Just a stone’s throw from Vatnajökull National Park lies what many Icelanders call “the Crown Jewel of Iceland,” Jökulsárlón Lagoon. With a country as geographically sensational as Iceland, it is hard to imagine its crown jewel as anything short of incredible. And Jökulsárlón lives up to its unofficial title. This bay of glaciers keeps thousands of visitors and tourists coming back for a good reason. Let’s take a deeper dive and explore what makes the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon so unique.
A State of Constant Change
The lagoon is formed from the natural runoff from glacier water, and as such it never looks the same twice. Every year it shrinks and expands with the seasons due to the melting of the glaciers. The Vatnajökull glacier, the largest glacier in Europe, feeds the bay directly and it also provides the icebergs which litter the outlet. The salty seawater combined with increased water temperatures create fissures and cracks in the glacier, eventually resulting in pieces falling from the glacier, and thus forming icebergs.
As such, the lagoon is continuously changing, meaning, that visitors will never have the same experience twice. Not only that, but the bay is becoming larger and larger every year due to the effects of global warming. The impact of global warming is no more apparent than the increase of icebergs that leave the bay and make their way for the Atlantic every year.
Bay of Seals
The bay is not only aesthetically pleasing, but in the winter it is filled to the brim with adorable seals. During the colder months, the bay becomes filled with wayward sea fish that are caught in the glacier lagoon. These clever Icelandic seals have figured this out, and they saturate the bay for the veritable buffet that takes place. It is a great location to get up close and personal with these ordinarily elusive aquatic animals.
Arctic Birds at Jökulsárlón
The seals may steal the show for visitors, but due to the high influx of fish, the bay also becomes a feeding ground for a whole host of birds. Basically, as with many things in life, wherever there is fish (especially in Iceland), there is going to be an abundance of life. Or, people taking iPhone photos of that wildlife trying to eat fish. What a world we live in!
Ice and Glacier Caves
Areas surrounding the lagoon are remarkably popular destinations for tourists and Icelanders alike to go exploring. The landscape here is desolate and striking. Not only that, but if you make your way to the Vatnajökull Glacier (which is extremely close) you can go on a tour of the ice and glacier caves that litter the area.
These caves are impressive because they are unique to the season, in that, the same cave will never appear twice in Iceland. These caves provide visitors with an otherworldly perspective of this winter wonderland. So, if you are in the area of the bay, you might as well go trekking and explore the captivating caves in the surrounding area.
Just seeing the combination of “diamond” and “beach” is already unusual. Iceland is known for its black sand beaches (which are black due to the volcanic activity that takes place on the island). The most famous beach is Diamond Beach. This black sand beach is so famous because it is covered with crystal clear fragments of icebergs. They attempted to make it out to sea but didn’t quite make it. Massive chunks of ice can be found on the beach and it is indeed a spectacle to see.
Walking along the beach and seeing diamond-like ice sitting on pure black sand is something you will never forget. The beach is only one kilometer away from the lagoon, so it is convenient for visitors to stroll along the shores and watch the icebergs as they begin their long death march out to sea.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
It is difficult to put into words how unique this location is. Iceland, as I mentioned earlier, is already a land of stunning, striking, and sensational naturally formed geographic marvels. This one though, it takes the cake. The combination of the black sand beach, the ancient, pale blue icebergs, the seals and birds that thrive here, and the amethyst blue waters genuinely make it the crown jewel of Iceland. If you are heading to the Nordic island, then this needs to be a high priority on your to-do list.