11 Feb Late Night Whale Watching in Iceland
Anytime you are interacting with and viewing wildlife it can be hit or miss. You can never completely predict what wild animals will do, so signing up on a tour to spot animals in their natural habitat can be a gamble.
Husavik, Iceland, is said to be the “whale watching capital of Europe”. So, of course, when we were passing through this tiny fishing village, we just had to stop and see if the whale watching lived up to the hype. We signed up for the last tour of the day with North Sailing Husavik—our tour was the original three-hour whale watching tour, and it started at 8:00 p.m.
After purchasing our tickets, we decided to grab a bite to eat before it was time to board our boat. In addition to offering a wide array of boat tours, North Sailing Husavik also has a restaurant that serves up food directly across the street from the boats. We received a discount at this restaurant with our whale watching tour tickets, and our friends had good memories of this spot from their last visit to Husavik, so we decided it was the perfect choice. The restaurant is called Gamli Baukur, and it is open from June to August. I love that the restaurant (well, actually the company as a whole!) focuses on sustainability. They only serve the fisherman’s daily catch and meat from the local farmers. I was on a fish soup kick during our Iceland trip, so that’s exactly what I ordered, and Micah opted for the BBQ chicken plate. It was a fresh and delicious meal, and after scarfing it down, we got ready to board our boat.
Our vessel for the evening was an old oak fishing boat called the Nattfari that was originally built in Stykkishólmur in 1965; the Nattfari has since been restored and it is now a beautiful boat to take out on the water. If you don’t have warm enough clothes to wear, no need to worry, as you can snuggle up in one of the warm suits provided by North Sailing.
As we started sailing out into the Skjalfandi Bay of the Greenland Sea, we noticed the lighting turn into the most beautiful, golden hue. Our seats at the front of the boat gave us access to a spectacular show of light right in front of our eyes. The 24 hour sunlight during Iceland’s summers really makes these types of late night activities special.
We waited patiently in hopes of spotting a whale, and it turns out we didn’t need to test our luck. Soon enough, the guides told us that they had spotted the first whale of the evening and pointed out where we could see it for ourselves. All of the passengers, including us, shuffled to the right side of boat in hopes of seeing the whale with our own eyes.
Throughout the course of the evening we spotted Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, and Harbor Porpoises, which are the smallest whales in the world. In addition to an abundance of whales, we also spotted plenty of birds, as well. When a whale was spotted, our boat would follow a strict protocol of procedures as the company focuses on responsible whale watching. They don’t want to frighten, disrupt, or separate the whales, among plenty of other things. I love it when companies practice sustainability and responsibility, and even though they were careful to respect the whales, we still encountered over 7 different whales throughout the evening.
The guides did a great job spotting the whales, and we stayed with each of them for a little while before moving on to find more. Although we saw a good number of whales on our tour, we didn’t see any of the whales jump or breach. Luckily, we did at least see plenty of water spray and tails. It honestly felt like we were spotting one whale after another all evening long.
When it was time to call it a night and head back to shore, we were provided with some warm hot chocolate and cinnamon buns. These snacks couldn’t have been a better way to warm up on a chilly night out on the water.
Just when we thought it was about time to get off the boat, the guides spotted another whale close by, and they couldn’t resist making a slight detour to show us one more whale. It was so nice of them to stop so we all had the chance to see one last sighting.
The odds of whale sightings in this area are very high. But since wildlife viewing is never 100% guaranteed, if you don’t see any whales on your tour, they will take you out on a second trip free of charge.
North Sailing Husavik has been in operation for over 20 years and it is a family run business. Also, as I mentioned briefly above, they focus on offering sustainable and responsible tours. They currently have some sailings that are carbon neutral, and their hope is to have all their sailings completely carbon neutral by 2020. In addition to sustainable sailing, they also are aiming to go completely electric with their company cars, as well. In addition to this, they also restore and repurpose old boats and buildings to preserve heritage and save on using new materials. Sustainability and respecting nature are the driving forces in every decision the company makes.
North Sailing Husavik offers sailings from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and a variety of sailings occur year round. You can book tour that take you to see puffins, seals and even the northern lights. I would love to sign up for one of the northern lights sailing tours someday!
I feel as though we lucked out with seeing so many whales on our tour, but I have a sneaky suspicion that this was a completely normal evening out on the water with North Sailing Husavik. The gorgeous 24 hour sunlight created a magical glow over the water and landscapes surrounding us, and it truly felt as though we were in a dream. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience!
Have you ever been whale watching in Iceland or anywhere else?