Finally, after many trips around the world, I can say that I have seen whales in the wild . And it is that this summer I have been able to enjoy whale watching in Húsavik , a small and charming fishing town in the northeast of Iceland .

Seeing these incredibly beautiful animals up close, in complete freedom, is a sight I will never forget. Especially since I had the privilege of admiring it on several occasions, thanks to my work as a guide in the country.

That is how I came across humpback whales, minke whales, fin whales, dolphins and various types of waterfowl , all of them lurking in those green waters that flood Húsavik Bay. If you want to know a little more about the experience, here I tell you.

How to Get to Husavik

see whales in Húsavik

Church of Húsavik David Clerk.

The town of Húsavik is 463 km from Reykjavík and only 56 km from the Arctic Circle. To get there, the most used method is usually the private car (rented, almost always), on a journey that takes almost 6 hours. 

However, people with less time and a bigger budget prefer to take a 40-minute flight from Reykjavik to Akureyri airport . From there, you have an hour’s drive to Húsavik.

When is the best time to see whales in Iceland?

If you want to see whales in Húsavik and other parts of Iceland, you should know that the cetaceans will be in the area between April and the end of September (or the beginning of October), with the months of June, July and August being the ones in which you will have the most possibilities. to see several specimens.

The whale watching experience in Húsavik

We arrived in Húsavik from the east, after visiting the magnificent fjords in that part of the country, the Dettifoss and Selfoss waterfalls and the small – and mythological – ancient forest of Asbyrgi.

The sun shone high in Iceland’s summer midday . Something that, I must confess, caught me by surprise, as I was expecting a much worse climate than the one I was able to enjoy during the months of July and August.

After ascending a slight slope, a change in elevation suddenly showed me the beautiful image of Húsavik . Its colorful houses glistened in the sun and the small port appeared quietly, beautiful and peaceful, next to the iconic red and white church.

That church, along with the rest of the town, rose to fame in 2020, when the film “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” (another of the grotesque titles translated into Spanish), comedy and parody starring by Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, was released on the Netflix platform and whose main theme song, ‘ Húsavik, my hometown ‘, was nominated for best song at the 2021 Oscars.

Preparation at Gentle Giants

A short walk took us to the port of Húsavik, where the whale-watching boats almost equal the fishing boats, demonstrating the positive turn towards tourism that Iceland has carried out for just over a decade.

In front of us, the sea shone in shades of green and dark blue , while the snow-capped mountains completed an incomparable setting.

We approached the small office of the Gentle Giants company and were informed about the state of the sea, the probability of seeing whales and the time of departure.

Before boarding the beautiful boat called ‘Sylvia’ , we were given a thick suit to protect us from the cold and a long raincoat. The day did not bode rain, but if there is something certain about the Icelandic climate, it is that it is uncertain.

Heading out to Húsavik Bay and the first puffins

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Frailecillos and Látrabjarg.

The sea shows here a greenish and opaque tone, product of the large amount of nutrients that some waters possess in which the fresh currents of rivers and waterfalls and the salty ones of the ocean are mixed. Thanks to this large amount of nutrients, there are huge schools of fish. And it is they that attract the whales, who spend months here feeding before migrating to the warm waters to mate and calve.

But since man does not live on whales alone, at this stage of the excursion we were lucky enough to be entertained by a good number of aquatic birds .We were at the end of July and on that splendid day the fulmars flew happily – a bird similar to the seagull, but related to the albatross -, arctic terns and the graceful puffins , pelagid birds (they live in the waters of the ocean) and that, from mid-May to mid-August, they mate, nest, and breed on Icelandic cliff walls.

And finally, the whales

Our attention was diverted from the puffins to the horizon as soon as the captain alerted us to the presence of the first cetacean. It was a humpback whale about 15 meters long (as long as our boat) that emerged to the surface every 5-7 minutes to breathe, after spending all that time underwater, relentlessly eating fish to complete its diet of 1 to 1.5 tons daily.After about 20 minutes, we spotted a minke whale, and also a group of dolphins. 

The minke whales are somewhat smaller than the humpbacks (between 7 and 10 meters) and show their dark side instead of the fin, but they did not fail to impress us.

As we approached Húsavik again, our fantastic guide, Natalia, explained to us all the possible curiosities about the whales that we had seen. It was the culmination of an experience that I will never forget. Are you coming to see whales in Húsavik?

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