But first, how to get there?
The ferry (herjolfur) goes several times per day. It takes around 30 to 40 minutes to get there. A one way ticket costs 4.000 ISK per adult person. We wondered if we needed our car to visit the island and read different things on the internet. In the end we went without our car and explored the island by foot. If you are sportive and have some time, you can easily do that. If you do want to take your car it will cost 3.000 ISK extra (1 direction).
1. Heimaklettur (Home Rock) hike
A challenging hike is to climb Heimaklettur or the Home Rock. It’s a short and steep climb with great views on the island and the harbour with it’s surroundings. You probably can see each corner of the island. However, beware if you are afreight of hights! The hike starts with few challenging parts. It starts with a steep climb with loose sand and rocks. After follows several stair cases which you have to overcome without being secured. We are sportive and up for adventure and we survived pretty well. I can’t decide for yourself if you can do it or not, but if you go for it, please be carefull and only do it when the weather is good. A full detailed description of the hike with plenty of pictures (which guided us) can be found here: Wilderness Coffee & Natural high blog
Strava Track: GPX to explore the entire island
2. World famous Elephant Rock
The Elephant Rock is world famous and is located in Iceland, on the Westman Islands. It’s a natural rock formation on the island of Heimaey. It is made of basalt rock formed in a volcanic eruption of Eldfell.
It is known for its shape which resembles the head of an elephant with its runk in the water. It’s within walking distance from the harbour and next to the golf court.
Beware! When finding the perfect spot for your own picture, you might pay attention for the golf players. There is a teeing area closeby which is the place where a hole starts. Golf players will take a long shot and you don’t want to be hit be a lost ball. Obviously the golf player has to take care as well, and the lady we saw friendly waited while we were going for our perfect picture 🙂
At first we were too close and saw another rock formation that kinda looks like Elephant Rock. Once we figured out the real one, we decided to call the one next to it the Mammoth Rock 🙂
3. Hiking with different surfaces and beautiful views
While hiking from the harbour to the most southern point of the island we followed the coastal track. It showed us magnificient views and constant changing surfaces. The only downside is that you can only make it a loop hike when coming back via the main road. There is no coastal hike on the other side of the island. One way from the harbour till the most southern point is around 6 to 7 km. When you make it to the end, you can spot some Puffins.
This beautiful story starts with 2 couple of brothers that decided to brew their own beer. Unexpectedly it became a big success and it is now a main attraction on the Westman Islands. Today two brothers (one of each couple) work full time in the brewery and tasting room. You’ll find a great selection of homemade beers all available on draft and in packages to take with you. Service is friendly and quick and beers are accompanied with some great pop corn. A must visit place while waiting for the next ferry, which is just around the corner.
There is only one small caveat, which is normal for Iceland, but to Belgium standards beer is quite expensive. In contrast to Icelands capital there is no Happy Hour. But don’t let that hold you back to taste one of their tasteful beers.
5. Playing golf
We are not (yet) golfers but this must be a great location to play golf. Directly near the ocean and with awesome mountains and views to look at while moving around between the holes. More information can be found here: Westman Island Golf
6. Lava impact
The Eldfell volcano erupted from January to June 1973. The eruption began without warning on the eastern side of Heimaey. The name means Hill of Fire in Icelandic. The eruption caused a major crisis for the island and led to its temporary evacuation. There is a museum to showcases this, but as we prefer nature above museums we didn’t visit the museum.
7. Most windiest point
Cape Storhofdi (Great Cape) is considered as the windiest place in Iceland. An incredible wind speed of 220 km/h has been recorded. On internet you can even find that it’s claimed to be the windiest place in Europe. In our opinion that is some great marketing and not the reason to go there. Also, when we were at this place I even think it was wind still. Might be a coincidence and obviously it can’t be windy constantly. A good thing is that there are quite some puffins which you can spot. There is also a cabin where you can hide to observe them. Binoculars or a camera with adequate zoom is required.
8. Stave Church (Stafkirkjan)
Maybe not the most exciting for everyone, but as it’s close to the harbour and the lava fields, it’s worth the few extra miles. The Stave church is a magnificient structure gifted to Iceland by Norway. It was built in 2000 to commomorate the 1.000th anniversary of Iceland'(s conversion to Christianity. It is a replica of the first church in Vestmannaeyjar. Nowadays there is a tradition of holding masses to commemorate the beginning and end of the Heimaey eruption.