FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best season to see whales in Iceland?

This question is not so easily answered as whales and dolphins tend to stay in the vicinity of Iceland all year round, so there really is no specific season that is better than another.

As we have over two decades of experience whale watching in the Reykjavík area we have a pretty good idea of what to expect and have a general idea of what species we are likely to encounter, but keep in mind that these are wild animals and therefore sightings cannot be predicted or guaranteed.

Summer season is when the wildlife is at its most abundant and is also the time we have multiple departures a day, allowing us many chances to get out into the bay an observe the wildlife. Each year the availability of food in our waters change and with that so does the number of whales. Over the last few years, our sighting success throughout each year has been about 90%.

What is the best time of day to see whales in Iceland?

Operating so frequently during the summer months over the past two decades, we have had the chance to research cetacean behaviour, social interactions and frequency of sightings during certain hours of the day. So far, we have found that there is no specific time of day that they are more active.

Whales and dolphins are wild animals and they can move very quickly, so there is no way of knowing if, where and when we will see them. Since they are mammals, they need to come to the surface periodically for air, which is our chance to spot them. Any time of day is therefore as good as any to encounter wildlife in Faxaflói bay!

What am I likely to see on the whale watching tour?

The four most common species in Faxaflói bay are the minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, habour porpoises and humpback whales, although we have also spotted orcas (killer whales), fin- and sei whales and pilot whales to name but a few. We also see lots of seabirds year round including gannets, arctic terns and even puffins (seasonal from May-Aug). The surrounding areas of the bay is also not to be missed as Reykjavík seen from sea is unlike any other. On a good day you will catch sights on the horizon of Snæfellsnes peninsula to the North and Reykjanes peninsula to the South - the landscape is truly breathtaking!

What is the difference between your Classic and Premium whale watching?

Our Classic tour is a 3 hour big boat whale watching adventure, capable of taking up to 200 passengers comfortably at once. On board you will find a heated indoor saloon, multiple viewing platforms, several toilets, a café, complimentary WiFi and free use of overalls and blankets. We focus mainly on the Southern part of Faxaflói bay, just a short sailing from Reykjavík's Old Harbour.

Our Premium tour is an intimate, 2 hour small-group whale watching tour on a fast 12 seater zodiac/RIB. To join you are required to be taller than 145 cm. and not have any health problems that might inhibit you from standing comfortably in your saddle-seat. To stay comfortable, it is necessary that you wear our warm overalls and life vests for the duration of the tour. No toilet facilities or indoor areas are available on board. The Premium tour is likely to go to similar areas as the Classic, but will get you there faster so you can spend less time sailing and more time watching. It is also closer to the water and thus the wildlife.

Click here for your preferred adventure and latest prices and schedule. 

How do you find the whales?

Finding the animals is a team effort between the crew and passengers. We look out for indicators like splashes, a blow from the whales, black backs or dorsal fins or flock of feeding birds. No sonars are used finding the whales as it can be harmful to them, besides it can affect their echolocation system. We also work closely with boats and different operators in the area by notifying each other of whale sightings and then take turns watching them - no boat should stay more than 20-30 min. with the same cetacean.

How close do you get to the animals?

It is entirely up to the whales how close we get. We abide by a code of conduct for responsible whale watching to make sure we do not disturb any natural behaviour. Whales are curious animals and therefore it is not uncommon that the whales swim up to our boats and spy on us and dolphins are often seen bow riding and jumping out of the water next to our boats.

Will I see puffins?

If you are travelling between May and August you are likely to see puffins on the tour. We do not stop by their nesting grounds, but they can often be seen flying about at sea, swimming about or hunting for food. If you are interested in birdwatching, we also offer special puffin watching tours.

What happens if there are no sightings on my tour?

If there are no whales or dolphins / northern lights seen on your tour, we do not refund the tour price, but rather give you a complimentary ticket to try again another day. The voucher is valid on a future classic tour (big boat) for at least 2 years and for returning passengers only. The tickets are also non-transferrable, meaning they cannot be changed to a different service other than the one it states on the ticket. We recommend trying to schedule your tour in early during your holiday so you have the option to go again another day if sightings fail. 

What to do in case of a cancelled tour?

The Elding team happily advises and assists you in finding a new departure date/time if possible. If you are unable to reschedule the tour, we ask that you confirm with us via email that you wish to be refunded. If you booked through one of our partners, please contact them directly to request a refund and note that if you are scheduled to do a combination tour that includes services with us or one of our partners, you will still be confirmed for the second part of that combo and a partial refund will be given upon request. See here for information on cancellations.

How should I dress on board? 

