When is the best time to see orcas with you?
As we are dealing with nature and wild animals, we cannot predict orca sightings for the future. Orcas swim up to 120 km per day, and if they want to leave the area quickly, they can certainly do so – in return, they can also appear as unexpectedly. Olafsvik is our whale watch that is most likely to encounter orcas. Whale watching tours start mid-February from Olafsvik and from then on we have a chance to see them. March, April, May and sometimes into June are the most reliable months to see orcas. April and May in the past statistically have the highest orca sightings but we never see them every day as they move around a lot. Generally by August sightings are less likely and into September very unlikely, but you never know. This could all change in the future!
Orcas are infrequently sighted from our tours in Holmavik but do show up on rare occasions.
When is the best time to see sperm whales with you?
Again, we are dealing with wild animals, and sperm whale sightings cannot be predicted either. The best time for sperm whales seems to be late spring and early summer, around April to June from Olafsvik, but they have been seen late winter and in July sometimes also. Sperm whale sightings are particularly weather dependent as they are mostly out in the deep water of the fjord. Sperm whales have been sighted just once from Holmavik, so are very rare in that area.
Can we see blue whales on your trips?
We have sighted blue whales a handful of times during our summer whale watching tours from Olafsvik over the last five years. From Holmavik they have also been seen, but only twice, so the chances are not very high, but you never know!
What other whales or dolphins can be seen on your tours?
Humpback whales can be seen from both Olafsvik and Holmavik but are the main species encountered from Holmavik in the Westfjords. The most reliable time in Holmavik for humpback whales in the past has been late summer and into autumn, from July onwards. Humpbacks can also be seen from Olafsvik also and are less easy to predict there, but spring and summer months, like July have been good for humpbacks in recent years. We encounter white-beaked dolphins and Minke whales from both Olafsvik and Holmavik all whale watching season and they tend to be the main species watched off Olafsvik in the autumn months, so August and September. All of these are just generalisations as of course we deal with nature and everything can change from one season to the next. Pilot whales were seen quite regularly in the summer and early autumn, about July to September but have been sighted less the last few years. When we do find them from Olafsvik sometimes we see hundreds of them at a time. They can also be seen sometimes from Holmavik also.
All of these are just generalisations as of course we deal with nature and everything can change from one season to the next.
Do you use sonar to search for the whales?
No, we do not. There is no equipment we can use to find whales and dolphins except our eyes. We use our profound knowledge of the area, and our eyes and binoculars to spot the animals. We always have experienced spotters on board that will constantly search for the animals.
How close will I get to the whales?
How close you will get is up to the animals. We never force a close encounter, and we follow strict whale watching guidelines on how to approach the animals as part of our company’s ecofriendly policy – this includes going really slow once we encounter the animals or shutting down the motor completely, keeping a distance and leaving the animals their space, approaching them from the side and following them parallel to avoid any interference with their natural behavior. It is always on the animal’s terms how close they want to come.
Scheduling your trip
How to get to Ólafsvík
To get to Ólafvík from Keflavik airport, follow directions for Reykjavik. Once in Reykjavik, follow the signs for Akureyri and Borgarnes out of Reykjavík (road 1, Vesturlandsvegur). Drive through Borgarnes following signs for Akureyri. Just outside of Borgarnes, you will come across a roundabout, go three-quarters around onto road 54 (signs say Stykkishólmur, Ólafsvík). Follow this road (54) until you get to Vegamót. Turn right at Vegamót onto road 56. Drive over the mountain until you come to a T-junction. Turn left at the junction onto road 54 (again). You will stay at road 54, through Grundarfjörður and keep on going west until you end up in ÓlafsvíkThis road will lead you to us.
On reaching Ólafsvík, stay on the main road until you see the harbor. On the harbor is a blue bus, with our logo on it: Laki Tours. That’s us!!
The Address for your GPS is Norðurtangi 4, 355 Ólafsvík.
Do you run tours all year round?
No. At Láki Tours we have a break during the year when there are usually less whales in the fjord, so there is a good reason for this. Please do not ask us for out of season tours!
When is the better time to spot orcas and other wildlife, on the morning or the afternoon tour?
We do get this question a lot, and, again, the answer is – this is nature, anything is possible! There is no way we can foresee sightings possibilities, and surely not for a certain time during the day. You might see a lot of wildlife on our tours, but sometimes you might also see no whales or dolphins at all. So come and try your luck!
Can you predict the weather forecast before we book, so we can be sure our tour will go ahead?
No, we cannot. The weather in Iceland changes very quickly, and we sometimes only know what the weather will be like on the morning we go out on the tour. We cannot control the weather, so please refrain from asking us months, weeks, or days before your tour how the weather is going to be.
Do you offer whale watching tours from Grundarfjörður?
No. We no longer run whale watching tours from Grundarfjörður but in the summer our puffin tours leave from there. Please ensure you drive to the correct town for your tour. Whale watching leaves from either Olafsvik or Holmavik and this is clearly stated on your ticket.
Do you offer pickup service from Reykjavik?
No, we do not. You have the option to rent your own car in Reykjavik or take the bus but bus timetables in the rural parts of Iceland can make this option difficult. Please ensure you can get to us before you book a ticket!
I was late for the tour and did not make it in time – do I get a refund?
No. If you cancel your booking up to 24 hours before the tour, you will get a refund. If you arrive late for the tour, we can sometimes offer you to come on another trip (weather and passenger number permitting), but it is your responsibility to be at the meeting point in time, so there will be no refund.
During the tour
What clothes should I wear for the tour?
You need to dress warmly for all our tours! Even in summer several layers of clothes are strongly advised, as well as gloves, scarf, hat, and good shoes. In Olafsvik you are provided with a suit to wear for extra warmth but currently our tours in Holmavik do not provide you with a suit. Please ensure you are appropriately dressed for tours as this is your responsibility. One thing that ruins many tours for people is that they feel very cold as they are not well dressed.
Do you have toilet facilities on board?
Yes, we do. On all our boats.
Do you sell snacks and drinks on board?
No. Please bring your own drinks and snacks as required.
Can I smoke on the boat?
No. Smoking is not allowed on any of our boats. This is Icelandic law and includes e-cigarettes, vapes etc.
I get seasick easily. What can I do?
You can come whale watching in Holmavik! The fjord we work from Hólmavík is very sheltered and very good for anyone who is worried about getting seasick but wants to see whales. It is very rare indeed that anyone has felt sea sick on the tours from Holmavik.
There is medication that you can take, but you need to take it at least one hour before the trip starts which is why we do not provide it.
Out of Olafsvik it is a large and open fjord. We do not sell seasickness pills of any kind on board so it is up to you to take medicine before the tour. If you want to prevent getting seasick during the tour, the best place for you is at the back of the boat where it’s not moving so much, and standing up outside in the fresh air, looking towards the horizon and balancing the movements of the boat with your legs.