Exciting Moments with Whales in Iceland

Kjersti - Fotolia.com


  1. Historical Background
  2. How to see the whales in Iceland
  3. Helpful information

Whale watching in Iceland is a fun, which is not available for anyone. The exception, perhaps, are those who live directly on the coast, near which the migration path of these aquatic mammals passes. Those who want to watch the whales in their natural habitat go to various points of our planet. In different parts of the world, you can see different species of whales in different seasons. One of such places is Iceland, namely Húsavík.

Historical Background

Whaling has long been one of the most important activities of Icelanders (before the tourism industry began to develop, Iceland economy depends mostly on whaling). In the 70-80s of the last century, a moratorium on whaling was introduced, which, however, many countries avoided under various pretexts. Nowadays, after years of moratorium, commercial whaling within the established quotas was renewed. So, Iceland can annually produce 30 minke whales and 9 fin whales.

With the growth of whales’ popularity, several companies arranged whale tours in Iceland. North Sailing from Husavik was the first which in 1995 began to organize such trips. The company has a number of vessels of different sizes: old converted fishing vessel, quite agile to chase the whales.

The companies guarantee a meeting with at least a single whale within a 4-hour tour. If this does not happen, they promise to bring you to the next tour for free. There are many whales in the bay; moreover, captains inform each other of whale fountains. There is also an observer on every cruise ship whose task is to look for the whale fountains.

How to see the whales in Iceland

Iceland boasts of the largest variety of whales that can be seen next to the coast. Minke whales and white-beaked dolphins are the most frequent gusts. In addition, there are humpback whales, sperm, sei and blue whales. The sperms surpass all mammals in diving. They can dive to a depth of 300 meters, so you can hardly see the same whale twice in a single journey. The best time for the whale watching is from mid-May to mid-September.

You can watch whales on the western, southern and northern coasts. They are found in the coastal waters near the capital of Iceland. However, Húsavík located in the north-east of the country is the most popular and the largest center of whale watching in Europe where tourists can go to the exciting sea excursion. In summer, the highest number of whales swims into the bay near Husavik.

Two competing companies organize whale watching – their ticket offices and piers are located within 10 meters of each other. The difference is that one offers hot chocolate and cinnamon buns on-board, and the second one – cocoa and biscuits. There are yellow flags on some ships, while on the others – blue. Tours of one of the companies last 3-3.5 hours, the second – four with an hour road there and the same back.

Whale breaks surface every 5-7 minutes. On the surface it spits out a fountain of water – that's why they are easy to be noticed. After that, the captain cut in engines at full power and tries to come closer to this place. The whale does not immediately dives back, and makes a few breaths. Within this time, if it is not very far away, the ship manages to go on a short distance. The last time before the whale dives to a depth it may show its tail – it is the highest award for the observers.

Helpful information

In order to arrange a fascinating whale watching tour you need to get to Husavik first.

Getting to Husavik

  1. If you are traveling by a rented car, you need to move out of Reykjavik on the ring road that encircles almost all coast of Iceland. It takes 6 hours to get from Reykjavik to Husavik.
  2. If you prefer public transport, then you can get to Akureyri from Reykjavik by plane (EUR 85 one way per person), and then by bus to Husavik (20 Euros, 1.5 hours on the road).

Excursion costs

  1. Elding Company offers to make a 3.5-hour tour for 53 Euros for adults and 25 Euros for children from 7 to 15 years (toddlers are free). The summer boat sails several times a day: at 9 am, 1 pm and five o'clock in the evening. There are also night tours in the Midnight sun, from 8 pm, the cost is the same.
  2. North Sailing Company arranges a 4-hour tour for EUR 55 for adults and EUR 28 for children from 7 to 15 years. The boat sets off several times a day: at 9, 10, 11, 12.30, 13.30, 15.00, 17.00 and 20.00.

In addition, you can purchase a tour from Reykjavik which includes the transfer from the hotel in the capital, whale watching and white water rafting. The cost is about 150 Euros.

In addition to the unique experiences of whale safari, you will enjoy the sea air and stunning scenery of Iceland which you will remember for long!