In the remote Westfjords, Rauðisandur Beach stretches over 6 miles long under the watchful eye of dramatic, surrounding cliffs. The road in and out of the area follows up and over a mountain, is steep, unpaved, and menacing under certain weather conditions. Based on our experience and what others have said, everyone’s in agreement–drive it slowly.
From our stay in Patreksfjörður (which took about 45 minutes), we drove slowly around the steep switchbacks, holding our breath. But as we crested the top of the mountain, we could see the massive beach in the distance.
Instead of a hard line where water met the shore, the wind and waves had created swirling pools of water in the low tide. Under the gloomy haze of the morning, the sand looked more peach than red, but others have noted all kinds of hues depending on the time of day and sunlight.
If you’re traveling south on Rauðasandsvegur/614, a right at the “T” will take you a mile down past a café and a black church, to a slim roadside pull off where we parked.
From there, we walked through the grassy field towards the beach, following sheep footpaths until we reached the sand. Watch out for the arctic turns! We were dive bombed by a few, likely because we were walking too close to their nesting ground.
During the day when tide is low, the hike to the edge of the water takes much longer, and honestly can be daunting. The sound of the waves–even a mile out and out of view–can sound thundering and ominous.
At one point, a few of us took off our shoes to wade through the shallow strip of water in order to continue on. Finally at the ocean’s edge, we could see a few other hikers across the beach, perhaps walking in from a different entrance. Looking back, the mountains stretched endlessly across the landscape, dwarfing the black church from which we came.
After walking back, we stopped at the French cafe (Franska kaffihúsið) to use the bathroom and grab a bite to eat. It’s a perfect place to stop if you’re visiting the beach. Including our hike in, we spent about 2 hours at the beach.
If you’re spending time at Rauðisandur Beach, consider driving an hour to the Látrabjarg cliffs, one of our favorite spots in all of the places we’ve visited in Iceland.
Check out our 10 day road trip to the Westfjords, Iceland.