Iceland 2015: Glacial Lagoon

This is the 7th post on our trip to Iceland. Find more here.

Day 7 Part 2: Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

After visiting the puffins, we continued our drive eastward to Jökulsárlón, an iceberg filled lake where the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier meets the Atlantic Ocean. We arrived just in time to hop on a boat for a tour. Floating through the lagoon are massive pieces of ice, many 20-30 feet tall and 50 feet or more wide. For the most part they are stationary, but slowly metling ice in a tidal lake is a dynamic system, and occasionally the balance will shift causing one of the icebergs to flip over onto its back.

The color of the ice was amazing, a mix of snowy white and a surprisingly deep blue. Before visiting Iceland I had always thought that blue slushies were an unnatural thing, but now I see they have their basis in nature!


Our boat tour included getting to taste a chunk of ice (cold!) and some interesting information on how the lake formed. The coloring of the ice is due to the densely packed water molecules that freeze together in the salty lake, squeezing out the air bubbles. Without the air, the water reveals its true blue color. When the top of an iceberg has set exposed for too long, the ice melts, letting air in and slowly changing the color to white. Of course the blue color of the ice is only visible because you are looking into so much ice (water)—when you hack off a chunk of the ice it is perfectly clear because there isn’t enough frozen water to make it blue.

IceIceThe ice manThe glacier reaching the lake

The lagoon was very cool, and such an incredible contrast to the sunny cliffs and black sands we had been walking in earlier in the day. It is amazing how an hour drive in Iceland can give you an incredibly different experience. The lagoon is a worthwhile site to visit, although we could have had a similar experience by just walking around the lake instead of paying for the boat tour.

Another boat tour

Running total:

Waterfalls: 68
Roundabouts: 37
Arctic Foxes: 1!
Rainbows: 4

This is the 7th post on our trip to Iceland. See Day 8 next, and find more here.