To Hellnar and Back… to the Blue Lagoon!

The last hurrah. The second half of my last full day in the spectacular country of Iceland. Even with all I’d done here, there was so much still yet to do. I didn’t want to leave this experience behind – I just wanted to revel in its final moments. It’s the same feeling you get on the last page of an incredible book. But all good things must end. And sometimes, you can make sure that good things end well. And so I decided that I would end my Iceland visit with an indulgent trip to the world-famous Blue Lagoon!

All I had to do was stop in Hellnar to explore the beach, and then drive three hours south. The only things standing in my way were an abundance of glorious sights and landmarks. I’m a picture junkie. You already know I’ll be stopping at every one.

Conquer Fear the Blue Lagoon
Hellnar’s beach is peppered with volcanic rocks. There’s no sand to be found.

After grabbing a bite to eat in a minuscule cafe, I wandered to the beach. Hold up – I just want to make sure we’re on the same page. When I say minuscule, I mean minuscule.

Hellnar has a year-round population of just ten people.

So, the beach. It was unlike any beach I’d ever seen. There was no sand, only volcanic rocks in all shapes, sizes, and textures. The peculiar rock formations took my breath away. I had to go in for a closer look.

Conquer Fear the Blue Lagoon
Do you know what kinds of rocks these are? Because I still do not.

I got closer to the cold, dark water of the ocean. The rock formations were jagged and sharp, but unique. Like nothing I’d yet experienced. So far, I was intrigued by Hellnar. The sleepy little village was full of surprises. Like the sea arch. As I got closer, I looked up and saw it. If the water wasn’t polar-level cold, I would have loved to swim underneath.

It’s no Gatklettur, but it’s still very cool. I missed out on Gatklettur because I didn’t do the hiking trail between Arnarstapi and Hellnar. Next time, next time.

Conquer Fear the Blue Lagoon
Can you see the jagged stones protruding out of the formation? Simply amazing.

Now that I knew about the arch, I had to go up above and see it from above. But I was still curious about the sharp rocks down here at the base. So I clambered over a few half-submerged boulders between waves to get into position for an interesting view.

Luckily, I didn’t get wet.

Or slip and fall in and die. Here’s the view.

Conquer Fear the Blue Lagoon
Now I know for sure that you understand what I’m saying about these jagged, layered rocks.

You can see a cluster of the tiny village’s buildings there on the hill. But these rocks though. These rocks blew my mind. If I ran my hand along the rocks with some speed and force, it would cut me open like a knife. It was definitely my first time seeing rocks like this. I was utterly fascinated by it.

Next, I climbed up to get a another view of the arch. It was tough to get into a good position for a picture without falling down into the water, but I tried my best.

Conquer Fear the Blue Lagoon
I wonder how viable cliff-diving is in this location… it’s likely too shallow.

The aggressively sloped cliffs here proved to be my arch-nemesis in the fight to find a proper angle. This picture was the best that I could do. I certainly could have used some sort of selfie stick in this non-selfie situation.

I took special care to not fall off the rocks. Some areas looked a bit more… crumbly than others.

Conquer Fear the Blue Lagoon
In Iceland you’ll see about 10 million shades of blue.

On the other side, the rocky volcanic coast stretched for miles. I mentioned before that there is a hike between the villages Arnarstapi and Hellnar that follows the coast, but it takes about two hours and I didn’t have that kind of time.

I’ve got to get to the Blue Lagoon!

It’s not open all night, you know! So I had to get a move on. I did admire the cliffs for a few minutes more (I’m only human), and then I headed to my car.

I only got side-tracked one more time on the way.

Conquer Fear the Blue Lagoon
How can you not love the look of that blue house in the shadow of Snæfellsjökull?

You just know that whoever is living in that lone, blue house by the sea has some kind of amazing story to tell. Anyway, moving on, moving on.

The next landmark that grabbed my attention was the glacier Snæfellsjökull once more.

You can do tours to climb it, but again – I had no time. I had some serious ground to cover, and the Blue Lagoon closes at 8:00 pm! That would be quite the experience though. There are both snow cat tours and snowmobile tours, so if you’re interested, just check the availability before you go since they’re not year round.

Conquer Fear the Blue Lagoon
An old lava field on the doorstep of the mighty glacier.

The road east of Snæfellsjökull is absolutely unbelievable. The view is unparalleled as you hug the side of the mountain. And since I had killed so much time in Hellnar (oops), the sun had already started to go down.

September days in Iceland are very short.

I did stop one last time to get a view of Snæfellsjökull from a little bit farther away. And this time, I had a few models to help me out.

Conquer Fear the Blue Lagoon
The word that comes to mind here is majestic. For me anyway. Not sure what you think.

Golden plains stretched from the mountains to the sea, and I soaked in Snæfellsjökull one last time. When you make memories that last a lifetime, you don’t always know it while it’s happening. As people we love to get nostalgic and reminisce about the ‘good ole days,’ but often you never realized that the days were ‘good’ and ‘ole’ until they’d ended.

These experiences, though, I was certain about.

Conquer Fear the Blue Lagoon
A casual roadside view just east of Búðakirkja.

We remember firsts. When you do something for the very first time, it’s easier to keep the memory because it stands alone. It’s unique. You’ve got nothing else to compare it to. Everyone probably remembers their first kiss, or first relationship, or first time moving away from home. But things that you do all the time blend together.

You might remember your first day at school, but not the rest of the days in the first month. They mesh together to give you a general feeling of how it was, what was happening, who was present, and what it felt like.

