Visiting Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave in Iceland: Complete Guide

Note to my fellow wanderers: This guide was written from my first-hand experiences. I try my best not to over-glamorize any location I travel to because I want HappyWander’s content to be as authentic as possible. My goal is to provide you real information so that you can have the best possible adventures wandering the world. Enjoy!

If you’re looking for unique mini adventures and sights to see on your Iceland trip, don’t overlook Reynisfjara Beach, which houses Hálsanefshellir Cave to its East side. While staying in Vik, I had researched some sights to see nearby and Reynisfjara Beach jumped off the page. In this mini guide, I review everything you need to know about visiting Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave while in Southern Iceland.

Essentials For Visiting Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave in Iceland

In this section I highlight everything you need to know about visiting Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave.

Why Is Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave Popular?

Why visit Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave? Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave in Iceland are popular for their natural beauty, unique landscape, and frequent appearances in movies and TV shows, such as Game of Thrones and Star Wars, Episode VII. The cave on the side of the black sand beach is a very unique scene that I think you’ll love. 

Where Is It Located?

Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave are located just outside the city of Vik, about 11 Kilometers away, which takes less than 15 minutes to get to. See below for more detailed parking information.

Parking

An easy parking choice to see both Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave is Reynisfjara Beach Parking. I’ve linked the map below:

Cost to Visit

The cost to visit is 1000 ISK, or around $7 USD per car.

How Long Do I Need Here?

The answer to this question is quite subjective, but I spent around 1 hour at Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave around 9 PM after my dinner in Vik. I think 1 hour is plenty of time to walk around the beach and take photos and videos. You should consider going at sunrise or sunset, but anytime would be great!

Is Reynisfjara Beach Dangerous?

According to visiticeland.com, Reynisfjara Beach is quite dangerous. At 120 feet tall (40 meters), the waves can at times be some of the largest on earth. Reynisfjara Beach is known to have sneaker waves. What are sneaker waves?

Sneaker waves, also known as sleeper, king, or rogue waves, are unexpectedly large coastal waves that appear suddenly among smaller waves. They are much larger than the surrounding waves and can reach significantly farther onto shore, posing a serious danger to people on the beach. These waves can rise rapidly and unpredictably due to the steep slope of the ocean floor near the coast and the powerful ocean currents that contribute to their formation. Sneaker waves can catch individuals off guard, making them particularly hazardous.

Reynisfjara Beach uses a zone system with 3 levels: Green, yellow, and red. You’ll see a sign with a light lit up near the parking lot as you enter into the beach area. It looks like this:

Reynisfjara Beach 3 Zone System Sign

When the yellow light is on, visitors must not enter into the yellow zone. When the red light is on, visitors must not enter into the red zone. Here’s a breakdown of the 3 zones:

Red Zone

The red zone at Reynisfjara Beach is located along the shoreline and water’s edge where the ocean breaks on the shore. This area is highly dangerous due to sneaker waves.

Yellow Zone

The yellow zone at Reynisfjara Beach is the area surrounding the basalt columns and up to the base of the cliffs. While not as risky as the red zone, there can still be dangerous falling rocks, slippery surfaces, and sudden waves.

Green Zone

The green zone at Reynisfjara Beach is located higher up the beach away from the shoreline and base of the cliffs. This area is generally safe for visitors.

How Close is Hálsanefshellir Cave to Reynisfjara Beach?

Hálsanefshellir Cave is located directly on Reynisfjara Beach on the Eastern side, right near the main parking area. When you park, you can simply walk out to the beach and you’ll see it pretty close by.

My Experience at Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave

In this section, I will review my experience visiting Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave.

Parking Area

Parking is a cinch at Reynisfjara Beach. The driving experience coming from the East direction around Vik is stunning as it takes you up, down, and around mountain roads. While Reynisfjara Beach is only a short distance from Vik on a map, it takes around 11 kilometers of driving to get there because there’s a big mountain you have to drive around.

The parking area at Reynisfjara Beach is pretty spacious. As you can see from the below photo, the views are pretty vast and beautiful:

Reynisfjara Beach Parking Lot

Walking on the Beach

The beach itself is beautiful, with its dark black sand and picturesque backdrop of Hálsanefshellir Cave inside Reynisfjall mountain. I arrived at around 9 PM in May, and it was quite odd to see that it was very light out still.

Hálsanefshellir Cave

Hálsanefshellir Cave, also known as Dragon Glass Cave in Game of Thrones, is quite an interesting thing to witness in person. I saw lots of people climbing the basalt columns to snag a good photo, and some entering into the shallow cave.

Sunset to the West

Depending on when you go to Iceland, the sunset will drastically set at different times. At close to 10 PM, the sun hadn’t yet set:

Sunset at Reynisfjara Beach

If you look far off in the distance to the western side of Reynisfjara Beach, you’ll be able to see Dyrhólaey, the arches carved out under the cliff over the ocean.

Are Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave Worth Visiting?

Personally, I loved Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave. It is conveniently located close to Route 1 near the city of Vik (less than 15 minutes away by car), and has plenty of parking.

Some of the major selling points of Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave for me were:

  • Surreal Backdrop: The backdrop at Reynisfjara Beach is spectacular. This was the very first beach I went to in Iceland, so for me it holds a special place in my heart remembering how this place made me feel.
  • Black Sand: Like a lot of Iceland beaches, the sand is dark black. The black color really stood out to me because I’m so used to “normal” sand colors of off-white, brownish, or tan.
  • Basalt Columns: The basalt columns next to Hálsanefshellir Cave are just so interesting. Where else do you have a chance to see these in the world?

So is visiting Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave worth it? Absolutely! This mini adventure only takes you an hour or so to scratch off your list, so why not go see its beauty?

Posing While Visiting Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave in Iceland

Final Thoughts on Visiting Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave in Iceland

Thank you for reading about my adventure visiting Reynisfjara Beach and Hálsanefshellir Cave! If you’re staying in Vik or passing through the area, why not stop off at one of the iconic beaches in Southern Iceland? The driving around this area is absolutely splendid, especially the hills around the city of Vik. I highly recommend you stop off at Reynisfjara Beach on your Iceland adventure.

Happy wandering!

Anthony Bart
Author: Anthony Bart

Hello! Welcome to HappyWanders! My name is Anthony, I'm on a mission to live a life full of adventure and to help you to do the same. As an ex-corporate worker and current entrepreneur, I've been working to design a life with more time for adventure and less time for the 9-5 grind. If you're ready for an adventure, you're my type of person!

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