NatureBeachesSparkling Wonders: Exploring Diamond Beach
woman from the back in winter admiring the landscape offered by the diamond beach
Go Car Rental Iceland travel writer Leah BIlquist
By Leah BIlquistJun 5, 2024 • 7 min read

Sparkling Wonders: Exploring Diamond Beach

With a name like Diamond Beach, there is no wonder why visitors from all over the world flock here. Nestled on the South Coast of Iceland is this literal gem that you can reach with your rental car. Diamond Beach has so many features, from striking black sand to icy glaciers floating in the water. You can also visit nearby attractions that turn your beach trip into a full-day one. or even a weekend getaway. We broke down a complete guide, so you can learn all about Diamond Beach and its surrounding area.

When to visit Diamond Beach

You can visit Diamond Beach any time of the year! However, most visitors come during the summer months when the roads are clear. The extended daylight hours encourage more adventurers to drive Ring Road, putting them right at Diamond Beach. You may even want to visit during Iceland’s Midnight Sun, which is when the country has 24 hours of daylight.

Fall, Spring, and Winter should not be overlooked though. If you want to visit in winter, you will have a unique opportunity to see the Northern Lights through the chunk of ice. Fall & Spring can provide lovely weather and fewer crowds, thanks to them being shoulder season.

How to get to Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach is about five hours east of Reykjavik, a perfect trip to take with your Iceland rental car. The 235-mile drive is absolutely beautiful and it brings you along the South Coast of Iceland. You can simply take Ring Road to get there too, which makes it an easy stop for most travelers.

How was Diamond Beach formed?

The glacial outwash plain was formed when Vatnajökull’s outlet glaciers, Breiðamerkurjökull, Hrútárjökull, and Fjallsjökull, flowed ahead thanks to volcanic activity. The icebergs travel from Jökulsárlón, in the water to the beach. The icy jewels resemble huge diamonds due to the contrast of the black volcanic sand. They eventually wash up on the shore, where they are sculptured by the waves and tides from the sea.

Why is the sand black?

The reason the sand is black at Diamond Beach is due to the volcanic activity of the island. The black sediment was once formed by boiling hot lava. The hot lava would cascade down the beach before eventually cooling off and becoming solid. When cold hits a very hot surface it can cause the hot surface to break apart. This then forms small volcanic rocks also known as black beach sand or small pebbles.

woman admiring the sunset on the diamond beach in winter

How long is the Beach?

This black sand beach is eleven miles long and perfect for exploring. You can spend your day walking along the back sand while taking in the views of the area.

Sneaker waves

Be careful of sneaker waves when visiting Diamond Beach. These 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. While visiting is normally safe, do not turn your back to the shore, and always be mindful when exploring!

How much does it cost to visit?

Visiting Diamond Beach is completely free! So save your money for Icelandic souvenirs or local food trucks instead. The parking is complimentary and there is no cost to enter the beach. It doesn’t get much better than that.

What should I wear?

No matter what time of the year you are visiting, visitors should always bring a water-resistant rain jacket. The beach is known to be pretty windy, which means you will get wet from the ocean mist. Always wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes with a good grip since the sand can become slippery. If you are planning to visit during winter, bundle up! The beach can get very cold, but the chance to view the Aurora is more than worth it.

a couple embracing while admiring the view of the diamond beach

Can you swim at Diamond Beach?

No, you cannot swim at Diamond Beach, and chances are you won’t want to. The water is very cold, and the tide is strong. Just remember that the tide forms the glaciers, so you know the waves are rough here.

Can you see the Northern Lights from Diamond Beach?

Yes, you can! This is why winter is a great time to visit, despite the cold. While Diamond Beach is a tourist attraction, it is in the middle of nowhere. That means no light pollution from nearby cities or towns. You can park your car in the parking lot and stay warm until it begins to appear.

man observing with his headlamp the northern lights of Iceland, on the beautiful diamond beach

Wildlife at Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach is one of the best spots in the entire country to view Orca Whales. Orcas are known as killer whales, but they also belong to the oceanic dolphin family. Even though they are called killer whales they are actually quite friendly to humans. So, if you are on a boat tour and spot one, there is no need to be worried. Instead, admire the unusual yet beautiful whale. In addition to whales, you may even see seals relaxing on the beach.

