Glacier Lagoon is a beautiful bay born at the foot of one of the largest glaciers in the world outside the polar regions. For a size perspective, the glacier is seven times the size of Manhattan. At the foot of the glacier is an icy paradise that will have you convinced it was the film set for Titanic.
Glacier Lagoon and nearby Diamond Beach were my favorite sites in Iceland but getting there requires dedicated effort. It is located at the southeast end of the island of Iceland. It’s approximately 5 hours by car from Reykjavík. There is a regional airport about an hour away, and you could take a domestic flight of about 40 minutes and then drive the last hour.
The best way is to stay in South Iceland and drive as part of a day tour. This is the option that we chose. We stayed at Hotel Ranga located in South Iceland and drove approximately 3 hours to the lagoon with Midgard Adventures. It was a full day trip with other beautiful places to visit and the scenery even driving down the road had us glued to the windows.
Once You Are There
When you arrive in Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach area, it will be a gravel rocky parking lot with some bathrooms and a little office. There will be a couple of food trucks making fresh lobster by the beach and serving hot chocolate (yes its chilly, you are by a glacier). Most importantly there will be a couple of semi trucks advertising boat tours of the lagoon. The lagoon is beautiful to stand on the beach and see, but it is nothing compared to the beauty and adventure of taking the one hour zodiac trip. Larger duck boats and kayaks are available as well, but I think the best option is the zodiac. If possible, these need to be booked in advance as they are quite popular. It is approximately $85.00 US per person, and it was the best money I spent (well that and my blue lagoon Retreat Spa upgrade but more on that later). The zodiac company will give everyone a water suit where you will vaguely like the Michelin Man after putting it on as well as life vest. You may waddle on to the boat but you wont be cold. Do bring gloves though- your hands will be freezing (it’s a glacier).
As I mentioned before the lagoon is nestled at the foot of one of the largest glaciers on Earth. The glacier is a beautiful mix of blues, whites, and blacks. As the glacier calves, which happens regularly and sounds like thunder claps, the iceberg chunks fall into the bay. The larger ones stay in the bay and lodge in place. The smaller pieces drift through the bay and may end up on diamond beach.
In case you didn’t know, Iceland is not famous for its sunny warm weather. It’s famous for its rugged beauty that is often against a moody, mystical, and somewhat overcast backdrop. Glaciers and iceberg change colors depending on the amount of light that has penetrated it. The more light, then the more clear/ white it is. The less light, the darker and the more blue/ black they are. We went on a day that was completely overcast and the ice was a stunning deep blue. Our boat trip was only an hour, but I could have cheerfully stayed on the lagoon all day long. As long as you are properly dressed for the weather- and I cant stress this enough for all of Iceland in general- you will have an amazing day. Wear your warm clothes, waterPROOF boots, bring your gloves (with an e-tip if you are using an iphone to take pics or record like me) and get on the boat!!! You are definitely going to want a camera to take pics of the ice, the water, and if you are lucky the seals that call the lagoon home.
After you have explored the lagoon by boat, taken off your gear, and gotten a hot chocolate then go across the street to Diamond Beach. From here you can get a different perspective of the glacier and the lagoon. It’s a beautiful black sand beach with chunks of ice scattered along the shore like the Queen’s diamonds. It makes for great photos so get creative and tag me in your posts! Be sure to wear waterproof boots if you plan on iceberg surfing like I decided to do.
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