Skonnortan Haukur á siglingu um Skjálfanda

Nature friendly adventures with North Sailing

Sailing close to the arctic circle on a beautiful Icelandic oak boat, surrounded by whales and stunning nature is an indescribable experience. North Sailing is a family business operating from our local harbour of Húsavík and has offered whale watching and adventure voyages since 1995. The company has received numerous awards for entrepreneurship in environmental tourism and worldwide attention for innovation and conservation of nordic culture.

Welcome to Húsavík: Europe’s Whale Watching Capital

Húsavík in Skjálfandi bay is a remarkable destination. From the times of settlement, the lives of its inhabitants have been intertwined with the ocean. The conservation and development of the local harbour reflect that fisheries and coastal culture are still key to the society. North Sailing was the first of Icelandic businesses to offer organised whale watching trips in Skjálfandi bay in 1995. It became clear right from the start that this experience of Icelandic nature was unique, lying the groundwork for its reputation as Europe’s whale watching capital. Húsavík is also home to the incredible whale museum, where guests can learn all about whales in Iceland and their history. The museum holds the skeletons of various whales, including the magnificent blue whale. Húsavík is also the location of a research centre run by the University of Iceland, which conducts valuable research hoping to develop our understanding of these majestic animals.

Siglt frá Húsavíkurhöfn

Sailing from Húsavík Harbour © Rafnar Orri Gunnarsson

Hnúfubakar og skonnortan Haukur

Humpback whales and the schooner Haukur

Unique whale watching for all

North sailing offers various whale watching tours from Húsavík. Our most popular tour is the three-hour whale watching trip on a traditional Icelandic oak boat. Increasing in popularity, especially among families, are our whale and puffin tours where we sail around the island Lundey. Whale watching on North Sailing’s schooners is a unique experience where passengers learn about the schooner’s history and assist us in hoisting the sails. Last but not least, North Sailing is the only company in Iceland offering whale watching tours on electric boats that run purely on green (Icelandic) electricity and glide silently through amongst the whales. On all of these trips, passengers are offered warm safety overalls as well as hot chocolate and cinnamon buns on the return journey.

Whales and blue whales

It’s no coincidence that whale watching in Skjálfdandi bay is a popular experience. A great variety of whales travel here and stay in these ideal conditions for feeding. Humpback whales are most commonly seen on trips, but you’re just as likely to come across a minke whale, dolphin or porpoise. Fin whales and sei whales can sometimes be spotted, as can bottlenose whales and orcas. Skjálfandi Bay is also one of the few places in the world where the Earth’s largest mammal, the blue whale, regularly visits. The birdlife in the bay is no less lively, as various seabirds entertain the crowds- not least the puffin, arguably the most eye-catching of them all. In the summer months, whale sightings are almost guaranteed on our trips.

A passionate team with deep-seated history

The team at North Sailing consists of a coordinated team of people who all share a passion for sailing and deep respect for animals and nature. Our captains, locals with decades of experience in these waters, work with our guides from all over the world, in a lively and diverse team. We have developed extensive knowledge about the bay and its ecosystems within the company. Additionally, renovation and upkeep of our gorgeous fleet are undertaken at Húsavík shipyard, run by North Sailing. Our mission for the very start has been to foster sustainable tourism and as such we’ve made every effort to renew and maintain traditional oak ships.

Opal á siglingu við strendur Grænlands

Opal sailing off the coast of Greenland

Skútur Norðursiglingar undir norðurljósum í Scoresbysundi

North Sailing schooners under the northern lights in Scoresbysund © Örvar Atli Þorgeirsson

The electric schooner Ópal, the first of its kind worldwide

Opal’s unique electrical system was inaugurated in Húsavík in 2015. Following this, North Sailing became the first company to offer carbon-neutral whale watching trips by only using electricity and wind power during trips. Another electric boat joined the fleet a year later and was given the fitting name Andvari (English: gentle breeze).

Adventure voyages in the north

At North Sailing we offer unique adventure voyages on our schooners. Week-long sailing trips around the largest fjord system in the world, Scoresbysund in East Greenland, have become a staple in our season since we started offering them in 2011. The trips are in great demand, unsurprisingly as it’s an incredible opportunity to experience an entire week onboard a schooner in the diverse nature of the fjords, where every day is unique. We’ve also offered skiing trips in Iceland and Norway as well as private tours to Jan Mayen, Svalbard and Greenland.

Other operations

Since 2015, North Sailing has offered whale watching tours from Hjalteyri in Eyjafjörður. Our first boat, Knörinn, stays there over the summer for trips operating from this unique and historic coastal village.

North Sailing also owns the restaurant Gamli Baukur in Húsavík which is built out of driftwood and beautifully decorated with various local marine artefacts and collectables. A lovely restaurant with a fantastic view over the harbour.

North Sailing also took part in the development of the gorgeous Geosea in Húsavík which opened in 2018 and has since become a hit amongst locals and tourists alike with its relaxing atmosphere and unmatched views.