5 Important safety rules to follow when visiting Icelandic beaches

Sunday, 26th March 2017

Destination Specialist

iceland beach saftey blog

Vik’s black sand beaches are undoubtedly enticing, from its otherworldly basalt columns to the volcanic sand stretching along the coastline. But they should be approached with caution, especially when the waves are at full swell. Reynisfjara beach is one such beach, often with warnings not to enter on particularly blustery days.

On many of Iceland’s beaches, powerful waves can often crash onto the shore without warning, even when the sea appears relatively calm. Many people get caught by the waves and soaked in icy water, most people just get slightly wet, but tragically, a few people have died.

iceland south east vik reynisdrangar waves img

1. Never turn your back on the sea in Iceland.

Thousands of people visit Reynisfjara beach and each year people make the mistake of ignoring the unpredictability of Iceland’s waves. Especially sneaker waves that are disproportionately larger than those before and ‘sneak up’ those taking a selfie or simply being too close to the icy waters.

2. Read warning signs carefully and respect warning notices. 

iceland south coast reynisdrangar sea stacks

Prevent accidents by following the rules and regulations and do not cross distance warning signs or step over barriers. When such signs are not in place, take note of the minimum local recommendation and remain 20m from the edge of the sea (50m at Djúpalónssandur in Snæfellsnes in the west). We do want to emphasise that this is also the very minimum distance to adhere to. Conditions may dictate that you should remain even further back.

3. Listen to the advice of your expert guide.

If you visit the beach on a guided tour, please listen to your guide’s advice for your own safety. The waves have a very powerful current and those who don’t heed the warnings may be dragged out to sea. Or, more specifically the very cold and extremely dangerous North Atlantic Ocean.

4. Do not try to get close to the water for photos.

Take your pictures from a safe distance – and even if you think you are safe, then go a little further away.

5. Never venture off by yourself and be aware of your surroundings.

Tidal ranges can be high; people can become cut off if not aware of incoming waters.

Your safety is paramount on Icelandic beaches, please be aware of the dangers before you travel.

Popular blog posts

Over-tourism in Iceland – myths dispelled by the experts

Don't be put off Iceland. We'll tell you the facts about tourism in Iceland you need to know!

Friday, 10th November 2017

Destination Specialist

Ten volcanoes you can visit with Discover the World Education

What are your favourite volcanoes? We have picked ten very different volcanoes you can visit with us, from the Azores to New Zealand.

Thursday, 16th March 2017

Destination Specialist

10 Air Travel Tips For Effortless School Trips

We asked former teachers and current group tour leaders for their advice on how to make your journey as smooth as possible, from Departures to Arrivals.

Wednesday, 14th February 2018

Destination Specialist

Experience Iceland – Classroom Ideas

How to use our new GIS video map - GIS Iceland

Thursday, 25th April 2019

Jo Coles

Why You Should Visit West Iceland

A day or two in the West fits in nicely to a 5 day itinerary including the Golden Circle highlights so you don’t have to choose between them.

Tuesday, 13th November 2018

Destination Specialist