Nauthólsvík Beach in Reykjavík, Iceland

Nauthólsvík Beach in Reykjavík, Iceland

What is Nauthólsvík?

Nauthólsvík is a recreational area in Reykjavík. It includes a yellow sand beach in a sectioned-off bay. On the shore is a 30-39°C [86-102°F] hot tub and a pool with a temperature of 38°C [100°F]. The sectioned-off lagoon has a temperature of 15-19°C [59-66°F]. Aside from the Siglunes Sailing Club, Nauthólsvík has clubs for water sports, diving, and open-water swimming.

The Nauthólsvík bathing area first opened in 2000, to the joy of locals. Imported golden sand had been pumped onto the man-made beach to give it a Mediterranean look since Icelandic beaches are usually black. A stone barrier sections off the coast, where geothermal water meets the cold water from the bay. Walking on the golden sand and stepping into the warm sea gave locals a taste of summer travel.

Nauthólsvík has a service centre with changing and showering facilities and a snack bar. During the winter, Nauthólsvík is open Tuesday-Friday from 11 AM to 7 PM and Saturdays from 11 AM to 4 PM. On Sundays and Mondays, the beach and its facilities are closed. During the summer, The entry fee to Nauthólsvík is ISK 890 [$6.50, €6]. You can rent a towel and a bathing suit in the reception for a fee.

Dining in Nauthólsvík

Besides the snack bar at the service centre, there are two restaurants by Nauthólsvík: Bragginn Bar and Nauthóll. Bragginn Bar is a new restaurant that offers drinks, hamburgers, tacos and chicken wings. It is located in a renovated 1940s military barracks. Their kitchen is open on Wednesdays from 11:30 AM to 8 PM and Thursday to Saturday from 11:30 AM to 8:30 PM. The bar’s closing time varies. The other restaurant, Nauthóll, serves Icelandic cuisine, such as lamb, fish and salads. They serve brunch, dinner, desserts and coffee and are open daily from 11 AM to 10 PM. Both restaurants have indoor and outdoor seating, including views of the bay.

How do I get to Nauthólsvík?

Getting to Nauthólsvík from the city centre is quite simple. If you take the bus, you can take line 8 from Gamla Hringbraut, across the street from the BSÍ bus terminal in downtown Reykjavík. The ride is about 15 minutes long, and as of 2024, the fare is ISK 630 [$4.60, €4.20], payable through the Klapp bus app or with exact change on the bus. Nauthólsvík is about 2.2 km [1.4 mi] from the BSÍ bus terminal, so the ride is about five minutes if you go by car. You can also walk down Nauthólsvegur street, which intersects with Hringbraut road by the bus terminal.

 

Safety Signs, Cameras Installed at Reynisfjara Beach

Safety signs

Informatory signage has been installed at Reynisfjara beach to better ensure the safety of tourists. Cameras, mounted on masts on the beach ridge, will relay a live stream from the beach to the police authorities in Selfoss.

Creeping waves and a strong undertow

As noted in an article in Iceland Review from 2019, the tides that lap the beautiful black sand beaches of Reynisfjara beach – a popular travel destination near the town of Vík in South Iceland – possess “an immensely strong undertow,” with waves that “creep quickly upon travellers.” As of last summer, five travellers had died on Reynisfjara beach since 2013.

In response to these tragedies, a consultation team was established last summer in order to better ensure the safety of visitors. The consultation team recommended the installation of informatory signage on the beach, which has now been installed. In addition to the signs, a 300-metre-long chain has been strung along the parking lot, guiding visitors along a path and past the signs. Cameras, which have been installed on a mast on the beach ridge, will also stream live video from the beach to the police authorities in Selfoss.

“The signs emphasise information,” a press release from the Icelandic Tourist Board reads, “aiming to make the information accessible and interesting, explaining what can be done in the area – as opposed to simply highlighting what is prohibited. One illuminated sign, which relays information from the Icelandic Road Administration’s wave-prediction system; three big informatory signs, one of which highlights the dangers of the undertow; and six guiding signs have been installed.”

Beach divided into zones according to conditions

The press release also notes that the Reynisfjara beach will never be closed to the public. Instead, the beach will be divided into zones, which will serve to guide visitors based on conditions: a flashing yellow light indicates that visitors should not enter the yellow zone, and a flashing red light indicates that visitors should not enter the red zone (i.e. not past the illuminated sign). Visitors are encouraged to stay on the beach ridge, which affords a safe view of the beautiful scenery.

