Stunning Jökulsárlon Glacier Lagoon – Glaciers, Icebergs and Volcanic Sand

One of the spots we were most looking forward to in Iceland was Jökulsárlón Glacier in Iceland. It's a glacier lagoon in South East Iceland filled with Icebergs that wash up on volcanic beaches.

About Jökulsárlon Glacier Lagoon

The lagoon was formed by global warming a mere 60 years ago as the Breiðamerkurjökull began to retreat.

At one time, the glacier reached the sea, but as the ice began to melt more rapidly, chunks of ice broke off (known as calving) and as they fell, a lagoon was formed.

Ice is powerful and it created deep gorges in the earth as it retreated. The lake is 200 metres deep!

jökulsárlon glacier lagoon icebergs

A field of ice

Busloads of tourists driving around the ring road pull up to view the Jökulsárlón lagoon filled with ice.

Where to Stay at Jökulsárlon

It's beautiful and one of Iceland's most popular attractions. Most people hop out of their cars, grab a few photos and move on, but it's worth it to stay close and have the opportunity to view it more than once.

The light changes throughout the day and the crowds thin out at different times as well. It's quite different every time you go.

We stayed at the very pleasant Hali Country Hotel which is the closest accommodation to the lagoon.

It allowed us the opportunity to explore the area and see more than just the lagoon filled with ice. We had heard about the icebergs on the beach but didn't realize that they were across the road.

jökulsárlon glacier lagoon ice

Pieces of ice on shore

When we first arrived, we found ourselves shooting tiny pieces of ice washed up on the shore of the lagoon.

Icebergs on Volcanic Sand

I told Dave that the photographers who showed off giant icebergs must have been doing some fancy manipulation and we both laughed as we moved around bits of ice for hours while trying to find the right perspective that made it look larger.

sunset over iceberg on beach iceland

Sunset over the ice

It wasn't until we came back at sunset that we made a left hand turn out towards the sea instead of turning right into the parking lot of the lagoon that we saw all the ice. Oh, that's what it's supposed to look like!

As the icebergs melt, they break free from the lagoon and are carried out through the mouth of the river with the tide. When the current catches them, it pulls them into shore creating a beautiful scene of clear blue ice sitting on the black volcanic sand.

We had never seen anything like it. We've viewed a lot of ice between Antarctica, Alaska, New Zealand and Greenland but we had yet to see icebergs resting on the beach. It was quite a striking scene.

jökulsárlon glacier lagoon iceberg

A huge chunk of ice

During our two days at Jökulsárlón lagoon, the sun was shining and the weather was downright balmy keeping things clear and sunny so Dave had the opportunity to photograph the ice exactly the way he envisioned it.

Photographing Icebergs at Jökulsárlón

It took a lot of patience taking the photos. He used an ND 1.8 and a Polarizing filter to slow his shutter speed down. This allowed him to create a silky texture with the water while keeping the ice in sharp focus.

Dave found that his filter holder was causing too much of a magenta hue, so he had me hold the filters together right against the lens instead of using his holder. In hindsight, he felt that he should have bought the IR filters, but it all turned out because he had his trusty assistant (Deb) holding the filters during the 30-second exposures.

waves crashing on an iceberg in iceland

Waves splashing over the ice

We got wet a few times and had to run from the waves a bit as we took ventured out a little too far to capture the shot, but in the end we got a product that we were really happy with. Besides, the Hali Country Hotel was just a few minutes down the road, so in no time we were back in our room cozy and warm snuggling up to a cup of tea.

About our Iceland Tour

Our tour through Iceland was courtesy of Iceland Travel. The Iceland Odyssey and the Wonders of the West self drive tour around the ring road gives the traveler freedom to explore on their own while staying in comfort at hotels and B&B's

*Full price for high season for 2 adults is from €1947 per person. 

Read More:

The Icelandic Horse – All you Need to Know About this Beautiful Breed

23 Epic Photos of Remarkable Arctic Ice

Arctic or Antarctica? How to Choose your Polar Expedition

The Blue Lagoon in Iceland – Is it Worth the Visit?

Iceland Underwater: Diving into the Silfra

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