You'll find Skjólfjörur Beach a few kilometers south of Vopnafjörður in eastern Iceland. This particular coastline is famous for the rocky islets that rise from the sea just offshore, and in particular the Ljósastapi rock shaped like an elephant head.
Although far from the main roads, the site is rather easy to access via Road 917 about fifteen kilometers south of Vopnafjörður.
The small and scenic Road 917 makes for a magnificent drive. Coming from the south, you'll see as you crest a hill the full breathtaking panorama of the beaches below.
There is a small car park, simply indicated by a sign as you reach the end of Road 917 when arriving from the south, and from the road you can even see the rock islet standing proudly in the water.
Skjólfjörur Beach is a beautiful pebble beach that resembles many other coastlines in eastern Iceland. And like them, you will find driftwood that floated ashore here from Siberia.
A small path goes down to the beach from the car park, and it only takes 5 minutes to reach Ljosastapi, and generally speaking the Vopnafjörður fjord sometimes welcomes whales, so keep your eyes peeled!
The beach is known for its rocky islets, which are just massive rocks just dropped into the sea or right on the beach (depending on the tide). A short walk along the lapping waves will allow you to approach some of them.
The best known is called Ljósastapi, often called “Fíllinn” by Icelanders, and lies a little offshore, about twenty meters from the beach. The Elephant Rock, as it is known internationally, is indeed uncannily shaped like a profile view of an elephant head.
In the background, you can see the Búrið mountain, which is part of the Fagradalsfjöll Massif, with its extraordinary Therribjörg cliffs and beautiful rhyolite rocks.
There is also a small marked trail that leads east of Hellisheiði Eystri from the beach to Þerribjörg. It's a long and arduous hike, but well worth it. There are seldom many tourists in the area, as the region is rather away from the main roads.
Heading west, about 5 kilometers from the beach, you will find the Gljúfursárfoss waterfall, an impressive cascade dropping about 45 meters and well worth a detour.
The water pools in a beautiful landscape of volcanic rocks and vivid mosses, only a few meters from the sea. To get there, it's a short drive from the beach and there is a small car park located very close to the road. But if you want to use your own two legs, there is of course a hiking trail to get there that runs along the coast from Skjólfjörur.