Iceland Day 3: Skaftafell, Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, and moonlight on Diamond Beach

Yesterday’s weather limited our sightseeing time so we had to make up for it by waking up early….well for the rest of our travel group, it was early for them. We got a fresh start with the chilly Icelandic air and a wonderful breakfast served in the hotel restaurant. The choices were plenty especially the varieties of cold cuts, some of those meats were delicious! We really stuffed ourselves knowing we probably will have a late lunch today 🙂 The sweet pastries were too sweet for my taste though. The fresh baked bread was not the soft kind but it was better than the ones we had in France (hard like rock) with unlimited spread of Icelandic butter. I swear that Icelandic butter tasted so much better!

On the road again, I found it interesting that the clouds could be that low!

Our first stop was at Diamond Beach, the beach on the opposite side of the road of Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon where glaciers washed shore onto the black sand beach. We pulled onto an unpaved road and kept going down to a large opening where cars parked and we saw some camping tents too. Then, we walked down to the beach and quickly we saw glaciers of different sizes on the beach. We were super excited and ran to it. The big chunk of ice on black sand, now you know where does its name came from – Diamond Beach!

While rest of our group were running around to find their favorite chunk of ice to take selfies lol, I stayed with this ice and took different angles of it.

The bridge on the background where we crossed and on the left is Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, the glaciers washed from the lagoon into the ocean and sometimes up to the beach.

This ever changing landscape with unique shape of ice washed ashore every few minutes make it an ideal location for photographers (like me)! I could literally stay here for hours to take photos! The iced blue color was surreal! Walking along the shoreline of the beach, there are countless numbers of ice chunks!

Does this looked like a whale?

Ice bed?

Be careful when you decide to stand on the ice, it is very slippery!

It was one of my Iceland highlight to see the massive icebergs floating on the ocean and washed ashore!

Continue on the road to our next destination: Skaftafell National Park.

We see the heart-shaped glacier again! When I searched google last night, that glacier wasn’t like that before and somehow melted into a heart-shape! Go there quick if you want to catch the heart-shaped glacier before it melts away! We saw the “P” parking sign with cars there so we drove in to check it out. We hiked up the hill, it wasn’t challenging at all but the view was jaw-dropping!

It’s another picture perfect spot and no need to worry about people getting into your photo; we were the only ones there!!!

My brother ready for Icelandic adventure LOL!


Back on the road again…I was thinking when will we get to Skaftafell at this rate?

The heart-shaped glacier….so close yet so far!

In between Skaftafell and the glacier lagoons, the landscape totally different, we weren’t able to see yesterday when we drove through due to the rain…now much clearer!

We finally arrived Skaftafell around 45 minutes of drive from Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon. The parking lot was almost full already yikes; we thought we were early! There are clean and free restrooms there so go before the hike to the Svartifoss waterfall!

Map of Skaftafell National Park, I found out many glacier walk tours started here too, look at how close the glacier is:

Hiking trails of different lengths! Round-trip to Svartifoss is 5.3 km or around 3.3 miles!

The sign to the fall, hiking begin!

We walked pass a camp ground, many people camp here!

The first section of the hike was non-stop walking up, it burned a lot of my breakfast already! We each carried a bottle of water that we filled with boiling water last night, remember we were an hour away from the closest supermarket!

This is not Svartifoss 🙂 We passed through a few waterfalls along the way!

And taking off clothes on the way, our bodies were warming up with the intense exercise!

Lovely views from up the mountain……Iceland landscape is different everywhere!

That’s the waterfall on the background!!! How do I know? I saw those basalt columns…Svartifoss is known because of its basalt columns!

We are almost there!

Another reason why it’s important in Iceland to wear in layers…so you can take off 🙂

We walked down to the bridge and took some pictures…

For better photos and views, there’s a little dirt road to get close to the falls (where those people were on the rocks). We tried to wait till all those people leave but no luck…they just kept coming 🙁

The waterfall isn’t tall or big but the basalt columns made it one of a kind!

Hubby climbed to the middle rock for better angle!

Yea, it’s better 🙂

Mother nature always surprised me with natural forming power!

Applaud for the good work hun!


The hardest park of the hike was to hike back 🙁 ……I was smart to bring along an Icelandic chocolate bar with me, definitely need more calories for the way back! My first taste of Icelandic chocolate, it is sweeter than German chocolates but as creamy! This kind with nuts and raisins was good, I got extra later to bring home as souvenir – my mom loves chocolate with nuts!

When finally got down and decided to get a quick snack before heading to our next destination – lagoon cruise back on Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon. There is a food truck at the national park so it was convenient!

The fish and chips were so good! And of course expensive as well; it’s not your typical food truck prices…..$21 for that box!

Driving back, the glacier on our back:

The bridge again…if you turn right onto that little road will get you to the Diamond Beach.

I hate crossing that bridge because you really can’t see if there’s any car on the other side of the bridge so drive slower and you might have to reverse back!

Back to the glacier lagoon! I went up to the ticket counter and purchased tickets for the Amphibian Boat Tour, around $35 per person! We had to wait around an hour for the next available slots so we took this time to go around and took more photos! Time flew by when there are so much things to photograph!!!

The boat:

We got in line early so we can be the first ones into the boat to pick the best seats! Hubby on one side while I on the other so we could have photos of both sides! Keep your jacket on….it’s very cold once you get in the water!

The short ride into the water was bumpy!

If you are going by yourself, seat on the right side (facing front), more photo ops on that side due to the glacier on the background! While there was no glacier as backdrop on my side, I focus on taking photos of massive icebergs! do those big cubes of ice got on top of it?

