Tjörnes Peninsula

The peninsula just North from Húsavík simply looks as a regular peninsula. Great views, high cliffs, green hills and some lava. But Tjörnes hides in itself some secrets: fossils. The cliffs are made up of layers and the most ancient one dates about 2 millions years. The presence of the fossil shells that can be found here shows something interesting. Those shells belong to creatures that require the temperature of the water to be 12°C or warmer. Now the average temperature of Icelandic coastal water is 4°C. It seems the water was much much warmer some millions of year ago and, therefore, so the climate was. Just imagine all these creatures in their shells sunbathing in Iceland as they were in the Caribbean.

At the northernmost tip of Tjörnes called Voladalstorfa stands the orange lighthouse. All the way to the tiny headland is truly scenic. However, it is not possible to reach the lighthouse because the landowners want to protect the bird life and banned trespassing.

The northern coast of the peninsula offers excellent views of Mánáeyjar, the “Moon Island”, which is the remnants of an ancient underwater volcano part of Tjörnes Fracture Zone. Moreover, not far, is Mánárbakki farm with an unusual local culture museum in a usual turf dwelling, a meteorological station and a campsite.

Tungulending

Road to Tungulending harbour at Tjörnes peninsula
Road to Tungulending harbour at Tjörnes peninsula

Being a relatively new landmass, fossils can be hard to come by in Iceland. Tungulending however, is one of the exceptions. Layers of fossilized gastropods and bivalves inhabit the rock strata here; exposed by the steep banks as you approach, they crumble on to the beach beneath. There is also fossilised wood, seal bones and a few years ago even a whale skull was excavated here. Being a rare commodity, the fossils are protected by Icelandic law, so please look, but don’t touch. It is strictly forbidden to remove any of the fossils.

Right next tot he fossils is a guesthouse and café.

Getting There

Tjörnes peninsula is just a few kilometers north of Húsavík along road 85. It can also be reached coming from the east.