Three white children in polar suits on whale watching boat

Whale Watching in Húsavík

After a terrible night of sleep (see: all five of us in a single hotel room) but a fairly hearty hotel buffet breakfast, we headed off in the direction of Húsavík, which is known as a prime whale watching spot in northern Iceland.

Out on the Water

Last year, Sam, Addie and I went whale watching with a company called North Sailing. Our experience was really positive (other than Addie freaking out about having to wear a waterproof winter suit), and so we decided to use them again this time around.

We made it to Húsavík with plenty of time to spare before our 12:30pm sailing time, though much of the town was closed for Whit Monday, a national holiday in Iceland. Luckily, a bakery was open, and we were able to pick up sandwiches for a cheap lunch before we boarded the ship.

Last year the whales were in deep waters really close to shore—this year, not so much. Thankfully, our crew was full of seasoned veterans who not only knew where to head to find whales but were also very direct with all of the passengers about making room for kids to see (a few adults seemed to have no qualms about nearly knocking our kids overboard either with their enormous camera lenses or pushing them aside in the interest of a good shot).

Three white children in polar suits on whale watching boat
No tears this year on our whale watching excursion!

Ultimately, on our three-hour tour on the schooner Opal (a silent electric sailboat) we spotted blue whales, humpback whales, a hybrid of blue and fin whales, a white-beaked dolphin, a puffin, and several gannets.

Back on Land

Following our successful afternoon of whale watching, we headed in the direction of Lake Mývatn, where we had reservations for that evening at Guesthouse Stöng. Before reaching our destination, we stopped at Skútustaðagígar, a row of pseudo craters that we had enjoyed traipsing around last year.

There was one big difference this year, though: the MIDGES. Lake Mývatn is actually named for them—these little flies that don’t bite but do swarm the area and seem to make it into everyone’s eyes, ears, noses, mouths, and so on. It was so bad that within 10 minutes of getting out of the car, we were all racing back into it. (Sorry, Charlotte, that I recommended this area to you! I take it back!)

It actually wasn’t nearly this bad—but still WAY worse than last year

After giving up on our walk, we headed for the guesthouse in the hopes that the midges might be… less prevalent. We were wrong. And not only were they everywhere, but air conditioning, screens, and fans all seem to be in short supply in Iceland (or maybe there’s generally just little demand for them?).

Our guest cottage was STIFLINGLY hot, given how bright the sun was and how long it remains in the sky—but opening the windows meant welcoming in all of the flying creatures outside. Sam eventually went back to the front desk and asked if they had any suggestions; the clerk laughed and asked what we had expected, given that the area is named for these flies. Touché. Fortunately, another woman working there offered us the fan from their laundry room, and after we cleaned a heavy layer of lint from it, it actually made a significant improvement. Amen.

Melanie

Hey there! I’m Melanie. Originally from Brooklyn, home is now Charleston, SC--or wherever my three kids and husband are. Our family gap year will take us around the world, touching down on six continents over 12 months.
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