All year round you can see a variety of magnificent creatures of the sea, from the Minke and Humpback whales to White Beaked Dolphins and Harbour Porpoises. The ocean is always full of adventures although the best season for whale watching is April to October. You can see also see a wide variety of other aquatic species including all sorts of bird including puffins and wildlife. Not to mention the beautiful scenery around the coast of Iceland.
Whale watching and other sea tours operate from various spots around the country, although most of the tours go from the capital of Reykjavik in the south and from Húsavík and Akureyri in the North. The length of the trip depends on the type of boat and how far from land you’ll be going, but a basic whale watching trip takes approximately four to five hours. Departure times depend on the time of year (since the length of the available daylight varies over the year) and also on the times of year when the whales are present close to shore. Generally, through the summer, tours will go out to sea early in the morning (around 8AM) and then again in the afternoon (around 1PM).
Almost every tour operator in Iceland has a very knowledgeable staff onboard to answer all of your questions and give a short presentation on the species of whale that can be seen on the trip. Many of the tour guides are oceanographers and marine biologists and it can be a great trip to take with kids if you want to work in some educational entertainment on your family vacation.
It’s important to dress appropriately for the sea (it’s often quite a bit colder out there than it is on land) and life vests are provided for younger passengers by the tour operators.
The companies that offer whale watching trips quite often also offer fishing trips and educational trips about the marine life around Iceland. On the fishing trips, you’ll catch your own dinner and barbecue it onboard the vessel, which is quite an incredible experience if you haven’t tried fresh fish out of the ocean before.
The marine life tours will take a sample from the bottom of the ocean and show you all the different creatures that live there, from starfish to shrimp and other amazing animals. Alternatively, you may want to take a trip out to one of the bird sanctuary islands and visit the puffins in their natural habitat.
If you want to enhance your experience of the sea life in Iceland or if you’d prefer to enjoy your whales from the land and skip the ocean voyage altogether, we can recommend the Whales of Iceland exhibit down on the waterfront in the Grandi district of Reykjavik. There you’ll find life-size scale models of all the different species of whale in the seas around Iceland with plenty of interactive displays to learn about these incredible creatures and even a couple of virtual reality headsets that will put you in the display and give you the feeling of swimming with the largest mammals on the planet.