Seal watching is a peaceful, educational experience that gives you the feeling of being utterly in tune with nature. Lucky for Iceland’s tourists, seal watching is at its peak when you can observe seals in their natural habit. It just so happens that Northern Iceland is home to multiple natural seal habitats. Most notable, these habitats can be found in the popular seal watching sites of Hvammstangi and Blönduós in North West Iceland.
Northern Iceland is mainly home to the Icelandic Harbour Seal. In 2016, an aerial census was conducted and found that Iceland had a coastal population 7,700 seals. While the population number has gone down since past years, this high population still makes Iceland a hub of seal activity – perfect for nature enthusiasts and tourists who are just interesting in checking out how seals live, behave, and look.
Iceland is also home to the grey seal, the harp seal, the bearded seal, the hooded seal, and the ringed seal. However, only the grey seal has her pups on the island. The others are just visitors.
Seal watching is a great way to spend some of your time in Iceland. Not only is the experience educational, but Seals are also entertaining creatures with large personalities. They’re curious about humans, and are sometimes apt to get closer to them. They’ve often been referred to as “dogs of the sea” due to their humorous nature and interest in humans.
One great location for seal watching is Blönduós. Blönduós is a part of Hunafloi bay, and is the largest urban area of in the area. It’s most well known for being the location of Hvítserkur, a large dragon shaped volcanic plug formation located off the shore, one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions. Aside from Hvítserkur, Blönduós also has more oceanic wonders to share with the world.
It’s also a fantastic place for seal watching, and is one of the best places to do it in Iceland. Unlike many other seal watching spots in Iceland, Blönduós offers many amenities and has all the makings of a full, functional town. There are interesting museums and good rated hotels, but the area is still in the heart of Icelandic nature – giving you fresh air and open space to relax in and enjoy.
Another location for seal watching is Hvammstangi. Hvammstangi is regarded as the best location in Iceland for seal watching, and one of the best in the world. It has the largest seal colony in Iceland, and is nestled right between the two convenient locations of Reykjavik and Akureyri (the northern capital of Iceland). While there are tours available, you can also take a self-guided tour and just head to the shore and observe. It’s also home to the Icelandic Seal Centre!
The Icelandic Seal Centre, sometimes called the Seal Museum, is a research and exhibition centre that is tasked with researching and investigating the lives of the local seals around the Vatnsnes Peninsula. The enthusiastic staff there are always excited to provide helpful information about where to find seals, what kind of seals you might find, and anything you’re curious to know about seals.
They’re a great amenity to have so close to the seal populations themselves, so you’re better able to fully enjoy the excitement that seal watching has to offer. Seals also have a place in Icelandic culture and traditions, and the Seal Centre has all the information to fill you in! Looking for something a little more than seals? They also hold exhibitions on all the wildlife found in the area, especially birds and marine life. Definitely pay them a visit!
Perhaps the best feature of Icelandic seal watching is Iceland’s consciousness about how tourism affects native wildlife populations. They’re constantly working to study the extent of effects from tourism, and trying to come up with ways to minimize any negative consequences that tourism may create. Environmentally conscious tourism activities are great for the earth, great for the animals, and great for your conscience.
The best time for seal watching is two hours before and after low tide. There are tidal prediction graphs available online for every day. However, you can also ask the Icelandic Seal Centre about the best times and places to go, and they’ll point you in the right direction. Driving along Route 711, the road that goes along the outside perimeter of the Vatnsnes Peninsula, you’re sure to find a seal watching spot. There, you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime.