The whale watching pursuit has begun. You’re out on a boat in the middle of Húsavík’s Skjálfandi Bay and your eyes are peeled. When will the gentle beast poke its head out of the water? Is that a tail over there to your right? Whale watching in Iceland as one of the coolest, most fun activities you can do during your trip. Not only is it an excellent idea for a family outing, but it also gets you up close and personal with the nature that Iceland is so well known for. With over 20 different whale species swimming in its waters, you’re sure to catch a glimpse of at least a few humpback whales, minke whales, blue whales, fin whales, and many more. But when can you see whales in Iceland? And where are the best places to go whale watching? Let’s dive in and find out.
When Can You See Whales in Iceland?
April to October is the best time of year to see whales in Iceland. Peak season for whale watching is usually the summer. June, July, and August see the return of many cetaceans to Iceland. The bays of its cities, towns and seaside villages are abundant with of marine life. And it’s not just whales flipping their fins in the frigid waters of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Grey seals, harbor porpoises, white-beaked dolphins, and other aquatic species call Iceland home.
Where is the Best Place to See Whales in Iceland?
Magazines and travel publications frequently name Iceland in the top five whale watching destinations in the world. This includes places like Alaska, Antarctica, and Arctic Canada. Because there are so many different types of whales all over the island, you can actually go whale watching in many different places. Here is my list of the best whale watching spots in Iceland:
- Húsavík – Located in North Iceland, Húsavík is known as the country’s whale watching capital. They’ve even got a whale museum.
- Akureyri – Another city in North Iceland. This is a great area to take your family on a whale watching tour.
- Reykjavík – Want to go whale watching while you visit Iceland’s capital? This is a good option if you don’t have time during your trip to head up north.
- Snæfellsnes Peninsula – If you are a Shamu lover or a fan of killer whales, head to Snæfellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland. This is one of the best places to see orcas.
What Kind of Whales Are There in Iceland?
So when you’re on a whale watching excursion, exactly what types of whales will you see? Here are some of the different species that frequent Iceland’s waters. While sea kayaking or going on a whale watching tour, you’re most likely to see blue whales, sperm whales, minke whales, fin whales, humpback whales, and killer whales. Can you believe Iceland has so many different species? You won’t even need binoculars to see them breaching and the distance. Some of them swim right up to your boat or kayak and slowly reveal themselves. There’s nothing like seeing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. You’ll get up-close-and-personal with Iceland’s majestic whales and other marine wildlife.
How Do I See the Whales in Iceland?
You’ll have a lot of different opportunities to see these beautiful mammals in action. The most popular way to go whale watching in Iceland is with a boat tour. These are offered in many major cities, including Reykjavik and Húsavík. Tours from Iceland’s capital operate all year long. Húsavík tours typically run from late March to late November. The tours take around three hours.
Adventure seekers can go on a sea kayaking excursion and get close enough to touch the whales. Just don’t get too nervous when there’s a whale just mere feet away from your face. We don’t want to tip the boat!
What Time of Day is Best to Go Whale Watching?
Anytime is a good time! If you’d like to capture the sparkling blue waters in your photographs, the middle of the day with the most sun is probably best. Anytime from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. will provide the best overhead light. This is assuming the weather is not overcast. Aspiring photographers can also choose the golden hour for their scenic shots. The gorgeous light and sunset colors of a late in the day whale watch are sure to enchant. Just remember, if you come to Iceland in the summer you’re not dealing with regular sunset times. This is the period of the Midnight Sun, so plan accordingly.
Whale Watching in Iceland – Gentle Beasts in Arctic Waters
The gentle creatures that roam Iceland’s waters really do warrant your time and attention. A boat excursion to go whale watching is something you won’t soon forget. Just be sure to wear a good rain jacket and waterproof clothing. The extraordinary experience is a lot of fun, but it can also get quite wet. So bundle up, dress warmly, stay dry, and enjoy.