The Diamond Beach in the south of Iceland, close to the gigantic Vatnajökull glacier, is one of the top highlights of all Iceland and a sight that should not be missed on any Iceland road trip. It’s not the only black sand beach in Iceland (there’s Stokksness, for example), but together with the ice chunks from the neighboring Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, this landscape is absolutely unique.
What you can do here, where to park your rental car and which hotel nearby we recommend, you can read in our travel report about the Diamond Beach Iceland.
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Diamond Beach Iceland
The Diamond Beach is a beach directly opposite to the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in Iceland. The special attraction of this beach is once the perfect black sand and the numerous ice chunks, which are driven by the nearby lagoon here.
The place is quite touristy, because every visitor who drives along the ring road also stops here. But since the area is so large, it gets around quite well.
What’s also special about this beach is that it never looks the same every day. Everything depends on the wind, the tides and the sun, and of course the glacier. Nevertheless, every day it looks just spectacular, as if someone had planned this beach. But nature is still the best builder!
Why is it called Diamond Beach?
Diamond Beach is so named because of the many chunks of ice that float in the sea and lie on the beach itself. In the sunlight they often glitter like little diamonds.
In reality, the beach is called Breidamerkursandur or Fellsfjar. Often it is simply called Jökulsárlón beach.
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What to expect on Diamond Beach?
Directly after you parked your car at the nearby parking lot you are in a few minutes at the pitch black sandy beach where – in the best case – hundreds if not thousands of small and bigger ice chunks lie on the beach or swim around in the water. You can walk several kilometers along the beach, but most of the time it is not necessary, because right next to the strait that connects the lagoon and the beach are the most icebergs to be seen.
The waves whip against the ice chunks and if the weather is good, you can take some damn great photos. After you’ve had your fill, be sure to walk over to the neighboring glacier lagoon.
History of Formation
The ice that is washed onto the black lava sand beach comes from the neighboring glacier tongue Breiðamerkurjokull. This is a spur of the gigantic Vatnajokull glacier, which is the largest glacier not only in Iceland but also in Europe. The ice chunks – very large as well as tiny – break off from the large glacier (they are also called calving) and then drift over the glacier lagoon to the sea and are washed by the current to the Diamond Beach. The whole process can take years, depending on the size and shape of the ice chunk.
The connection of the lagoon to the sea is of natural origin and used to be much larger. From 1950, the strait was reduced and later the current bridge was built. If this natural access to the sea would be closed, the lagoon would be frozen very quickly, because only by the influx of warm sea water it remains warm enough not to freeze in winter.
By the way, the neighboring glacier lagoon is with its 248 meters the deepest lake of Iceland and meanwhile more than 23 km² large and up to 5 km wide.
The black sandy beach of Diamond Beach is formed from volcanic rock. Sand and pebbles are tiny fragments of the basalt lava that covered the area. The black sand is even finer only in Stokksness.
White and Blue Icebergs
At Diamond Beach, as well as in the lagoon, there are both completely clear (transparent) and blue colored ice boulders.
The difference is that the transparent iceberg are more like the “normal” icebergs, because here snow and ice have been compressed over a long time, creating a structure in the ice chunk that reflects all light waves equally.
The blue icebergs were formed by displacing all air bubbles in the ice under water. When this ice is illuminated by the sun, the longer wavelengths (red and yellow) are absorbed and blue and green are reflected more strongly. Therefore, these ice chunks look rather bluish.
In addition, there are also black colored icebergs. These are formed by inclusion of black lava sand in the ice.
Excursions at Diamond Beach
Besides walking around and taking pictures, you can of course experience some badass action at the neighboring glacier lagoon. You can take boats or amphibious vehicles across the lagoon and get up close to the icebergs. You can also hike through ice caves here in the winter. You can find all information about activities near Diamond Beach at our partners of GetYouAGuide*.
Travel Tips for Diamond Beach
Best Time to Travel
Diamond Beach is actually beautiful and especially different at any time of the year. Some say that there are more icebergs in winter. But in summer there should be much more icebergs calving, because the temperatures are higher.
Therefore, in our opinion, there is actually no perfect travel time of the year. Also with the time of day it behaves similarly. Whether the Diamond Beach looks better in the morning or in the evening is more a question of the weather. It doesn’t always play along in Iceland and that should rather influence your trip. When the sky is blue, the icebergs shine a bit more.
And at sunrise or sunset there are again very special color games in the ice.
How long should I stay here?
Since Diamond Beach is located directly on the ring road you can spend the entire time on site. Even if many people think that you only have to take a few photos and then go straight on again, if you don’t plan to book a tour activity* on site, we see it differently.
This place is so spectacular and so unique in the world that you have to spend at least several hours here. Even if you don’t do a tour on the neighboring lagoon, then 2 hours is the minimum in our opinion. However, you can easily spend half a day and more here if you take Diamond Beach and the Glacier Lagoon together. It is also worth to stay overnight here to see these highlights of Iceland e.g. in the evening and in the morning.
Because even if the weather plays along it can be that on one day hardly any ice chunks lie around on the beach and the next then again hundreds.
Parking at Diamond Beach
There are a total of 3 well-developed and free parking lots here. Two of them are directly at Diamond Beach, each on one side of the strait to the lagoon. The eastern parking lot is the most frequented. On the western side you usually have less other tourists, but not less ice chunks on the beach.
Another parking lot is directly on the other side of the road at the glacier lagoon. Also from this parking lot you can reach Diamond Beach in 5 minutes.
So if you visit both sights (Diamond Beach & Jökulsárlón Lagoon) – which you definitely should – then it doesn’t really matter where you park.
Arrival Diamond Beach
Diamond Beach is located directly at the ring road and directly opposite the famous Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. If you make a road trip along the ring road of Iceland, you will inevitably pass by here. From Reykjavik in the west you need about 5 hours for the 370 km.
The tranquil Vik with its wild Reynisfjara beach is only 2.5 hours and 190 km away. In the east, the small town of Höfn is only 1 hour away.
As a place for your overnight stay we would recommend a hotel, which is located right next door.
Staying overnight near Diamond Beach
There are not many hotels in the immediate vicinity of Diamond Beach, and many of them are quite expensive. But we would definitely recommend you to stay overnight here, because the area is just too beautiful and everything can look completely different every day. So you should take the opportunity and visit Diamond Beach on 2 consecutive days.
On both of our visits to Diamond Beach we stayed at Skyrhúsid Guesthouse, which is only 10 minutes away. You are super fast at Diamond Beach and still sleep a little away from the ring road.
- Large common kitchen
- Lovingly furnished rooms
- located off the ring road
- 10 minutes to Diamond Beach and the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
- Double room from 90 $
Have you been to the Diamond Beach? How did you like it? Leave us a comment.