Doing something new proves to yourself that the thing is possible. Even if you never do the thing ever again, you’ll probably still remember doing it. It’s like your mind is cataloguing it away, for later reference, just in case. Like, yup – that’s doable. We’ve done it. We can do more things like that.

And parents.

Parents go ALL IN on firsts.

Baby’s first word, their first time crawl, their first steps. And on and on and on. You get the gist.

Conquer Fear the Blue Lagoon
Firsts are great! – As I’m now driving back through this part of Iceland for the second time.

I knew at the time that I was in a future memory. Driving through traffic to get home after a day of work – that’s not a memory that is ever going to make it to the replay room if you know what I mean. But driving through the Icelandic countryside after renting a car for the first time, after flying alone over the Atlantic Ocean for the first time… That’ll stay with me.

There’s a saying that I’ve heard, and maybe you’ve heard it too.

“Do it to do it, not to have done it.”

And I get that. You’ve got to live in the moment – to stay in the present – because that’s the only place where happiness exists. The past cannot be changed, and the future exists only as potential, determined by the actions you (and others) take in the here and now. Trying to live in either of those other places is dangerous, and a waste of emotional strength.

So I get it. Be content in the life that you are creating for yourself in each moment as time ticks on.

Conquer Fear the Blue Lagoon
Black mountains across the water from Borgarnes.

But I also know this…

If I ever get to be old and gray (and according to my hair I’m somehow halfway there), I want to have one hell of a mental highlight reel.

“Do it to do it, not to have done it.”

So do it. Do it to do it, whatever it is, and do it spectacularly. Do it spectacularly, and when you’re old and gray you’ll remember that you did it right, to the best of your ability. 

And all of a sudden, I was there.

After two mountain ranges, some introspection, and a couple hours of Remember the Name on repeat until I had memorized the words, I had arrived at the Blue Lagoon.

Conquer Fear the Blue Lagoon
These are the unedited colors of the Blue Lagoon during an autumn sunset.

I made it to the Blue Lagoon just before 7:00 pm, so I only had an hour. If I had the time, I would have seriously gone all out – but I just had time for the regular ‘Comfort’ package. It comes with a silica mask, algae mask, towel, AND a drink at the spa bar.

Yup, they’ve got a swim-up bar in the Blue Lagoon. That’s just what was missing from a regular jacuzzi experience. And actually, I’m pretty sure they have two.

Conquer Fear the Blue Lagoon
You can see the bar window just there on the right edge of the picture.

So about the Blue Lagoon…

It was amazing.

I could tell this place had the potential for a super romantic date night or weekend getaway, and I was here flying solo. Like it was just me and I could still tell – yup, you coming here, you’re bringing your A game. You might have a difficult time topping yourself following a date like this, so proceed with caution.

Usually I wouldn’t spend so much money on a glaringly obvious tourist trap, but I must admit, it was well worth it. I don’t think I’ve ever been more relaxed than I was while soaking up that geothermally heated water. And as for the silica mask, you can actually find all materials necessary on the floor in certain areas.

If you don’t have money for an in-Lagoon massage, you can just find the waterfall and stand under it. Unfortunately I didn’t find it until 7:55, so I only had five minutes to stand under it as the stress was pounded out of my shoulders.

Blue Lagoon
A gorgeous sunset. What a way to finish the day, and also the trip.

The gentle colors of the sunset complemented the relaxing spa atmosphere beautifully. There was only one way this day could get any better. My whole trip had been very cloudy at night, and I had not seen the northern lights.

It was my last day.

There were no second chances. There was a clear sky, and…

Blue Lagoon
…AND you were probably expecting something spectacular.

AND they did show up, just not in the way you’ve seen them on Instagram. Instead of dominating the sky with a vibrant display of color, they showed up rather wispy. A mere shadow of the romanticized versions that make the rounds online.

So these aren’t really braggy photos of something that’ll drop your jaw. No. No, they are far from that. But they’re all I’ve got to show for my first time seeing the lights. So they’ll have to do (for now).

Blue Lagoon
My night photography is very much a work in progress. Need a better camera.

At the time I had neither the equipment or the know-how to do any quality night photography. But it’s something I’m very interested in learning. Pictures of the stars, the constellations, and the Milky Way always give me pause when I’m scrolling my Instagram feed.

So was this the most fantastic northern lights display in the world?

No, it was not.

But it was the first time I saw them. After the first time I visited the Blue Lagoon. At the end of my first trip to Iceland. So it was a special moment nonetheless. The feeling that I get from the picture is worth a million times more than the picture itself.

At last, my trip was over. I checked back into Base Hostel, returned my car in the morning, and flew home.

The last leg of my journey – first to Hellnar and then back to the Blue Lagoon – was one of the most spectacular parts. Especially considering that it was only half of my day. So the true last leg of my journey actually started in Stykkishólmur and went around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, to Hellnar, under mountains, over seas, back through Reykjavík, to the Blue Lagoon, and eventually ended where it had began 7 days ago – at Base Hostel in Keflavík.

What a day.

I’m glad I was able to experience every minute of it. Every second was worth it, from the hard moments, to the awe-inspiring moments, even to the quiet moments where nothing crazy was happening (and especially the hungry moments).

And if you were to decide to go explore Iceland because of what I’ve shared with you, well, then that would just be the icing on the cake.

P.S. To Hellnar and Back… to the Blue Lagoon! was Iceland Part 7. Read on!

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