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Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach, Iceland

Saturday, June 3, 2023 - 2:30pm by Lolo
10 miles and 0.25 hours from our last stop


Jökulsárlón glacier lagoonJökulsárlón glacier lagoonThere is so much to see along the southern portion of the Ring Road that we didn’t have to drive too far before our next stop - The Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, where 1,000-year-old, large blue, white, turquoise and black-streaked icebergs shift and bop about the lagoon, before breaking up and heading out to the sea through a narrow channel.

It is one of Iceland’s most popular destinations, and understandably so.

Jökulsárlón Glacier LagoonJökulsárlón Glacier LagoonThis lagoon is less than 100 years old. Located at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, the lagoon was formed as the glacier warmed and began receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

As temperatures continue to rise, the lagoon continues to grow as the glacier recedes even further. Today the lagoon is four times larger than it was in the 1970s, making it the deepest lake in Iceland.

Jökulsárlón Glacier LagoonJökulsárlón Glacier LagoonAs the glacier calves, it deposits icebergs into the lagoon. Eventually, these icebergs break up and when the chunks are small enough, they start floating across the lagoon towards the channel that connects it to the sea.

It was like watching the effects of global warming in real time.

Jökulsárlón Glacier LagoonJökulsárlón Glacier LagoonThere are two ways to spend your time at Jökulsárlón. You can take an amphibian or Zodiac boat ride to get up close and personal to the icebergs on the lagoon, or you can hike around the lagoon’s perimeter.

We chose to avoid the crowds and walk the trail along the shoreline.

As we strolled along the shore, I began wondering why some of the icebergs were a milky white and some a bright blue. The blue ones were absolutely beautiful.

Harvesting Ice for Cocktail HourHarvesting Ice for Cocktail HourAs I often do, I turned to Google for the answer.

Blue icebergs are much older than white icebergs, originating from portions of a glacier that are very compressed and have fewer bubbles. The fewer the bubbles the less chance there is of light being scattered, resulting in red wavelengths being absorbed, with only blue light being scattered and escaping the iceberg. Hence, the blue color.

Diamond BeachDiamond BeachSome of them were a little blue and a little white, like a peppermint candy.

As we continued our stroll, Paul and I spotted a piece of ice floating right near the shoreline. We had been lamenting the lack of ice cubes for our cocktails, so we sort of jokingly said that we should capture it. This little chunk of ice was just asking for it.

Diamond BeachDiamond BeachSo, I ran to the van to get a plastic bag to hold it, while Paul continued to coax it in and lay it on the sand. I’m sure It was quite an entertaining sight to see us giddily wrestle it into the bag. We were quite proud of ourselves.

After our walk along the lagoon, we drove across the road to the parking lot for Diamond Beach, on the ocean side of the channel.

When the waves and the tides are just right, the icebergs that float through the channel from the lagoon get broken up and washed ashore, littering the beach with glittering chunks of ice.

Diamond BeachDiamond BeachHow much is on the beach at any point in time is very dependent on the tides and the power of the waves. When we first got there, there were only a few little pieces on the beach, so we decided to wait them out by taking a nap in the van. When we re-emerged about a half out later, the beach was strewn with glittering chunks of ice in all shapes and sizes.

When we first arrived, there were only a few scattered pieces strewn across the sand. It was pretty, but not overly impressive.

A Teddy Bear?A Teddy Bear?Fortunately, we did not leave, but stayed to make lunch and take a quick nap in the vans.
When we re-emerged, we were astounded. The beach was now covered with dozens and dozens of glittering ice chunks, in all shapes and sizes.

Some of them were milky white, but the most beautiful ones were perfectly clear, reminding me of my mother-in-law’s Swarovski crystal collection.

Dog or Fish?Dog or Fish?Once again, I wondered why and once again Google came through for me. Ice appears white when it contains trapped air bubbles and minerals, while clear ice has had the bubbles compressed out of it and is pure of minerals.

Wandering amongst them was like playing the cloud shape game I used to play as a kid, except with 1,000 year old pieces of icebergs rather than clouds.

Turtle?Turtle?One looked like a long-necked turtle, like the kind I saw in the Galapagos. Another one looked like a teddy bear dropped in the sand. One looked like a dog from one side and a fish from the other, so we called it a dogfish.

I found Herb stalking an ice lizard with his camera.

It was incredible. My only advice is that if you have the time, have patience, and wait for the ice show to begin.

Diamond BeachDiamond BeachDiamond Beach was pretty much the last of the highly-visited tourist spots we would see in awhile, aw we were getting out of reach of the Reykjavik tour buses. In another hour or so we would arrive at our final destination for the day - the beautiful Vestrahorn mountain in the southeast corner of Iceland.

After that, we would start heading north along the much less traveled eastern coast - zigging in and out amongst the fjords. For the next 10 days, we would pretty much leave the crowds behind and experience a bit more of what Iceland was like before becoming a major tourist attraction. .

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach location map in "high definition"

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