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The Westman Islands, Vestmannaeyjar, are these fanatastic volcanic sculptures rising from the Atlantic just south of Iceland. They are a mere ten to twenty thousand years young, basically the tops of massive magma cones jutting vigorously out of the cold arctic waters at that seam in the earth's crust we call the Reykjanes Ridge.

Getting ready for our retreat from the big island of Heimaey on Sunday after Valentina's (and her team Ármann's) excellent victory in gymnastics, I thought I was all set to discourage anyone and everyone from traveling to Vestmannaeyjar by sea on the ferry Herjólfur. After all, the waters between Iceland proper and the Wetsmans are notoriously unsettling at best and our trip over with two hundred little gymnasts on Friday night had been a gut-wrenching experience. But as the ship left dock we passed through the amazing strait shown above and I changed my mind. The five minute sail past eerie rock faces through calm deep turquoise waters somehow made the impending three hours of probable seasickness seem worth it.

I myself will fly next time I go, and I will go to the islands again. I'd say a flight over then a tour of the archipelago with one of the local boat companies is the way to experience the absolute magic of the Westman Islands in the best possible health. I'm sure the other hundreds of nauseous travelers with me on the ferry rides would agree. Of course if you have to do the ferry, take lots of warm clothing and stand at the rails, taking in the awsome power of the ocean. It kept me fresh and absolutely magnified my respect for those who brave the open seas.

(Here also is an interesting site on techtonic movement. Enjoy!)


harpo said...

We visited Heimay this past spring for several days -- many Icelanders seemed to think we were a little nuts, but the scenery was gorgeous.

My tiny camera doesn't do it justice, but photos are here:

We did exactly what you suggested: flew from Rekjyavik and then took a boat tour around the islands. I also recommend the view from the top of Eldfell, which is an easy half-day hike.

Anonymous said...

Oh, it's been five years since I was at Heimæy, and I recognized those cliffs at once (and at once longed to see them again).

And it was a couple hundred soccer-playing girls on the ferry when I went. :-)

Anonymous said...

I really loved my trip to Vestmannaeyjar but we had very bad weather at the return and it was horrible. My ex-flatmate told me that she used to go by plane but when there are bad weather it's not possible to arrive and the flight company changes the ticket for a boat one.

Holly said...


Daniel Chérouvrier said...

We have to fly to this wonderful Iceland !

Jujux said...

Heimaey is truly a "gem".