This tour is a perfect double sightseeing. If you want to explore Heimaey as best you can, this is the tour for you. The magnificent landscape of the islands is well known and getting to know it both by land and sea is simply the best.
The touch with the nature in this tour is unique, driving and walking to the most popular and beautiful places and ending the tour seeing many of the same places from the sea gives you the best of Heimaey. During the tour we also learn about the history of the island and the people who lived and still live there.
We expected to start the tour on the pier, however it is not a problem to pick up the group where requested. First we drive to Sprangan, islanders rope swing training station, where the guide tells us about that national sport of Westman Islands and shows his best in rope swinging. You can try it yourself under a strong guidance of the local guide. Next stop is the valley (Herjólfsdalur) that is best known for Þjóðhátíð, the oldest and one of the biggest music festivals in Iceland, started in 1874. Even though around 150 years of music festival the valley has a much longer history and there is much to be said; e.g. we can find ruins of the first stone house in Iceland, the first settlers man in Westman Islands lived in the valley and the pirates of the Turkish raid robbed this same valley. It is also lovely to walk to the replica of Herjólfsbær or to the pond in the middle of the valley. On a panoramic drive to Great Cape (Stórhöfði), you can see the elephant rock carved in stone. Elephant rock is the most known landmark in the Westman Islands. The small islands are at their most beautiful in good weather condition and you can even see Surtsey if the weather allows. Surtsey is the youngest island around Iceland and are on the UNESCO heritage list. We drive past Pirate Cove (Ræningjatangi) and up Great Cape where we enjoy the view in all directions and even take a group photo where the background is the best you can think of. In Great Cape is also a bird watching house by one of the largest puffin colonies in the world.
Next is the drive over the new lava, but the Heimaey eruption in 1973 enlarged the island when lava began to flow to the east and into the sea, but the lava also flowed to the west and submerged a third of the houses. The guide tells you stories of the people who experienced these natural disasters, both dramatic stories and stories that makes you laugh. In the new lava we can find one of our favorite places and we look forward to showing it to you. The sightseeing tour is about 2 hours, and the group is returned directly to the boat tour.
We take a boat tour on Teista which is the perfect boat to take you around Heimaey at a slow phase. You can sit outside or inside the boat, there is plenty of space on board. Sailing along magnificent rock walls and observing the bird life is a wonderful experience when you are in the Westman Islands. The mind often wanders to the small island life when people were descending for eggs from nests and fishing from the ocean that have always been considered a good food resource. We go into caves and bays and on the boat tour you can see many of the same places we visited earlier in the day, but the perspective is new. The guide tells stories from the Westman Islands; from nature, the islands, traditions, the eruption, the puffins and human life. The sailing is 1.5 hours so there is plenty of time when all the best of Heimaey has been explored.