By noon of the second day, we reached our furthest-east destination: Jökulsárlón, the glacial lagoon at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, part of the Vatnajökull ice cap.
aerial view from Encyclopedia Brittanica
This glacial lake, 200 feet deep, developed relatively recently (in the mid 1930s) after warming temperatures caused the glacier to retreat from the ocean. It is filled with icebergs that calve off the front of the glacier and slowly float out into the lagoon and eventually to the sea.
The first settlers arrived in Iceland around AD 870, when the edge of the tongue of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier was about 12 miles further north of its present location. During the Little Ice Age between 1600 and 1900, with cooler temperatures prevailing in these latitudes, the glacier had grown by up to about .62 miles from the coast at Jokulsá River, by about 1890. When the temperatures rose between 1920 and 1965, the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier tongue rapidly retreated, continually creating icebergs of varying size, thus creating a lagoon in its wake around 1934–35. The lake is about 200 metres (660 ft) deep where the glacier snout originally existed. Glacial moraines became exposed on both sides of the lake. In 1975, the lake was about 8 km2 (3.1 sq mi) in area and now it reportedly stands at 18 km2 (6.9 sq mi) at the edge of the glacier tongue. (wikipedia)
Jökulsárlón on every list of "natural wonders to see in your lifetime" and was the only place we went where we encountered other people in any numbers. It has also been the setting for a number of movies, including a James Bond thriller. Later that day we visited the other glacial lake that you can see in the far left of the picture above - it can't been seen from the road, and we were there with only four or five other people.
It was midday when we arrived at the lagoon, with bright sunlight shining on the fantastic blue and white ice forms in the aquamarine water, and we thought how fortunate we were, because the Jökulsárlón webcam had showed socked-in fog all the previous week.
A pair of seals played right in front of us. We joked that they were probably paid (or at least fed a few extra fish) -- but seals seemed pretty prevalent on this part of the coast.
The tourists included this Japanese bride in her wedding dress, posing for photographs.
After an hour, clouds moved in, and it seemed like a storm was gathering. Most of the other visitors left. We stayed for another half hour, and then drove a little further to the east, looking out at the sea.