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Beaches of Snaefellsnes Iceland

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 [...]

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.

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“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

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Snaefellsnes volcano and glacier

Wide open beach in Iceland

Colors in the waves on the beaches of Iceland

Beach near Langaholt with Snaefellsnesjokull rising in the distance.

Snaefellsnes Jokull

Filed under: Beaches, Europe, Geography, Iceland, Western Europe

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3396 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Rochester, New York

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  • the candy trail ... | Michael Robert Powell August 2, 2011, 8:46 pm

    “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 …” PERFECT.

    Although, a couple of bikini-less babes may add something extra 😉

    the candy trail … a deserted-beach, bikini-admirer across the planet, since 1988

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    • Wade Shepard August 2, 2011, 10:45 pm

      Haha, I think naked people almost always trumps sitting on a deserted beach next to a decomposing animal cooking noodles all by yourself haha. Good call. But, man, there are times in travel for “something” and times for “nothing.” On that beach on Snaefellsnes it was time for nothing, but too much nothing can lead to a craving for something quick, and the same the other way around. There is this odd balance that can be cultivated from jumping between extremes. One of the side benefits of travel is perhaps the ability to jump between these extremes almost on call. It is my impression that you are an absolute master at this.

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  • Bob L August 2, 2011, 9:39 pm

    I’ve been noticing that your writing, always quite good, has improved dramatically. It seems more polished and has a better flow to it, less repetition. I am enjoying this site more and more.

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    • Wade Shepard August 2, 2011, 10:46 pm

      Thanks Bob,

      This is really appreciated. I was getting a little insecure as I put up like five entries in a row without any feedback haha. I was beginning to wonder if there was anyone still out there.

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