On our last full day, we travelled to the one part of the Iceland I’d most anticipated seeing — the black sand beaches south of the village of Vík.

Breakfast of champions. (Please note the missing chunk of fingertip.)

Reynisfjara: the black sand beach.

The Reynisfjara shoreline is famous for this astounding natural formation of hexagonal basalt columns climbing the surrounding cliff face like some colossal, volcanic pyramid.

I first saw them around five years ago on an otherwise terrible modelling show, and have wanted to take this exact photo ever since.

Thank you, John, for making it a reality!

Just off the shoreline lie cragged stacks of basalt rock called Reynisdrangar: remnants of a once more extensive cliffline now battered by the sea. Legend says that the stacks originated when two trolls dragged a three-masted ship to land unsuccessfully, becoming needles of rock when daylight broke.

All along the shore (which would, more accurately, be described as black pebble beach) are a wealth of geological features, like these fantastic cave structures with vaulted, basalt ceilings.

Naturally I couldn’t leave without climbing it. 10 points to the first person who finds me in the photo! (Who’s good at Where’s Waldo?)

If John’s makeup looks a little heavy-handed, it’s because we’d just wrapped a shoot on the beach that I’d been planning for months, and which didn’t exactly lend itself to a natural day look. (Photos coming soon!)

He drew his fair share of enquiring glances even after the horns came off.

John claims that I’d missold him on the privacy of the beach, though I’m pretty sure I mentioned – on more than one occasion – that it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

A group shot which required me to sprint up the columns before the timer went off. There was more than one failed attempt that preceded this one.

Further down the coastline is the small peninsula of Dyrhólaey. On the one side was the view back to Reynisdrangar. And on the other was a dream come true…

PUFFINS! Honest-to-goodness, cartoon-birds-made-manifest puffins!!! ❤️

Despite the wealth of puffin paraphernalia on sale throughout the country, I’d more or less given up hope of seeing one in real life before we left. We soon discovered, however, that the puffins burrow into the shallow soils of these cliffs during nesting season, which we were still in time to see!

This little guy was posing just off the steps, and was, I think, the most photographed puffin in Iceland that day. (A quick search through instagram later that evening corroborated this fact.)

After getting our puffin fix (puffix?), we continued down the beach to a wave-battered promontory that the Icelandic tourist board was keen for us to avoid.

Naturally we ignored it, and were soon treated to a perfect view of the Dyrhólaey Arch for which it’s named; the literal meaning being “the hill-island with the door-hole”.

Fun fact: because it lies on the windward side of the Gulf Stream, Vík is the wettest place in all of Iceland.

By this stage, I’d forgotten that there was anything going on with John’s face…though the looks of passers-by served as an occasional reminder.

I loved this guy’s novel approach to GoPro-ing.

I’m glad, in a way, that we did my bucket list item last, because it gave me something to anticipate over the course of the rest of the journey. I’ve said it of Iceland elsewhere already, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an astounding diversity of landscapes on such a small island. On a single drive, you can pass through everything from volcanoes to glaciers, forests to waterfalls, black sand beaches, and everything in between.

And this guy was definitely the icing on the cake.

Then – after a 30-minute drive back to Reynisfjara to retrieve Lindsay’s “lost” scarf (which, naturally, was in the glove compartment the entire time) – the road trip portion of our holiday was complete!

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