Rauðisandur, sometimes called Rauðasandur, literally means the “red sand.” You can guess why it was named this way... Indeed, because of this unique orange color it is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in Iceland.
The tones in the sand vary from yellow to ocher depending on the sunlight, weather, and the quantity of shells.
You don't expect to find a sort of sunset-coloured beach at this latitude, since Rauðisandur is in the far western fjords in quite hostile climes compared to the equator.
In good weather, the contrasts in Rauðisandur are breathtaking. The bright blue of the sea, the ocher color of the sand, all this in an idyllic setting with the beautiful Skarðabrun mountain as a backdrop... It truly is a tranquil and peaceful oasis of natural beauty. On a clear day, you can even see the majestic Mount Snaefellsjökull on the horizon.
The stretch of sand is seemingly endless, with Rauðisandur beaches extending as far as the eye can see for no less than 10 kilometers. Depending on the tide, the width of the beach differs and the dry yellow of the sand gives way to deeper reds where the sand is wet and patches of nacreous sea shells. The sand is combed by the wind, ever-changing, and beautiful.
The skies above this tranquil expanse are alive with countless birds flying over the golden sands of Rauðisandur. And you will most likely encounter gray seals and sea calves usually basking in large numbers on the beach.
The grassy plains to the east are wetlands, often covered by the sea, and when they are revealed the contrast with the sand is sublime.
In the south of the Westfjords, shortly after leaving Road 62 to take Road 612 towards the famous Latrabjarg cliffs, you'll have to exit onto a small dirt road, the 614, that goes towards the sea. This last leg of the journey, with the 612 and the 614, is an absolute delight and you'll find yourself stopping frequently for photo breaks as the panorama is absolutely unlike anything you've ever seen. Road 614 does not require a 4x4 vehicle, and it only takes 15 minutes on this dirt track to reach the car park.
As you near the beach the trail splits in two, one going west, the other east for a few hundred meters. To the west, you can park near a café: the “Franska kaffihúsið”, a French café open only in summer. To the east, a small 300 meter trail leads to a second parking lot, which is about a 15-minute walk from the seafront.
Of course, you can simply get out of the car in the first car park and walk about 1 kilometer towards the sea, crossing the sandy areas that are sometimes wet, so you need to plan ahead. But beyond that, two longer hiking trails are possible in Rauðisandur.
This hiking trail starts from the Lambavatn-Efra car park, which is the one near the café at the end of the trail that goes west. Follow the sign indicating Keflavik and after passing through a gate you'll cross meadows and then sandy areas for 3.5 kilometers until you reach a holiday home.
This trail has stunning views of the Latrabjarg cliffs, which can be seen from sea level as you walk along on the beach. After crossing a small stream, you arrive at a pretty waterfall. The return then takes the same path, with a long portion along the driftwood-strewn sand.
This is a very easygoing hike, a walk rather, which starts from the second Melanes car park at the end of the trail heading east. Go past the campsite and follow the pegs on the fairly well-marked path, and after crossing a small meadow and a stream, you arrive at a stretch of orange sand for 20 minutes of hiking before arriving at the abandoned farm. The view is exceptional and you'll often see a seal colony basking on the hot stone right across the street. The return path is back the way you came, easy as pie.