Whale tour Iceland
Iceland is incredible for its landscape, nature and its wildlife – but some of that wildlife lives offshore. Whale watching in Iceland is one of the best ways to experience this nature first hand.
One of the highlights of our trip to Iceland was a whale watching tour with Láki Tours out of Olafsvik on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, about 2.5 hours north of Reykjavik. Seeing whales in Iceland was incredible. Let me start by saying I’m a huge fan of whale watching, but I was honestly a bit unsure of investing in a tour in Iceland. Partly because we already had such an amazing experience humpback whale watching in Maui, and partly because Iceland was already so expensive and I wasn’t sure I could justify spending €80 more euros on a tour after a week of shelling out what felt like every dime in my bank account.
Finally, I was convinced to go whale watching with Láki Tours since there is the possibility of seeing up to four different types of whales in the fjord off of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. On Láki Tours you have the chance to see humpbacks, minke whales, sperm whales, and orcas. ORCAS! As usual I found the tour through my trusty Lonely Planet, and once I saw the opportunity for killer whale watching Iceland, I was convinced.
The last time I saw an orca in real life was when I was kid visiting Six Flags and saw a trained orca in a tank – which in retrospect is completely depressing and I’d never do now that I know better. I’d argue that our tour with Láki Tours was the best whale watching Iceland has to offer – I mean, did you see that we saw orcas?! Ok, I’ll try to get over my excitement now.
Looking for more adventures in Iceland? Don’t miss my other Iceland tips:
- Explore the beautiful Snaefellsnes Peninsula of west Iceland
- Visit the JAW-DROPPING glacial lagoon in Iceland
Where to see whales in Iceland
We visited Iceland during the first week of August, which is not the best time of year for orca spotting, but my hopes were high. We set off from Olafsvik at 10am, and spent about 2 hours in the waters of the fjord spotting only a few minke whales along the way.
Not that minke whales aren’t special or anything… but hey, they aren’t the wolves of the ocean that orcas are. After two hours of scouting the waters (our tour was 3 hours), the boat had already started turning back toward Olafsvik and I started to lose hope of an orca spotting. Some days you just don’t get lucky of course. Just as I was turning toward the captain’s nest to head inside to get warm again, I saw the captain excitedly toss aside his binoculars and radio the other crew members – orcas were in sight!
We had the pleasure of finding a pod of seven orcas (!) which we got to view on our whale watching in Iceland. Seeing orcas in the wild so close to our boat was one of the high points – of which there were many – of our trip to Iceland. Whales have a way of taking my breath away. It is incredible to hear them blow water out of their blowhole as they surface. What was more incredible was seeing a calf with its mother in the wild. Seeing orcas in Iceland was truly one of the best moments of our trip… and there were a lot of incredible moments in Iceland!
Read more: Hiking in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Whale watching in Iceland with Láki Tours
Iceland Whale watching tours with Láki Tours leave from both Olafsvik and Grundarfjörður, and cost €80 at the time of publication.
What I appreciated about Láki Tours was how knowledgable the staff on board was. I’m fascinated to learn about whales, especially orcas, and their knowledge of the whales we saw was impressive. Whale watching trips in Iceland are a must add on to your Iceland itinerary – don’t miss an opportunity to go orca whale watching in Iceland!
What many people don’t know about orcas is that they are at the top of the oceanic food chain, even eating great white sharks! Orcas are also incredibly smart, and teach each other when they learn new hunting tricks.
The dorsal fins on orcas are HUGE – maybe that’s how the crew spotted them from so far away. An orca’s dorsal fin can but nearly 2 meters – that’s over 6 feet long!
Did you know that male orcas live with their mothers for life? The only time they ever leave is during mating season – besides that, they’re always by mom’s side – real mama’s boys.
Book your whale watching in Iceland with Láki Tours
Make sure to wear warm clothing, but know that you will get a warm suit to wear over your clothes – pretty much the same outfit you see the people wearing on Deadliest Catch. Trust me, you’ll need this outfit. The boat ride will be cold – really cold. This was one of the only moments I wish I brought gloves and a beanie with me to Iceland. We were there in August so I didn’t need these warm items at any other time, but I did wish I had them on the whale watching tour.
