Zodiac Boat Tour of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Hop on board a speedy Zodiac inflatable boat for a tour among the massive icebergs of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. This is part of an essential Icelandic experience, admiring the sun shining through the clouds on the blue-and-white ice floating peacefully from the lagoon.
Boat tours began at the lagoon in 1985, after the opening sequence of the Bond film A View to a Kill was shot on location. Today, they are one of the most popular activities in Iceland, and three other major motion pictures have been shot on the lagoon to catch the unbelievable scenery.
The glacier lagoon has been expanding since the 1970s due to the retreat of Vatnajökull glacier, pulling back from the coastline. It is now the deepest lake in Iceland, filling with ancient ice that cracks off of Breiðamerkurjökull glacial tongue, floating down rivers of meltwater to the glacier, where they float slowly out to sea, pulled by the tides.
In good weather, gulls and seals often play on the ice. Photographers love to capture these animals, along with the huge chunks of ice as they float by or wash up on nearby Diamond Beach and lie sparkling on the black sand like diamonds on velvet.
After making your way to Jökulsárlón to meet your group 30 minutes before tour departure, you’ll be provided with flotation suits and a life jacket. The small, low construction of the Zodiac boats allows you to explore a large area of the lagoon and get up close and personal with the ice (as close as safety allows).
Take this opportunity to whizz across the magnificent glacier lagoon in a high-powered Zodiac! Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: May. - Sep.
- Duration: 1 hour
- Activities: Boat Trip
- Difficulty: Easy
- Minimum age: 10 years.
- Languages: English
- Highlights: Jökulsárlón
Jökulsárlón is Iceland’s most famous glacier lagoon. Conveniently located in the southeast by Route 1, about halfway between the Skaftafell Nature Reserve and Höfn, it is a popular stop for those travelling along the South Coast or around the circular ring road of the country.
It stands out, however, due to the fact that it also fills with icebergs breaking from the glacier, some of which tower several stories high.
These icebergs, other than their scale, are notable for their colouration. Although they are, as expected, largely white, most are also dyed electric blue in part, with black streaks of ash from eruptions centuries past.
When the icebergs finally make it across the lagoon, they either drift out to sea or wash up on the nearby shore. Because of the way they glisten against the black sands of Breiðamerkursandur, this area has been nicknamed ‘the Diamond Beach’.
In spite of being a rather recent formation, Jökulsárlón is the deepest lake in the country, with depths reaching 248 metres. With a surface area of 18 square kilometres, it is also growing to be one of the largest.
Jökulsárlón has not been around since Iceland’s settlement; it only formed around 1935. This was due to rapidly rising temperatures in the country from the turn of the twentieth century; since 1920, Breiðamerkurjökull has been shrinking at a dramatic rate, and the lagoon has begun to fill its space.
Today, the expansion of Jökulsárlón is accelerating. As recently as 1975, it was just 8 square kilometres, and now that size has more than doubled.
In the relatively near future, it is expected that the lagoon will continue to grow until it becomes a large, deep fjord.
Though a dark omen for Iceland’s glaciers and ice caps in general, the retreat of Breiðamerkurjökull has resulted in an incredibly beautiful, if temporary, site. This has not been overlooked by Hollywood.
Jökulsárlón has been featured in the James Bond films A View to Kill in 1985 and Die Another Day in 2002, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and 2005’s Batman Begins.
In 2017, Jökulsárlón was enveloped into the Vatnajökull National Park, thus it is now fully protected by Icelandic law.
Because of the wealth of herring and capelin that the tides bring into the lagoon, Jökulsárlón is somewhat of a hot-spot for Iceland’s wildlife.
In summer, it is a nesting site for Arctic Terns; stay well away from this area, as these birds are notorious for the fierceness with which they protect their eggs, dive-bombing the heads of any they see as a threat. Skuas also nest on the lake’s shores in this season.
Seals can be reliably spotted here throughout the year, swimming amongst or else hauling out on the icebergs. Jökulsárlón provides them with a safe haven to rest and socialise, especially considering the waters of southeast Iceland are renowned for their population of orcas.
Departure time : 09:30, 11:00, 13:00, 14:30, 16:20, 17:50
Boat tour of glacier lagoon (approx. 30 minutes)
Transportation to and from Jökulsárlón
What to bring:
Sturdy shoes for walking/hiking
Warm clothing and outerwear suited to rainy or chilly weather (waterproof recommended)
Good to know:
Please note: Check-in is 30 minutes before departure and children under the age of 10 or under a height of 130 cm (4’3”) are not allowed on the Zodiac tour.