Iceland! Land of…Water?

Well, it has some ice, too. In fact it has lots of ice, much of it in the form of glaciers on top of some rather active volcanoes. But as you’ve probably heard, Greenland is king when it comes to ice, and Iceland is just, well, quite a bit like Washington State in many ways, actually. It has glaciers like we do, but they don’t completely dominate the landscape. It has plenty of rivers and lakes and waterfalls and sandy beaches. And, of course, being an island it has lots of coastline, as you might expect. But because of its many fjords, it has a lot more coast than you would think, at somewhere around 5,000 kilometers or 3,100 miles. Fjords are narrow bodies of water set between valleys, and together they give the coastline a look much like the fingers on a hand, but somewhat more rugged. They were formed during the last ice age by glaciers, which carved deep valleys in the country’s rocky coasts.

A small fjord in the Westfjords, Iceland.

A small fjord in the Westfjords, Iceland.

Waterfalls are everywhere in Iceland. I didn’t make it to the huge, iconic waterfalls like Dettifoss, the largest by volume in Europe, but I did see dozens of smaller ones like the one below. They cascade off of just about every mountain or large rock face, and this part of the landscape reminded me a great deal of the scenery in Wales.

Small Waterfall, Iceland

A small waterfall cascades down a mountainside, in southwest Iceland.

As for the beaches in Iceland, they might be windy, but they are also quite beautiful. I visited several beaches, including Rauðisandur in the Westfjords with its 10 km. of gorgeous red sand. This is the location of the little red and black church I featured last week.

Raudasandur, Westfjords, Iceland

Rauðasandur, or Red Sand, is a 10 kilometer long beach along the south edge of the Westfjords, Iceland.

On another occasion on the way to photograph a lighthouse, I stopped at a deserted golden beach on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula near Hellissandur. I didn’t have to worry about anyone’s footprints in the sand except for my own!

Golden Beach Sunset, Hellissandur, Iceland

A golden beach lights up at sunset, near Hellissandur, Iceland.

As windy as it is in Iceland, you would be correct to expect some waves coming in from the ocean, and I found no shortage of them. While I didn’t see any surfers on my trip, there actually is a surfing tour operator in Iceland called Arctic Surfers. So you can catch a few waves on your next trip there!

Waves and Mountains, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland

Waves wash ashore near Rif, on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Iceland.

And probably the most popular water in Iceland is in the swimming pools and “hot pots”, which Icelanders (and tourists) use to unwind. The most famous and probably most expensive of these is the Blue Lagoon, a man-made lagoon which is fed by the water output of the nearby geothermal power plant, Svartsengi. How’s that for “natural”? The warm waters are rich in minerals and according to their website, should fix that little skin disease of yours right up! So the next time you head to Iceland, don’t forget to pack your bathing suit!

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4 Responses to “Iceland! Land of…Water?”

  1. Sue-Z says:

    Breathtaking! Looks like a successful trip!

  2. Catherine says:

    I don’t know how you kept track of all those exotic names and spellings! Photographs are beautiful as always.

    • Ed Leckert says:

      Thanks, Catherine! A big part of keeping things straight, aside from lots of pre-trip research, is that I always geotag my images. Sounds like a good topic for a future blog post!

  3. Lorraine says:

    So beautiful, Ed….! Now I don’t need to go there, as you’ve brought it to me. Thank you.