Iceland whale watching season
Wondering when is the best time to see whales in Iceland? Whales are best seen in Iceland in the summer time, between April and September, there are even 20 different types of whales you can see off the coast of Iceland! I would definitely recommend to plan your trip around whale watching if this is something important to you. I don’t know any other place where I could have seen orcas!
For more info on when to see whales in Iceland click here
I might add here that I was definitely was not paid to join this whale watching tour – I’m just a satisfied customer who wants to share with others 🙂
Thanks Láki Tours for adding whale watching in Iceland to the highlights of our trip!
What to bring while whale watching in Iceland
When you go orca watching in Iceland, you’re going to want to make sure you bring the right gear to not only spot whales in Iceland, but also to stay comfortable. Even if you visit Iceland in summer like I did, you’ll get pretty cold on the boat – this is Iceland after all!
Spotting whales: Don’t forget to bring a pair of binoculars with you so you can spot whales from a distance. You’ll also want a GoPro to film your whale watching experience – you don’t want to miss a photo of a whale breaching! I was very happy I brought my DSLR as well – I put it into sports mode and got dozens and dozens of photos of the orcas in Iceland – that’s how I made that cool little gif at the top of this post.
Staying warm: It gets pretty cold on the whale watching boat, but luckily you’ll be given a warm body suit. That suit however won’t keep your head and your hands warm, so be sure to bring a beanie and a pair of gloves. My hands felt frozen – I had my hands out the whole time to take pictures, of course – and I really wished I had brought a pair of gloves!
Planning your trip to Iceland? Don’t miss these tips:
Disclosure: some of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Gabby is a native (Northern) Californian who spent the majority of her 20’s living the expat life in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, exploring Europe and beyond. 27 countries later, she’s relocated back to her home base in California where she explores her passions for the travel and the outdoors.
I can’t imagine seeing a pod of orcas- you are so lucky! I will put this on my itinerary for when I visit Iceland 🙂
I hope you’ll get to see them too!
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Orcas are wonderful. I have been lucky enough to see them several times just taking the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria. Seeing a calf and mother is really special.
I seriously wonder how much Iceland has to offer not just those amazing lagoons n glacier hikes but also this amazing whale watching.. admirable.
Thanks for sharing.
Iceland has LOADS to offer! for a place that isn’t even that big it has so much to see and do!
This looks like an awesome experience! Although to be honest I don’t know how comfortable I would with orcas closer to me than I am to the shore. I have this image of highly intelligent predators who could eat me if they’d want too 🙂 But that’s just me. This trip still sounds awesome and that warm suit isn’t all that bad.
haha don’t worry, you’re still at a decent distance on a pretty good size boat, so no need to fear about them taking a nibble 😉
Gathering information about Iceland for my upcoming trip. Never knew that you can go whale watching there. Thanks for info 🙂
it is a great place for whale watching, enjoy!
This is so exciting. Love seeing marine animals and seeing whales ia super cool!
I am so glad you saw the whale so easily here, I have noted details and will plan my trip around first week of August so I do not miss this lifetime experience. Cheers
This looks so cool. I’m definitely gonna add this to my list on Iceland. Is there anything else you recommend?
definitely visit Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon as well!
What an experience to watch whales in the water ! Gotta add this to the bucket list !
This looks simply amazing and relaxing all at the same time. One day I really hope to go to Iceland and whale watch. Whales are such huge and beautiful creatures!
I hope you will get to go too! it is a great experience!
What an experience of a lifetime! My son was obsessed with orcas for so long, we had to watch every documentary, read loads of books, endlessly watch YouTube and browsed Google for hours. I’m going to show him this article, he’ll be mighty jealous! Sounds like you had a wonderful time, loved the information throughout your article as well.
thanks for your kind note! I hope that he will get to see them in real life, they are pretty incredible!!
I would love to experience this in Iceland – I’ve been lucky enough to see humpback whales swimming around a boat cruise I was on before in the Whitsundays, got to see one dive out the water, was an incredible experience but Iceland is a country I really want to experience and to see Ocras would be just so amazing. I bet it was an amazing experience for you 😀
Oh my god I love orcas ! I’ve been for a couple of whale watching tours before but I’ve been very unlucky and have had disappointing experiences. I see that you managed to see a lot of orcas and that’s amazing!
This must be a truly amazing experience – thanks for sharing it. I love the deep blue colour of your photographs 🙂
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