The Almighty Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in Iceland

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in South Iceland

I scramble up the hill. Small black stones and rocks are loose beneath my feet but I’ve always been nimble and give little care as to whether I trip over or not. I’m almost at the top. With each step forward my excitement grows.

I’ve made it.

I stand mesmerised from the top at the view below. Icebergs are lying in a pool of sunlight. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I’m speechless yet I could scream to the high Gods. I want to jump and dance and kiss the ground but I manage to contain myself for the sake of other people. My smile, however, cannot be tamed. I’m grinning like a lunatic released from a mental asylum.

Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, icebergs in Iceland

Iceland, glacier lagoon, Jokulsarlon

This is generally how I feel when I’m far North, the fresh air does something to my brain, I feel high. It’s more than just exhilaration. Maybe it’s what you get when exhilaration crosses with reverence. No, it’s still more than that. But this feeling is intensified in Iceland, the best I can find to describe it is otherworldly, a lunar landscape filled with cracked black rocks interspersed with florescent moss, orange and red surface fissures, pools of bubbling mud pots, erupting geysers, rainbows, basalt pillars, black beaches, waterfall after waterfall, glaciers and icebergs. It’s a natural world, but a trippy and beautiful one.

Photo Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Iceland

I yell to my colleague that I’m in heaven, and he nods in agreement. He’s taken me to a stop-off  point just before the main part of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon which has less visitors, and the ice appears to be more like ice floes instead of icebergs. He tells me the ice seems to have retreated since he was last here. Perhaps it’s down to climate change or it could just be the natural movement of the ice, I’m not entirely sure. It makes me wonder. A place like this cannot disappear.

Iceland glacier lagoon, Jokulsarlon,

After walking around with my jaw on the floor, my colleague said it was time to head over to see the ‘daddies’. We head back to the car and 5 minutes later after driving over a bridge we enter the official entrance of Jökulsárlón. I see what he means by the ‘daddies’ they’re much bigger, but the space is more restricted so on a whole it is no more an impressive view than the first one.  I therefore recommend stopping at both.

Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in south Iceland

However, I spot some seals bobbing up and down which sets off another bout of euphoria, I’m hoping that they’ll move closer to the land but it’s clear to see they prefer lounging around on the ice like a Rubenesque figure on a Chaise Longue.

It’s difficult to put the size of these icebergs into perspective, but some are the size of houses, whilst others appear like flat, thick ice-sheets. As I’m standing and staring my colleague comes up next to me and says,

“These are tiny compared to the ones in Greenland’.

“Oh cheers, you trying to piss on my bonfire?” I reply.

“I’m just educating you” He says in a tone of humour

“You remind me of a woman I had a conversation with from Denmark. I told her how much I loved Svalbard, and her exact words were, “Svalbard is peanuts compared to Greenland”. Can you believe that?”

“That’s not true. Svalbard is special. And she would say that – she’s from Denmark ” he said.

“Hah! That is true.” I reply.

I walk around the area, exploring its different facets. I bend down to look for pretty stones, and examine the clusters of ice broken away from the icebergs; they look like huge crystals dazzling under the sunlight against the black sand. I pick one up and lift it to my mouth and take a big slurp – it’s as fresh and cool as a mountain spring.

Ice floes, Jokulsarlon, Iceland,

glacier lagoon, Iceland, Jokulsarlon

A suggestion for anyone travelling here is bring your own bottle so you can refill at the nearest stream or waterfall. The opportunities to do this are aplenty. Iceland has some of the cleanest water in the world so experience it. It’s unnecessary to keep buying plastic bottles, and when you’re in a country that strives for a more eco lifestyle, it’s a good idea to follow that example. I promise if you do, you’ll go home and think twice about how some of your actions impact the environment and how they can be easily changed.

Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, Iceland

For the last spot we go across the road to the black beach by the ocean, and oh boy, it was the perfect way to finish my Jökulsárlón experience. I can’t get this beach and vast amount of ice floes that have swept down from the lagoon and gathered onto the beach out of my head. Spectacular doesn’t even come close to describing it.

Photo of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Iceland
Up close shot of an ice floe at the beach opposite Jokulsarlon

Photo of Jokulsarlon

I relax to the sound of the waves heaping over the glacial boulders. It plays rhythmically as I stand and watch the ocean’s movements. No wave is the same, and that’s what makes it so compelling to watch, always hoping the next one will be bigger than the last.

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Waving crashing at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

And the timing couldn’t have been any more perfect. The sun is beginning to set and the sky is turning pink. I’ve got nothing else to wish for. Except… maybe a trip to Greenland next…

Sunset at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon

Photo of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, black beach

Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, south Iceland
Sunset in south Iceland

What do you think of Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon?

A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.

'The Almighty Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in Iceland' have 29 comments

  1. November 22, 2014 @ 6:42 am Mike

    My jaw dropped!! Those photos are absolutely stunning!! Before I forget, I love when you include the short videos and even more so with no people in them. It makes your post literally come to life, Shing! Keep up the great work!! I would love to drink some of that water and to think that those icebergs are thousands of years old! I always light up when I see your email post notification in my Inbox as I think to myself – oh my gosh where has she been off to now?! Your adventures, photography and writing make me smile always my friend 🙂


    • November 29, 2014 @ 12:07 pm admin

      I am going to try and incorporate more videos (in spite of my sheer lack of skill!) and I haven’t forgotten what you said about Vblogging Mike!

