The whale watching guide of Iceland

Few things are as fascinating as seeing the gentle giant in its natural habitat. 

The converging currents of the cold Arctic and the warm Atlantic make the Icelandic waters a fantastic breeding ground for krill and fish, attracting over 20 different species of whales.
Most travellers think Husavik, the whale watching capital, is the best place to head to. But depending on the time of the year and what you're most interested in, there might be a better place for you. So read on...

At the edge of the Skjalfandi Floi (translated as Shaky Bay), Husavik is one of the best places to see humpbacks, the blue whale and the fin whale.  Apart from a variety of whale watching operators, there is also a whale museum and the University of Iceland's research centre.
Husavik truly lives up to its name as the whale watching capital!

Hauganes and Dalvik
With access to the same waters as Husavik, Dalvik is a great choice for people who would like to stay away from the crowds. Group sizes are usually smaller and you can also experience sea angling with a taste of fresh fish.

Isafjordur is fast growing as a whale watching destination with a significant increase in the numbers of humpback whales sighted in the last years. The whales here also stay for longer periods of time. 
The scenic views of the Isafjardardjup Bay with towering mountains, meandering fjords and small islands; and opportunities to see puffins, ducks and other seabirds adds to the special experience.

If orcas and sperm whales are what you're after, there is no better place than the Breidafjordur Bay. Just like Isafjordur, the Breidafjordur Bay is rich in birdlife and the uncountable islands here add to the charm.
Depending on the time of the year, tours run from Grundarfjordur or Olafsvik.

Whale watching tours also run year round from the Reykjavik and Akureyri harbours. The minke whale is the most common big whale and can be seen from most places around the country. 

When to go?
The beaked dolphin, harbour porpoise and orca live in Icelandic waters throughout the year.
Most other whales seem to follow the peak tourist season in Iceland, with the best sightings being between April and October. Some humpbacks and minkes do stay on through the winter.

So the summer is usually a better time with more stable weather, 24 hour light and the whales moving closer to the shore.There are however exceptions when winter might just be better:
- Breidafjordur in Snaefellsnes is a winter home for the herring which makes the chances of seeing orcas and other whales in winter fantastic.
- There is a greater chance of seeing belugas in the north when they swim south due to freezing waters.

Most tours offer a free second tour in case of no sightings the first time, so if you're keen on seeing these fascinating creatures, it is always worth trying your luck.

Other factors
You can choose between traditional oak fishing boats and faster RIB boats. Tours can be combined with puffin watching, sea angling, island trips and a visit to the Arctic circle.

Send us an email and we can plan the perfect Iceland trip with whale watching from the place of your choice!

Published by Halldór Pálmi Bjarkason on 31. March 2016