Iceland is incredible for its landscape, nature and its wildlife – but some of that wildlife lives offshore. One of the highlights of our trip to Iceland was a whale watching tour with Láki Tours out of Olafsvik on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, about 2.5 hours north of Reykjavik.

Let me start by saying I’m a huge fan of whale watching, but I was honestly a bit unsure of investing in a tour in Iceland. Partly because we already had such an amazing experience humpback whale watching in Maui, and partly because Iceland was already so expensive and I wasn’t sure I could justify spending €80 more euros on a tour after a week of shelling out what felt like every dime in my bank account. Finally, I was convinced to go whale watching with Láki Tours since there is the possibility of seeing up to four different types of whales in the fjord off of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. On Láki Tours you have the chance to see humpbacks, minke whales, sperm whales, and orcas. ORCAS! As usual I found the tour through my trusty Lonely Planet, and once I saw the opportunity for orca spotting, I was convinced.

The last time I saw an orca in real life was when I was kid visiting Six Flags and saw a trained orca in a tank – which in retrospect is completely depressing and I’d never do now that I know better.

We visited Iceland during the first week of August, which is not the best time of year for orca spotting, but my hopes were high. We set off from Olafsvik at 10am, and spent about 2 hours in the waters of the fjord spotting only a few minke whales along the way.



Not that minke whales aren’t special or anything… but hey, they aren’t the wolves of the ocean that orcas are. After two hours of scouting the waters (our tour was 3 hours), the boat had already started turning back toward Olafsvik and I started to lose hope of an orca spotting. Some days you just don’t get lucky of course. Just as I was turning toward the captain’s nest to head inside to get warm again, I saw the captain excitedly toss aside his binoculars and radio the other crew members – orcas were in sight!

whale watching in iceland

We had the pleasure of finding a pod of seven orcas (!) which we got to view on our whale watching in Iceland. Seeing orcas in the wild so close to our boat was one of the high points – of which there were many – of our trip to Iceland. Whales have a way of taking my breath away. It is incredible to hear them blow water out of their blowhole as they surface. What was more incredible was seeing a calf with its mother in the wild.

Swimming, swimming, swimming

Read more: Hiking in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Whale watching in Iceland with Láki Tours

Whale watching tours with Láki Tours leave from both Olafsvik and Grundarfjörður, and cost €80 at the time of publication.

What I appreciated about Láki Tours was how knowledgable the staff on board was. I’m fascinated to learn about whales, especially orcas, and their knowledge of the whales we saw was impressive.

Laki tours
Look for the bus!

What many people don’t know about orcas is that they are at the top of the oceanic food chain, even eating great white sharks! Orcas are also incredibly smart, and teach each other when they learn new hunting tricks.

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The dorsal fins on orcas are HUGE – maybe that’s how the crew spotted them from so far away. An orca’s dorsal fin can but nearly 2 meters – that’s over 6 feet long!whale watching in iceland

Did you know that male orcas live with their mothers for life? The only time they ever leave is during mating season – besides that, they’re always by mom’s side – real mama’s boys.

Book your whale watching in Iceland with Láki Tours

Make sure to wear warm clothing, but know that you will get a warm suit to wear over your clothes – pretty much the same outfit you see the people wearing on Deadliest Catch. Trust me, you’ll need this outfit. The boat ride will be cold – really cold. This was one of the only moments I wish I brought gloves and a beanie with me to Iceland. We were there in August so I didn’t need these warm items at any other time, but I did wish I had them on the whale watching tour.

Feeling sexy in my warm suit

I might add here that I was definitely was not paid to join this whale watching tour – I’m just a satisfied customer who wants to share with others 🙂

Thanks Láki Tours for adding whale watching in Iceland to the highlights of our trip!

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whale watching in iceland

24 Comments

  1. I can’t imagine seeing a pod of orcas- you are so lucky! I will put this on my itinerary for when I visit Iceland 🙂

  2. Pingback: Hiking the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland · Boarding Call

  3. Orcas are wonderful. I have been lucky enough to see them several times just taking the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria. Seeing a calf and mother is really special.

  4. I seriously wonder how much Iceland has to offer not just those amazing lagoons n glacier hikes but also this amazing whale watching.. admirable.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      Iceland has LOADS to offer! for a place that isn’t even that big it has so much to see and do!

  5. This looks like an awesome experience! Although to be honest I don’t know how comfortable I would with orcas closer to me than I am to the shore. I have this image of highly intelligent predators who could eat me if they’d want too 🙂 But that’s just me. This trip still sounds awesome and that warm suit isn’t all that bad.

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      haha don’t worry, you’re still at a decent distance on a pretty good size boat, so no need to fear about them taking a nibble 😉

  6. Gathering information about Iceland for my upcoming trip. Never knew that you can go whale watching there. Thanks for info 🙂

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      it is a great place for whale watching, enjoy!

  7. I am so glad you saw the whale so easily here, I have noted details and will plan my trip around first week of August so I do not miss this lifetime experience. Cheers

  8. This looks so cool. I’m definitely gonna add this to my list on Iceland. Is there anything else you recommend?

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      definitely visit Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon as well!

  9. This looks simply amazing and relaxing all at the same time. One day I really hope to go to Iceland and whale watch. Whales are such huge and beautiful creatures!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      I hope you will get to go too! it is a great experience!

  10. What an experience of a lifetime! My son was obsessed with orcas for so long, we had to watch every documentary, read loads of books, endlessly watch YouTube and browsed Google for hours. I’m going to show him this article, he’ll be mighty jealous! Sounds like you had a wonderful time, loved the information throughout your article as well.

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      thanks for your kind note! I hope that he will get to see them in real life, they are pretty incredible!!

  11. I would love to experience this in Iceland – I’ve been lucky enough to see humpback whales swimming around a boat cruise I was on before in the Whitsundays, got to see one dive out the water, was an incredible experience but Iceland is a country I really want to experience and to see Ocras would be just so amazing. I bet it was an amazing experience for you 😀

  12. Oh my god I love orcas ! I’ve been for a couple of whale watching tours before but I’ve been very unlucky and have had disappointing experiences. I see that you managed to see a lot of orcas and that’s amazing!

  13. This must be a truly amazing experience – thanks for sharing it. I love the deep blue colour of your photographs 🙂

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