Puffin Watching with Special Tours


Holly and I with a Puffin

If you read my blog, you know how excited I was about Puffin Watching. If not, the answer was that I was really REALLY excited. So excited, that I planned my puffin watching expedition with Special Tours for our very first day in Reykjavik.

After our airport pickup, and a tour of the nearby area we checked into our hotel and realized we only had about an hour to spare before our puffin boat tour at 2:30. After a quick celebratory beer (we were celebrating our arrival – yes I have low celebration standards), we headed down to the docks.

Unfortunately, the tour had been cancelled due to mechanical difficulties, but we were invited back at 4:30. Since we really wanted to see some puffins, we rearranged our schedule so that we would be back in two hours.

Fast forward two hours. It was finally time for the long awaited puffin tour. More bad news though, the “puffin express” was still broken. Instead we would be taking our tour on the whale watching boat. Understandably, there isn’t much they can do about a broken boat, but I was disappointed because the smaller puffin express promised to give us a closer look at “Puffin Island” than a normal large boat would have.  In fact, they advertise it as one of the main perks of their tour. From their web site:

“The Puffin watching adventure is conducted from an old and charming wooden boat called Skúlaskeið or “Old Skuli“, taking up to 33 passengers each time. …The islands are covered with small hills and slopes and both are well known for their colorful birdlife. The island‘s shores are rocky but Old Skuli is especially designed to take us as close to the islands as possible due to its shallow draught. ”

The Puffin Express (Broken down)

Now it seemed we would be stuck at a distance in our giant boat.

The Big Boat

Still eager to see the puffins, we boarded the boat and took off four our hour long cruise. After about 20 minutes we did indeed reach a small island that was absolutely PACKED with puffins. There must have been thousands of them flying around. Our boat got about 30 feet away and stopped so that we could all get a look and take some photos.

Sadly, we were still VERY far way. Too far to really see anything and much too far for any kind of good photos. You can see from my photos about how much visibility we had.

I kept expecting to get closer or do at least do a loop around the island, but we stayed in the same location for the rest of the time before returning back to the docks.

Overall, this tour was a little disappointing. Although I did technically see puffins, I can’t help but imagine that smaller boats provides a much better experience. I would have liked to be able to see the puffins clearly enough to observe them walking around the island, interacting and fishing.

If anyone goes to Iceland and does a puffin your, you will have to tell me how it goes.


Disclaimer: Holly and received a complimentary Puffin Tour from Special Tours. All thoughts and opinions are my own. ________________________________________________________________________________

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9 Responses to Puffin Watching with Special Tours

  1. I know how excited you were for this puffin outing, so I can only imagine how disappointing this must have been (and on your first day in Iceland). It’s a shame they don’t have more than one boat, but I suppose this is just an excuse to return to Iceland, right?

  2. memographer says:

    no pics?… so sad :( ((((((((((((((((

  3. Kieron says:

    Oh that sucks! We missed out on seeing the Puffins because they were long gone by the time we arrived in November – maybe we’ll have to all go back together and try again? :D

    • ElizabethJ_Bird says:

      Sounds like a plan. Our whale watching trip was equally sad – it seems like all might have had more luck on that front!

  4. Simon P says:

    Wow, that looks really fun! I must admit that puffins are pretty cute, if I were to ever use such a word…

  5. Simon P says:

    … but it’s a shame about the whole broken boat and not seeing any birds, of course! (Sorry for the double post – my last comment made me look rather insensitive!).

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