After coming down from the promontory, past the cliffs full of seabirds, the tall blooming angelica, the sheep on their rocks, the car left by young men who had been convinced they could drive to the top but ended up having to walk, just like us...after all of this, we drove out of Vik and around the back of the long weird hill we had just climbed, toward the glacier and then away from it again, following a road along the other side of the promontory, past a church, past small houses with Icelandic horses grazing in their yards, down to a parking lot bordered by low dunes.
It was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. The beach, absolutely black and made of tiny round stones in graduated sizes like pearls, smaller and smaller as you walked closer to the ocean, glistened like caviar. The waves thundered as they broke, swept onto the black sand and retreated in a pattern of brilliant white lace.
To the right, the famous pierced rock peninsula called Dyrhólaey:
On our left, the tall standing rocks iconic to Vik: legend says that they were trolls who were turned to stone.
And behind us, the rock wall made of columnar basalt, and a famous natural cave crowned by studlaberg as beautiful as any carved cathedral, and guarded by a cacophonous colony of nesting birds above it in the cliffs. (See the small figures of people below, for scale.)
Unusually for Iceland, a sign had warned that the surf here was dangerous, and to be very careful when approaching the cave - and to do so only at low tide. The tide was out, so we were able to walk all along the beach, but the waves were definitely unpredictable and caught my toes twice when I was concentrating on close-up photos - so I don't think the signs were kidding.
On an island of extraordinary places surely this is one of the most beautiful; the waves and the black sands feel like they've entered me and won't let go.