Amanda is a 20-something, small-town Ohio girl with a journalism degree under her belt and an unquenchable lust for travel.After studying abroad in New Zealand, Amanda has decided she’d love to move there one day so she can wear jandals, eat hokey pokey ice cream, and continue pretending she understands the rules of rugby. ...Find out more!
Huge, frothing Atlantic waves were crashing angrily on the black sand. The kind of roiling waves that would sneak up on you and wash you away in a second if you weren’t paying attention.
And it would be easy to get distracted here.
Between the looming sea cliffs, the ballast sea stacks off shore, the whipping wind, and those angry waves, there was a lot to take in.
To the left, oddly-formed cliffs – like giant columns broken off into steps – opened up into rough sea caves that would probably be wet come high tide. Overhead, gulls called in their harsh voices – in a few months, they would be replaced by puffins come to raise their young. And to the right sat two odd spires of stone – the Reynisdrangar – with the angry Atlantic Ocean battering their sides.
Ask a scientist, and these sea stacks were formed by simple erosion, with the ocean slowly eating away at softer rock to reveal the hard, twisted volcanic stone beneath.
But ask an Icelander, and you might get a different story. According to my tour guide, the rocks in the water weren’t rocks at all. Or, at least, they hadn’t always been rocks. Instead, they used to be trolls. Night trolls, to be exact. You see, whether you believe it or not, many Icelanders still harbor the ancient belief in mythical, magical creatures like elves and fairies and trolls.
The night trolls traditionally roamed the land and coast (unsurprisingly) by night, trying to snare an unsuspecting ship or perhaps some livestock in the darkness. But, if they didn’t get back to their caves before sunrise, they would be turned to stone.
This is how some Icelanders explain the huge boulders in fields or the curiously-shaped sea stacks off shore all over the country – frozen trolls who got caught in the sun.
Whether you believe in the tales or not, as I stood on Reynishverfi Beach on that blustery afternoon, with the waves crashing and the gulls crying and the scene so starkly beautiful in front of me, it seemed perfectly possible that trolls and elves and all other manner of fairy-tale creatures could be lurking nearby.
This certainly isn’t a beach for sunbathing. It isn’t really even a beach for relaxation.
But there’s no arguing that there’s nevertheless something quite magical about Reynishverfi Beach.