My friend and I recently went on our first campervan adventure together to Snæfellsnes along the west coast of Iceland. There was so much we were impressed about, including Stykkishólmur, one of the film locations you may recognize from Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It’s also known for the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum where my colleague, Michael, came face-to-face with one of Iceland’s elusive delicacies: rotten shark.
Wanting to try a more appetizing- but equally memorable- experience, Happy Campers teamed up with Seatours on their 2-hour guided VikingSushi Adventure to explore abundant nature and wildlife the area has to offer. Breiðafjörður Bay is located just north of Stykkishólmur, best explored by boat to discover both the interesting basalt rock formations inhabited by unique seabirds and the sea creatures lurking at the bottom of the bay.
We chose to arrive the evening before our big VikingSushi Adventure and made Stykkishólmur Camping Ground our base camp. I personally enjoyed my campground experience with clean, accessible showers and toilets (reception wasn’t open during our stay since it was still considered winter season). You can easily find the campground situated behind the gas station and post office (it has a red sign) via a narrow road between the two points.
Getting to the harbour from Stykkishólmur Camping ground is also a simple task: turn right onto the main road and follow for a couple of minutes before seeing the harbour. In the event you still aren’t able to find your destination, our GPS and wifi extras will help save the day. Once at the tiny harbour, you are free to park in the first lot, which happens to be closest to the boat.
Prior to boarding, you must visit the office (the last building along the harbour) to pick up the tickets. Booking in advance is preferred, but you can also book a space on the day. Boarding is around 30 minutes before departure, so make sure to be there on time. The boat itself has two main areas onboard including above and below deck. Below deck are a sitting area, toilets, and mini café, so you can grab a coffee in between stops and enjoy the view. Above deck was where we felt the fresh sea breeze, got up close and personal with the islands, and indulged in a seafood extravaganza.
One of the main events of the tour was stopping by a handful of tiny islands and discovering not only the wildlife, but also the impressive rock formations giving the islands distinctive characteristics. Most were columnar basalt rock with vertical and/or horizontal ridges with grass and moss living on top. Sometimes sheep could be spotted in the distance as well.
My favourite part at each stop, however, was the possibility to see puffins for the first time in my life- actually, I wasn’t the only one experiencing them for the first time as everyone ooh-d, ahh-d, and pointed whenever we spotted another flying to their nests or diving into the water. I wonder what the birds thought of us! Shags, fulmars, and kittiwakes were also amongst the other species of birds spotted during the tour, not to be outshined by the cute orange, white, and black puffins. Okay, maybe they were…
The focus on stories based around Breiðafjörður Bay stood out to me as part of the excellent guided tour. At each of the several stops, like Demon islands and Polar Bear island, Captain Matthías took a few minutes to share myths, tales, and legends like at Erik’s Bay where the outlaw, Erik the Red hid for a while. But I won’t go on with all the details, because I definitely don’t want to ruin the fun of being there!
The captain also pointed out there are approximately 300 islands. Some had a house perched a top, or home to sheep, while others were named the same as others, because, at some point naming more than 300 islands becomes a tad overwhelming!
Now you’re probably asking what I meant by seafood extravaganza earlier on. The highlight of the tour came in the second half when Captain Matthías asked us to join the crew at the stern (which, by the way, is the back of the ship). Yes, it was time to dine on the freshest seafood ever! But first we needed to catch our meal, so the crew threw the net overboard and the cable kept spinning and spinning until it landed on the bottom. As the boat dragged along the seabed, our group giggled with excitement and a few minutes later, the cable started back up.
There was luck on our side that day as the fishing net delivered a wealth of colourful creatures. Orange starfish, red sunfish, and hermit crabs were just a few friendly creatures that chose to join us and I was able to capture a few photos of them before throwing them back into their home.
Unlucky for the vibrant clams and purple sea urchins, the lot of us drooled, ready to dig in for the main course. The crew opened urchins while a bunch of us grabbed knives to open the clams. They were obviously unhappy to be the chosen ones as they fought to the bitter end and I did feel remorse for the poor things. You should have seen how strong the one I grabbed was. What a surprise to have to fight for my own food!
I’m not a seafood lover by any means, but the opportunity to eat something so fresh and pure from the source was enough for me to just go for it. It seemed as though everyone had the time of their lives as we filled our bellies with beautiful scallops, clam, and urchin roe with extras like soya sauce, wasabi, and ginger. This was truly a Viking experience and if this isn’t fresh sushi, I don’t know what is!
Overall, VikingSushi Adventure with Seatours is an incredible experience for family and friends who enjoy the outdoors, especially the sea. The experience of visiting the unique islands around Breiðafjörður Bay offers an interesting glimpse into the natural habitats of seabirds and offers a seafood surprise you will never forget. I would even go as far as saying it’s worth making a stop to Stykkishólmur just for this tour if you don’t have time to travel the rest of Snæfellsnes peninsula. If you’ve been on this tour, let us know what you thought in the comments below!
Ready to book a Happy Camper and experience the VikingSushi Adventure?!
To read more about Lea’s Happy Camper Adventures in Iceland check out these articles:Snorkeling in Silfra with Scuba IcelandIceland’s Local Pool Guidelines, Do’s & Don’tsA Happy Camper’s Guide to Vestmannaeyjar