Ytri Tunga: A Serene Landscape and Playground for Seals

Explore the pristine shores of Ytri Tunga, where curious seals frolic amidst dramatic coastal scenery.

Ytri Tunga

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

Ytri Tunga isn’t a typical Iceland beach where one strolls on black sand, but it’s not just the golden sand of Ytri that draws the crowds; it’s the colony of seals calling it home. That’s why it’s also often referred to as the Seal Beach in Iceland.

But whether you want to marvel at the wildlife or capture the beauty of the landscape, Ytri-Tunga is one of the must-visit places here on the island. Here’s what you need to know to plan your trip to Ytri Tunga in Iceland.

Unveiling Ytri Tunga's Enchanting Beauty

Ytri Tunga promises to be one of the most tranquil scenes you’ve ever come across. From watching the wild seals play in the water and the picturesque surrounding landscape with its mountainous backdrop – you will leave Ytri Tunga with memories to last a lifetime. Here’s what Ytri Tunga has in store for you:

A Serene Landscape: The Beach and Its Surroundings

As we already mentioned, Ytri Tunga breaks away from the norm when it comes to beaches in Iceland. Instead of the black sand many of our beaches are known for, Ytri has golden sand.

The landscape surrounding the beach is vast, with green fields stretching out for kilometers. With the picturesque landscape combined with the breathtaking ocean views, it’s no surprise why Ytri Tunga is such a favorite among photographers.

 ytri tunga

A Haven for Wildlife: Encountering the Seal Colony of Ytri Tunga Seal Beach

Ytri Tunga’s seal colony is probably the reason why most come to visit. You can actually see two types of seals living here: the Harbour Seals and the Grey Seals. These guys will either be playing in the water, chasing after fish, or lounging around in the sun on the rocks or the beach.

Sometimes, you can also spot a Hooded Seal or a Ringed Seal, but these guys are just migratory visitors. Keep in mind that these are wild animals, and you need to keep at least 50 meters between you and the seals for safety.

Thy Mythology Surrounding Seals in Iceland

Seals are quite mystical creatures in the Nordics and feature in mythology and folklore as creatures called Selkies that shapeshift between seals and humans. In most Nordic cultures, Selkies are considered to be evil. They are depicted very similarly to the mermaids and sirens of old; attractive, and seductive creatures that lure you to your own demise. Strangely enough, Iceland’s view of Selkies is much more positive.

A local Selkie tale tells of a local farmer who picked up a sealpelt on the beach. He took it home and locked it in a wooden chest. A few days later, when he walks along the beach again, he finds a beautiful woman crying on a rock. He takes pity on her and takes her to his home. Long story short, they fall in love and have children, but the woman is never quite content and always longingly staring out to sea.

ytri tunga seal beach

One day, she discovers the seal pelt in the chest, which turns out to be hers. She puts on the pelt, turn into her seal form again, and swims out to sea, leaving her husband and children behind. And while the farmer missed her very much, he always noticed a seal swimming close to his fishing boat or watching from the ocean as the children played on the beach.

Capturing Nature's Splendor: Photography at Ytri Tunga

Whether an amateur or a pro - Ytri Tunga is the perfect place to practice taking those snapshots. Here are a few helpful tips for taking the best Ytri pics:

  • Use a tripod to keep your camera steady. Between the excitement of the moment and the strength of the legendary Icelandic wind, things can get pretty shaky.
  • Use a wide-angle lens. With panoramic views like those at Ytri Tunga, you want to capture as much of the landscape as possible.
  • You’ll be at the water, so take a cloth to wipe off any moisture from the lens and put a lens cover on to protect it against moisture and sand when you’re not busy shooting.
  • Iceland can get pretty cold, so use a slightly higher ISO to get bright, sharp photos.

ytri tunga beach iceland

Location and Accessibility: Finding Your Way to Ytri Tunga in Iceland

Ytri Tunga is a part of a farm that goes by the same name. It is located on the south coast of one of the most beautiful regions in Iceland, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The beach is conveniently located along the popular Ring Road route here on the island and is a little more than a 2-hour drive from the capital city of Reykjavik.

This makes it possible to visit Ytri Tunga as a day trip during the summertime, but we prefer it as a stop on a Ring Road road trip. Reaching Ytri Tunga Beach from Reykjavík is easy. Get on the Ring Road and head north in the direction of Snæfellsnes. Keep along the south side, and about halfway down the coast, you will see a small sign directing you toward the Ytri Tunga Beach parking lot.

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When to Visit Ytra Tunga Beach in Iceland: Optimal Times and Seasonal Variations

Ytri Tunga is open to the public all year around, but when you decide to visit will depend on the following:

  • Visiting Ytri is an outdoor activity. That means you’ll need to take the weather into account. Keep an eye on the Iceland weather forecast, and think carefully whether you want to take it on during our harsh winter months.
  • The warmer months of May to July are characterized by the nice weather, longer daylight hours, and increased seal activity at Ytri Tunga.
  • Low tide is the best time to spot the seals. When the sea level drops, these guys usually come out of the water to sunbathe on the rocks.

Enhancing Your Experience: Nearby Attractions and Activities

If you would like to add a few interesting nearby attractions and activities to your itinerary, we highly recommend the following:

  • Vatnshellir Laval Cave
  • Londrangar Cliffs
  • Bjarnafoss Waterfall
  • Arnarstapi Village
  • Raudfeldsgja Gorge
  • Exploring Snæfellsness on horseback

tunga iceland

Ytri Tunga Beach: A Destination That Leaves a Lasting Impression

Ytri Tunga is a Ring Road highlight that’ll leave a lasting impression. From the breathtaking landscape to the playful seals, Ytri Tunga deserves to be on your Iceland trip itinerary.

Rent a car in Reykjavik upon arrival on the island and speak to your agent about your planned route so they can advise you on which vehicle will suit your journey best. We hope to see you on the golden sand of Ytri Beach soon!

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