On the south coast of Iceland black sand beaches become normal. The ash from various eruptions was pushed down to the beach at Hjörleifshöfði after meltwaters from the glacier on Katla took everything in its path in the 14th Century. However standing above the deposits of ash and the sand beach which is still there today is Hjörleifshöfði Cape.
Hjörleifshöfði Cape was formed by a volcanic eruption under a glacier and the tuff rock formed is what remains today. This huge rock is 221 metres high and stands proud at the end of Mýrdalssandur Black Sand Beach just a short distance from the more well known Black Sand Beach at Vík.
Named after Hjörleifur one of the earliest settlers to Iceland, Hjörleifshöfði farm was in use until 1936 and the grave of Hjörleifur can be found on top of the cape. Hjörleifur Hróðmarsson is believed to have come to Iceland from Norway. He was a Viking settler who came to the country with his brother Ingólfur Arnarsson. They are well known slave traders who have links to the Westman Islands further west along the coast.
At the southern end of the cape there is a large cave. From the outside it appears as a crack in the cliff face but once inside it becomes a magical location. The acoustics are amazing with a reverberating echo and as you turn to look back to the entrance the outline of the ancient character becomes visible in the cave entrance. Used as the location of Yoda’s Cave in the Star Wars Rogue One movie it is now more than just a cave on a headland in Iceland.
Yoda’s Cave faces south west so can be photographed at any time of the day although during the late evening the sky beyond the cave entrance can provide a great backdrop. The entrance is marked by some large rocks which can be used to give scale to the location. Just think about where you leave your car if you drive down to the cave to ensure it isn’t in the shot.
In the winter icicles can form within the cave and the puddles inside freeze over which can add to the beauty of this small cave.
Beyond Yoda’s Cave there are a number of rock formations in the sand which are perfect for silhouette images. Against the sky and black sand beach they look quite unique.
Further round there is a small stone circle as well as the remains of the early settlers in the area on the walks from the parking area to the top of the cape.
Getting to Hjörleifshöfði Cape and Yoda’s Cave
Hjörleifshöfði Cape is located about 15 km east of Vík in the south of Iceland. A small track is marked with an attraction sign from the main Ring Road 1 and the rock can be seen in the distance from the main road.
There is a small marked parking area where the walks to the top of the rock start. However the road continues around the headland to Yoda’s cave which is just before the first isolated rock on the beach.
The road/track continues around the cape although it becomes indistinct with a steep river crossing to return to the main road and it is better to return from the parking area straight back to the main road.