I am going to tell you a secret, but you can’t tell anyone, promise? There is a beach in Iceland that is riddled with diamonds, located very close to Jökullsárlón Glacier Lagoon. The black sand shores of the Diamond Beach are peppered with gigantic, crystal clear shiny diamonds! Well, maybe not actual diamonds, but close enough. Marooned icebergs are strewn across the sand plains, and once you see it, you will understand why the beach is called the “Crown Jewel of Iceland.” The beach and surrounding area is a must-see destination. Let’s explore more about Iceland’s awe-inspiring Diamond Beach.
Stunning and Unique Natural Attraction
The Diamond Beach captures the imagination of the thousands of tourists, photographers, and thrill-seekers every year. And for a good reason too. It is a combination of unique geological forces at play that makes this stretch of sand anything but average.
Black Sand Beaches
The entire shoreline is coated with a layer of onyx black sand, which Iceland and other volcanic areas are famous for. These obsidian stained shores are created when a volcano erupts and magma spills into the ocean. Once the lava cools and hardens, it breaks apart and is slowly broken down into fine, granulated pieces. Those pieces wash ashore, and voilá, there you have it! A black sand beach! These stretches of coastline inherently intrigue anyone who sets there eyes upon them. I think the reason these beaches are so stimulating to its viewers because it plays a trick on your brain. When the word “sand” is conjured up in our minds, we automatically think of hues situated around reds, yellows, and oranges. We never think of sand as black, so once you see it for the first time, it is kind of mind-blowing. The second essential element that makes this shiny seaside spot so stunning are the icebergs.
Iceland’s Glacier Graveyard
The coolest part about this beach is the fact it is littered with baby icebergs. Apologies for the pun, but it had to happen. I regret nothing! From head to toe, ice covers this beach. Hence, the name: Diamond Beach. The chunks of ice range in size and clarity; some of the stranded ice is opaque, while other pieces may be crystal clear (hint hint, cough cough, like diamonds). Also, the size of the “diamonds” varies; some of the wayward scraps of ice could fit in your hand, while others are the size of a minivan. You may be asking yourself, “well how did they get there?” The frozen fragments of ice are actually pieces of the nearby Jökulsárlón glacier. Pieces break off the massive ice giant and float through the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon (of which the glacier is attached) and out into the open ocean.
Watching lonely wayward hunks of ice leave their proverbial home and head out into the North Atlantic, alone and solitary, elicits visceral emotions. In the same way that watching a fire is captivating for no other apparent reason other than its just a natural human response. Watching the elements at work around us (a fire burning, an iceberg breaking off and floating alone) is humbling. The Glacier Lagoon didn’t actually exist until 1935 and has been growing in size due to global warming. Both incredibly sad and interesting to think about.
A Confluence of Colorful Contrasts
The sable sands and shimmering icebergs combine to provide a genuinely mind-warping viewing experience. When you get there, your brain almost reboots for a second, its like, “Wait, wait. The beach is black, and there is…ice everywhere? Oh…what’s going on here?” It is a clash of contrasts; the way the light carves through the melting hunks of formerly frozen fragments of glacier onto the pitch black grains of sand is hard to describe.
Not only is it a visceral personal experience, but the location is the perfect spot to capture a stellar photo from your Icelandic vacation. Usually, I am a huge advocate of taking one or two pictures and then organically enjoying my surroundings. But here, at the world famous Diamond Beach? Heck no! I have taken thousands of photos here; I probably remind people of their grandma at their college graduation.
My personal favorite aspect of the Diamond Beach, is every once in a while you will see a piece of ice that appears radiate color and energy. Hear me out: glacial ice isn’t like your run of the mill ice cubes from the freezer. Over thousands of years snow gets squeezed into the glacier, then pressure over time expels almost all of the air bubbles from the ice. This process creates crystals inside the ice thicker and bigger, and then due to the magic of science, they take on uniquely fluorescent glowing light blue hue. I have caught myself staring, subconsciously lost in the ice, for long periods of time. It is a great location to have a very personal and unique experience.
Iceland’s Famous Diamond Beach
Whether you come for the black sand, the icebergs, the hunks of brilliantly blue ice, or even if your parents dragged you here, it doesn’t matter: this is an extraordinary and unique location. And for me, it serves as the perfect metaphor for Iceland herself; violent volcanic energy and ancient frozen forces come together to create something beautiful and unexpected.
A raven black shoreline riddled with glittering frozen crystals is very unlikely to occur naturally in nature, and yet we are lucky enough to have one here in Iceland. Do yourself a favor: rent a car, take a day trip, and visit Iceland’s Diamond Beach. It is an experience you will relish for a lifetime.