The village of Vík is famous for its black sand beaches and its proximity to Dyrholaey promontory, a naturally formed arch in the cliff. Dyrholaey is a former volcanic island created by an eruption thousands of years ago.
Dyrholaey, which is a small peninsula on the south coast of Iceland, is famous for its prominant and natural arch. It offers a great view of the black sand beaches around the village Vik, the black lava columns Reynisdrangar . To the north, you can see where the mighty volcano Katla sleeps under the glacier Myrdalsjokull. On a clear day almost all the coastline west of Dyrholaey is visible; you can see almost all the way to Selfoss village.
The promontory also is a bird sanctuary. Each year, thousands of visitors flock there to witness puffins in their natural habitat. In summer, thousands of puffins make their nests in Dyrholaey’s grassy hills, so going birding here can be quite much fun and offer some great photo opportunities. Please note, that arctic terns also make their nests in the cliffs, and they can get very aggressive when defending their nests. We advise taking care when visiting.
It’s also impressive for visitors to venture down to the black sand beach. The waves are quite impressive, but take heed: the waves can get dangerous and quite powerful. Although people have surfed there, in best possible conditions and wet suits, the rip tides and currents can be devious. We strongly advise that you never get into the water. Leave the swimming to the seals of the area. Keep an eye out for them; it’s enjoyable to see them relaxing around the area.
The Dyrholaey arch
The name Dyrholaey means “door hill island” in Icelandic. The reason behind the name is that the arch is so big that ships and even small airplanes can pass through it at certain times. The power of the ocean waves over the centuries has worn the black basalt rock into a 120-metre (394 ft) high arch .
Where is Dyrholaey?
Dyrholaey is located on the south coast of Iceland. When driving the Ring Road east from Reykjavik, Dyrholaey is right before the black sand beach of Reynisfjara and the Reynisdrangar cliffs, close to Vik village. Driving there straight from Reykjavik takes a bit over two hours (175km).
GPS: 63.3995957 N, -19.126898 W
At Dyrholaey you will find a century old lighthouse. It is extremely charming, making it a popular landmark to photograph among travelers.
Is it always open?
No. Visitors should be aware that Dyrholaey is closed to the public during nesting season, meaning parts of May and June. Therefore, we recommend asking at a local information center what the status is before you decide to embark on a journey to Dyrholaey.
Does it cost to visit Dyrholaey?
No, there is no entrance fee at Dyrholaey.