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Rauðasandur, The Remote Icelandic Beach That Changes Colour

Raudasandur
Raudasandur | © Emmanuele Eragne / Flickr
Iceland has made a name for itself when it comes to spectacular beaches. Many have raved about the black sand beach on Iceland’s south coast, but another spectacular beach on the west has been kept hidden. Rauðasandur, or Red Beach as it’s also called, changes color depending on weather conditions and time of day.
Sunset at Raudasandur © Richard Gould/Flickr

Located on Breiðafjörður bay, the red-colored sand is a bit surreal in its lucidity, especially in the way it contrasts with the black cliffs and blue ocean of its surroundings. The 10-kilometer-long beach is located on the south coast of Iceland’s West Fjords (Vestfirðir). It is primarily red in color but can drastically change color depending on the weather conditions.

The waves here are rolling in from shallow water gently, everything flat and vast, and very mirage-inducing. The red sand takes its color from pulverized scallop shells accumulated over centuries. On a clear day, you can see Snæfellsjökull glacier across the bay.

On sunny days, the sand glimmers like as if it is full of diamonds, but that can shift instantly at the passing of a cloud, which turns the sand into a flat yellow. While on a rainy day, the colors can shift from red to white and even to black. The hues in between these colors are as myriad as the array of weather effects that shape them. The beach is also quite remote, making it a peaceful place. But it is not somewhere you want to be found during an intense windstorm, as the sand has even been known to scratch the paint on cars. It is only a few hours from Reykjavik by car, making it much less isolated than it used to be.

Sunset on Hvammslid – shores of Raudasandur © Richard Gould/Flickr

The road down to the beach is very steep and narrow and also made of gravel, so be very cautious as there are sharp, hairpin turns winding down from the main road. There is a cafe on the beach, a great place to get a warm drink before you venture out onto the sands. The beach can be reached from the right or the left side – on the left side is a camping area with a parking lot. At the parking lot is a map explaining how to get to the beach, which includes wading across a shallow river.