Europe, Iceland

24 Hours on the Westman Islands

Europe Iceland

Not many people are aware of the enchanting, sleepy little Icelandic islands nestled off the Southern coast of the Arctic nation. Home to a fishing people who have chosen to remain on the islands despite the life-threatening volcanic activity, the Westman Islands were hands-down the best part of my trip to Iceland in 2015. Full of folklore, puffins, hiking, and unforgettable views of mountain tips peaking out over the cold ocean’s edge, my photos from the Westman Islands barely do it justice.

Since there’s a lot to do and see on these islands, I recommend visiting the islands during summer months so you have more sunlight to work with. Around December, Iceland gets only 1-2 hours of workable sunlight. I chose to go during June, so I had close to 21-hours of sunlight for unlimited exploration.

I stayed right in town on Vestmannaeyjar in an adorable Airbnb that was owned by a local woman. Many people on the islands have never even left the islands! Absolutely crazy.

To make sure I made the most of my trip, I booked a tour with Eyja Tours and I was not disappointed. This driven tour covered the sightseeing, puffin viewings, volcanic hiking, and even included a live demonstration of how Icelanders spring around cliffs to catch seagull’s eggs. At the end, we were dropped off in town at the local museum where we all had the opportunity to hold a real-life puffin named Toti.

Aside from that, the islands are home to an award-winning golf course that people travel all over the world to experience. Plus, from the course, you can see “Elephant Rock” near one of the mountains watery caves. Vikings once believed that the portal to hell rested beneath the cliff, where water disappears into the earth’s crust.

Once I came back to the U.S. from the islands, I felt I couldn’t really explain how truly magical they were. Though people find it funny that Icelanders believe in elves, after the Westman Islands trip, I definitely understand why. Maybe I’m a believer now, too.

Contributed by Alexandra Fasulo