As if the views from the first half of our trip weren't stunning enough, these few days really made us go "WOW"! From the black sand beach to the Blue Lagoon to the plane wreck in Vik, so many memorable stops on the drive along the south coast of Iceland.
The first of it all started with the SUN COMING OUT!! Yes, the sun came out for the first time during our trip and it was like a whole new world. We take it for granted here in America, but there was a completely different vibe walking around Reykjavik on a sunny day. People seem more cheerful, the locals walk around in tank tops and shorts (even though it's still only 60 degrees F) and you'll even see people tanning in beach chairs throughout the town. The ironic thing about the sun coming out on the first day was that it came out at around 8pm, so instead of the sun normally setting, it was finally coming out. Such a strange thing to experience.
If you ask anyone who's been to Iceland what they recommend to do, they're all going to say "you must go to the Blue Lagoon". This nutrient enriched geothermal spa is man made but is fed by a geothermal plant right next to it that recycles the water every 2 days. It is also naturally heated by lava flow beneath the lagoon. Although this is probably the most touristy thing you could possibly do in Iceland, it's probably one of the best things you could possibly do. It's a super relaxing experience where you get to just chill out in a huge spa, rub silica masks on your skin and even get a few drinks from the bars that are located in the spa itself. Although you have to book a reservation in advance, it never really fills up. I figured it would be crazy crowded since the whole day was booked solid on their website, but in the whole 4 or 5 hours we were there, it never once felt full at all. There are also a number of steam rooms, waterfalls and saunas throught the lagoon also to switch it up during your stay.
There were a number of Asian tourists who seemed to have not known or not cared about the amount or quality of the silica mask they applied. Some looked like clowns, others looked like they just got "pied" and had cream all over their faces. There was much more than this, but these were the only two I was able to snap a photo of. Pretty funny if you ask me.
One thing about the Blue Lagoon was that due to the reservation that we needed at 8 am, it interrupted our nocturnal sleep schedule and we were back to seeing things on a day time timeline. During the drive along the south coast, we stopped by a bunch of touristy waterfalls, which I didn't want to have to do during these times, but we sort of had no choice. The first one, Seljalandsfoss, is one of the most stunning waterfalls, especially since you can go behind it, but you'll have to be prepared to get soaked (including your camera gear) and deal with a ton of tourists.
It's crazy how all these natural waterfalls are right off the main roads and you can literally see most of them just while driving past. This one I was able to spot from a few miles away while driving towards it.
Skógafoss was a super touristy waterfall that I actually wanted to see. It's also right off the main road but what I loved about it the most was that you can pretty much walk right up to this 100ft waterfall. It's so wide that it works for a perfect backdrop for photos.
One cool thing about Skógafoss is that if you visit the waterfall, there are these colorful fields of purple flowers all along the main road there. It's such a colorful place, especially when the sun it out. We were lucky enough to get to see this place so empty with very few tourists.
For years, I've been seeing photos of this DC-3 plane wreck, and only recently realized that it was in Iceland. This was one of the main things I was looking forward to the most.
In 1973, a United States Navy DC plane ran out of fuel and crash landed on the beach in Iceland. The remains are still there obviously, and even though it's not as naturally breathtaking like most of Iceland's landscape, I think it's still one of the highlights of the country.
We took the 4 mile hike (2 miles each way) at around midnight since we wanted to avoid as many other tourists as possible. Again, we got super lucky with the weather and we were able to effortlessly walk to the plane wreck with the full moon out, warm weather and no wind or rain. It feels really good to check something off your bucket list...
I love this photo of myself that Amanda took. Even though it was probably 1:00 in the morning, you can still obviously see that it doesn't look like it at all. You can see the orange of the sunset on the underside of the aircraft. Also, you can see the glacier in the background... FARRR in the background. The walk from where we parked our cars was back 2 miles in that direction which was also about another 5 miles from the glacier. So that glacier is anywhere from 4 to 6 miles away and you can still see it in this photo clear as day. It's nice to sometimes be in a place with no air polution.
THE SUNSHINE CONTINUED!!!! The following day we went to the classic black sand beach in Vik and although it was a bit touristy, we were able to find a nice little stretch of beach that wasn't too bad and the weather was PERFECT!
I'm not normally a beach guy, but I loved this whole experience. Most of the black sand is made up of very tiny, black, shiny rocks that look like they were all polished. I had to get the full beach experience so I walked around barefoot for a while and it felt nice between my toes, not all sticky and gross like most sand does. I also had to get a feel for the arctic waters so I dunked my feet a couple of times. The water was so cold that it put my whole body into shock for a few seconds. My mind wanted me to run out of the water but my body wouldn't let my legs move. It was a strange feeling that I never experienced before. I encourage everyone to try it!
The town of Vík is tiny and only a few blocks long, but has some gorgeous sights. I got this view of this church from a parking lot while we had dinner one night. I wish I had a behind the scenes photo of where I took this from because it was nowhere near as beautiful as this hill with the church on it. For more info about this photo and church, I wrote a previous blog post on it that you can check out here.
Fjaðrárgljúfur is an AMAZING canyon and it was the most east that we ended up driving on our trip. In traditional Icelandic fashion, it was cloudy and raining as soon as we pulled up, but during our short hike up the hill, the clouds cleared and the sun came out enough to give us some rich greens in our photos. My only regret, if any, was that we didn't walk down in the bottom of the canyon. You have to walk through a bit of shallow water in the river to get through so we would've had to have gone barefoot but it would've been well worth it. Also, if you were wondering....yes, it does look this spectacular in real life!
Even though it was one of our last days in Iceland, this last stop along the south coast really made me appreciate the landscape and natural beauty of this little country. From this one cliff, you could see so much and so far, it was unreal. Words can't explain it, I'll just let these photos speak for themselves.
Our final day was a chance to cool down and just wander around the city of Reykjavik some more...and by "cool down" I mean a warm up because it was actually hot at one point! Amanda suggested that we got a drink and sat outside since we kept seeing people eating and drinking on the sidewalks in front of pubs so we did just that. I was in a T-shirt, sweating...in Iceland. It sounds weird, but it was another one of those things where in the moment, it was amazing and stays as one of the more memorable times in our trip. After I got drunk after my 1 beer, we hit up some more local stores and even the punk rock museum where I got to jam on the drums and Amanda "played" the guitar.
I took my DJI Mavic Pro drone with me, of course, since it's the best travel drone around, but after encountering numerous problems with it throughout the week, I only got to fly it a few times. I was able to make a short aerial video from the few days that was able to fly. I was never into "aerial only" videos but this motivated me to possibly try more throught my future travels.