Ever since I was young, I’ve been fascinated by the ocean and everything in it. I think watching the movie Jaws at an impressionable age had something to do with it. For this reason, the whale watching tour in Reykjavik was the first thing I booked for my Iceland trip. I had read plenty of reviews on tour companies there, and Elding Whale Watching Tours was the one that stuck out the most to me, so that is who I booked.
I took the tour on my third evening in Reykjavik, choosing to board the boat that left at 5:00pm. The tours depart from the Old Harbor, and all of the different companies have offices along the pier. I went to pick up my ticket from the Elding Whale Watching storefront and the woman who worked there offered me a sea sickness tablet due to the choppy water conditions and high wind, which I gladly accepted. To enter the actual boat, I walked through a boat that stayed docked which housed a gift shop and bar. When the Elding staff ushered us onto the boat we’d head out on, they offered us more sea sickness tablets and red jump suits to keep warm.
The boat had a lounge with a bar below deck, but everyone on the boat stayed up top. The guide was a marine biologist and was wonderfully informative. For the duration of the tour, she kept up a running commentary on whale facts in between shouting out things like “MINKE WHALE TEN O’CLOCK, HEADED EAST!” Every time she yelled such directives, everyone on the boat, myself included, ran to try and catch a glimpse of the whale. I’m sure this was hilarious to watch, considering the fact that the boat was rocking back and forth and we all staggered from side to side like drunkards.
The view from the boat was fantastic; Reykjavik was behind us and the mountains and never-ending ocean stood in front of us. We saw quite a few minke whales jumping out of the water, and a pod of harbor porpoises jumping alongside the boat. The tour lasted about two and a half hours and once we headed back to the harbor, most of the guests on the boat moved into the lower deck to warm up.
The excitement of being out on the sea and searching for whales made you forget about the cold, but it was quite chilly and windy out there. Once the boat was docked, the crew announced that their restaurant, Mar, would give a 15% discount for Elding tour guests, so that’s where I headed next. There are quite a few restaurants along the pier there, and Mar is at the far end.
I walked in and asked for a table for one, and seeing since the huge restaurant was mostly empty, I figured I would be seated right away. This was not the case. The host, a good-looking young man, informed me that they had a large party coming in and they wouldn’t have availability for another two hours. Thinking he was joking, I said “oh sure, I’ll just wait here then”. He was not joking. So I left and looked around outside for a party of 50-60 people that were going to take up this whole restaurant. There was none, and I won’t lie, I felt a little defeated after that. But! It turned for the best because I went across the street to Reykjavik Fish Restaurant and wound up sitting next to two American girls (one from Chicago!) who I had a great conversation with.
These ladies, coupled with the amazing fish and chips at the restaurant made up for the not so great experience at Mar. The fried cod was so light and delicious; I was very glad I ended up there for dinner. After dinner and saying goodbye to my fellow travelers, I wander around Reykjavik a bit, wondering if perhaps it was even prettier after dark. Either way, I was very happy to be there, taking it all in.
Have you ever taken a whale watching tour? Did you see any marine life?