LANGAHOLT, Iceland- Iceland is not widely referred to as an optimal beach destination, but as I walked over the wide, free flowing sandy beach near Langaholt, watching the sea sparkle yellow, red, blue in the perpetual daylight with the Snaefellsnes glacier rising over all I could have been fooled into believe that it was so. Subtract the frigid Arctic waters that rose and fell over it, this beach broached perfection — especially since it appeared as if I was the only one who ever took notice.
“There is nothing out there,” I remember the kids in the gas station in Borgarnes telling me about the western end of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. If “nothing” means the absence of human stimulation then they are very correct. I walked west down the beach, and found nothing to impede my path for miles. The sea rose and fell to my left, the midnight sun flashed in a thousand colors, phosphorescent, like tinsel over the sea, and the volcano and glacier rose big, white, directly in front of me. This “nothing” was looking pretty good.
Almost completely undeveloped save for a small golf course, and guarded from blasts of wind by a ridge of mountains, the stretches of sandy beach on the south side of Snaefellsnes peninsula sit quietly — left all alone, and only molested by the tides, the birds, and the errant hiker making their way to the volcano on the far end of the peninsula. I had the entire beach to myself, there were no meat heads playing volleyball, no sunbathers in my way like beached seals, no voluptuous women in bikinis to distract me, no hippies smoking pot and listing to the same songs over and over again, no vendors selling anything, no tour guides, no touts, no hair dressers, no tattooers, no artists, no beggars, no thieves, no cops, no new age bullshitters pretending to meditate, no yoga posers, no nothing but me, rocks, sand, waves, sky, volcano.
There is a certain essence, a quietude, a rawness found in going to places that are not represented by dots on the map, that are not recommended by other travelers, that are not mentioned in tourist brochures, that most people just drive right by, that nobody really thought to mention, that are described as having “nothing there,” and I found this on the southern beaches of Snaefellsnes.
If you want to find the heart of the world, use place recommendations as a way to know where not to travel, then strike out to where there is said to be nothing, to the places where people will ask you blankly “Why are you going there?” A few times out of a hundred you will find something truly amazing.
Sure, there were no umbrellas on the beaches near Langaholt, no bars, no voluptuous girls in bikinis, no music, no nothing, but what was there is perhaps best defined by what was missing. The beaches of Snaefellsnes, Iceland are places where dead animals can lie freely in the surf for vultures to eat them, a place where forgotten buildings can decompose, where the cold ocean water keeps swimmers at bay, where the brisk air keeps visitors’ in their clothing, a cloudy sky that usurps sunbathing, and a place where the only footprints you will see in the sand are your own.
Video of beaches of Snaefellsnes
Photos of the beach on Snaefellsnes peninsula