Guía de Viaje sobre Playa de Ytri Tunga
Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by pjt56.
Ytri Tunga is a beach by a farm of the same name on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Unlike many of the beaches in Iceland, Ytri Tunga has golden sand, rather than black.
Seal Watching at Ytri Tunga
Just offshore, on some rocks protruding from the water, at least a few individuals from the local colony can be seen hauling out all throughout the year. The best time to see them, however, is in the summer months.
The seals that haul out here are Harbour Seals, one of the two common species found in Iceland. The other is the Grey Seal. In spite of what many think, Iceland no longer is home to walruses, although they are spotted in the Westfjords on rare occasions. Other visiting species include Hooded Seals and Ringed Seals.
Seals and Icelanders have had an interesting relationship over the past millennium. Seals, of course, were vital to their survival, due to their meaty bodies, fat for oil, and their waterproof hides, but also appeared in folklore as mysterious and beautiful selkies. Most other Nordic countries depicted Selkies as evil, but not Iceland.
More recently, seals have been killed for fashion and due to their impact on fisheries, as they often damage nets and equipment as they steal catches. Today, however, most Icelanders see seals as a beautiful addition to the culture of the nature rather than a pest or a pelt, and encourage visitors to enjoy viewing them.
On this site, you can find an article about seals in Iceland.
Getting to Ytri Tunga
Ytri Tunga is easy to reach from Reykjavík. By driving the Ring Road north, you will eventually reach the Snӕfellsnes Peninsula. Take the road along its south side, and about halfway down, you will come across a small sign pointing to Ytri Tunga Beach.
Here, there is a carpark, an information sign, and a small path leading to the viewing area. When watching the seals, it is important to give them space, as they can be dangerous if frightened, and to keep the noise respectfully low.