Rauðisandur Travel Guide
Rauðasandur is a beach in the Westfjords, famous for having red and golden rather than black sands like most other beaches in Iceland.
Choose from a wide range of Westfjords tours in Iceland.
Nature at Rauðasandur
Rauðasandur beach is located besides Látrabjarg, Europe's highest birdwatching cliffs. These cliffs are home to millions of seabirds, with razorbills, guillemots, gulls, fulmar, and hundreds of thousands of puffins (between May and September).
Many of these birds can be seen from the beach as they make their way to and from the ocean.
The beach, like all in the Westfjords, also boasts great seal-watching opportunities. Grey and Harbour Seals can often be seen bobbing in the water, or hauling out on the sands.
Though not at all guaranteed, the Westfjords boast the best whale-watching from the land in the country. Though most of these animals are found in the fjords themselves, the lucky may spot some from Rauðasandur.
The reason why Rauðasandur has its unusual colouration is because the Westfjords are no longer volcanically active, meaning there is no constant creation of the ashy sands that are found on other beaches such as Reynisfjara in the South.
In summer, it even looks somewhat tropical.
History and Culture at Rauðasandur
The remnants of a farm named Sjöundá can be found on Rauðasandur. At the beginning of the 19th century, this was the site of one of Iceland’s most famous murder cases.
Two farmers and their wives lived there but one farmer, Bjarni, and the other's wife, Steinunn, had an affair. They were sentenced to death, accused of having murdered their spouses. Bjarni was executed abroad but Steinunn died in prison in Reykjavík and was buried at Skólavörðuholt.
In the 20th century, she was moved to consecrated grounds and is buried in Hólavallagarður in Reykjavík. Steinunn's decendants, believing her innocent, recently gave her a tombstone.
Icelandic novelist Gunnar Gunnarsson based his masterpiece Svartfugl (The Black Bird) on the Sjöundá murder mystery.