Highlights of a Boat Trip around the Westman Island Heimaey

Highlights of a Boat Trip around the Westman Island Heimaey

Iceland. Have you ever seen a lift for sheep? Or heard what a sea cave sounds like? Maybe you want to see the bizarre lava landscape of the Eldfell eruption from the seaside? Then you shouldn't miss a boat trip around the Westman Island Heimaey in the south of Iceland. Here you can read about the highlights and why this trip should not be missing on your to-do list when you are in Iceland.

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Bootstour um die Westmännerinsel Heimaey
A boat trip around the Westman island of Heimaey is not to be missed.

Lava Landscape of the Eldfell Eruption
Bird Rocks
Rocks with fantasy Pictures
Sheep Lift of the Westman Islands
Beluga Whale Sanctuary Klettsvik Bay
Meereshöhlen und die “Singing Cave”

Provider for Boat Tours around the Westman Island Heimaey
Book Recommendations for Iceland


Lava Landscape of the Eldfell Eruption

The eruption of the Eldfell volcano in 1973 destroyed 400 houses. They were overrun by lava, collapsed from the weight of the volcanic ash on the roofs, or were set on fire by lava bombs. But in addition to the destruction, the lava flow also created new land: about two square kilometers in the northeast of the island. You can see this new land of the Westman Island Heimaey from the water side during the boat tour. Impressively, the lava piles up here to bizarre towers and lava arches. The waves of the sea crash against the black lava and form a great contrast with their white foam crests.

Lavalandschaft während einer Bootstour um die Westmännerinsel Heimaey
The lava landscape of the Eldfell outcrop is also impressive from the seaside.
Lavalandschaft während einer Bootstour um die Westmännerinsel Heimaey
The lava flow of the Eldfell eruption created new land in the northeast of the island.

Bird Rocks

The Westman Islands are known for their large seabird colonies. Kittiwakes, fulmars and razorbills breed on the cliffs in several tiers. Particularly large numbers of seabirds nest at Cape Höfði, the southernmost point of Heimaey. The cliffs here are 122 m high and there are several caves. We even drive into a cave called "Fjósið".

During our boat trip we also pass Iceland's largest colony of puffins. It is located on the east side of the island Heimaey. From the boat it is a bit difficult to see the puffins at their nesting holes. But one can observe many puffins in the water here.

Vogelfelsen während einer Bootstour um die Westmännerinsel Heimaey
On the rocks of Heimaey seabirds nest in several tiers.
Bird watching hut at Cape Höfði, the southernmost point of Heimaey

Rocks with fantasy Pictures

In Iceland, many rocks and natural phenomena are accompanied by stories. For example, striking rocks are petrified trolls and hot springs or volcanoes are angry women. At the Westman Islands there are even two petrified hedgehogs - these are two offshore cliffs that look particularly round and spiky.

In the rocks of Heimaey you can see even more with a little imagination. There is a huge elephant drinking from the sea with its trunk. Right next to it a Tyrannosaurus is posing. And near the harbor entrance, a face and an eagle's head can be seen on the rocks.

Can you see the elephant dipping its trunk into the water?

Sheep Lift of the Westman Islands

In the past there was little grass on the main island of Heimaey. In order to feed all the sheep, the animals were taken to the greener neighboring islands. But how does one get the sheep up the almost vertical cliffs? With the sheep lift, of course! Necessity is the mother of invention. The Icelanders have made a wire basket that is pulled up the cliff on a rope. What brave animals that must be!

In the meantime, enough grass grows on the island of Heimaey for the sheep. But still, sheep are brought to the outer Westman Islands. Tradition remains tradition.

Schaf-Lift während einer Bootstour um die Westmännerinsel Heimaey
The ropes are parts of the sheep lift used to pull the animals up the cliffs.

Beluga Whale Sanctuary Klettsvik Bay

Klettsvik Bay used to be the temporary home of the orca Keiko. In the meantime, the two beluga whales "Little Grey" and "Little White" have moved in here. The bay is 3.2 square kilometers in size with a depth of up to 10 meters. It is separated with a double net and equipped with a supply platform. It is the first beluga whale sanctuary in the world where belugas have been returned from an aquarium to a more natural environment.

When I was here in July 2020, the two whales were supposed to have been relocated. But the belugas had a stomach flu and the move to the new environment was delayed until August. I wish Little Grey and Little White all the best, the pilot project much success and hope that many more sanctuaries for whales and dolphins will follow.

Belugawal Sanctuary Klettsvik Bay während einer Bootstour um die Westmännerinsel Heimaey
Klettsvik Bay is the new home of the beluga whales "Little Grey" and "Little White".

Meereshöhlen und die “Singing Cave”

On the coast of Heimaey there are several sea caves. We even went into two of them by boat. The larger of the two caves is called Klettshellir and is known as the "Singing Cave". This is because the acoustics inside it are extraordinary. To illustrate this, the captain plays us an Icelandic song. And the name of the cave lives up to its promise.

Every now and then, music concerts are held in the "Singing Cave". The sound experience must be impressive. Unfortunately, no concert was offered during my stay.

Meereshöhle während einer Bootstour um die Westmännerinsel Heimaey
Entrance to the "Singing Cave"

Provider for Boat Tours around the Westman Island Heimaey

You can book your boat tour around the Westman Island Heimaey with Ribsafari as well as Boat Tours. You can choose between a tour with the speedy Zodiacs or a larger boat with protected interior and viewing deck. There are also different routes offered: the circumnavigation of the main island Heimaey or excursions to the offshore islands, for example the island Surtsey, which was formed during the volcanic eruption of 1963-1967.

I had opted for the leisurely tour in the larger boat Teista. The boat tour went once around Heimaey and lasted 1.5 hours. Cost: 8,700 ISK (about 55 euros).

By the way: With a little luck you can also see whales on the trip. Even orcas! We also saw the blow of a whale in the distance.

Puffins are ubiquitous in the Westman Islands.

Book Recommendations for Iceland

Do you want to know where the journey is going? Then I can recommend this travel guides* to you.

You can order the travel guides on Amazon by clicking on the pictures. If you buy a product via an affiliate link, I get a small commission and you help me to keep filling Fernweh-Motive with interesting articles. This does not make the product more expensive for you.


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Recommendations for further Reading

Do you love the Scandinavian countries as much as I do? Then you might also be interested in my articles about the Kayak Tour in the Swedish Archipelago or a Trekking Tour to the Greenlandic Ice Sheet.

Kajaktour durch Schwedens Schären - die besten Tipps für eure Tourplanung

Hiking Tour vom Eqi-Gletscher zum grönländischen Inlandeis auf eigene Faust

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