Ytri-Tunga Black Sand Beach on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

  • by Neil
  • Snaefellsnes
  • 16 Oct 2023

Your travel guide to Ytri-Tunga Beach on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Find out the hidden secrets of this beach, the seals who call it home, and all about the wider region.

Ytri Tunga beach Snaefellsnes
Ytri Tunga beach Snaefellsnes

Where is YtriTunga Black Sand Beach located?

Ytri-tunga is famed for its seal colony

Located on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Ytri Tunga Beach boasts not only unique sands but also proximity to other natural wonders. Easily accessible by road, the beach is situated near a farm bearing the same name, approximately 160km northwest of Reykjavík, and 50 km south of Stykkishólmur. Considering the beauty of this location, as well as other nearby hot-spots, the southern coastline of Snæfellsnes is well worth a visit.

Nearby popular sightseeing spots include Arnarstapi fishing village and Búðirkirkja black church

GPS coordinates of the Ytri-Tunga: 64.802856, -23.08051.

Seals and other wildlife at Ytri-Tunga

seals at ytri tunga
Seals lounge on rocks at sunset at Ytri-Tunga beach

The beach is most renowned for its seal colony. Indeed Ytri-Tunga is perhaps the most reliable seal watching location in Iceland. The waters here offer an ideal habitat for these marine animals. Seals are often spotted on the shoreline, basking on the rocks, providing an excellent opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts to observe these creatures in their natural environment.

What is the best time of year to spot seals at Ytri-Tunga beach?

The optimal period for seal watching at Ytri Tunga Beach is during the summer months, specifically between May and July. During this time, seals are often found basking on the rocks and shoreline, making it an ideal time for seal spotting.

Types of seals 

Visitors to Ytri Tunga can expect to see a variety of seals, most prominently the grey seal and the common seal—also known as harbor seals. Less commonly, one might spot hooded seals or ringed seals. Each species has its its own observable unique behaviors and characteristics.

Maintain a safe distance from the seals

For the safety of both the seals and visitors, it’s crucial to maintain a respectful distance. We advise keeping a minimum of 50 meters away to avoid disturbing the seal colony. Observing this practice ensures we do not stress the wildlife and can enjoy the seal watching experience sustainably.

Conservation efforts

Conservation is key at Ytri Tunga Beach, as it hosts a significant seal colony. Efforts are made to protect the habitat of these seals, which includes managing human interaction and monitoring the health of both the grey seals and harbor seals populations. Such actions are vital in maintaining the balance of this delicate ecosystem.

These shores are also home to various seabirds.

Photography at Ytri-Tunga beach

Ytri Tunga beach on Snaefellsnes peninsula

Ytri Tunga’s Seal Colony: If you bring your camera, you’re in for a treat. We recommend a telephoto lens, as it allows us to maintain a respectful distance while capturing clear pictures of the resident seals. The golden sands of the beach provide a stunning contrast that brings our pictures to life, making every click a potential masterpiece.

Charming Landscapes: The diversity of landscapes at Ytri Tunga is simply breathtaking. Whether it’s the gentle ripple of the waves or the beach’s distinctive hues, we find a spectrum of scenes begging to be captured. As photographers, we respect the natural setting and strive to convey its essence in our landscapes.

Nearby attractions

Ytri-Tunga is located on the southern coastline of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The area features an array of stunning natural wonders and landscapes.

Arnarstapi village

Arnarstapi village, Snæfellsnes

The picturesque village of Arnarstapi presents an abundance of photo opportunities, with a wealth of attractions to explore. The cliffs brim with birdlife, serving as a vital nesting grounds for many different species. Elevated viewpoints provide excellent opportunities for photographers keen on capturing ruckus. Intriguing basalt formations and unique rock configurations intertwine with narrow pathways shaped by years of erosion, as the land resists the encroaching sea.

Stroll across the stone bridge beneath which the sea has carved a cliff into a natural arch. This feature is a favorite among photographers seeking captivating shots. While it may appear precarious in photos, rest assured, it’s entirely safe to traverse.

Lóndrangar Pinnacles

Lóndrangar Pinnacles

Lóndrangar are a pair of rock pinnacles, provides a dramatic backdrop. The waves crashing against these ancient sea stacks serve as a powerful reminder of nature’s force.

The pinnacles are basaltic volcanic plugs rising from the tumultuous sea, sculpted by centuries of relentless waves against the surrounding cliffs. Towering at heights of 75 and 61 meters above the encompassing terrain, these two peaks command attention. A pleasant walking trail offers visitors the opportunity to meander through the area, providing different vantage points from which to admire the pinnacles.

Bjarnarfoss Waterfall

bjarnarfoss waterfall
Photo credit to Jean Vella

Located a stone´s throw from Arnarstapi, Bjarnarfoss waterfall is a captivating natural wonder nestled in breathtaking Icelandic landscape. Bjarnarfoss cascades gracefully over rugged cliffs, creating a mesmerizing sight for visitors. The waterfall derives its name from the nearby farm, Bjarnarhöfn, adding a touch of local charm to its allure. Accessible via a short hike, Bjarnarfoss offers a tranquil escape into nature, a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventurers exploring the wonders of Iceland.

Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge

Photo credit to Alberto Zanetti

Rauðfeldsgjá is a dramatic canyon hidden within the rugged terrain nearby to Arnastapi village. Carved by ancient geological forces, this narrow ravine stretches deep into the cliffs, its sheer walls towering overhead. Accessible via a narrow entrance, adventurers can embark on a journey through the rocky chasm, navigating through its twisting passages and moss-covered boulders.

How to visit Ytri-Tunga Beach?

BusTravel Iceland offers several tours that visit this wonderful beach and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula as a whole.

Snaefellsnes Peninsula Tour

Snaefellsnes Peninsula Small Group Tour

7-Day Iceland’s Ring Road & Snæfellsnes Small Group Tour

If you are self-driving Ytri Tunga Beach is easily accessible from the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, about two hours northwest of Reykjavík.  Visitors should follow the information signs leading to the beach from the main road.

  • By Car: Follow Route 54 on the Peninsula and look for signage.
  • Parking: Free parking available in the designated parking lot.
About the author
Neil works in sales and marketing at BusTravel Iceland. He writes content and also creates private and custom tour itineraries. A native of Ireland, Neil has lived and worked in Iceland for more than 10 years. He enjoys multi-day hikes such as Horstrandir and of course Laugavegurinn.

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