There are many staff on those rescue boats following our big boat!

While hubby’s side:

This slow reacting bird almost suicide lol, our boat turned to avoid hitting it!

One of the guy on the rescue boat handed our “tour guide” a chunk of ice, he gave a little history about the lagoon and give us a chance to taste the thousands of year old glacier 🙂

Only hubby tasted it haha! Does it taste any different than any other ice cube hun?

The lagoon is a mix of 50-50 fresh and salt water (from the ocean). Our tour guide also explained why some of the icebergs are blue – when it in contact with water….the icebergs that are very blue are recently flipped and then the blue will faint away as it contact with air. And you never know when it’ll flip so that’s why our big boat stay a distance away. Those iceberg from the glacier had been extremely packed – very dense thus very heavy so it’s dangerous when it flips! The smaller and faster boat – the Zodiac Tour – more expensive and able to get closer to the iceberg…probably it’s fast enough to get away if it flips?

This iceberg is massive, remember that what we see is probably 30% and the rest 70% underwater!

The boat ride was like an hour or so but still too far from the glacier!

After the boat tour, we drove all the way to the closest supermarket at Hofn for grocery shopping!

Vegetables in Iceland are extremely expensive; they are imported!

And filled our tank before leaving the town $42.

That night, we made noodle in soup (I bought soup base from home for the trip in case we need to cook which made cooking easier haha), beef and pepper stir-fry, and baked chicken wings (it was pre-made hehe):

Cost of our dinner for 5 of us: $59, definitely cheaper than our $178 dinner we had last night at the restaurant!

After dinner it was almost sunset time, my husband and I decided to venture out back to the ice lagoon for sunset! That is one of the reason why I chose to stay at Hali, only a 10 minute drive away! The sun sets behind the mountain and not a colorful sunset today but still nice at the ice lagoon!

No more boat tours at this time of the day so the lagoon is as still as it could be to give the reflection of the icebergs!

Hubby pose next to the emptied lagoon boat:

Oh no, it was getting cloudy so greatly reduce our chance of seeing the Northern Lights! We woke up in the middle of the night to hunt for the light again but no luck!

This was like at 1 am in the morning:

It was super quiet that all we could hear was the sea lion diving into the water or iceberg flipping? We carried a flash light with us to light the way.

With no sign of the Northern Lights, we headed over to the diamond beach…..the beach under moonlight!

My husbands and I were not the only ones there! There was another photographer as crazy as us on the beach to photograph icebergs in the middle of the night!!!

That’s the other crazy photographer on the beach in the middle of the night haha!

It was very cool though!

Our white car parked on the lot:

With no Northern Lights luck, we went back to Hali, I didn’t notice the side wall of the hotel restaurant/museum looked like a bookshelf of encyclopedias. When was my last time opening an encyclopedia? It must be at least 15 years ago! When I was little, it was very expensive to own a set of encyclopedia so my only way of reading them was in the library – I like to read encyclopedia, I learned so much facts from it!

Our 3rd day of Iceland adventure – Diamond Beach that we went back twice, hiked to Svartifoss, and boat tour at Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon where we took many more photos of icebergs! Tomorrow will be our last day in Iceland – basically a full day of driving – 6 hours back to Keflavik!


12 thoughts on “Iceland Day 3: Skaftafell, Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, and moonlight on Diamond Beach

  1. Love the photos, especially the sunset ones. How much were those red peppers? $4.99 (their currency) per pound or per one pepper? How much in American dollars? You brought the noodle soup base, how about the noodles you used? You managed to find some there?

    1. No it was 499 ISK (Icelandic Krona) per kilo so around $1.81 per lb while the mushrooms were 959 ISK per kilo around like $3.39 per lb based on exchange rate $1 USD = 128 ISK and 1 kilo = 2.2 lbs. We bought the cheap instant noodle pack around $1.50 USD per pack.

  2. How I wish that I can also experience iceberg floating on the ocean. One thing that attracts me, the side walls of the hotel restaurant/museum that looked like a bookshelf, it’s awesome. Yeah, I agree on how expensive it is, now, it more like Mr. Google knows it all. LOL!

  3. Hey there.. Miss Vacation- Lisa 🙂

    I understand that you visited all these places in Iceland in winter? Is that true? Are Diamond beach and lagoon cruise accessible during winters? I am planning to be there by end of December so was planning to plan my itinerary accordingly.

    1. Hello, nope, we visited end of August/early September. We’ll be going back end of November 🙂 Diamond beach is accessible but the lagoon cruise will be already end of service for the season though!

      1. Hey there. That’s good to hear.

        You planning November this year?

        We were planning for mid of December this year. But then while finalising just got mind diverted towards either visiting Iceland or Norway and other close by countries like Sweden, Finland for a week. Not sure but will you be able to put your thoughts in helping us decide?

        1. Hi, I haven’t been to Finland, Norway, or Sweden so really can’t compare the winter conditions in those places. I decided back to Iceland because the first time we didn’t get to see the Northern Lights and visiting ice cave is a winter activity only. Winter is definitely in risk of snow so driving might be an issue especially if you never drive in snow before. We are from Boston so we had experiences during in snow and I m hoping it might not be in deep snow early in the winter! Iceland’s main sights are along the Ring Road, their national main high way so should be easier to access even in early winter!

          You are kind of late to plan an early Dec trip! Whatever you picked, should be amazing so don’t keep going back and forth, please check if accommodation and things you want to do are still available! The ice cave tour I heard can be fully booked for the season already!

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