While we spent the night in Akureyri, on day 5 in Iceland we wanted to go whale watching and Rosemary really wanted to see puffins. So, we booked a trip on a boat out of Húsavík, which is about an hour and 15 minutes away from Akureyri, called: Whales, Puffins, and Sails.
We had nice weather the day we went to Húsavík. Húsavík is a very cute town on the north coast with a very clear emphasis on shipping, fishing, and whale watching. I could definitely envision renting a house here for a couple of weeks to enjoy small town life in Iceland.
Before boarding the boat, the company we booked with had us all put on full body jumpsuits that doubled as both insulation and a flotation device. Given the cold wind on the boat, this added layer of protection was quite welcome.
We then boarded our re-purposed fishing boat that was also a sailboat, Haukur, and headed toward Puffin Island. Puffin Island is a small island off the coast that is filled with puffins and other seabirds. There are literally thousands of puffins living on the island, which meant when our boat sailed by, we saw hundreds of them floating on the water, diving, and flying. Despite seeing so many, they are quite small and even with my telephoto lens on my camera, I didn’t manage to get all that many great photos:
Even so, we saw hundreds of puffins, which fulfilled a life-long dream of Rosemary’s. (In all honesty, Debi and I didn’t even know what a puffin was before we booked the boat ride. Happy to learn something new!)
We spent a good 30 minutes or so navigating around Puffin Island then sailed (really, motored, we only sailed for about 5 minutes of the 3-hour tour) across the bay to look for whales. And whales we did find – perhaps as many as 10. We observed probably 50 different instances of whales surfacing for air, with the whales exhaling, swimming on the surface for a minute or two to take a few deep breaths, then diving back down to feed. Some of the whales came up kind of far from our boat, but others were so close that they genuinely scared everyone on the boat when they let out their breath of air. One came up about 10 feet from the boat. We spent at least an hour just floating around while half a dozen whales surfaced all around us. I did manage to get a lot of great photos of the whales, but I’m not going to post the hundreds of photos I took. This one should illustrate how amazing the experience was:
After watching the whales, we put all the sails up and sailed for a few minutes. The crew also had hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls for everyone.
We then slowly motored our way back into port.
After we returned to Husavik, we walked around for a bit, enjoying the very, very small town, and even checked out souvenirs (something we never buy, but Rosemary wanted a puffin souvenir).
We then drove back to Akureyri and walked around Akureyri for a bit. It’s a much larger town, but the downtown area isn’t all that large and it’s quite pretty and interesting. Akureyri is another place I could see myself getting a two-week rental and just enjoying small town life.