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About Heimaey

Starkly beautiful Heimaey, with its towering puffin-covered cliffs, is the largest and the only inhabited of the Westman Islands off Iceland's southern coast. It's best known for the 1973 volcanic eruption, which nearly destroyed its town and harbour.

For 6 months, the Eldfell volcano erupted and subjected the island to massive lava flows, enlarging the island by almost 1 square mile. Today you can walk on the new lava fields and explore the two-storey-high, steeply sloping lava flow that swallowed up the eastern end of town. Signs map out the original street plan 16 metres underfoot!

Heimaey has a Natural History Museum with fascinating displays and a round of golf here couldn't be more scenic. The seas are swarming with whales and dolphins, and as well as the comical Puffins, there are scores of bird species inhabiting the volcanic cliffs.

 

Shore excursions in Heimaey

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

Circumnavigation of Heimaey

Activity medium

Duration: 2 hours

Circumnavigate the island on a leisurely boat cruise, capturing the unique landscape and birdlife.

After a short walk from the quayside, you’ll board your boat for a scenic cruise around the island. Sit back and relax onboard as you sail from the harbour and its surrounding cliffs, capturing the wonderful scenery.

Ensure you keep your eyes peeled for a variety of birdlife as you pass a number of different bird colonies. In fact the Westman Islands have one of the largest varieties of seabird species in Iceland, including puffin colonies, which are home to an estimated 6 to 8 million puffins. Nowhere else in the world can such a large number of puffins be found in such close proximity to civilisation. The islands also house one of the world’s largest gannet and guillemot colonies. You may also be lucky enough to spot whales, dolphins and porpoises.

To complete your tour, your experienced Captain will navigate into Klettshellir (Cliff Cave) where a musical instrument will be played on board. Marvel at the wonderful sound enhanced by the acoustics in the cave.

Having circumnavigated the island, you’ll return to the quayside.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by boat and on foot. Please be advised that there will be a short walk of 300 yards to join the boat. The boat has a short, steep gangway and steep steps to reach the onboard toilets, however there is a handrail. A warm waterproof jacket, hat, gloves, and flat, non-slip shoes are recommended as it can get chilly on the deck. The sighting of birdlife is not guaranteed. In the event of inclement weather it may not be possible to fully circumnavigate the island, however efforts will be made to allow you to see the bird cliffs from as many different angles as possible.

Explore Heimaey on Foot

Activity highRefreshments included

Duration: 3 hours

Discover Heimaey’s main highlights on a guided walking tour.

Join your knowledgeable guide at the quayside and depart on a leisurely walk to the newly formed lava fields of Eldfell (Fire Mountain) the site of the dramatic 1973 volcanic eruption, where fortunately all of the islands inhabitants were evacuated to the mainland in time. Your guide will enlighten you with facts on what is without doubt the largest natural disaster in Iceland in recent history.

Your walking tour continues past the small stave church ‘Skansinn’, before arriving at the picturesque harbour area that was saved from the flowing lava by an army of volunteers who managed to reroute the flow by drenching it in thousands of gallons of seawater sprayed from fire hoses, and heroically saving the town’s livelihood from complete destruction.

Essential information

This excursion will operate on foot. This tour is conducted entirely on foot and involves some steps, slight inclines and uneven ground therefore comfortable, flat walking shoes are recommended.

Golf at Vestmannaeya Golf Club

Activity medium

Duration: 4¼ hours

Enjoy a round of golf at Vestmannaeya Golf Club, listed as one of the top 100 golf courses in the world.

Heimaey Island boasts one of the most attractive and challenging golf courses in Iceland. Located in an 11,000 year old crater, the Vestmannaeya Golf Club hosts the annual Volcano Open each July, attracting avid fans due to its unique midnight golf. Like most of Iceland, the course is a typical links course with no trees, undulating fairways, and a wind that can change everything!

Golf was first played here at Vestmannaeya Golf Club in 1938 on a 9-hole golf course. The course was later extended by Icelandic architect Hannes Thorsteinsson, who designed the back 9, except for the 17th hole which was added by the members.

A brief transfer will take you to the golf club, where you’ll tee off against a stunning backdrop of volcanic walls. Together with your fellow golfers, you’ll enjoy a round of golf at a course that offers the very best for the beginner or the professional.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by mini bus and on foot. Green fees, clubs (8 per person; 3 woods and 5 irons), a shared cart and roundtrip transportation are included. Lunch or refreshments are not included. The appropriate golf attire must be worn, shirts, polo shirts, long trousers or ¾ length shorts. Golf shoes are recommended, however trainers are permitted. Children are not permitted to participate on this tour.

Highlights of Heimaey

Activity medium

Duration: 3 hours

A scenic tour encompassing the main highlights of the Westman Islands, including a visit to the new Eldheimar Volcano museum.

Depart the harbour, with its tall cliffs occupied by multitudes of puffin, fulmar and guillemot and drive to the Herjólfsdalur valley, where you’ll pass the ruins of old farmhouses dating back to 650 AD. You’ll then drive along the western part of the island where you can enjoy views of the outer islands. The youngest of the group ‘Surtsey’, is the result of the volcanic eruption in 1963. Enjoy a photo stop at ‘Stórhöfdi’, which offers magnificent views over the island and during spring and early summer is home to the largest puffin colony of Heimaey.

Your journey back to the harbour takes you between 2 volcanic craters; the 5,000 year old ‘Helgafell’ and the considerably younger Eldfell. Eldfell is the site of the volcanic eruption in 1973, whereby almost all of the 5,000 inhabitants were safely evacuated to the mainland. Pause for photos at a viewpoint at the base of the volcano before returning to the town.

Complete your tour with a visit to the Eldheimar Museum. Opened in 2014, the museum depicts the events of the 1973 volcanic eruption through interactive exhibitions, and offers a glimpse into the lives of those affected.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. There is approximately 45 minutes of walking required during the visit to the museum; further walking is at the passengers’ discretion as most sites can be seen from the coach. Motor coaches in Iceland can vary in overall quality from region to region and it is not uncommon that in some of the more remote areas they are somewhat older and larger than in the Capital region.

RIB Safari

Activity medium

Duration: 1½ hours

Discover the beauty of the Westman Islands, during an exhilarating RIB ride.

Take to the water aboard a high-speed RIB, and enjoy a thrilling ride around the island. As you speed through the water, you’ll experience stunning scenery, as well as variety of birdlife.

As you reach the east of the island, your Captain will pause briefly to allow you to view the lava formed during the volcanic eruption in 1973. Afterwards, continue to the puffin paradise Stakkabót, where you’ll catch sight of puffins flying and splashing around as they go about their day!

During your fun-filled ride, you’ll pass a number of sea caves, one of the most spectacular being Kafhellir Cave. If the weather is on your side you’ll sail into the cave, and experience a wonderful view of the sunlight shining from underneath the island.

Sailing around the islands this way, is an experience you won’t forget!

Essential information

This excursion will operate by Rigid Inflatable boat. There is a 10 minute walk from the pier to board to the RIB. This tour is not suitable for those with back or neck injuries or conditions which may be affected by the fast, bumpy ride. Pregnant women and children may not participate. Lifejackets are provided and must be worn. During poor weather, it may not be possible to fully circumnavigate the island; however efforts will be made to allow you to see the bird cliffs from as many different angles as possible. In case of very inclement weather conditions the tour may be cancelled. The sighting of birdlife is not guaranteed.

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