Breiðamerkursandur: Iceland’s stunning Diamond Beach3 min read
A black sand beach littered with huge chunks of glistening ice is today one of the most visited attractions in Iceland.
Locally known as Breiðamerkursandur, “Diamond Beach” takes its name from the chunks of pristine ice scattered across the black volcanic sand and glistening like giant, uncut diamonds.
It is located next to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon on the South Coast of Iceland, about six hours away from the country’s capital, Reykjavik.
Although it’s not part of the popular Golden Circle Tour, Diamond Beach has become one of the country’s top tourist attractions in recent years, and looking at photos of it, it’s easy to see why.
Breiðamerkursandur is a glacial outwash plain located in the municipality of Hornafjörður.
The sand stretches approximately 18 kilometres along Iceland’s South Coast, more specifically from the foot of Kvíárjökull Glacier to the famed glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón, sits by the foot of Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier.
Both glaciers among the 30 outlets of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest ice cap and the central feature of the Vatnajökull National Park.
The outwash plain was formed when three of Vatnajökull’s outlet glaciers, Breiðamerkurjökull, Hrútárjökull and Fjallsjökull, flowed forward due to volcanic activity. This ground the rocks of the underlying surface, creating and pushing forward the glacial sediments.
The Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon is filled with huge pieces of ice that constantly break off from Breiðamerkurjökull. Bits and pieces of these chunks of ice end up on the black sand, creating a stunning visual effect.
The size of these “diamonds” can range from palm-size to larger than an average person, as can the color, which ranges from deep blue to bright white, and brilliant turquoise shades in-between.
Apart from the diamond-like chunks of ice, Diamond Beach is famous for never looking the same on two different days: as the ice melts and new chunks are washed ashore, this place can look completely different from one day to the next.
In recent years, its famous nickname has made Breiðamerkursandur a very popular place for marriage proposals, as well as a hotspot for curious travellers. The icebergs which fill the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and wash up on shore, creating a stark contrast with the volcanic black sand makes it also a favourite location for photographers and nature-lovers. Wildlife-enthusiasts also frequent the site because many seals call the beach home, and it is one of the best places in the country to see orcas from the shore.
Images from web – Google Research