Whale watching in Iceland on a luxury yacht.

harbour seal are surely one of the cutest icelandic animals - here is a photo of one popping its head out of the water

What a wonderful day whale watching. We found playful porpoises, and a harbour seal as well as so many sea gulls, guillemots, fulmars, eiders and cormorants and the mountains around us were snow-capped and stunning. But we didn‘t find whales or dolphins so everyone got free return tickets for three years. 

We set out from Reykjavik harbor on our yacht, the Amelia Rose, the day was overcast and there were spots of rain, but whales are already pretty wet so we continued out in search of them! Inside the islands, the water was relatively calm and as we headed out past them the yacht easily cut through the swell. Despite the rain, the visibility was pretty good, and the views didn’t disappoint us, and we enjoyed the journey out into Faxaflói bay to look for whales and dolphins.

We saw several different species of seabirds wheeling and darting across the ocean, this is always a good sign as we often use the seabirds, especially gannets and terns, to find whales and dolphins or any other cetaceans in the beautiful waters here.  They look from much higher up than us so can see a long way if there is a fish in an area, people have been using this technique of bird watching to find cetaceans for unknown generations throughout history.

Not long after departing some lovely harbor porpoises found us, a species similar to small dolphins and in the same family as whales. As we sat with the engines off they played near us for a little while, riding the swell and diving under one side of the yacht to appear at the other.

Finding porpoises is always a good sign as it means there is food in the area, and the whales and dolphins are often hunting the same fish or other fish in the food chain there. Because of that, we hung around in the area for a little while hoping we’d find any signs a whale might be in the area, for instance like the footprints the pressure of their tail leaves on the water service. However, we found nothing else there and carried on out across the feeding grounds, everyone on the lookout at all times for the tell-tale signs of a large cetacean being seen in the area.

The most common whales we see there are the beautiful minke whales and humpback whales as well as white-beaked dolphins. However we never really know what we will come across on our adventure, in the past twelve months we have found pilot whales, basking sharks, killer whales (orca), and even a couple of very friendly blue whales!  

Sadly, despite our, and our customer, and the sea bird’s best efforts we didn’t find any whales and headed back in towards Reykjavik Harbour.

However we really want to show our lovely customers the amazing wildlife in Iceland, so we gave them all free returns for three years! Seeing whales and dolphins in the stunning bay outside Reykjavik is often at the top of people’s bucket lists. It really is an Iceland must-do, and especially a Reykjavik must-do!  

People also come here to see the bewitching northern lights, and we take people out to see them, again on our lovely super yacht Amelia Rose. If you book a whale watching tour with us you can get a Northern lights trip for 50% off!  

Sea Trips Reykjavik sail every day out from Reykjavík Harbour, Iceland. Our yacht, Amelia Rose was built as a superyacht in 2003 and as such is ever so comfortable and stable. However the seas often change here, and people are affected differently by the movement of the oceans. As such we have seasickness tablets available for free at the bar. We also have warm blankets and ponchos around the yacht for your comfort, though the inside of the ship is very warm and snug.  

If you have any more questions about our ships or the trip please get in touch or read our FAQs.

amelia rose looking for whales

What are differences between baleen and toothed whales?

We see both toothed and baleen whales here in Reykjavik harbor, Iceland. Did you know that dolphins and porpoises are also part of the same family? www.uk.whales.org is a brilliant website that goes into a lot more detail however this is the basic description!

They write that;

“Baleen whales have baleen plates, or sheets, which sieve prey from seawater. Toothed whales have teeth and they actively hunt fish, squid and other sea creatures. Dolphins and porpoises all have teeth and rather confusingly are known as ‘toothed whales’ too!

Another obvious difference between baleen and toothed whales is the number of blowholes on top of their head; baleen whales have two whereas toothed whales have one. There are only 14 baleen whale species and they are generally larger than the 76 species of toothed whales – except for the mighty sperm whale, the largest toothed whale.”

If you are interested in learning more we recommend these websites, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/group/whale-facts/ and https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/whale They have a lot of extra learning materials about cetaceans all over the world.


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