north iceland: whale-watching with arctic sea tours in dalvík

Wednesday, August 17:  We arrive back at the town of Dalvík, a village on the western shore of Eyjafjörður in the valley of Svarfaðardalur, just in time for our 3:00 whale watching trip with Arctic Sea Tours.

As soon as we check in, we’re given arctic suits and told to hop into them.  It’s actually getting quite warm this afternoon, so it’s too hot to be wearing these suits.  Many people keep the tops unzipped and folded down over their behinds.

Mike in an Arctic suit :-)
Mike in an Arctic suit🙂
me in my Arctic suit
me in my Arctic suit

When everyone has arrived, we all march down to the marina to board the boat.  The marina with its backdrop of snow-capped peaks is charming and picturesque.

marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík

We aren’t going out into the Greenland Sea but will stay in Iceland’s longest fjord, Eyjafjörður, measuring 60km from head to mouth.  The tour is for 3 hours.

The fjord is surrounded by hills and mountains on both sides; the mountains are taller on the west side.  The mountains pictured below on are the east side.

Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður

Freyr Antonsson is the man in charge.  After we’re underway, he shows us photos of the creatures we might encounter, especially the great humpback whale, white-beaked dolphins, minke whales, small harbor porpoises and possibly even the majestic blue whale.  Today, we’ll see only humpback whales and harbor porpoises.

our boat captain from Arctic Sea Tours
our boat captain from Arctic Sea Tours
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður

Even though it was warm on land, it’s quite cold and windy out on the fjord.  Luckily we’re bundled up in our Arctic suits and winter hats.

Aboard Draumur
Aboard Draumur

We can see the tip of the island of Hrísey in the middle of Eyjafjörður.  It is the second largest island off the coast of Iceland and is often referred to as “The Pearl of Eyjafjörður.” It has a population of approximately 120 people and has been continuously inhabited since the Settlement of Iceland (Wikipedia: Hrísey).

Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður

We can see the western mountains on Tröllaskagi, the “Troll peninsula.”

Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
cloud artistry over Eyjafjörður

The mountains surrounding the fjord are treeless and capped with snow.

As we approach the mouth of the fjord near the Greenland Sea, we start to see some humpback whales.  Their backs rise out of the water and we can sometimes catch a glimpse of their tails before they submerge again.  When they’re just under the surface of the water, we can see a flat area in the water with bubbles rising.

glimpses of whales in Eyjafjörður
glimpses of whales in Eyjafjörður
boat and gulls on Eyjafjörður
boat and gulls on Eyjafjörður
boat on Eyjafjörður
boat on Eyjafjörður

Sometimes when they surface, their backs are just slightly above water, but other times, they curve out of the water in a nice hump.

humpback whale
humpback whale
humpback whale
humpback whale
humpback whale
humpback whale
humpback whale
humpback whale

I’m excited to finally capture one decent tail picture.  It’s very difficult to capture the whales on camera as you have to be looking at the sea in the exact spot where they rise up unexpectedly and you have to have your camera ready to shoot.  Often, they are simply too far away to get a decent picture.

humpback whale
humpback whale

During the trip, the crew hands out hot chocolate and cookies for a warming-up snack.

Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
glimpses of whales
glimpses of whales
whale spottings
whale spottings
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður

As we head back to Dalvík, the crew passes out fishing poles all around and people toss their lines overboard.  It’s amazing how quickly they start to pull in fish.  Different people on board pull up cod and three other types of fish.  This young man catches a big one!

A catch!
A catch!

Mike even tries his hand at fishing but doesn’t catch anything.

Mike goes fishing
Mike goes fishing

The captain cleans all the fish on board, tossing the heads and entrails overboard, while seagulls flap along overhead hoping to catch some scraps.

Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður

We arrive back at the marina and head back to the Arctic Sea Tours office.

Dalvík marina
Dalvík marina

Click on any of the pictures below for a full-sized slide show.

Back at the Arctic Sea Tours office, Freyr Antonsson fires up the grill and barbecues the fish we caught and he cleaned.  We each get a small portion of the various fish cooked with a butter spice topping.

our captain cooks up our fish catch
our captain cooks up our fish catch

After enjoying our snack, we get on the road back to Akureyri and the Lamb Inn.  At the inn, we soak for a while in a hot tub behind the inn and talk with a couple from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Ray and Marybeth, who are enjoying their holiday in Iceland.  They are quite the talkers.🙂

We have 8:00 dinner reservations at the Lamb Inn and we find our dinner to be one of the best we have in Iceland.  I order traditional fish gratin (made with cod) “dressed up” with butter and rye bread.  It’s delicious!

Traditional fish gratin "dressed up" with butter and rye bread
Traditional fish gratin “dressed up” with butter and rye bread

Mike’s meal of slow cooked lamb shank with chives, mashed potatoes and wild mushroom sauce is also wonderful, and I’m not generally much of a meat eater.

Slow cooked lamb shank with chives, mashed potatoes and wild mushroom sauce
Slow cooked lamb shank with chives, mashed potatoes and wild mushroom sauce

We’ve had a busy day with our drive all around Tröllaskagi, our hike around and above Siglufjörður, and our whale-watching tour.  Tomorrow we’ll sadly have to leave Akureyri for the east of Iceland.  We should definitely have planned more time for our trip.

Today’s steps: 12,650, or 5.36 miles.🙂

19 thoughts on “north iceland: whale-watching with arctic sea tours in dalvík

  1. Fabulous! I’d love to do this bit 🙂 And I’d have to keep that suit afterwards 🙂 🙂 Well done that you got the whale’s tail. So hard on a bobbing boat! Happy sailing, Cathy!

  2. Spectacular and humbling experience! You were blessed to see these creatures before they are all gone. I have never been whale watching except when entering Canadian waters on a cargo ship from Antwerp, but these were the very small and cute and white beluga whales I saw welcoming our ship! To see a magnificent hump back whale, I cannot imagine how incredible that must have been!

    1. It was really amazing, although it seemed they were often far away and we could often only see their backs. I wish we could have seen some closer up or jumping out of the water.🙂 It was wonderful to see what we saw, but of course I always want more.🙂

      1. I totally get that! When I had to join groups while on safari in Africa we often ended up sharing our photos because someone always got the better shots it seemed! My camera was stolen TWICE and I have not one photo of my months on safari, but I did not really take part in the photo sharing which I later regretted very much as I have not one photo of that whole trip. Tragic!!
        xx

      2. Oh no, that’s a shame about your camera getting stolen. I had a similar experience when my first husband and I took a 3-month trip across country. Someone broke into our car in San Diego and stole our camera, so we have no pictures of our trip back across the southern part of the country! It’s so frustrating.

      3. Yes, I can imagine. I had it happen twice in Africa, so all the millions of animal photos and baby animals in the reserves and the Maasai, etc., all gone.

      4. That is such a bummer. I remember breaking down in tears in Cambodia when I found I had bought a faulty camera card in Vietnam and all my pictures were erasing from the card after I took them! So frustrating.😦

      5. I know, but then you realize all the tears in the world will never bring them back. I went through all the stages of grief when I lost my photos of all the baby animals I photographed in the Serengeti and Maasai Mara, a bumper year of course for sightings!!! *sniff*

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