While we were in Southern Iceland, we took a day trip to Heimaey Island, part of the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago (Westman Islands in English). I was so excited about the trip: to take the ferry, to look for puffins, and to just explore the small town on the edge of Heimaey. The island is perhaps most well-known for the lava flow that in 1973 destroyed half the town and closed the harbor. But it's also known for puffins!
^^willa and i got pretty seasick on the ferry ride over. but once we arrived, the fresh air and beauty of the harbor made us feel better quickly! willa was most enamored with the puffin statue that welcomed us!^^
^^our first order of business was to try to find puffins, so we set off on a walk to the shore. it was a bit of a hike, and once there it was clear we probably wouldn't see any puffins. but the coastline was absolutely magnificent, so we tried to focus on that positive.^^
^^as we walked back through town to look for lunch, i glanced up and saw the entrance to the local aquarium. i remembered reading that there was a puffin who lived there! we had time to stop in, and meeting toki the puffin was definitely the highlight of the day for the kids! maybe for me too. it was so interesting to see him up close. the colors on his beak were truly remarkable. animals in captivity always make me a touch sad, but he seemed very well-loved and cared for by his "family" at the aquarium.^^
^^next was hot dogs and skyr yogurts before getting the ferry back to the mainland. hot dogs in iceland were indeed delicious. great sauces and onions!^^
^^the ferry ride home was much smoother (and i took more for my motion sickness! i love these natural pills.) so we were able to enjoy the ride and the beautiful sights we spotted along the way. the islands were so impressive from the water. a few smaller islands had just one house built on them with sheep roaming the hills. i have to admit, i kept wondering if any of them ever fall into the water!?^^
Tips for exploring Heimaey:
- Reserve your ferry ticket in advance, even if you're not taking a car. The day we'd originally planned to go on was sold out, so we had to move our trip to the next day.
- The town is an easy walk from the ferry, but to see more of the island it'd be helpful to have a car or hire a ride. We saw a good amount by taking a long walk, but there was so much more we could have explored if we'd had a car!
- Puffins are best seen during the summer months but only during the morning or evening. It's much harder to spot them midday.