Elephant Rock in Iceland: A Magnet for Travelers

Elephant Rock in Iceland

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

Discover the captivating allure of Elephant Rock in Iceland, a natural wonder that attracts travelers worldwide. This remarkable geological formation, resembling a colossal elephant dipping its trunk into the Atlantic Ocean, leaves visitors in awe of its sheer grandeur.

So, if you’re planning a trip to the island soon, this article is a must. We tell you everything you need to know about Elephant Rock (some of which may surprise you) and give you some practical guidance on navigating and arranging your visit.

Unveiling the Elephant's Tale: An Introduction to Elephant Rock

Elephant rock is a black basalt rock formation shaped like an elephant. The elephant may become more clearly visible depending on which angle one looks at the rock. It seems like the head is lowered, and the trunk dips into the water as if to drink.

Elephant Rock Trivia: Fun Facts to Know

Here are a few fun facts about Elephant Rock if you ever need some conversation starters or are competing in a pub quiz:

  • Our Elephant Rock is often confused with another Elephant rock formation in Asia. But it’s actually very easy to tell them apart. Our Elephant shaped mountain consists only of a face, while the Asian Elephant Rock looks like an entire beast lying in the water (as long as you have an aerial view). Similarly, a snapshot of our Elephant Rock in Iceland from above will reveal…just a rocky-looking mountain.
  • Our elephant-shaped island is probably the first and last elephant you’ll ever see in Iceland. As far as we know, there has never been any record or sighting of an elephant here on the island.
  • The word ‘elephant’ also doesn’t really exist in the Icelandic language. The word was adopted by the Vikings when a Turkish man told them about these creatures. 

elephant rock iceland

The Origins of Elephant Rock: A Volcanic Tale of Creation

Elephant Rock is a volcanic creation. The basalt rock formation is the remnants of an eruption of Eldfell Volcano. Although the last eruption of 1973 also played its part in creating the current landscape, it is believed that the eruption that formed Elephant Rock occurred over 15 000 years ago.

The Elephant’s Resting Place: Where is the Elephant Rock Located?

Elephant Rock is in Heimaey, Iceland. Heimaey is part of the Westman Islands, which is why Elephant Rock is sometimes referred to as the Elephant Island in Iceland. It lies just 7.4 kilometers off the south coast of Iceland, and is easily reached via plane or ferry. 

where is the elephant rock located

Navigating to Heimaey: How to See Elephant Rock in Iceland

As mentioned, Elephant Rock in Heimaey can be reached via plane or ferry. Here’s how: 

Via Plane

You will need to catch a flight to the Westman Islands (or Vestmannaeyjar as it’s known by locals). The flight is just 25 minutes long before landing at Vestmannaeyjar Airport. From there, you will need to rent a car to travel around and get you to the departure point of your Elephant Rock boat tour (if that’s how you wish to view it).

Via Ferry

We believe the best way to explore the island is by making a road trip out of it, and adding the Westman Islands to your road trip itinerary is pretty easy to do. Simply start driving down the south coast of Iceland via Route 1. In about 2 hours you should reach the Ferry at Landeyjahöfn. You can take your car along with you to the Westman Islands.

Westman islands

Exploring Elephant Rock: Ways to View Our Giant Elephant Island

There are various ways to view Elephant Rock:

By Boat Tour

This is by far the best way to get up close and personal with our volcanic elephant. Just remember that boat tours around Heimaey are usually only available between May and September.

By Playing a Round of Golf

By playing a round of golf on one of the top 200 golf courses around the world, the Westman Island Golf Course, you’ll have a view of our island that looks like an elephant all while playing your 18 holes.

By Going on a Hike

There are guided hikes that are suitable for most hiking and fitness levels. These trails will take about 4 hours and even have safety lines one can use. This activity is only available between May and August and is not suitable for young children or the elderly.

Combining Elephant Rock with Other Westman Islands Delights

If you’re heading off to Heimaey to see Elephant Rock, you might as well cram your trip itinerary with some of the other highlights of the Westman Islands:

elephant rock in heimaey in iceland

Extend Your Elephant Rock Adventure: Places to Stay

To extend your Elephant Rock adventure and explore the Westman Islands further, you can book overnight accommodation at various options all across Vestmannaeyjabaer. For a bit of a luxury feel, we recommend Hotel Vestmannaeyjar. 

For a comfortable option to suit your pocket, we’d opt for Lava Guesthouse or Hamar Guesthouse. And if you want to go the most budget-friendly route, we suggest you book a spot at Glamping & Camping

elephant shaped island

Elephant Rock: A Timeless Treasure of Icelandic Heritage

Elephant Rock is an extraordinary natural wonder that just reinforces how powerful nature can be and how much the island has been formed by our ever-clashing contrasting elements, entitling us to the name the Land of Fire and Ice.

To visit Elephant Rock as part of a road trip around the island and via the ferry, we suggest you rent a car in Reykjavík shortly after arriving on the island and then kick off your exploration of the island all along the south coast. May you have an Iceland adventure to remember and plenty of photos of our elephant-shaped island to remind you of it.

Reserve a rental car in Iceland instantly!

Book Now