ELLE (Canada) - - Travel Special -

I never ex­pected to get an all-nat­u­ral sand-and-salt ex­fo­li­at­ing “fa­cial” while in Ice­land. But the morn­ing I vis­ited the fa­mous vol­canic-black-sand beach at Reyn­is­f­jara, where parts of Noah were filmed, the sky was dark and fu­ri­ous and sand-filled winds clocked in at 90 kilo­me­tres an hour. (I looked it up later—af­ter my face stopped sting­ing.) The gusts made it dif­fi­cult to walk—I had to bend my knees and lean into the wind so I wouldn’t get knocked over into patches of sand-cov­ered snow...or be blown out to sea. The surf was so high that the im­pos­ing cave where Rus­sell Crowe’s Noah wal­lowed post-ark land­ing (with lots of wine and lit­tle cloth­ing) was in­ac­ces­si­ble.

For most of the bib­li­cally set flick, the ac­tors are pum­melled by sheet­ing rain—and the wrath of God. I think I got a pretty good sense of how they felt. I was awed and ex­hil­a­rated but also hum­bled. Still, I slowly made my way to­ward Gar­dar, a basalt cliff made of rec­tan­gu­lar Tetris-like blocks that are crum­bling off what looks like the side of an Egyp­tian step pyra­mid. (You can even spot this iconic site in the movie’s trailer.)

I did even­tu­ally make it back to my monster-truck ride, which was parked right on the sand. Phew, what a rush! But this par­tic­u­lar beach lo­ca­tion is one of the few in the movie where the weather ap­pears peace­ful—shock­ingly sunny. Even that was de­ceiv­ing. Crowe tweeted that in one scene shot on this beach, he went for a dip in the ocean. “I can’t de­scribe the shock of cold,” he wrote. (The wa­ter was just 4.2ºC.) The post went on to say he later learned that it was “the most dan­ger­ous beach in Ice­land.” (The rip cur­rents have been called “de­vi­ous,” and swim­ming is strongly dis­cour­aged; the footage never made it into the film.) Amus­ingly, the lo­cals also re­fer to it as “Bikini beach” be­cause it’s the south­ern­most point in Ice­land. Nearby, there are cab­ins for rent, and a small ho­tel is un­der con­struc­tion. If you watch Noah, you’ll see how mag­nif­i­cent—and less ex­fo­li­at­ing—the place can be on a beau­ti­ful day.

Reyn­is­f­jara beach

is at Ice­land’s south­ern­most tip.

The stars of Noah spent a lot of time in

the rain.

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