As you drive the southern Ring Road, you’ll notice out some intriguing rock formations out to sea. Some are just picturesque sea stacks—the remnants of eroded archways that have long since collapsed. Others are tiny islands occupied only by birds, and the occasional careful scientist. But the most distinctive, visible across a wide portion of the south, is actually the populated archipelago of Vestmannaeyjar (“The Westman Islands”). The biggest is Heimaey, an active volcanic island populated by 4,135 hardy souls. You can take a daily ferry there from the Landeyjahöfn ferry port to learn about its amazing history at the Eldfell volcano museum, and eat one of the best meals you’ll have in Iceland at Slippurinn. And FYI, it’s truly tiny—we recommend saving some cash by leaving the car behind to explore the island’s coastal trails on foot.
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