Our lovely full-service hotel, Hotel Kjarnalundur, just outside of Akureyri was a welcome sight after our rafting adventure, and it is here that we launched our next two days of fun in Iceland. Our family room was big enough for all 6 of us, the breakfast buffet was plentiful, and we had a quiet night’s rest.
A quick drive to Husavik, and we were on our way to hopefully see whales in Skjalfandi Bay, the whale watching capital of Iceland. Our guide at North Sailing told us that we were just 40 miles from the Arctic Circle, and it felt momentous to realize how much work we had done to make it so far. Aside from the hope of seeing the great whales up close, the scenery was outstanding.
We climbed once again into suits provided by the company that kept us warm, dry and had built-in flotation devices. I could live in one of those.
And we saw them! North Sailing exclusively offers a quiet tour which is much more unobtrusive than a zodiac, and our skilled captain was able to approach the whale area, and then to turn off the motor and drift into their zone. In our 3 hour trip, most of it crossing the bay and back again, we saw at least 3 humpbacks and a minke whale. We even came upon a humpback that was sleeping. When it realized a boat-load of people was staring down at him, it flipped its fluke and was gone.
People ask me, how do you manage to see whales each time you go whale watching? The answer is to do your research, follow migration routes….pay extra for a company that hires scientists and is top-rated in terms of its treatment of the sea life, and you will see them. I’ve never had an unsuccessful whale watching trip. If it’s important to you, then plan your entire trip around seeing these whales, like we did.
Husavik also offers a self-guided whale history museum that covers the industry of whaling and persuades the audience that eco-tourism is the new way to go. After seeing the historical side and studying the great whale skeletons, we went for a dip ourselves at the Husavik Swimming pool. It has a play pool, waterslide, a lengths pool, a cold tub, a hot tub and a massage tub. Really really nice. The kids were allowed to be rambunctious and they wore themselves out. The nice woman at the ticket counter instructed us clearly on how to blend with the pre-bathing rituals necessary before entering. We tried our best to dive like humpbacks with our spine up and then fluke, but it turns out this is really hard to do when your nose isn’t on top of your head.