Dyrhólaey: Ride Through the Island Door Arch

Tourists going to the sea stacks of Reynisdrangar and the black-sand beach should not miss visiting Dyrhólaey. It is a large promontory located on the southern coast of Iceland, a short distance from the exquisite village Vík. The village has the distinction of being the southernmost village in Iceland.

Dyrhólaey which is a 120 mts high promontory, literally means “the island with the door hole”. It is an island made of volcanic material. Earlier it was known by the Icelandic term ‘Eyja’ meaning an island surrounded by water. Dyrhólaey is supposed to have formed during the interglacial period in the late Ice Age by a volcanic eruption in the sea. The cliffs are a magnificent sight to behold and are an assembly of basalt columns. They are flanked by a long expanse of black volcanic sand to the north and south.

The promontory gets its name from a massive stone arch, which the waters of the sea have eroded, with the passage of time. This arch is visible as far as Skógar. Once you reach the top of Skógafoss, you can get a beautiful view of the arch, if you are lucky enough to have a clear sky.

The west part of the promontory is named “Háey” (Higher Island) and the east part is called “Lágey” (Lower Island). The sight is now a resting place for eider ducks. The place is also a nesting place for different kinds of birds. The whole area has been declared an environmentally sensitive area and is a protected area. Many a times, the area is closed for tourists during the nesting season.

Reaching Dyrhólaey is relatively simple. It is 174 km from Reykjavík. Take the main road (N1) from Skógar to the village Vík. There are signboards all along. Take the right turn nearly 15 km before Vík. The road will take you to a parking lot nearly 6 km from the main road. Then the promontory is just awaiting your arrival. Once you reach the top, the view in all directions is breathtaking and awesome. To the north, one can seeMyrdalsjokull glacier, to the east the black lava sea stacks Reynisdrangar and to the west is the endless expanse of black coastline and in the front as you have already been told is the huge black arch of lava. In the lower area one can view a rock called ‘Arnardrangur’ (Eagle Rock). The name is given by locals who spotted eagles nesting in that place. When the tide is low, one can walk along the black beach to the south and discover little caves and rock formations.

After having your full of the promontory, you can move up to the cattle-shaped Lighthouse. Hold on tight as the wind can really get to you. The lighthouse is quaint and was first built in 1910 and was renovated around 1927. There is also a sheep pen and a barn close to the lighthouse.

From the top of the hill is the most romantic view of the Arch. When the sea is calm, boats can sail through it and it is said that a stunt pilot flew through the arch once. It is a great locale to shoot movies. On a clear day, one can see the whole western coastline, as far as Vestmannaeyjar.