Day 3 – 480 km – 6.5 hour drive
We kicked off our third day with a good breakfast of eggs on toast (shocker!) and hot chocolate. It was still raining, but less foggy than the day before. During breakfast we decided to cover some more kms this day since there were just a few things we really wanted to see. The coastal road ended up being so beautiful and ever-changing that we stopped at nearly every possible spot to take some pictures and admire the views. The landscape changed from mountains to Mars, swamps to moss covered stones with the ocean still in sight.
1. Reynisfjara Beach
We started off with this infamous black sand beach where we had coffee and joined the 100 other tourists taking selfies at the shoreline. The sand really is incredible, it feels like play sand – a bit oily to the touch. Nothing like Scheveningen sand, that’s for sure. The beach is also covered with flat, oval black stones in different sizes. We watched as another tourist gathered her entire purse full of rocks, it was pretty impressive how many she could fit in her small handbag. The cliff has impressive rock formations (basalt stacks), and there are a few sea stacks rising out of the ocean. According to folklore, these stones were once trolls pulling ships to the shore, however, the trolls were stupid and went too late at night; when dawn broke, they were turned into stone.
2. Secret Glacier Lagoon
Ok, this place isn’t really secret, but I cannot figure out what it was called. We found it by chance on our way to the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. We saw it from a distance and drove the super bumpy road down as close as we could. The view is just…incredible. We had seen the glacier from a distance already, but getting down to the lake revealed its size. The lake is a murky brown, with chunks of black and grey glacier ice floating in it. I’m pretty sure this lake used to be more full of ice – everything is melting. Nonetheless, it was beautiful. There was a plaque in memory of two German explorers who have been missing since 2007, lost somewhere in the area.
Mike has been to this lake before, and has even taken a boat ride on it. The first thing he said was that he remembers there being more ice (ten years ago). It’s definitely a very unique sight – much larger than the secret lagoon. We had overpriced fish & chips, had a walk around, and continued or journey.
4. Stay at Hotel Post, Breiðdalsvík
The drive from the glacier lakes to our hotel was hands down the most spectacular bit we drove during the trip. The coast is rugged and almost completely made of violent rocky cliffs. Seagulls surf the tide and waves crash against the stones and black sands. We saw a massive colony of swans, there were literally hundreds of them. We couldn’t believe our eyes, I think our trip to the hotel took us at least an hour longer because we kept stopping to soak in the views. Mike had chosen a hotel in a small fishing village – nested in a bay surrounded by mountains. The ocean is a soft blue and very still, mirroring the snowy peaks hugging the water. Multiple fish farms are in the bay, apparently belonging to the Norwegians. Mike always has a way of choosing hotels very well, because we found out at the last moment that opposite the hotel was craft beer bar! Exactly what we needed. We skipped dinner (bad idea) and had some great beers at the Beljandi Brewery. There were some locals and other travelers there. We got chatting with the guys after they gave us some sheep jerky (with blueberries) on the house, and of course…they got interested when we said we were from Holland (“Amsterdam?!” Sure.). They were fishermen who were there for a few weeks, and one of them (the captain apparently) gave us some great tips and convinced us to do a whale tour in Husavik, which we were originally going to skip. We bought shots for the guys, and we’re pretty sure we got local prices because of it, since our bill was way too little for the amount we drank (4 beers each, and 4 shots). Big thanks to the captain, the son in law of the owner of the whale tour company we used, Husavik Adventures (at least that’s what he said, who knows if it’s true).
Day 4 – 348 km – 4.5 hour drive
With a bit less energy (cough, hangover, cough) than the days before, we left the hotel across from the bar with a bad night’s sleep. The room was not as nice as we had expected, and the shower was dripping all night. The first mission was to find food, and of course, given Mike’s luck with hospitality, we randomly found an American style diner in the middle of nowhere. Pancakes, bacon, and a burger later we headed off towards Husavik with a few stops in between. We booked the whale tour for 19:00 and an entrance to the Geosea baths in advance, and a had a lot to look forward to.
1. Stuðlagil Canyon
Since we had already booked everything for this evening we were faced with a dilemma – the canyon we wanted to see had two access options: one that was just 250 m walk and would take maybe 30 minutes, and one that was 8 km and would take 3 hours. We didn’t have time for the longer hike, so we kinda screwed ourselves with this one. To our disappointment, you could barely see the canyon from the other viewing spot, and you could definitely tell that it was amazing down at the bottom. But hey, you can’t have everything. So, if you want to get down to the canyon, take the earlier exit down left past a farm. The climb down looks quite difficult, so you probably wouldn’t want to go if it’s raining. I also read later that the water is only sapphire blue for a few weeks before it floods and turns grey, so at least we didn’t miss out on that.
We ended up here by accident, we just saw everyone turning to go there and decided to go with the mainstream. Definitely the smelliest place I’ve ever been, and such a strange sight. Muddy, bubbly grey liquid bubbling and steaming from the ground. On the way here we also passed Askja, but it was going to be too far and would require a day of its own – definitely saving that for next time!
3. Grjótagjá Cave
A small (not so) secret lava cave filled with warm, crystal clear water. The temperature of the water is very unpredictable, which is why you are no longer allowed to bathe in the water. Lava streams just 2 km under the cave, so the water can heat up very quickly. We touched the water and took some pictures, it was quite a cute spot. Apparently there is a very secret cave one km south of this cave where you can bathe, and only the locals know exactly where it is. We didn’t have time to really look for it, but it could be fun detective work. Google wouldn’t help us out either, which is no surprise since the cave is meant to remain a secret…
4. Husavik whale tour & Geosea
After checking in at our hotel we headed for the Fish & Chips restaurant Mike had looked up. We had some good beers and really tasty fish at the harbor before picking up our tickets for the tour. To our surprise, there was only one other person on our excursion! So it was pretty much private. The weather was incredible, 24C and clear sky. We were on a rib boat that first took us to Puffin Island, and then we went searching for humpback whales. On our way to the island, we saw white-sided dolphins which are very rare. They were so quick we couldn’t get a picture. Even the tour guide was excited which says enough. We saw so many whales and beautiful dives. We even crashed into one as it came up for air, which was a bit of a “dangerous” moment since the whale is much larger than our boat. The captain was a tough guy, but this definitely shocked him. After the tour, we walked to the Geosea pools which are infinity pools built on a cliff. We watched the sunset with some drinks in the warm pool – it was a really special evening. The view was incredible, and even though it was busy at the pool because of the end of a town festival. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the day.