      Rain and snow that fell thousands of years ago – I love thinking about that too Mike, it’s a great part of the attraction for me, it’s a landscape that make me feel really connected to the earth.


  2. November 22, 2014 @ 8:20 am Lizzie

    Oh my oh my oh my it looks IN-credible! Like something completely out of this world! I would also LOVE to visit Greenland (maybe a tiny bit inspired by watching the Secret Life of Walter Mitty).


    • November 29, 2014 @ 12:13 pm admin

      Haha I actually watched Walter Mitty on the plane to Iceland which was a great way to start the trip!! Did you know that most of the shots that were supposed to be in Greenland were actually in Iceland, as well as the scenes in the Himalayas and Afghanistan ?! This was mainly for production reasons. But yes. Greenland is my dream… hopefully I’ll make it happen over the next couple of years!


  3. November 22, 2014 @ 8:56 am Escape Hunter

    Posing with a natural ice-sculpture, you’re tweeted 😉


    • November 29, 2014 @ 12:44 pm admin

      They call me the ice queen 😉


  4. November 22, 2014 @ 11:35 am Keith Young

    How can a place of cold cold ice warm the heart so so much? ❄️


    • November 30, 2014 @ 10:34 am admin

      I ask myself the same poetic question! Oh how, oh how, oh how.


  5. November 22, 2014 @ 11:44 am Eleanor

    Oh wow! This sounds amazing! Your video is so nice too!


    • December 3, 2014 @ 8:45 pm admin

      Hi Eleanor! I see you’re from Norway, that’s awesome! You need to visit your neighbour for sure!


  6. November 22, 2014 @ 8:47 pm Colleen Brynn

    An indescribable lunar landscape. These are the places to live for! Even though this is the kind of place that is hard to describe, and the feelings it elicits even harder to describe, you’ve done a beautiful job. Love this. Photos are stunning. You have a gift.


    • December 3, 2014 @ 9:00 pm admin

      ‘These are the places to live for’


      I am really happy to read you think I managed to convey the impact this place has on me, and I’m sure others. When I read your writings I am always left thinking the same thing. I’ve told you that before.


  7. November 23, 2014 @ 4:05 am Kelly

    That looks absolutely incredible! I would LOVE to go there! The sunset photos are stunning! x


    • December 3, 2014 @ 9:03 pm admin

      You must! You must! If you manage to get there at sunset it’s pure magic!


  8. November 23, 2014 @ 9:13 pm Richard

    Is it possible to take a bad photo there?


    • December 3, 2014 @ 9:03 pm admin

      If you do you must be a pretty shitty photographer Richard 😉


  9. November 24, 2014 @ 8:18 am Franca

    I cannot even imagine how it feels to be in such beautiful place surrounded by ice. I don’t particularly like cold, but this place looks stunning and I’d definitely make an exception to visit, it’s one of these experiences that happen once in a life time, at least for me 🙂


    • December 3, 2014 @ 9:13 pm admin

      Yes you must make an exception for this place Franca! If you go in the summer it’s not cold, very similar to English weather but with longer hours of sunshine! You can’t go wrong!


  10. November 27, 2014 @ 2:41 pm CL (RealGunners)

    I’m surprised you didn’t crack a piece of ice over your colleague’s head for taking a piss on your bondfire 😀


    • December 4, 2014 @ 10:25 pm admin

      Haha. Maybe a little one 🙂


  11. November 30, 2014 @ 2:25 pm Charlie

    Stunning photos as always, Shing! And I love your little interjection about refilling plastic water bottles 😉 sound advice.


    • December 4, 2014 @ 10:27 pm admin

      Thanks Charlie, I thought of you when I wrote that actually…


  12. December 13, 2014 @ 2:33 pm Danni @Leftnleavin

    Beautiful pictures and great storytelling. I was there in the Summer and it looked completely different. It was so hot one day that whole clouds of steam were just streaming off of the lake. It was stunning and a little sad (global warming) but I’ll never forget it.


    • December 16, 2014 @ 11:26 am admin

      Hi Danni! Glad to hear you thought this place was stunning too, saying that, it’s impossible not to! Iceland seems to change from one minute to the next, huh? Especially the weather which can change in the blink of an eye!

      In regards to global warming, going so some of the northerly places does make you feel much more connected to the nature and the effects of it, so hopefully we go home thinking about the ways our actions can reduce it. If we all make small changes, collectively they make a big difference!


  13. January 5, 2015 @ 8:32 pm Genevieve

    Just wanted to say your blog is great. I’m going to Iceland in March and so far your blog has been the most helpful so far in learning about the various places to visit. We’re renting a car as well, so your information is really useful! Your pictures are beautiful as well! Thank you!


    • January 6, 2015 @ 10:14 pm admin

      So glad to hear that you’ve found my blog useful Genevieve! If you have any questions to ask whilst you’re planning your Iceland adventure don’t hesitate to ask! I hope you love it there as much as I do!!


  14. April 11, 2015 @ 3:55 pm Frank Coronado

    WOW, I love those pictures.
    On which month did you go to in Iceland?
    Thanks for inspiring to travel.


    • April 12, 2015 @ 4:24 pm admin

      Hi Frank! These were taken towards the end of September, which is a great time to go as the days are still a little bit longer. Let me know if you have any more questions!


  15. June 11, 2016 @ 8:03 am eduardo

    Is july a good date to go to that place? will i still see ice on the beach?


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