Iceland is a magnetizing country with various unique geographical features and many cool places to visit. With a name like Elephant Rock, Iceland reveals yet another mysterious geological wonder that has become a major tourist attraction.

Elephant Rock is a natural rock formation that is part of a group of islands called Westman Islands or Vestmannaeyjar. It is only about 7.5 kilometers or 4.6 miles from the coast of Southern Iceland. This interesting rock formation is aptly coined Elephant Rock because it literally looks like a giant elephant. Let’s learn more about this amazing structure in Iceland and how you can best see it in person.

elephant rock in Iceland close up picture

Elephant Rock in Heimaey Iceland

The structure shows an elephant drinking water from the ocean and the rock texture looks like actual elephant skin. The accuracy of the likeness is uncanny. Many people say it also has a resemblance to HP Lovecraft’s horrifying sea monster called Cthulhu, which has the face of an octopus.

This natural phenomenon is located in the South Coast of Iceland and it’s at the western section of the island of Heimaey in the Westman Islands. Heimaey is the largest island from the island of the cluster that comprises the Westman Islands. Westman Islands are a group of 15 islands and reefs that were formed from strong volcanic eruptions and turbulent underground sea activity.

The rumored story is that Elephant Rock formed during one of Mount Eldfell’s many powerful volcanic explosions. After these eruptions, this famous basalt rock structure formed naturally from the slow cooling of advancing lava. It’s definitely a wonderful site to visit for anyone interested in geology and unique rock formations.

Heimaey Iceland

Heimaey is the largest of the 15 islands that make up the Westman Islands. It has a total area of roughly 13 square kilometers, which is about 5 square miles. Heimaey is also the only inhabited island from the large island cluster and literally means Home Island.

elephant rock in Iceland on a panoramic view

Best Way to View Elephant Rock

The best way to see Elephant Rock is from a RIB boat tour or ferry ride. They happen at least five to six times throughout the day. If you are arriving from Reykjavík you can rent a car and drive on the Ring Road. The drive takes almost two hours to reach the harbor of Landeyjahöfn. Then you can be picked up and go as close as four nautical miles from the rock formation. This distance is close but far enough away to provide the best view of the whole structure. When you are in range, get your camera ready to capture amazing photos.

Hiking Trail in the area

After you have viewed Elephant Rock from the ocean on a boat tour you can go on a guided hiking tour. It is a wonderful opportunity to exercise, connect with nature, and take great scenic photos from the Elephant Head. Make sure you wear weather appropriate clothing and shoes and bring along refreshments like water for the long hike.

The tours typically start at a stunning valley called Herjólfsdalur, which looks like an impressive rock wall amphitheater. Then you will walk to the top of Dalfihall Mountain and eventually reach Blátindur, the Blue Peak. This peak is the second highest on the island of Heimaey. Next is the careful trek down to the sea cliffs of Halldórsskora and the final hike to reach the Elephants Head.

The best season to go on this hike and see Elephant Rock is during the summer from June through August. You will experience great weather and have an opportunity to see many bird species since they nest close to the Elephant’s Head. In fact, the Westmann Islands have the largest population of the famous Atlantic Puffins in the world. You can see many of them freely walking around during their summer breeding season.

The adorable puffins are known for their bright beaks, funny walk, and friendliness. However, please practice safe tourism by not touching them and keeping a safe distance from the cliff edges. This will allow you to bird watch responsibly while you enjoy observing the puffins toddle in their natural habitat.

zoomed image of the elephant rock in Iceland

More Elephant Rock Attractions

The Aurora Borealis also called the Northern Lights can be seen perfectly from Heimaey Island. It is crystal clear at night during the right seasons such as the very end of summer through spring. The Northern Lights in Iceland are more vivid than any other place in the world.

In addition, Iceland recently opened the world’s first open water sanctuary for beluga whales. Now you can go whale watching and see many sea animals such as beluga whales, orcas, and dolphins. You are sure to enjoy your trip to Elephant Rock in Iceland because it is teeming with breathing taking views and marvels.

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