Written by Arctic Adventures guide Ashildur Bragadottir
Brimketill hot pot is one of many hidden geological gems on the south side of Reykjanes peninsula. This large natural lava rock pool sits at the bottom of a cliff at the ocean’s edge, carved by the pounding of waves against soft lava rocks. Beyond it is nothing but the wide Atlantic ocean.
Although it is located not far from Keflavík airport and Reykjavik, locals and tourists alike seem to forget about this gem on Reykjanes Peninsula when travelling around Iceland. Explore Brimketill hot spring for yourself when you next explore Iceland.
The view over Brimketill and its surroundings is simply stunning. The golden sand, pitch black lava rocks and wide blue ocean create a great contrast. You can walk right up to the edge of the cliffs and watch the forceful waves pound against the lava rocks as they make their way into the Brimketill pool and drain the water out of it.
Brimketill is very accessible as the observation platform is just a few steps away from the parking lot. You’ll have a great view over the rugged coastline, Reykjanesviti Lighthouse, and the geothermal area of Gunnuhver (see more below). As you stand on the edge of the cliff you will see huges waves thundering against the rocks, sending huge sheets of foam up that may occasionally splash you. The waves sometimes reach all the way to the parking lot so be prepared to get soaked.
Some say that Brimketill looks like a cosy bathing pool, and it can be tempting to climb down to it. However, the wet and sharp lava rocks are tricky and slippery. You might have seen photos of people bathing in the pool in summer, but because of the unpredictable waves and rock it is not advised to do so.
Nonetheless, the amazing view and unrelenting forces of nature makes Brimketill an amazing place to visit all year around. In summer it is a place of beauty and serenity and in winter a place of dramatic wonder.
Brimketill is also known by the name Oddnýjarlaug or ‘Oddný’s pool’. According to folklore, a giantess named Oddný used Brimketill as a pool to bathe and wash her clothes. Oddný the giantess lived in a large cave in Háleyjabunga, not far from Brimketill. She had a husband named Hróar and a son named Sölvi. The legend says that one night, visiting the pool, Oddný was not aware of the dawn coming up. She was hit by sunlight and turned to stone where Brimketill lies today. The stone is thought to have stood there for a long time but finally washed out to sea.
The nearest settlement to Brimketill is the family-oriented fishing town Grindavík, only 10 minutes drive east of Brimketill. Visit the harbor area to find the spirit of the town. Seeing the local fishermen bustling about bringing in the catch of the day is entertaining, and getting to enjoy the fish at one of the town’s restaurants in the evening is all the more rewarding.
A few kilometers west of Brimketill is a colorful geothermal field of various mud pools and steam vents called Gunnuhver. Gunnuhver is named after a female ghost who fell into the spring over 400 years ago after a priest set a trap for her for causing great disturbance in the area. The area is colorful and mysterious with steam rising up from springs, bubbling boiling water, and the chance of disappearing momentarily amid the steam.
From Brimketill and Gunnuhver you can see Iceland’s oldest lighthouse, Reykjanesviti. The lighthouse stands on a hill and looms over a beautiful beach marked with tall straight cliffs. The view from the lighthouse is great and a walk down to the rough beach even better. Large steam clouds from the geothermal fields at Gunnuhver bring added drama to the surroundings of the lighthouse, which has called in sailors from rough sea for more than a decade.
The Bridge between Continents is yet another interesting place to visit within ten minutes of Brimketill. The bridge was built as a symbol for the connection between Europe and North America and spans a gaping rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. When you get to the bridge you can either walk to the midst of the bridge in the footsteps of the gods or go down to the fissure and stand on the borders of the two tectonic plates.
The most famous sight of all is the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa fifteen minutes drive from Brimketill. The milky blue lagoon is quite striking in contrast to the surrounding black lava field and fragile green moss. The geothermal water is renowned for allegedly healing and rejuvenating the skin. With the perfect bathing temperature, it’s also great for overall wellbeing.
Brimketill is located on the south side of the Reykjarnes peninsula, a few kilometers west of Grindavík town on Route 425. A small road leads to Brimketill with a small wooden sign saying the site’s name. It is not very obvious, so keep a sharp eye out as the road will take you to a car park where you can easily walk to Brimketill.