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Snæfellsnes peninsula - Skarðsvík Beach and Svörtuloft lighthouse., Iceland

Saturday, June 10, 2023 - 10:15am by Lolo
10 miles and 0.5 hours from our last stop


Skarðsvík BeachSkarðsvík BeachWe haven’t visited that many lighthouses in Iceland, so we left the main road around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula to drive to the Svörtuloft lighthouse.

Just before the road turned to rough gravel, we pulled into a small parking lot for Skarðsvík Beach.

This was unlike any beach we had seen in Iceland so far, in that it was a golden sandy beach rather than a black sand one. It’s like the Riviera of Iceland - well not exactly, but the closest to it in the last few weeks. It even had aquamarine, turquoise water.

The beach is surrounded by a dark black volcanic landscape, including this large chunk just sitting there by itself in the middle of the beach. Volcanic rock is so easy to climb because it has so many things to hold onto.

Skarðsvík BeachSkarðsvík BeachThe contrast between the black of the lava and the yellow sand was stunning. Despite its beauty, Skarðsvík Beach is one of the least crowded beaches in Iceland, because of its remoteness.

After every trip, before writing it up for the website, I do some additional research and find some really interesting things that I wish I had known about when I was there.

The following is one of them:

Skarðsvík Lava FieldsSkarðsvík Lava FieldsIn 1962 when the asphalt road to the beach was being built, a bulldozer operator discovered a skeleton by Skarðsvík cove. What was remarkable was that it was below the lava, meaning it was very very old.

Archaeologists concluded that it was a pagan Viking grave from the 10th century and the bones belonged to a young man aged 18 - 25 at the time of his death.

Skarðsvík Lava FieldSkarðsvík Lava FieldAs was customary with Vikings, some of his earthly possessions were buried with him, including a long sword, a broken knife, pieces of iron, an elaborate boss from his shield, a spearhead, and a pin made of bone.

The well-preserved skeleton and his belongings are now preserved at the National Museum of Iceland.

Svörtuloft lighthouseSvörtuloft lighthouseWow! That was over a thousand years ago.

Across the road from the beach there is a lava field created from an ancient lava flow about 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. The lava is covered in a soft green moss with vibrant hues of red and orange.

Another nice bit of contrast is the black of the lava flow and the purple flowers, which I think are purple saxifrage. After a lava flow, there is a whole sequence of plant life beginning after a volcanic eruption, but moss seems to always come first.

Svörtuloft Cliffs (Black Ceiling)Svörtuloft Cliffs (Black Ceiling)This lava flow was old enough to support higher plant forms such as flowers.

When looking at this otherworldly landscape, it was easy to understand why the Icelandic people believed in magical creatures. Obviously elves and trolls must have lived here, and maybe they still do.

We continued on for several miles on a bumpy gravel road to the Svörtuloft lighthouse, perched on the westernmost point of the Snæfellsnes peninsula in West-Iceland

IArch near Svörtuloft lighthouseArch near Svörtuloft lighthouset was probably the most beautiful lighthouse we had seen so far in Iceland. Most of the lighthouses in Iceland are orange, because that stands out well against black lava cliffs, but lots of them were short and stubby. At 42-feet high, this one was much more impressive.

It was built in 1931 out of concrete to make it as durable as the steep rock faces surrounding it.

Svörtuloft's name, which means Black Ceiling, comes from the pitch-black cliff it stands on.

Here the lava flow didn't stop until it reached the cold sea. It looked like it had been cut and made into a massive, sheer black wall, almost 2.5 miles long.

The surf has eroded the pitch black lava through the centuries creating a beautiful arch.

Snæfellsnes peninsula - Skarðsvík Beach and Svörtuloft lighthouse. location map in "high definition"

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