North Sailing’s Traditional Oak Fishing Boats Sail to the Whales
Starting this winter, North Sailing goes whale watching right from the centre of the town of Akureyri. Interestingly enough, they are the first company to offer scheduled trips from Akureyri—just as they were the first to offer them from Húsavík 18 years ago. They’re finding large humpback whales in groups right in the fjord just a short sail away.
Whale watching at any time is exciting, to see these massive creatures surfacing—and sometimes, jumping clear out of the water close to the ship. Thousands of people have taken photos but the experience of seeing the whales is something that will never be forgotten. It is amazing to get so close to them.
Get the Best of All Worlds
If you’re visiting Iceland to enjoy the winter sports activities and to see the Northern Lights, the capital of the North, Akureyri, is the perfect place for you. In winter, Akureyri, on Eyjafjörður, the longest fjord in Iceland, provides the opportunity to see the families of whales feeding close up whereas the bay at Húsavík, where North Sailing is ranked as the No. 1 attraction, is more open to the common cold northerly winds in the wintertime.
The tour itself lasts a full three hours and includes hot chocolate and local snack refreshments. Warm over suits, hats, gloves, blankets and raincoats are available in case of any changes in weather. With a comfortable viewing area on deck and a warm lounge below, the sturdy, well protected Náttfari is the ideal vessel for the tours and its success rate is very high. Take a look at the comments on TripAdvisor.com to get a feel for what to expect on the tours. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
Bringing History Back to Life
Sailing traditional Icelandic fishing boat used to be almost a memory of the past until brothers, Hörður and Árni Sigurbjarnarson painstakingly restored a 20-ton oak vessel to its former glory and started taking visitors whale and puffin watching from the northern town of Húsavík.
Their company, North Sailing, began in 1994 with one vessel, the Knörrinn, but news spread quickly and their tours became so popular that two more vessels were renovated. The Haukur and then later The Hildur were fitted with traditional equipment in the spirit of the 18th century shark schooners that used to fish off the coasts of northern Iceland. All the boats are outfitted to modern standards without losing the beauty and charm of the traditional oak wood finish.
Summer Tours for all tastes
During the summer months, there are up to 12 tours daily from Húsavík alone, not to mention sailings from Ólafsfjörður and Akureyri in Eyjafjörður fjord. The evening trips, sailing under the midnight sun are special!
There is the option to combine a trip with a 2-hour horse riding tour from Saltvík Horse Centre, south of Húsavík.
For the more adventurous, there is a 2-day ‘Edge of the Arctic’ tour eating and sleeping on board, stopping off at Flatey and Grímsey islands. What food could be fresher than fish caught en route and grilled on board! Eagle Air flies passengers directly from Reykjavik airport to Húsavík for this tour so if you have limited time, you really get the most from your visit.
The ultimate is an 8-day tour, flying from Reykjavik airport to Greenland, sailing on the schooner, ‘Hildur’, with treks inland to breathtaking views and a BBQ on the beach, eating locally-prepared musk ox meat.
Lunch or Dinner at the Harbour
The beautiful Gamli Baukur restaurant, with its large verandas overlooking Húsavík harbour, offers a great dining experience, surrounded by maritime memorabilia to complete your tour. With its fresh seafood, both local and international dishes, it is a hot venue for live music.