Uncovering Westman Islands and Waterfall Wonders of Iceland

During our trip to Iceland, we dedicated one full day to the Westman Islands. Thanks to long days and white nights, in the late afternoon we also visited two beautiful waterfalls in the south-western part of Iceland, Seljalandsfoss and Sk贸gafoss. Take a look at our little adventure in the below post.

The Westman Islands are an archipelago of 15 islands and 30 rock stacks off the South Coast of Iceland. The islands have the world's largest population of nesting puffins and that was also the main reason why we added this stop to our road trip.

We had an early start from our guest house to be at the port in time to board the ferry at 8am. As majority of our reservations, we booked the ferry tickets quite in advance, to secure the space at the desired time. If you are planning a trip to Iceland in high season, I would recommend booking your flight, accommodation and car quite early (we did it almost 4 months before the trip). The cars can be an issue in general, while the accommodation facilities are quite limited, especially in the southern part of Iceland.

We took the ferry Herjolfur from the town of Landeyjah枚fn, on the south shore of Iceland. It is the shortest way to reach the island. We visited the largest one - Heimaey. It was a short ride, with a comfortable car ferry, but a little bit bumpy at the begining.

We decided to go for a round trip around the small island. Since we were traveling by car, we haven鈥檛 joined any of the tours available (but if you wish you can join a bus or boat tour of the island).

Our first stop was in a small valley just outside the port, where were located two turf houses. Me and my wife, we were checking the old houses while our son was so impatient to see the puffins that he was looking at every bird that he was able to spot in the air or on the close meadow. He was so funny, as he saw some small black birds, he was so convinced that were puffins, that there was no was to persuade him 馃ぃ.

10 million puffins nest in Iceland between May and September and the majority of them are located on the Westman island. They nest in the cliffs and make rounds around the rocks and toward the sea. We were told that there are a few locations on the island where you can spot them and watch them from very close range. The best point to see them is at St贸rh枚f冒i Cape, located on the southern part of the island. Here you will find an observation platform (small wooden cabin with small windows) from where you can observe the puffins with your camera or binoculars.

Towards the end of the season, in August, the puffins try to make their way to the ocean (where they spend the rest of the year) but many of them are confused by the lights of the town, and end up in the streets, and not in the sea. It is a local tradition, especially among the children, to collect them and bring them to the sea.

The St贸rh枚f冒i peninsula is very nice location with great views, it was great to spend some time there, right on the end od the Westman archipelago, looking at the sea. There were some wild horses and seeps that were making the atmosphere even more peaceful.

Our expectations for puffins were different, i guess that we thought to see them much closer and maybe that they were bigger,...ha ha ha. The birds are small but verry funny. They are not very good flyers, and they land in the water in a funny way (I could say that they bump in the water). But I took some photos of good flyers anyway馃槈

This southern part of the island is very windy, I read that is considered to be the windiest part of Iceland, so be sure to where warm clothes if you will be looking out for puffins.

With a little bit of disappointment, we descended the cape and stopped at a beautiful black beach. It was a sunny day, the wind was strong, so we parked our car towards the sea and enjoyed the sun warm through the car window. We had our lunch right there .馃槉 It was one of the best lunches that we had. The view was fantastic, and the food was not bad 馃槉. We had our favourite Icelandic snack, sandwiches with ray bread.

Our next stop was nearby the Eldfell crater, the newest mountain on the island. The mountain is a result of a volcanic eruption in 1973.

The eruption was big and damaged a large part of the island, mainly the main town with the port. The eruption lasted months, it started only a few meters from the last house in the town. The lave covered half of the town, one person died. Around the town you will find the info signs showing the location and the destruction caused by the eruption.

We took a walk along the lava field since we haven鈥檛 got the time for the hike all up to the volcano crater.

Our last stop on the island was the Beluga whale sanctuary. In 2019 two female beluga whales (Little Gray and Little White) were transported to Iceland from China. It was and still is and international rescue effort to return the beluga whales into their natural environment.

These two whales were living in captivity at Shanghai鈥檚 Zoo and before realizing them they needed to learn how to live in the wild. The sanctuary on Heimaey is a natural bay to rehabilitate, providing them with a safe and natural home and with cold waters resembling the native Arctic habitat of beluga whales.

This is not Iceland鈥檚 first attempt to save beluga whales. In 1988, Keiko from Free Willy movie, was brought to the Westman Islands for rehabilitation and then realized.

We didn't really like our visit to the sanctuary, which is basically a small and rather modest aquarium, followed by a glass wall from where you can see a white whale crossing the bay. But it's definitely a great project and needs our support, so the entrance fee is well worth the small donation to the project.

Thanks to the white nights, we had plenty of time to visit two waterfalls on the same day when we returned from the Westman island back to Iceland. It was time for mesmerizing Seljalandsfoss waterfall and Sk贸gafoss waterfall.

Seljalandsfoss is one of the best-known waterfalls and I must visit when traveling in Southern Iceland. It is approximately 60 meters high and is simply beautiful. You can see it already from the ring road, and can admire it from different locations when approaching it.

It has a path that leads you behind the water curtain and gives you a unique view of the valley. Definitely a different perspective. Just don't forget the raincoat since you can get very wet from the drizzle.

The next waterfall was Sk贸gafoss. I've seen many waterfalls during the trip but this one is my favourite. It is approximately 60 m high and 25 meters wide. It is very powerful and overwhelming.

There is also a staircase leading up to the top, to see the waterfall from a different perspective, but is much more impressing from the bottom. There are more than 500 steps to the top and then you have a path going to some additional waterfalls, but we haven鈥檛 got the time to explore them.

Near Skogafoss, on the way to the town of Vik, we made a quick stop at the turf houses and took a few photos.

According to a legend, there is a chest filled with gold and treasure hidden behind Sk贸gafoss waterfall! Well, we haven鈥檛 fond it, but we had a really great time exploring the Southeastern part of Iceland.

If you would like to read more about our trip to Iceland check my previous posts:

Thanks for reading,
feel free to leave a comment, I will be glad to reply to.
Best regards, @miljo76


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