Located in southern Iceland, the sleepy fishing town has dominated social media for the past few years. This begs the question, “Why has a small fishing village with a population of around 300 drawn so much fanfare worldwide?” The answer can be summarized in two words: black sand. All of southern Iceland boasts monochromatic beaches, but two of the most popular are a stone’s throw from Vik. Let’s explore more about the quaint town of Vik, its black sand beaches and its picturesque Nordic aesthetics.

Iceland is famous for it's volcanic black sand beaches near the seaside town of Vík

How are Vík’s Black Sand Beaches Formed?

When you think of beaches, more often than not, you imagine bright orange and grainy yellow beaches. Some may picture beaches as being more white but never does your mind conjure up images of black sand. Iceland is a place whose identity is closely tied with volcanoes; the entire country is a breeding ground for these fiery giants. Volcanic activity combined with a subarctic island results in beautiful charcoal coastlines. When lava erupts from a volcano in Iceland, it eventually makes its way to the ocean. Once in the sea it cools at such a rapid rate it begins to harden and break apart. Thus, resulting in the midnight black seashore that runs along the southern coast of Iceland.

What Makes Black Sand Beaches So Popular?

Novelty aside, raven colored sand is captivating to see. It pulls you from the monotony of every day and opens up your imagination to other worlds. Also, more commonly, it makes for stunning photos. If you are looking to take your Instagram to the next level, you need only to book a flight to Iceland, go to Vik, wear a bright raincoat, and take some photos on these shorelines. Your clout meter will rise to a 100%, and you will add a layer of mystique to your online presence. Travelers come from far and wide to make their way to these stunning coasts.

Reynisfjara beach has basalt columns

Iceland’s Most Popular Black Sand Beaches

Vik is home to two of the most famous black sand beaches in Iceland: Reynisfara and Vik’s Beach. Reynisfara is by far the most well known and most popular beach sporting black sand in Iceland. This shoreline also is home to Iceland’s version of “The Giants Causeway”; hexagonal spires surround a small waterfall situated close to the beach. The otherworldly columns combined with the midnight black shores of Reynisfara make for a feast for the eyes.

Vik’s beach is closer to the town itself and is much more quaint. The rolling sable coastline stretches out the entire length of the village. In the distance is a massive cliff covered with brilliant emerald greenery. Again, Iceland provides a dazzling contrast of colors and landscapes. Making your way to the beach from town is a breeze, and if you are looking for something a little more relaxing I would highly recommend coming to these obsidian shores.

Iceland’s Warmest and Wettest Town

The town of Vik gets inundated with travelers seeking to quench their thirst for spectacular photos of rocky onyx shoreline, and the actual village often gets overlooked. Vík has 300 or so residents, and is statically both the warmest and the wettest town in Iceland. Fishing is the primary industry in this charming seaside town. Tourism is quickly becoming the mainstay here, but it has its roots in taking bounty from the sea.

The church in Vík at sunset

The Vík Church and the DC3 Plane Crash

As previously mentioned, the black sand beaches take the cake for the majority of travelers, but there are a few other attractions to see after you visit the inky black beaches. The DC3 plane crash ranks relatively high on the lion’s share of photographers’ wishlists. Lying snug in a mound of black sand in Sólheimasandur just outside of Vik is the skeleton of a DC3 plane. Originally the military plane crashed here during a United States mission, and it has remained here ever since. After decades of withstanding the Icelandic elements, the fuselage is the only part of the plane that survived. Tourists and thrill seekers can often be seen investigating the crash site and taking photos galore.

Finally, my personal favorite is the church in Vik. Situated on a hill overlooking the peaceful town is a church with beautiful white walls and a bold red roof. The style of the church perfectly mirrors the qualities of the hamlet: it is simple, understated, and yet there is an unassailably impressive quality to it. The church rests in front of a multitude of wildflowers, and it is a perfect location to take photos. A birds-eye view awaits those who make the trek to the top of the hill.

Vík and Iceland’s Black Sand Beaches

The quiet fishing town of Vik has seen a resurgence in recent years given the exponential growth of tourism and exposure on social media. With black sand beaches nearby, a beautiful church resting on an iconic hilltop, and the remains of a cinematic plane crash but minutes away, it is one of Iceland’s hidden gems. If you have a few hours to kill, you need to make the trek south to this quiet little town. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

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