The absolute highlight of our stopover in Iceland! My husband is an avid birder, and this was on his Life List. I booked the Puffin Express Cruise to Akurey Island from Reykjavik through Viator, but there were several other companies offering the same type of tour (just go to the kiosks at the Old Reykjavik Harbor).
The little islands where the puffins were was not far from the mainland, so we were able to get there quickly and see the guys. And we didn't see one or two - oh no! There were DOZENS of these cuties! We had a guide on the boat who told us about the area, and about the puffins - he was excellent. LOVED this tour and would do it again!
If you have them, definitely bring binoculars. You can see the puffins as they fly, and on the island, but you see them REALLY well with the binocs. :-)
On one of the sunny days i decided to go Whale watching, since i didn´t want to get wet in the cold weather i chose a bigger boat. I did see fairly close but only foe seconds some Minky Whales, definately to short to get any pictures. There where also some Dolfins juming around in the distance, since the boat bounced quite a lot in the waves it was difficlt as well to get pictures. One did see also some Puffin birds swimmind in the sea.
If you have never seen Whales or Dolfins it´s worth doing the trip, but in Southest Asia i saw both closer and better...
i wrote a tip earlier regarding my whale watching tour which turned out to be not very successful as only two whales were momentarily spotted and most people did not manage to catch a glimpse of them. Many of the passengers were cold and disappeared inside the boat, some of them took a nap and others sat in the lounge/restaurant. We were then treated to a talk about whales, dolphins and birds while the tour guide passed parts of the animals around for people to inspect more closely. Photographs were taken of parts of flippers, vertebrae and ear drums and turned out to be quite interesting but did not make up for the non-sighting of the huge mammals.
A few companies operate whale watching tours but is it worth it?
This morning I boarded a boat for the three hour trip expecting to see at least one whale jump out of the water. We were given a welcome speech, safety instructions, some info about the MINKE WHALE and thirty minutes later I was standing out on the deck along with twenty other tourists, all dressed in floatable overalls, gazing in all directions looking for the whales. Even with the overalls supplied it was very cold due to the wind, butcafterc15 minutes the first ocean beast was spotted, and some of us were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of his back as he swam and disappeared forever. Another whale was spotted by the German guide but I guess not many of us spotted it. For the next hour we were told to look here and there as several puffins and other birds were near the boat. Even a few dolphins were seen, but after an hour most whale watchers had returned to warmer lounge in the boat, some were even taking a nap.
I guess if you were lucky enough to see a whale jump a couple of times in close proximity to the boat it would have been considered a successful trip but for me, still feeling the effects of the cold conditions I consider it money down the drain, 9,000 kr. The German guide did explain a lot about the whales and passed a few body parts around for all to see, but in the end it was not worth it, as when the whales were spotted there just was not enough time to take the all important photograph. Admittedly the company lets you come aboard the next day free, if no whales were spotted! But whales were spotted , but just for a split second.
However I improvised and have a fantastic photo of a whale jumping full length out of the water, even if I cheated a little by taking a photo of the beast on a postcard at a souvenir shop on the way home!!!
I fyou want to take the tour, be prepared: apparently dolphins = whales. so you might see only few dolphins jumping. if you are lucky; first time we didn't see anything, so we got other tickets (that was nice of the company), and second time 4 dolphins. so I lost 2 days of my trip in Iceland and payed 57 euros for some dolphins... it is not what I wanted. check youtube as well and then think again if you want to go.
Iceland is considered one of the top places in the world to see whales right off the coast. We took the company Special Tours since they allow 2nd and 3rd chances in case you don't see whales and so glad we did … one the first outing we didn't see anything and came back for a 2nd chance and glad we did. On the 2nd trip we saw several Minke whales, and dolphins … We paid 8500 ISK about $73 US dollars … we worth it since they give you multiple times to see the whales …..
They also provide warm full jump suits for days that the cold and wind really come up and are included in the price also there is a small cafe on the 2nd floor.
The staff were friendly and great …. I would recommend this company ….
The trip starts at the small old harbor and runs for about 3 1/2 hours.
The largest puffin colony in the world is in Iceland, in a volcanic island just off the south-shore of Iceland, Vestmannaeyjar or "Westman islands".
But you don't have to go far to see puffins in Iceland, just pop down to the Reykjavík Old Harbour and hop on the Puffin express, which takes you for an hour-ride in the Reykjavík bay to the nearby islands, Akurey and Lundey (lundi is the icelandic name for the puffins), where the puffins nest.
The boat-ride takes 15 minutes and the stop is half an hour very close to the islands, so you can have a look at the birds swimming in the sea and flying over your head. It is a great experience which I recommend especially on a sunny day.
There are ca 15.000 pairs in Akurey and ca 10.000 pairs in Lundey so you are guaranteed to see some birds :) All in all there are 10 million puffins in Iceland, making it the most common bird here.
The Puffin express leaves 3 times a day at 10:30, 14:30 and 16:30 from May 15th to August 20th, but private tours are available. The price is 20 Euros for adults.
If in your travel plans you also have to go the the South and the North of Iceland, avoid wasting time and money in whale and puffins watching tours in Reykjavik.
Even if you com back happy because you've seen one hundred puffins flying away from you as the boat approaches and the back of whale quite far away from you, please note that the best place for puffins watching is the South of Iceland where thousands of them nest every year, mainly on the Vaestmann islands. If you want to have good pictures of them you have to approach them from land and not from sea. Puffins fly away when they notice a boat approaching but they're curious and if you approach them quietly and you're lucky enough, you can get few meters from them, enough for a close-up shot.
For whale watching the place is Husavik, no doubt!
If you are short on time, you can take a quick trip from downtown Reykjavik out to a small island off the coast where the puffin nest. There are literally thousands of them.