hot springs have been bubbling beneath its surface.
The main geothermal areas of Reykjanes, however, are Gunnuhver, Krýsuvik and Svartsengi. Various mud pools and fumaroles can be seen at Gunnuhver, while Krýsuvik is characterised by hot springs and mud pots that bestow multicoloured hues upon the soil.
The green crater lake Grænavatn is also an impressive sight.
Svartsengi is home to a geothermal power station that produces 76.5 MW of electricity from the 475 litres of 90° C water that gushes from the earth per second.
The mineral-rich surplus water fills up the Blue Lagoon spa.
Nature & Wildlife
Reykjanes' cliffs are teeming with birdlife. Its best-known bird colony resides in Krýsuvikurbjarg which is the nesting place of approximately eighty thousand seabirds. While puffins are not found here, it is an excellent place to spot cormorants, fulmar, and other such species.
North of Krýsuvíkurbjarg is the aforementioned Kleifarvatn, the largest lake on the peninsula and one of the deepest in Iceland. On the centre of the peninsula is lake Djúpavatn, a popular fishing destination.
Reykjanes is hammered by some of the most breath-taking breaker waves in the world. A short drive from Krýsuvík is Selvogur, where one can witness mighty waves shattering against the rocks. On Reykjanestá, the southwest tip of the peninsula, the waves are known to reach heights of thirty metres (nearly one hundred feet).
Because of this, coastal erosion is constantly ongoing at Reykjanes, and if it were not for the eruptions, it would either be much narrower or simply lost to the seas.
The peninsula's north side is dotted with fishing villages and towns, most notably Keflavík, Sandgerði, Garður and Vogar. Grindavík town is located on the south shore of the peninsula. Together, the towns and towns Keflavík, Njarðvík, Hafnir and Ásbrú make up the municipality Reykjanesbær which consists of just under 16,000 residents, making it the fifth largest municipality in Iceland.
Near Keflavík is the Miðnesheiði heath, where the international airport, Leifsstöð (also known as Keflavíkurflugvöllur, or Keflavík Airport) is located. This is the port of arrival for the vast majority of travellers coming to Iceland.
The World-Famous Spa
On the southern tip of the peninsula is the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, an ideal place for relaxing and bathing and one of the most-visited attractions in Iceland.