24 Hours Around Snæfellsnes (Day 1, Part 2)

When last we left off from the recap of our most recent journey—a brief jaunt around the Snæfellsnes peninsula—we were watching teens practice their golf swings behind a lava field in Hellisander. The drive up to that point had been quite good, if still a bit (okay, a lot) muddy and the weather not entirely conducive to sight-seeing, given that dense, dense fog pretty much puts the kibosh on actually seeing much of anything that isn’t six feet in front of you. And yet! We kept chasing sunlight and were rewarded quite handsomely for it: part two of our first day was even better than part 1.

(Again, if you just want the pictures, feel free to skip over to the photo blog, here.)


Djúpalónssandur and Dritvík

With about four or five hours of daylight left for us, Journey Master Mark Asch pointed us toward Djúpalónssandur and Dritvík, a black pebble beach and cove that can be reached by driving through yet another really impressive and craggy lava field.

That's Mark's dad walking down to the beach there--gives you a sense of the scale of these rock/lava walls.

That’s Mark’s dad walking down to the beach in the photo–gives you a sense of the scale of these rock/lava walls.

For the record, these lava fields really don’t get old, and like waterfalls—and snowflakes—they are all unique and beautiful. From an outlook over the cove, you can see ocean cliffs and a rock formation that looks not unlike Abe Lincoln.

Abe in Iceland (you see it, right?)

Abe in Iceland (you see it, right?)

Walking down to the beach itself, you go through more awesome lava formations and find four steintök, or lifting stones, which burly sailors used to amuse themselves and prove their epic, manly strength. (Still a popular pastime for some.) The stones on Djúpalónssandur are of four levels: Fullsterkur (Strong, 154 kg), Hálfsterkur (Halfstrong, 100 kg), Hálfdrættingur (Half-as-good, 54 kg) and Amlóði (Lightweight, 23 kg). We did not attempt to lift these ourselves, so I can’t tell you for sure that we’re all Master Rock Heavers. But we probably are.



Strewn along the beach is the iron wreckage from the British trawler Epine GY-7 which crashed along the coast in 1948. Although immediate efforts were made to rescue the sailors on board, only five lived.

Wreckage of the Epine GY-7

Wreckage of the Epine GY-7

The wreckage on the beach—which visitors are urged not to touch or disturb—remains as a memorial to the lost Epine sailors as well as others who have lost their lives in this coastal area.


From Djúpalónssandur, we zipped over to the coastal village of Hellnar, where there is a popular coastal trail that meanders for about 5 kilometers through lava fields, described as “velvety, moss-cloaked lava flows” in our Lonely Planet guide, which quite elegantly gets the feel of these. The “hike” (or long walk, really) ends in the nearby village of Arnarstapi. This would have been a wonderful walk were it not for the persistent drizzle that started when we arrived, and the onset of the evening, but we still had enough time to walk for about half an hour.

On our way back to the car, Mark and R also indulged me and my wave-watching glee, allowing me to troop down to the waterline by Baðstofa cave (lots ‘o birds!) and watch and listen to the tide coming in, dragging black pebbles with it each time. I was enjoying myself enough that I nearly didn’t notice that the tide was creeping rather close to my ankles by the end of my short sit—one or two more waves, Mark said, and I would have been rather damp on the drive home.

Some photo highlights of this walk:

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