A Photographer’s Dream

Diamond Beach is one of the most photographed black sand beaches in Iceland. Photographers visit during sunset to capture the colorful sky reflecting off of the icebergs. No wonder it appears in every list of the most beautiful beaches in Iceland.

view on a photographer taking pictures of the fantastic landscape of the diamond beach

Famous Filming Hot Spot

In addition to photographs, famous movies and films such as Batman Begins, Tomb Raider, and Game of Thrones have been filmed here. Justin Beiber also shot his music video for “I’ll Show You” at Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon.

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

The icebergs of Jökulsárlón are one of the main reasons the area has become a top-rated tourist attraction. The Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is actually the deepest lake in Iceland, with a surface area of 18 square kilometers. The lagoon is filled with chunks of ice that break off from the glaciers, which then fill the bay. It's a mind-blowing experience watching the glassy white chunks of ice bob go from the lagoon to the turquoise-blue water.

Beautiful cold landscape picture of icelandic glacier lagoon bay

Ice Lagoon Adventure Tours

If you want to experience Diamond Beach from the water you can. But only with a trusted guide. That is why we think you should book the Zodiac Boat Tour of Ice Lagoon Adventure Tours, which is located right across the street from Diamond Beach.

The Zodiac Boat Tour allows you to visit the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and even go to the remote glacier wall of Jökulsárlón. If you are lucky enough, you will see the glacial chunks, or diamonds, falling off the side. The boat tour is 75 minutes long, so you will have plenty of time to enjoy the views. The tour is 13,900 ISK or $97 per person.

Glacier Lagoon Café

There is not a visitor center or cafe at Diamond Beach, but luckily there is one right across the street, Glacier Lagoon Cafe. At the Café by Jökulsárlón, you can purchase sandwiches, coffee, hot chocolate, and soft drinks. They even have a warm and tasty Seafood Soup, perfect for enjoying while viewing the glacier lagoon. They have toilets and water fountains for you to refill your water bottle too.

Don’t Be That Tourist

Yes, the Icebergs are amazing and we need to keep them that way. Don’t be that tourist that climbs on top of them for pictures. It is fine to get close up to them for a photograph, but touching them or damaging them could ruin the area for other visitors. Besides, if you try to climb on a glacier, you most likely will fall right off and hurt yourself due to how slippery they are.

Hvannadalshnjúkur

When visiting Diamond Beach, you will also see the highest mountain peak in Iceland, Hvannadalshnjúkur. It is the highest peak of the Öræfajökull volcanic glacier in Vatnajökull National Park, sitting at 2,109.6 meters or 6952 feet tall. You can view Hvannadalshnjúkur right from Diamond Beach. Due to its elevation, the mountain is usually snow-capped, making it an even prettier photo against the black sand.

The Future Of Diamond Beach

See Diamond Beach while you still can. It is said that climate change melts the ice caps. If that is true, there could be no “Diamonds” left within the decades to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

To answer any remaining queries, here are some frequently asked questions about diamond beach in Iceland

Is Diamond Beach worth it?

Yes, it is honestly one of the best places to visit in Iceland. It is in a remote area, so many don’t get to see it. If you do, take in every bit of its glory.

Where is Diamond Beach located in Iceland?

Diamond Beach is located near Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in South-East Iceland.

What makes Diamond Beach unique?

The beach is unique due to its black sand strewn with icebergs resembling diamonds.

Can I visit Diamond Beach all year round?

Yes, Diamond Beach is accessible year-round, with each season offering a different experience.

Do I need special equipment for visiting Diamond Beach?

No special equipment is required, but dressing warmly and wearing sturdy shoes is recommended.

What wildlife can I see at Diamond Beach?

You can spot seals and various bird species, including puffins, depending on the season.

Is it free to visit Diamond Beach?

Yes, there's no entry fee to visit Diamond Beach.

How long should I plan for a visit to Diamond Beach?

Generally, 1-2 hours should be sufficient to enjoy the beach and take great photos.