Now this is a trip not to be missed when visiting Stykkishólmur, the capital of the magical Snæfellsnes peninsula! There are various boat trips but I chose Ævintýrasigling or Adventure voyage - I liked the name of that trip.
The boat took us on a couple of hour's trip on Breiðafjörður bay with its wonderful innumerable islands. The islands are actually on the list of 3 innumerable things in Iceland. The islands are so many that some of them even have the same name.
Dímonarklakkar islands are the highest ones of all of the Breiðafjörður islands. Small Klakkur (Litli klakkur) is 54 m high og Big Klakkur (Stóri klakkur) is 72 m high. They are so majestic hovering over the other islands. They belong to an archipelago called Klakkeyjar islands.
There used to be woodland here on Klakkeyjar islands as in so many places in Iceland, but it is all gone now.
Birdlife on the islands
On Klakkeyjar islands there is a lot of shag, which one will get very close to on the boat-trip. It was so cool getting so close up to them and they didn't seem to mind us, they just ignored us. I guess they are used to boats coming so close to have a look at them, and they know that we are only looking and not there to hurt them.
The boat took us straight up to some islands for bird-watching and we saw a lot of kittiwakes, shags and puffins. I love puffins and it was so lovely being so close to them.
Aren't they lovely? You will be able to see the puffins in Iceland during their breeding season from mid April until mid August.
Extraordinary columnar basalt
We were shown some beautiful columnar basalt in various forms depending on which island we were visiting. The columnar basalt is riffled in one of the islands and it is often referred to as the Bookshelves of God.
These islands were populated and there was even the first printery in Iceland on Hrappsey island. These islands are filled with so much interesting history.
There were Vikings who lived on these islands to begin with and they were not the most peaceful of men. There is one rock in Breiðafjörður bay where people were hung and left to hang for months as a warning to others to behave right.
Just imagine what a dreadful sight that must have been! Especially if this was one of your relatives :(
This hanging place is a gap in a very peculiar riffled columnar basalt island.
On Hvítbjarnarey island (Polar bear island) there is a boulder in a rift in the rocks. It is of different material than the other rocks on the island and the origin of this particular boulder is explained in Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar - the Folklore of Jón Árnason:
"Several stories exist of the giantess, who lived in Helgafellssveit region or in the mountains around there, first at Helgafell, but as a church was erected at Helgafell, the giantess moved to Mt. Kerlingarfjall. Following are three of these stories of the giantess.
Hvítabjarnareyja island (Polar bear island) is one of the islands above Stykkishólmur in Breiðafjörður. It was named after a polar bear, which came ashore on the island and lay to rest on a stall on the southern part of the island, which is surrounded by tall cliffs. A giantess was on the mainland, people say that she lived at Helgafell before Christianity was adopted in Iceland and a church was erected at Helgafell, but trolls are no fans of Christianity and churches.
The giantess noticed that the polar bear was on the aforementioned stall on the island and thus she walked on top of Þingvallaborg, which is opposite the island from the mainland, and threw a huge boulder over to the island to kill the polar bear. But as fate has it the boulder landed higher up than she intended and landed on the cliff tops, which are above and to both sides of the stall. The boulder still lies above the stall, but the polar bear didn't get hurt.
Another account from this region in the west is that the giantess who lived in Mt. Kerlingarfjall, noticed that a man had gone fishing on a boat on Hrappseyjarsund strait, between Hrappsey island and Stykkishólmur. The Giantess had a grudge against this man, the reason why is not mentioned in the account, and threw a huge rock towards the man sitting in his boat, but that rock landed in Hvítabjarnarey island and can still be seen there, but the giantess failed to kill the man.
Close to Nesvogur by Stykkishólmur one can find 3 little hummocks, which are believed to have been thrown there by the giantess in Kerlingarskarð cleft, but she meant to destroy the church at Helgafell with these hummocks".
(Translated into English from Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar - the Folklore of Jón Árnason).
The story we were told on the boat is that the boulder is said to have been thrown there by the giantess, who used to live at Mt. Helgafell as she wanted to destroy the church at Mt. Helgafell by throwing the bolder at it, but she missed and the boulder landed here on this island. So you can see that there are several accounts on why this boulder is where it is :)
The hiding place of Eirik the Red
We were shown the hiding place of Eiríkur rauði or "Eirik the Red" the father of Leif the Lucky. Eiríkur had been chased out of Norway for manslaughter and was later also chased out of his home at Eiríksstaðir for killings and evildoings - it seems like he was somewhat a bit of a thug. He tried living in Öxney island but the same happened there. I have written another blog on Eirík the Red.
We were told many stories on life in the olden days on the islands by a very good guide on board the boat. It is so nice for a history buff like myself to be guided around like this. Beautiful nature, lovely weather, history lessons and the fruit of the ocean - what more can one ask for :)
The Fruit of the Ocean
Now, this is what some call the highlight of the tour of the Breiðafjarðareyjar islands - the throwing out of the net. This was actually quite exciting, two members of the crew threw a net into the ocean and we waited for the catch of the day!
Everybody on the boat watched as the net was drawn in to see what they had caught. The catch was quite impressive: beautiful purple sea-urchins, red and orange starfish, scallops, crabs and all kinds of shells and conches - to sum it up: the Fruit of the Ocean.
The crew opened up the sea-urchins and scallops and offered them to the group - fresh and raw and free of charge. Sea-urchin roe are considered to be a delicacy and an aphrodisiac.
We were also offered a knife in case we wanted to try to open them up by ourselves.
The scallops were offered to us in the shell - I was amazed at the savvy of the crew - they conjured up a luxurious meal straight from the ocean - one has got to love these fishermen :)
What I loved was seeing the shellfish in its natural state, as it were, as I only ever see conches and shells empty on the shore, so watching them like this (see the photo below) was just amazing.
Although I must say that I felt a little sorry for them for being pulled out of the ocean like this - they must have been quite startled all of a sudden being in a totally different atmosphere, so to speak.
For sale on the tour was white-wine in small bottles. I opted out but ended up being given a bottle by a tour-guide who had paid for the wine and had miscalculated the number of people in his group.
I have been on this tour twice, back in 2010 (when I was a peroxide blond) and again in 2016. And I want to go again, I love going sailing like this!
This is such a fun trip and we were in luck that the sun was shining all day long. A quite memorable day and when we got back ashore the first thing I said was: "I want to go again" :) If you want to join this tour then the Viking Sushi Adventure runs all year round.