“The safety measures at Reynisfjara beach will only extend as far as signage, and no lifeguards will be employed at this time. Such a thing could, however, prove a logical next step – if only during those days when conditions are labelled ‘red.’ In order to finance such measures, landowners would need to collect fees from visitors.”

Lastly, the parties affiliated with the consultation team hope that the new safety measures will mean that visitors to the beach will become “more mindful of hazards” and comport themselves accordingly. “Signs, no matter how well designed, will not stop anyone from venturing near the tide; they are, however, useful in keeping most visitors within a safe zone, so as to enjoy the beach in all its majesty.”

The consultation team comprised representatives of landowners, the South Icelandic police, the Icelandic Tourist Board, ICE-SAR, the Icelandic Road Administration, and the Katla Geopark.

Flashing Red Light to Warn of Dangerous Waves at Reynisfjara

A flashing red light will be installed at Reynisfjara beach in South Iceland to warn visitors of dangerous waves. RÚV reports that the light will be installed within three weeks. Powerful sneaker waves at the beach have been the cause of several fatal accidents, despite signs that warn visitors to keep their distance from the water.

The light will flash yellow or red based on the conditions at the beach. The colour code is based on a wave forecasting system that the Road and Coastal Administration began developing five years ago thanks to a grant from the Tourism Site Protection Fund.

“With [the forecasting system] we can predict with some degree of certainty how the waves will be,” explained Fannar Gíslason, who manages the Road and Coastal Administration’s harbour division. “The risk has been colour-coded green, yellow, and red depending on how much danger is posed by the waves at Reynisfjara.”

The light will be installed by the parking lot and walking path by Reynisfjara and will never be lit green. “There will be a flashing yellow warning light and it will be red when conditions are poor. We’ll have it like that at first, in any case. We’ll see how that goes, whether people notice it.”

In order to determine which wave heights are dangerous to the beach’s visitors, wave data was cross-referenced with police diaries and incident records. According to Fannar, the current forecasting system is in sync with that data.

A camera system will also be set up by the beach to allow authorities to observe the waves visually and calibrate those observations into the forecast.

Tourist Nearly Drowns at Reynisfjara Beach

Reynisfjara tourists

An ambulance was called out to Reynisfjara beach in South Iceland this week when a Spanish tourist nearly drowned, mbl.is reports. The man had waded into the water intentionally and was then dragged out by the powerful waves at the site. He eventually managed to get himself back onto the shore, chilled and agitated but otherwise fine.

Photographer Sandra Pawłowska, who witnessed the incident, says the man nearly drowned. He had gotten undressed and waded into the water intentionally while his friend took photographs of him. Sandra says families at the site led their children away so they would not see what was happening.

Reynisfjara is a black sand beach with basalt column formations that is a popular tourist site. The powerful “sneaker” waves at the site have previously claimed several lives, most recently last November, when a Chinese tourist died after being swept out to sea. The path to the beach has a plethora of signs warning visitors to stay well away from the water due to the dangerous waves.

Take a Hike

A tale of Arctic foxes, empty beaches, and a journey into the Hornstrandir wilderness The northern coast of the Westfjords is known as Hornstrandir. To get there, you drive as far as you can go and sail for as far as the local boat will take you. After that, there’s nothing to do but walk, […]

This content is only visible under subscription. Subscribe here or log in.

Continue reading

Hypothermia on the Rise at Reykjavík Beach as Winter Sets In

As winter sets in around Iceland, hypothermia is becoming increasingly common among open-water swimmers at the Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach in Reykjavík, according to Department Head Óttarr Hrafnkelsson.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Hrafnkelsson implored patrons to exercise caution and good judgment. Exhaustion and hypothermia among patrons have put a significant strain on Nauthólsvík’s staff (as many as four patrons in one day have suffered exhaustion from swimming in the frigid waters, Mbl reports).

In his announcement, Hrafnkelsson advised amateur swimmers to stay close to land in order to ensure safe passage from water.

“The Geothermal Beach is a bathing place. Our job is to maintain a sanitary and safe environment: a hot tub, a steam bath, toilets, showers, and a locker room. It is worth pointing out that none of our employees’ job description involves rescuing swimmers struggling at sea. Besides, when the water is four-degrees or colder, swimming with another person to land is nothing short of impossible.”

The Nauthólsvík beach was opened in 2001 and it attracts over 500,000 guests annually. Over the years, open-water swimming has become increasingly popular among patrons of the beach (and Icelanders generally). The temperature of the ocean varies from around -1,9°C during the coldest winter months and around 17°C in the summer.