One of the main reasons I wanted to visit the south coast of Iceland, this incredible nature reserve is not only home to an abundance of rich wildlife, but incredible geology and scenic views. The causeway is the first thing that struck me as just an absolutely staggering example of Icelandic beauty. Water surrounds you as you cross a thin stretch of road, and make your way onto a dirt track. Perhaps surprisingly, one of my favourite memories of visiting this nature reserve was stopping at the side of the road to explore the land by the causeway. This waterlogged sand was a brilliant mirrored surface, and gave the illusion that there was no horizon, and the land went on and on forever. There’s an ideal spot to park up almost opposite the cute little white house, and from there you can walk backwards up towards the causeway, down the bank, and on to the sand.

Take the right fork in the road to Háey and head up the hill towards the lighthouse, and from here you can see sweeping panoramas out toward Renisfjara and the snow-capped mountains behind you.

the cars that braved the rubble road

the descent

The old lighthouse acts as a good marker on the landscape, but with it introduces a wealth of cables and pylons. I spent hours here shooting a light-leaked set of long exposures that I’ve been dreaming about for a long time, and hiking for those epic views. If you wish, you can even walk to Renisfjara itself – but probably best to do this if you didn’t bring your car. Keep an eye out for the bird life; unfortunately no puffins on my visit (can you believe I didn’t see one in my whole entire trip?!), but plenty of other wildlife to shoot (I could swear one particular bird sounded quite like a frog…)

Once you’ve explored the higher ground, attempt to drive back down the rubble road, preferably avoiding getting a puncture, towards the lower parking area at Lágey. Here you’ll find the more “official” looking signage, informing you about the area and giving you the usual warnings and precautions. I’d say there are three main sections to explore in this lower level, and at the time of my visit, it was so incredibly windy that you were being physically blown backwards by the wind – so take this into account when you pack your kit, and choose your outfit!
The coolest of rock formations and plenty of nooks and crannies give you ample photographic opportunity. Capture the violent, crashing waves, or be artsy with long exposures, the choice is yours. My interpretation of Dyrhólaey saw me respond to how it made me feel, what it was really like, rather than an idealistic version I wanted to portray of it.

The kind of place to leave you in awe and to keep you coming back for more, because I was staying just a stone’s throw away in Vik I was able to visit on more than one occasion and see it through different times of day, with different weather, and to check out new photographic angles. Give yourself more than enough time here, this place deserves your attention.