Stokksnes: Exploring the Hidden Gem of Iceland
Ah, Stokksnes! Have you ever dreamt of a place where the earth, sea, and sky converge in a magical dance? Stokksnes is just that place. A true wonder of nature, it's where the boldness of black sand meets the serenity of the azure sea, all set against a backdrop of majestic mountains. Sounds enticing, doesn't it?
Stokksnes Black Sand Beach & The Batman Mountain
The majestic black beach sits at the base of a breathtaking mountain range that has mountain peaks over 1490 feet high. Vestrahorn is one of the mountains that tower high into the sky, with snow-capped tips most of the year. The mountains rise out of the lagoon, creating a stunningly picturesque landscape. Right next to Vestrahorn is the “Batman Mountain”, which got its nickname due to it resembling the shape of the Batman symbol.
The striking black sand beach is covered with patches of bright green grass that sit atop the black sand dunes. For this reason alone, It is no wonder why this location has landed a spot on most photographers' lists and travelers’ Instagram pages.
You can even hike portions of Vestrahorn Mountain. If you are feeling courageous, hike the entire Vestrahorn Mountain by taking the 6.8-mile loop trail. Your hike leaves from Viking Village at the base of the mountain, before it brings you Kambhorn to Hvammsfjara. The views of the area from the top of the mountain are worth the long hike.
For an easier hike try the 2.5-mile trail around Kirkjusander, which also brings you along Drápsbjörg. You can take even more photographs of the mountain range from here.
A Historic Area
Did you know that the Stokksnes Peninsula was one of the earliest settled places in Iceland? Settlers arrived all the way back to the 9th century.
Then when World War II started, Stokksnes Black Sand Beach became a base for the British army. Today you can even see a working NATO radar station at Stokksnes that the Iceland Air Defense System operates to monitor Iceland’s airspace.
Since the beach is one of the first places Vikings settled, it is no surprise that there is a Viking Village here. The village was originally built in 2010 for Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakúr.
He ended up never using it and since then it has become abandoned. However, the Bollywood movie Dilwale was filmed at Stokksnes Beach, so the area did get some screen time after all!
You can visit the Viking Village and walk around to marvel at the remains of the set. Do not go inside any of them though, they are not maintained and could be dangerous.
If you want to have a spooky evening, visit the beach at night. The beach is known to have the most shipwrecks in Iceland over time. Shipwrecks and deaths were common due to the sea's rough waters. This is why locals and sailors believe the area is haunted.
Documentary makers and photographers have seen footprints going into the water and large men with long hair coming out of the water. Some even call Stokksness Beach the "Sea Of Ghosts". Even though it is spooky, it is quite enchanting at night. You could even spot the Northern Lights from here, thanks to the lack of light pollution.
There is a lighthouse on the beach at the end of the causeway, known as the Stokksnes Lighthouse. It has a large white tower with a red lantern. It was once used as part of the military base and is today an automated lighthouse with the H3 Radar Station adjacent to the lighthouse monitoring Iceland's airspace.
Make sure to stop by and enjoy the waves crashing along the rocks at the base of the lighthouse. It is especially pretty during the golden hour at sunset.
How to get there
Stokksnes Black Sand Beach is located on the Stokksnes peninsula in Southeast Iceland. Which is just over an hour's drive from the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. You need to rent a car and drive over an hour from the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Choose from rental cars based on the purpose of your trip and the number of people in your group. You can go with a small car, a family car, a 4x4 SUV or a minivan.
If you are coming from Reykjavik, Take Route 1 for 451 km or 280 miles until you turn onto Route 99 to Höfn. Then you will follow the signs for Route 1. Then drive about 4 miles or 7 km towards the South to the Stokksnes radar station.
You will then see the delicious Viking Cafe with the majestic mountain range sitting behind it. That is how you know, you’ve arrived.
It can be hard to locate it on your GPS or Google Maps, so we recommend putting the coordinates for the location in.
When To Visit
You can visit the beach any time of the year, thanks to its convenient location!
Summer is rumored to be the best time to visit due to the extended daylight hours. You could even take a trip there during Iceland’s Midnight Sun, which is when the country has 24 hours of daylight.
Fall will bring cooler temperatures to the black sand beach. You could even visit during Halloween for a chance to spot the spooky ghosts reported in the area.
Winter is actually a great time to visit Stokksnes Black Sand Beach too. The snow-coated mountains will provide a stunning contrast to the black sand beneath them.
Spring is another great time to head to Stokksnes. The days will begin to get warmer as the daylight house starts extending again. The grass on the dunes should begin to turn a vibrant green.
You cannot go wrong with visiting the area any time of the year.
How much does it cost?
The beach is located on private land, which means there is a small entrance fee to access it. The cost is 900 ISK or $6 to visit the area of Stokksnes. This does include the Viking Village, Stokknes black sand beach, and the lighthouse.
You need to go into the Viking Cafe to pay the fee, if the cafe is closed there is a machine you can use to pay. The fee is very important as it does help the owners maintain the land and road.
Black Sand Beach Sneaker Waves
We get it, you want that bucket list photograph on the edge of where the black sand beach meets the ocean. While you can still make this happen, you also need to be aware when visiting any beach in Iceland.
You need to watch out for sneaker waves, which are waves that can come out of nowhere. While you usually can see big waves in the distance at the beach, sneaker waves are the opposite. They hit further up the shore and have nothing to do with weather or wind speed. This means there is no warning that they are coming at all.
Over the last 15 years, about four people were fatally killed by sneaker waves at the most popular black sand beach, Reynisfjara. The deaths occurred between 2007 and 2022 and were caused by drowning once they were pulled into the water.
The most recent fatality happened in June of 2022. There have been even more reports of tourists getting caught in these waves, but most of them were, fortunately, able to return to the shore.While visiting is normally safe, do not turn your back to the shore, and always be mindful when exploring!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the sand at Stokksnes Black?
It's because of the volcanic eruptions and the basaltic lava fragments.
Is it safe to swim at the beach?
Due to cold temperatures and strong currents, it's advisable not to swim.
How much time do you need at Stokksnes?
You need anywhere from 1-4 hours at Stokksnes, depending on whether you are hiking or not. If you just want to visit a beach, one hour is fine. If you want to do the beach and surrounding area, add a bit more time!
What is the best black sand beach in Iceland?
Reynisfjara beach is known to be the most popular black sand beach in Iceland. The beach sits in the southernmost part of the country.
Do I need a 4x4 vehicle to get there?
While a 4x4 can be helpful during winter, the road to Stokksnes is generally accessible by regular cars during other seasons.
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