The Best Whale Watching In Húsavík

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The Best Whale Watching In Húsavík

One of the best places to watch for whales is off of the coast of Iceland. Humpback whales, Minke whales, and many others return to Iceland each year for the rich feeding grounds. 

And Husavik is considered the whale watching capital of Iceland! 

So if you are in Iceland and want to take a life changing detour, come to Husavik for an almost guaranteed whale sighting.

Whale Watching in Husavik – The Whale Watching Tour Company We Chose

There are four choices when it comes to whale watching in Husavik. That’s quite a few considering how small the town is. 

But being the whale capital and all, Husavik has to be able to handle all of the tourists that visit. 

They each offer something unique, so there is no wrong choice. 

The four companies are Gentle Giants, Husavik Adventures, North Sailing, and Salka Whale Watching.

None of these companies nor captain nor crew want to harm their cetacean visitors. 

And it’s not just for economical reasons. They genuinely want to educate and share a remarkable experience with as many as possible, without disturbing the whales too much. 

4 Husavik Whale Watching Tour Providers – How to Choose?

So what separates them were the kinds of boats they had. Gentle Giants offer whale watching tours with your choice of a small 8 person Zodiac boat, an 18 person RIB boat, or a rebuilt fishing boat.

Husavik Adventures offers a smaller 12 passenger RIB boat.

Salka Whale Watching are a newer tour provider and, like North Sailing, have have restored 2 Icelandic oak fishing vessels. 

North Sailing has the option of 10 different fully restored traditional oak fishing boats. Three of their boats have been converted into sailing schooners. The craftsmanship (or is it ship craftsman?) is remarkable. 

As a carpenter and a woodworker I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than restored wood. Character can’t be built or bought. It can only be earned. And these boats have earned their patina only to be enhanced to the original elegance. 

Ultimately we chose North Sailing. After all, they were the original whale watching in Husavik and put their town on the map as the whale watching capital of Iceland. 

Why We Chose North Sailing For Our Whale Watching Tour In Husavik

Realisitically it came down to the boats they offered. We decided we didn’t wanto to take a RIB boat or a Zodiac. 

The idea is cool, they move much faster and can get to the whales quicker. 

And even though they abide by the strict guidelines of the Ice Whales Code of Conduct, I questioned whether or not they would disturb the animals. 

Besides that was the physics of spotting whales from such a low angle. The taller fishing boats offered a higher angle with less people between our camera and the whales. 

All other things being equal, we chose North Sailing because of their track record and the amount of boats they had gave us more flexibility to schedule a tour. 

Box: Icelandic Whale Watching Boats – What’s The Difference?

Icelandic Whale Watching in a Zodiac Boat

Pros The smallest vessel means the least competition for a good view of the breaching whales.

Cons Being so low to the water makes it a little harder to scan the water, especially with other boats nearby.

Icelandic Whale Watching in a Rib Boat

Pros Like the Zodiac, smaller and faster to move toward a breaching whale.

Cons Also has the same limitation of visibility as the Zodiac boat, but with more people in the way it’s even harder to view the animals.

Icelandic Whale Watching in a Restored Fishing Boat

Pros The higher vantage point allows you to find whales from a greater distance, even with other boats in the water. And the boats have a rich history that you get to be a part of, even if only for a day.

Cons Slower to move when a whale breach is spotted.

Humpback Whales Sighted Near Husavik

We were there in September, which was late for whale watching in Iceland. So most of the whales had taken off for warmer waters for the season.

But two Humpbacks had waited around just to give us a show for a little while.

We couldn’t help but smile as we watched these enormous creatures gently breach, exhale, and dive for up to 10 minutes. 

Our captain explained you always know when they are diving and will be away for a while. The whale may swim on the surface for a few minutes catching its breathe.

But when it dives the fluke comes up. It’s as if they are giving a little wave. But I took it as when a person holds up a finger as if to say “I’ll be right back.”

Then it becomes a game of hide and seek. You know they will come back up, but where and when is anyone’s guess. 

We followed them around the bay for an hour and learned more about the habits and culture of the humpback whales. 

When Is The Best Time To Go Whale Watching In Husavik?

Whales spend half of the year in Iceland. Between April and October are the best times to view these migratory marine mammals off of the shores. 

As we mentioned, by September they start to make their way back to the Gulf of Mexico. One of the longest migrations in the animal kingdom, they have a long trip ahead of them. 

But with the summer months come more tourists, more bugs, and more sun. That means the summertime is more crowded, more annoying, and no chance of seeing the other natural wonder of Iceland, the Northern Lights.

Granted, Husavik is far to the north and away from the majority of the visitors in Southern Iceland. 

Whale Watching in Husavik in September

For us the best time of year is the fall. Most crowds dwindle, the bugs die off, and the weather is cooler but more stable than the springtime. And the fall colors pop in the Birch forests in the east of Iceland. 

So we love to travel to Iceland between September and October. You still get to see the whales without sacrificing the other pleasantries of Iceland.

This time we went in September and would recommend whale watching in September in Husavik as the best time to go. 

North Sailing Review And Prices

We loved North Sailing. They thought of every detail. From warm jumpsuits before you head out to the care they take around the whales, we were comfortable during the whole tour. 

And they do their best to educate about the marine life around Iceland. It was as much a field trip as it was a fun excursion. 

We can’t recommend them enugh. 

Their prices are 10,690 ISK (around $85 at the time of this writing) per person for a whale watching tour. 

They also offer puffin watching and other sailing excursions, in Husavik and other parts of Iceland. 

Where to Camp for Whale Watching in Husavik?

We stayed just up the road at Camping 66.12 North. It was far enough out of town to be away from the lights, but close enough to make an easy drive for our whale watching appointment.

Follow the link above to read a little more about it and find it on our Iceland camping map.

Wrap Up

Not only is Iceland an incredible place to road trip and camp, but it is also one of the best places to spot whales. 

I’m sure we are not the only ones enamored with these beautiful creatures. But seeing a humpback live is one of our favorite things we have done. 

We want to incorporate more whale watching in all of our travels. So stay tuned for more updates on our whale watching journey!

In the meantime, be sure to check out our packing checklist for camping in Iceland. It’s based on our camping trip in 2019 including what we brought and what we would recommend in the future. 

And, as our name implies, we have to have coffee when camping. Even when in Iceland, we made sure we had plenty of coffee and our French Press. Read about that and 12 other ways to make coffee while camping.

And don’t miss our rating of the best campsites we stayed in Iceland. Including a trip into the interior accessible only by crossing the river in a Land Cruiser. Those snorkels aren’t just for looks!

Speaking of camping, we have a ton of suggestions for camping around the world. Check out our camping page, our hiking page, and our road trip page to join us on a worldwide outdoor road trip!

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