Day 6: Icebergs and Diamonds

Eyjolfsstadir — Skaftafell

Stokksnes, Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon, Diamond Beach
Total driving time: 3 hours and 16 minutes

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We awakened to a cloudy, drizzly morning, but nothing could dampen our spirits still high from last night. 🙂 The guy was convinced that he saw “The Grim” last night. In the middle of uncontrollable laughter about an apparent Harry Potter joke, I realized the joke was on me, as I saw a huge black dog staring at us from just around the bend. Oops. 😛 Turned out a party of local hunters and their hunting dog drove into the campsite late after hours just as we were turning in for the night. We talked to them over breakfast, but I had to control my face twitching uncomfortably as they showed us pictures of the reindeer they’d shot. Not one for hunting, nope. 🙁

We started off towards Djúpivogur, the coastal town we had intended to reach yesterday before the storm took over.

Leaving Eyjolfsstadir behind for stormy skies.
Leaving Eyjolfsstadir behind for stormy skies.

It was pouring, so we decided against making a pitstop. We carried on down the Ring Road, following more of the eastern coast. We tried stopping at a couple of spots on the way – a ledge that overlooked a very angry swelling sea (the featured image at the beginning of this post) and a waterfall which would have been pretty on a bright sunny day… but the relentless sleet of rain made us run back to our car within minutes.

An hour and half of driving through rain brought us to The Viking Cafe, Stokksnes. This place came highly recommended on travel blogs, even though the owners of the cafe were rumored to be restrictive about access to the famous Stokksnes beach. You can access the beach once you pay a fee at the cafe, which was a total waste for us considering the heavy fog that covered the entire area. We went ahead anyway, but we couldn’t see anything. 🙁

Stokksnes, Iceland
Black sand dunes at Stokksnes

On a clear sunny day, the Vestrahorn mountains loom over the beach in the distance and there even seals down on one side of the beach. Sigh.

Soon after we left Stokksnes, we made our way to our next stop Jökulsárlón, the iceberg lagoon. We could see ice in the distance and we knew that we were closer than ever before to Iceland’s largest glacier Vatnajökull. The sheer size of it, even from a distance, is breathtaking!

At first I convinced that Jökulsárlón was going to be a disappointment – it was cold and overcast, and it did not look like giant chunks of ice were going to make my day any better. I was busy grumbling to S, when suddenly he pulled into a parking lot and just a few feet away in a lagoon of gently lapping water, a bit of iceberg broke apart from the main body with a resounding ‘crack!’ and splashed right into the water. Everyone stared in silence for a second before breaking out in excited chatter.

Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon
How blue are these icebergs floating at Jökulsárlón!

I forgot all about the bad weather… because WHY didn’t anyone ever tell me that icebergs were so …blue?! LOOK at that lovely blue! I spent a happy half hour walking around the edge of the lagoon, filling my pockets up with pretty pebbles and watching baby seals gaze curiously at the tourists snapping away.

Then we drove over to the other side of the road towards Diamond Beach, named so after the broken bits of iceberg that glittered like diamonds against the black sand of the coast. Some diamonds were a pretty shade of blue (like the actual icebergs they belong to) and some were brilliant glass crystals polished by the sea water. This beach is supposed to look even more gorgeous when the sun is out, but even with a cold rainy dusk quickly falling over us, it was mesmerizing. 🙂

Diamond Beach, Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon
The whimsical glittering diamond beach!

We were the last ones to leave the beach, and it was lucky that we left when we did, because by the time we made it back to the car the visibility was near zero and the rain was pouring. For a minute there we drove around aimlessly in the fog with no idea if we were on the right track. Luckily, we managed to find another car to follow and finally made it back onto the Ring Road. Phew!

Another hour of slow driving through the pouring rain later, we made it to our campsite for the night and settled in without any delay. This had been an exhausting day and the constant grey clouds and the rain weather had not helped at all.

Luckily we had an adrenaline-packed morning ahead of us the next day and we were VERY excited for it, even though we didn’t know what to really expect. 🙂

~ Annie.