Top 12 Fascinating Facts About Jökulsárlón

Where else would you expect to see huge chunks of ice sticking out of the surface of an amazing lake than in Iceland, right?

This particular lake was only developed because of a particular natural phenomenon, and in this article, you’ll discover some of the most interesting facts about Jökulsárlón.

1. It’s located in the southeastern part of Iceland

Jökulsárlón is a lake located in the southern part of Iceland and its name literally translates to “glacial river lagoon.”

The lake is situated between two small towns called “Höfn” and “Skaftafell.” These towns are interconnected by the main road on the island called “Route 1.”

This highway has a total length of 1,322 kilometers (821 miles) and pretty much encircles the entire country. It connects most of the inhabitable areas of Iceland. If you ever visit Iceland, this is a road you’ll definitely come across.

There’s a bridge as well which takes Route 1 across the lake.

Jokulsarlon bridge
Route 1 crossing the lake / Rheins /

2. It was formed because of a retreating glacier

Hold your tongue because this lake was formed due to the retreating of the “Breiðamerkurjökull glacier.” This glacier is a so-called outlet glacier of the much larger glacier called Vatnajökull.

The latter is the largest glacier and icecap in Iceland, covering an area of 7,900 square kilometers (3,100 square miles) and with an average thickness of 380 meters (1,250 feet).

Breiðamerkurjökull originally reached all the way to the Atlantic Ocean in the south of the country but has retreated quite a bit, in the past decades.

Jökulsárlón facts
View of the lake / Martin Peeks /

3. The lake has rapidly increased in size in the past decades

Because the glacier reached the Atlantic Ocean before, this also means that the lake isn’t that old yet. It was only formed around the year 1948 and was initially much smaller than it is today.

Shortly after the glacier started depositing large chunks of ice into the ocean during the late 1940s, the gorges that emerged started filling with water. This process continued the following decades.

Today, the lake has a length of 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles) and covers an area of about 18 square kilometers (6.9 square miles). This is about 4 times the size of the lake during the 1970s.

Jökulsárlón size
View of the expanding lake / Zairon /

4. The lake is a popular place to hang out for multiple animals

Apart from serving as one of the main tourist attractions in the country, the lake is also a popular place for animals.

Seals can be found in large numbers here during the winter months to catch the abundance of fish that swim around at the mouth of the lake.

Copious amounts of herring, trout, salmon, and krill, also attract a wide variety of seabirds. The most notable is the ferocious hunter and thief known as the “Arctic skua” (Stercorarius parasiticus).

These birds are nicknamed “Parasitic jaeger,” a reference to the fact that they both actively hunt and literally steal the prey caught by other birds. This is behavior referred to as “kleptoparasitism.”

That’s just not nice and the main reason why they are called the “Pirates of the seas.” It does provide a fascinating spectacle near the shores of the lake.

Arctic Skua
Arctic Skua on the lake / Jinesh PS /

5. The area has been protected with the formation of a national park in 2017

The area around the lake offers a wide variety of options for tourists. These include discovering the lake and its surroundings by boat or kayak, and there are tours available inside the large number of ice caves located in the area as well.

Numerous hiking trails also make this a hiker’s paradise because this is honestly one of the most mesmerizing surroundings you’ll ever come across.

The land surrounding the lake has only been acquired by the government of Iceland in 2017, the year that the area was included in the much larger Vatnajökull National Park.

The entire national park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2019, mainly because of the amazing combination of glaciers and volcanic activity.

Jokusarlon area
The amazing lake and surroundings / Kenny Muir /

More interesting facts about Jökulsárlón

6. Even though the lake is still relatively small, even though it’s exponentially growing, it’s also the deepest lake in Iceland. The maximum depth of the lake is a whopping 284 meters (932 feet).

7. Vatnajökull literally translates to “Glacier of Lakes” and rises to a height of 2,109.6 meters (6,921 feet) above sea level.

Because the iceberg-filled lake is literally located at the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean, it provides astounding views of this enormous glacier and its peaks.

Jokusarlon lake and glaciers
The lake and glaciers / Wiki Commons

8. The outlet glacier named Breiðamerkurjökull is the only of its kind in Iceland. There’s no other spot in the country where a glacier reaches the Atlantic Ocean, which makes this quite a fascinating place in its own right.

9. while this isn’t exactly a place where you can sunbathe, there are plenty of beaches alongside the lake. The combination of a beach with a lake filled with icebergs is quite astounding.

Jökulsárlón beach
Jökulsárlón beach / Guava Train /

10. The lake is world-famous because it has been featured in multiple blockbusters, including several James Bond films.

Some of the most notable movies in which the lake played a role are: A View to a Kill (1985), Die Another Day (2002), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), and Batman Begins (2005).

Not too shabby, don’t you think?

11. The boat excursions that are offered on the lake started shortly after this amazing natural wonder was featured in the James Bond movie “A View To Kill” in 1985. By 1987, the yearly tourists that took the tour totaled about 5,000.

Today, the company has grown so much that anywhere between 60,000 and 70,000 take a ride on an amphibious vehicle to explore the lake and its surroundings, quite amazing!

12. The lake isn’t the only attraction in the region because another major feature is the glacier’s ice caves. There are tours available that literally take you underneath the glacier, allowing you to discover it from inside.

Needless to say, this is one of the most amazing spectacles in the world!

Jokusarlon ice cave
View inside the ice cave / Giuseppe Milo /