The Ring Road around Iceland, although shown to be 'skirting' the coast on a map, is in reality quite a distance from the actual coast line. While driving the southern portion of the Ring Road (Route 1 if you want to be formal) from the capital city of Reykjavik, my husband and I first glimpsed the ocean from the road as we neared the town of Vik.
|The town of Vik, Iceland, shrouded in mist.|
Vik is a charming town. Other than the larger town of Selfoss, located about 45 minutes away from Reykjavik's city limits, there are no other major stops along the southern Ring Road for groceries, hotels, or other amenities until you reach Vik. After camping in Iceland's unseasonably chilly weather, we were happy to chug into Vik and find ourselves a warm room for the night. Using our wonderful GPS system, we mapped out the various hotels in town and starting checking them out. As I have said before, hotels in Iceland are expensive, and Vik is no exception. After getting quoted over $200 per night at a couple of different inns, we found Hotel Lunda and agreed to stay in their hostel portion for about $110 per night - the cheapest place we could find other than the campground. (It was supposed to pour buckets that evening, so we did not feel like camping again.)
Once settled in our room in the hostel, we decided to explore Vik for the rest of the afternoon. Joey found a golf course that wrapped around the black sand coastline, and so he opted to golf for the remainder of the afternoon while the weather was still holding. He golfed 9 holes for about an hour and a half for $40 CDN and had a wonderful time - he would like me to add in this post that he highly recommends it for any avid golfers out there that read my blog.
|Exploring the black sand beaches of Vik, Iceland.|
While my hubby golfed, I decided to explore what the town of Vik had to offer. First, I drove up to the cute church that overlooks both town and ocean from atop a windy bluff. Known as Flatanger Church (or simply as Vik Kirke) this building is situated perfectly with an amazing vista. It was closed when I arrived, but I sat happily on its front stoop, munching on a granola bar, and just enjoyed the incredible view of the ocean and the fascinating peaked rocks jutting from the surf.
|Flatanger Church in Vik, Iceland.|
After staring longingly at the beautiful and mysterious-looking beach, I decided that was my next stop. Down the hill I puttered, and maneuvered my rental SUV to one of the sandy parking lots that dot the Vik beach. Made of the same glittering, black lava sand we found at Jokulsarlon, the beach looked strangely desolate and haunting, but at the same time very beautiful. The looming Reynisdranger rocks - known as the "Sea Stacks" - speckle the horizon, sprouting from the sea like giant trolls. Indeed, the legend is that three giant trolls found a three-masted ship and decided to haul it to shore, but instead were caught by the rising sun and turned to figures of stone where they stood.
|The sea stacks of Vik, Iceland. Image via pinterest.com|
The next day, we back-tracked a little bit down the Ring Road to the Dyrholaey Nature Preserve. This national treasure is home to many thousands of nesting puffins and other sea birds. I had never seen a puffin before, so this was a very exciting morning for me. Pathways line the coastal cliffs, and it is strictly forbidden to walk off the paths as the entire area is a nesting ground for puffins, and has been for years and years. There is no cost associated with visiting the Dyrholaey Nature Preserve, but visitors are asked to respect the natural area in return for Iceland's generosity.
|Puffins line the cliff at Dyrholaey Nature Preserve near Vik, Iceland.|
It was spitting a misty rain during our stay at the Nature Preserve, but we didn't mind. The rain encouraged the puffins to zip to and fro from their cliffside nests, out to the ocean where they fished for dinner and then returned with their prizes to their homes. Puffins look round and awkward when roosting in the grass, but they fly with a surprising amount of grace.
|Puffins, puffins everywhere! I loved them - they were so cute!|
Besides ogling the cutie-pie puffins, we also had the chance to hike around the rocky outcroppings that separate the nesting areas from the black, pebbled peach. I had read about the natural formation nicknamed the "Arch of Dyrholaey" that I wanted to find - but then we found two naturally ocean-carved arches, and were unsure which was the true 'Arch of Dyrholaey'. Later on, back at our hotel, we were able to distinguish between the two.
|Is this the Arch of Dyrholaey at Vik, Iceland? Nope...|
|The real Arch of Dyrholaey. Photo via because mine is blurry and gloomy from the rain.|
The gloomy day and heavy fog made it difficult to take really stunning pictures of the views or truly capture the beauty of the area. We did our best, though, and enjoyed hiking through along the beach, exploring all the nooks and crannies in the rocks carved out by centuries of waves. Eventually, the misty rain permeated our clothing and we had to escape to the confines of our warm SUV.
|More strange rock formations at Dyrholaey Nature Preserve near Vik, Iceland.|
|The basalt rocks at Reynisfjall, which I didn't get to see. Image via.|
Vik was definitely a lovely stop on our Iceland tour - I wish we'd been able to see more but I'm very happy with what we did manage to take in! What else did I miss in Vik? If you've been there or know someone who has, let me know what else this enchanting town has to offer in the comments section below! :)