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Natural Wonders

29 September 2023

Reynisfjara black sand beach: Iceland´s deadliest beach!

At the middle of the south coast of Iceland is a beautiful black sand beach called Reynisfjara.

Surrounded by incredible scenery in all directions, Reynisfjara black sand beach is one of Iceland's most popular tourist attractions. 

Sadly it's not only famous for its beauty. It has also gained a reputation for being a very dangerous place to visit. Unfortunately, a number of people have been killed at the beach over the past years . Earning it the nickname, Iceland's deadliest beach.

This raises the question, why do so many people want to visit Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach? And why is it so dangerous? 

Visiting Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Reynisfjara black sand beach is very accessible for visitors. The beach is right next to the village of Vik í Myrdal on the south coast of Iceland. Getting there is quite easy as it is just off the Ring Road. 

Therefore it is very accessible for anyone with a car. Just a few hours drive from Reykjavik, about 180km (112 miles). This makes visiting the beach an easy one day trip for travelers on rental cars.

Warning signs at Reynisfjara black sand beach.

Iceland's most famous black sand beach

Reynisfjara is without a doubt the most famous black sand beach in Iceland. It is visited by thousands every year and has been the stage for high production movies and tv shows from around the world. 

For example the movie Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, and the tv show Game of Thrones. 

What makes it such a powerful place is the awesome power of nature all around you. How hot lava from the volcanoes have been fighting the North Atlantic Ocean to create this unique scenery of volcanic rocks. 


You can see and feel it everywhere. In the black sand and the basalt columns at the edge of the beach. There is even a cave with pillar rock formation. 

That's not all. Just off shore are sea stacks which stand out from the ocean like giants trying to get to land. These basalt stacks are what give the beach its iconic feature. 

This unbelievable combination of natural wonders is what makes Reynisfjara black sand beach so unique and a popular attraction.

Why is Reynisfjara beach dangerous?  

Being at a beach on the south coast of Iceland does not just offer amazing scenery. Although it might look like an innocent place to get the best vacation photo, visitors need to be extremely careful if they intend to enjoy the beautiful black sand of the Icelandic south coast.

The waves there are extremely powerful and have the ability to sweep people off their feet and drag them into the ocean. 

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is one of those places. There is a good reason why it's called the deadliest beach in Iceland. 

Since 2013 five people have died at Reynisfjara black sand beach. On top of that more have been injured, some even greatly injured. Adding to that are the hundreds of visitors that when been in near death situations but luckily managed to be escaped.

These unfortunate incidents have even led to the discussion about closing the beach. Either permanently or temporarily in certain weather conditions. The authorities have however not made any such actions, so Reynisfjara Black Sand beach remains open all year round.  

Waves at Reynisfjara.

Life Threatening Sneaker waves

What makes Reynisfjara Black sand beach so dangerous is not just how powerful the waves are, but how they can appear suddenly and without a warning. 

These are called sneaker waves and that is just what they do. They sneak up on people. Giving them little or no time to react. Making this is the main cause of danger when walking on the sand. 

Make no mistake the waves can cause serious injury or in some cases death. If you get dragged out to the ocean the strong current will make it almost impossible to get out without assistance. 

Read the signs and Keep a safe distance  

In an attempt to make Reynisfjara beach safer, warning signs have been inplace to notify visitors of its deadly threats.

They are among the first things you will notice when arriving at Reynisfjara Beach. The signs state that the beach is dangerous and that visitors should be aware of the life threatening sneaker waves. 

Keep in mind that the signs are there for a reason and it is very important that all visitors take them seriously. The beach is dangerous and those walking on it need to be careful. One false move can bring a very tragic end to your trip or even life. 

The village of Vík í Mýrdal.

Getting home safely 

Just to be clear. The purpose of this article is not to keep people away from Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. It is, as mentioned, one of the most extraordinary places in Iceland and we do want all visitors to experience it. 

Our goal is simply to educate visitors about the potential dangers in order to secure a safe trip. By doing so we want to reduce the risk of visiting the black sands and at the same time make an effort to ensure a great vacation. 

So, when visiting Iceland´s deadliest beach make sure to follow these instructions. 

First of all, do not take any chances. Read the sign and most importantly to always keep a safe distance from the water. Respect nature and never turn your back on the ocean. 

See weather conditions when you plan to make the trip. This is Iceland and you need to prepare for such a long drive and for being outside. That includes finding an appropriate rental car for the trip and dressing accordingly. 

In summer the weather is usually good, so you can make the trip on any 2WD such as a Kia Rio or any compact economy car. 

In winter we recommend a 4x4/AWD for the trip such as Dacia Duster, Suzuki Vitara or larger SUVs. 

If you follow these simple travel tips you are safe to enjoy Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Iceland's deadliest black sand beach. 


If you like more travel tips for your Iceland trip, see Our Stories.