Over the last two decades, Reykjavík has rapidly grown to become what is arguably the whale watching capital of Europe. Here is everything you need to know about whale watching from Reykjavík.
Should I go Whale Watching?
Without a doubt, Iceland is among Europe’s best whale watching destinations. A whale watching tour will always be an unforgettable experience and there are plenty of options to choose from all around Iceland. Whale watching trips started in 1991 and have been operating since then. Around Iceland you can find about 23 different whale species, 8 of which are frequently seen on whale watching tours. In the summer there is around 90% sucess rate in the tours.
Whale Safari is my favourite tour operator in Reykavík. The reason for that is their small group policy and powerfull boats. They have specially made RIB boats that are made to get close to the whales, dolphins and puffins of the Faxaflói Bay. I had few moments this summer with whales right next to our boat. In each boat there is seat for only 12 passengers, each with a expert whale guide and captain on board.
Their guides are very well informed about the whales and give great information the whole trip. They also provide you with a warm bodysuit so you won’t get cold on the way. On top of that the RIB boats go extremely fast, so even if you get unlucky with the whales, the ride itself is such an adventoures experience. In the tour they will also make a quick stop at a Puffin islands that’s close by, giving you a chance to see those cute birds.
Whale Safari only operates their tours in the summer time as the conditions of the sea need to be good. So if you are travelling to Iceland in winter, you will need to check out some of the other operators.
Photos I shot this summer on a tour with them
Elding is a cheaper option than Whale Safari, operating their tours on bigger boats. As the boat is bigger you will have both outside area and inside area with an restaurant. Their tour is a bit longer, around three hours, as their boats don’t go as fast. Elding operates their tours all year around, even offering midnight tours in the summer.
Whale Watching in other parts of Iceland
Iceland has mixing currents, with the cold Arctic sea in the north and the warmer north Atlantic ocean in the south. These currents, combined with long summer daylight combined and relatively shallow waters, makes an perfect enviroment for the whales.
There are few places where you can go whale watching up North, with the most popular places being Akureyri and Húsavík.
Whale watching tours in the North have the highest success rates in Iceland with many operators experience sightings on 100% of tours in summer. In the summer the main appeal is Humpback Whales, harbour porpoises and white-beaked dolphins. The wealth of food in the cold northern waters draws them into the fjords, the depths of which still allow them to dive to hunt.
If you’ve dreamed about seeing Orcas your whole life you should head up North West for a Whale Watching trip. They are most common in the rich herring grounds around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, by a town called Ólafsvík. There is a small operator there called Láki Tours, that run their tours whole year round. The best time to spot Orcas is between November and April.
I hope this helps with planning your trip to Iceland! If so, let me know in comments!
Happy whale watching!