Did you know that whale watching is one of the most popular tours in Iceland? And if you’ve considered adding whale watching two your Iceland itinerary, then you’re in luck because I’m going to talk to you all about the tours today and everything that you would need to know to add this to your trip.
Hey, team Iceland. Welcome back to my channel. If you’re new around here, my name is Judy, and I’m here to help you plan the best trip advertisement. Today we’re talking about whale watching in Iceland, specifically with the tour company called Gentle Giants, and everything you’re going to need to know to plan a successful whale watching tour in Iceland. So let’s get into it.
If you’re going to want to do whale watching, I suggest heading to Húsavík, which is in the north of Iceland, and is also known as the whale watching capital of the country. Gentle Giants specifically has over 150 years of family history in Húsavík, so they’re one of the oldest whale watching companies in the country. They have a large fleet of ships including the old traditional wooden boat as well as the faster rib style boats. When we were planning our honeymoon trip to Iceland, we specifically chose Gentle Giants because of the great offer that they have. So we’ve had experience with them long before I partnered up with them. There’s a few different species of whales they can see around Iceland, but the most common are the minke whale, sperm whale, humpback whale, fin whale and occasionally the blue whale. If you’re wondering when is the best time to do a whale watching tour, because of the cold Arctic waters, the whales are not around Iceland year round, so the best time to actually go whale watching is between April and October.
However, this year Gentle Giants opened their season on March 1st, which is the first year that it’s been open so early, and they’ve already had whale sightings. They also run their seasons through November, so it is possible to see the whales from March til November. Let’s talk about the tour itself, the most exciting parts. So first of all, when you pull into Húsavík, you will notice that it’s a tiny village, so it’s easy to spot the Gentle Giants office, which is overlooking the beautiful harbor. All you have to do is check in with the reception, and they’ll lead you down to the area where you’ll start getting ready for the tour. You’re going to get suited up with these nice overall. They’re already provided by the company. Now these suits are so nice to have on the tour because in the north of Iceland, it can get a little more temperamental, including wind and some colder temperatures, but this one will keep you covered.
Also, they provided us with goggles, which was extra nice for some of the wind and the spray from the boat. After you have all your gear on, you’ll do a quick briefing from the tour guide. This will give you the opportunity to ask any questions or any concerns that you have. This is also when they’re going to talk about the type of whales that they’ve been seeing recently and what kinds of whales you can expect to see on your tour. Next, you just walk across the street, hop on the boat and sail off to the sea. Now, of course the captain knows exactly where the whales can be found, but as a disclaimer, obviously, it’s never guaranteed that you see whales. I’ve been on a couple tours. One was more successful than the other, but either way, it’s going to be a fun experience because it’s beautiful out there. Even if you don’t see a lot of whales or maybe you don’t see any whales, I can promise that you’re going to have an amazing experience.
What to Expect
Every tour comes with an English speaking tour guide, and they’re super helpful and knowledgeable about the whales itself. Between sightings as you’re waiting for the whales to surface, the guide will talk about the whales, things like their mating habits and their migration, all of that interesting stuff. I actually had some followup questions, and they were very helpful at responding, so I learned a lot about whales on our tour. Then after patiently waiting, the whales come up, you finally see the whales, and it is so exciting. It’s so, so, so amazing, you guys, to experience these whales in person and the see them floating in the bay and coming up. Sometimes they have babies along with them, sometimes they’re with their partner. Sometimes they give a big splash with their tail. Sometimes you can see them jumping out of the water. Every experience is different.
As you can see, this particular day that we took the tour, it was beautiful blue skies and sunshine, no wind at all, and this is very, very rare for Iceland, especially in the bay in the north, but obviously you can get lucky. However, with that being said, I do have a few tips for the tour to make sure that you can get the best out of your experience. Number one, obviously, dress warm though. Like I said, they do give you the coveralls, which are insulated, and water and wind resistant. However, you’re still going to want to have some warm base layers, so I always travel with my lopapeysa, but also having a thermal underneath that, so you’re double insulated, and wool socks as well. Then also hiking boots, so boots that are water resistant and not something like tennis shoes where you’re getting a lot of air going through.
Obviously with warmth, don’t forget a hat and gloves as well, then also sunglasses, just in case it’s extra sunny. I don’t think that anyone would go on a whale watching tour without bringing some sort of camera, but keep in mind that you’re not always getting very, very close to the whales themselves, so having a camera with interchangeable lenses so that you can put a zoom lens on will come in really handy so you can get some up close shots of the whales.
How to Choose a Boat
A couple of notes on choosing the boat type when you book your tour. So again, they have the traditional wooden boats and they have the rib boats. I’ve taken both types of tours, and they’re both great for their own reasons. When you take the old traditional boat, it really does kind of give you that old, authentic feel. Of course with this boat, since it’s bigger, there will be more people on the tour with you, and then also consider that the boat isn’t able to go as fast. When you’re out searching for whales, it’s possible that the whale will be just a bit away, and then the bolt will have to drive closer to the whale, and that’s going to take more time. On the other hand, with the rib boat, which is faster and smaller, then you have the flexibility of going faster to each whale. If there is a whale sighting, and it’s further away than the rib boat is going to get to that wealth faster than the old wooden boats. Of courses, this option is more expensive because it’s a smaller boat and because they go faster, but I highly recommend a rib boat. I really loved that experience. Also, we were closer to the water, so I just felt like I got a better experience in actually seeing the whales are a bit closer.
More Than Just Whale Watching
Lastly, Gentle Giants is such an amazing company because they do more than just whale tours. For example, they have puffin tours, fishing tours, sea kayaking tours, even a yoga retreat and so much more. Definitely if you are into outdoor adventure activities, definitely check out Gentle Giants for even more offerings. If you’re wondering about prices and availability, all you have to do is head to gentlegiant.is.
You guys know that I hand select the tour companies that I work with, so I’m so proud to be working with Gentle Giants. It’s so important to me to bring you guys the best companies to give you the best experiences in Iceland, and I really trust Gentle Giant. I know you’re going to have an amazing experience. All right, my friends. That’s it for today. I hope you found this video helpful in planning your whale watching tour. I’m so excited for you to experience the whales in Iceland, and I hope you love your trip with Gentle Giants. I’ll see you next week for another Iceland video, and until then, happy planning, friends.
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