There is no dress code but we always recommend dressing warm as it is a bit colder on the water than on land. On board we offer free use of warm floatable overalls, raincoats and blankets free of charge but sturdy shoes, gloves and hats might also come in handy, especially during the winter months.

What facilities are on board? 

All our boats (except the RIB's) have an on board café where you can buy light refreshments during the tour, a heated indoor saloon and basic toilet facilities. Most our boats also offer complimentary wifi and use of warm overalls and blankets. In case of an emergency we have floatable vests and life rafts and all our crew is trained in maritime safety - our equipment is up to code and is inspected on a regular basis.

Can I bring my drone on the boat?

No, not on our scheduled tours! Due to the negative impact drone flying has on other passengers as well as the elaborate UAV regulations in general, we have decided to prohibit drones on our scheduled tours.

In order to operate your drone at sea, you will need to get prior consent from Elding in addition to booking a private tour to accommodate your flight. Keep in mind that you may also need to register your drone and apply for a permit from the Icelandic Transport Authority. Note that you are solely responsible for complying with the UAV regulations as well as being liable for your own equipment and any damage caused by your drone during flight.

Keep in mind that:

  • It is forbidden to fly drones over crowds of people
  • You cannot fly over 120 metres above ground or sea
  • Disrupting air traffic or flying over vehicles or ships is prohibited

I am prone to motion sickness, is the tour advisable for me? 

It usually depends on the wind speed and conditions at sea. Follow our Whale Diary on the day of your tour to stay updated on the conditions or stop by our ticket office and we will advise you what to do. If our recommendations is not to do the tour on a particular day, we can help you alter your travel itinerary if possible. We also offer free motion sickness tablets if you want to take one before boarding (not advised for young children or pregnant women). 

Are your boats wheel chair accessible? 

Yes and no. Most of our boats are somewhat wheel chair accessible, however each boat has more than one level that connect via steep stairs and there are high thresholds between all indoor and outdoor areas. This means little or limited access to indoor cabins and toilet facilities. Please contact us before your arrival and let us know you are travelling in a wheelchair so our crew can assist you on board and lend a helping hand during the tour. Note that our RIB's are not suitable for wheelchair use and due to its intensity it is not recommended for anyone that has any lack of motor function.

I am pregnant, can I join the tour?

Yes, you are able to join our Classic tour, although we do recommend asking about weather conditions and sea state before embarking as pregnant women can often be more vulnerable to sea sickness. Pregnant women are not advised to join our Premium tours after the first trimester without consulting a doctor prior.

Do you offer any discounts? 

Please check our current price list for special children fares. If you are a group of more than 10 people, make sure to send our sales team an email via elding@elding.is and we will be happy to make you an offer.

What is the minimum age for children to go alone on a tour?

Children under the age of 16 will not be permitted to board unsupervised unless we have some form of authorisation from a parent or legal guardian. Younger children must be under adult supervision at all times while on Elding premises and wear life vests for the duration of the tour.

What is your refund policy?

Individuals can cancel bookings up to 24 hrs. prior to departure without penalty, but we ask that groups of 10+ pax give us at least 48 hr. notice. If booking a combo- or partner tour or through a third party, keep in mind that other cancellation policies may apply. See here for detailed terms and conditions.

Can I park at the harbour? 

The Old Harbour is a compact sector with very limited parking, but if lucky you might find a free spot next to our ticket office. Keep in mind that it is not possible to park on the street or next to our boats. Elding does not assume responsibility for any parking fines caused by illegal parking, so make sure to respect the signs at the harbour. We recommend using the designated parking lots or houses in the nearby area that have hourly rates. Check our location's 'how to get here' to see your parking options.

Do you offer hotel pick up? 

Yes, although we do recommend walking if you are staying within the city centre. We offer pick up and drop off at bus stops near hotels and guesthouses in the greater Reykjavík area for an additional charge. Check our current price list and pick up locations.

Do you provide car seats for children on your buses?

During pick-up and drop-off to hotels and nearby bus stops, it is important that all passengers wear seat belts as required by law. All children under 18 kg. need to wear appropriate car seats while travelling, which we can provide upon request. Please be sure to contact our office via email (elding@elding.is) at least 24 hrs. before departure so we can do our best to accommodate. 

Can you store my bags while I'm on the tour?

Certainly! Feel free to leave your bags in our office throughout the duration of the tour. Although we don't have a secured, locked storage facility, rest assured that our office is continuously staffed, ensuring that your belongings will be under constant supervision and won't be subject to any unauthorised access or disturbance.

If you can't find the answer to your question(s), please don’t hesitate to contact us directly. You can send an e-mail to elding@elding.is or call +354 519 5000.