Westman Islands is Iceland best kept secret with rich history, unique landscape and heartwarming and welcoming inhabitants.
Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar) main islands is called Heimaey it has the population of around 4200. Westman Islands are surrounded by 15 other uninhabited islands (although 6 of them have single hunting cabins) and around 30 rocks and skerries making our seabird life very rich and bountiful.
When sailing around our islands it is not uncommon to see whales, seals and most likely you will meet some beautiful puffins but Westman Islands are considered being the largest Atlantic puffin colony in the world. If you are visiting in August or September you might have the chance to save some baby puffins that fly in late in the night and we need to catch them and release them back to the ocean the day after. That is truly an amazing experience (and it is free, you just have to spent the night in Heimaey). Read more about baby puffins here.
Eruptions are a big part of Westman Islands history and on the islands there are 2 Volcanoes. One that erupted around 6000 years ago and then we have Eldfell that erupted in 1973 and all of our inhabitants needed to leave the islands from the mainland. One of the most amazing thing about that fact is that the day before there was really bad weather all our fishing boats where in the harbor and could therefore transport all the people to the mainland.
Eldfell eruption was strong and powerful and lasted from 23rd of January until 3rd of July, leaving the island under lava and ash. Westman Islands inhabitants did not want to give up on their amazing islands so they went back and with help from other Icelanders and foreigners the dug up the islands again so people could move back. You can read more about the Eldfell 1973 eruption here
Since we are talking about eruption we cant not mention Surtsey that was formed by an underground eruption from 1963-1967. Today Surtsey is on the World Heritage Unesco list and has been free from human interference (except from some researcher who monitor and explore it). You can read more about Surtsey 1963 eruption here
If you are in Iceland you just can’t skip out on visiting the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar / Heimaey)
If you want to know more about Westman Islands and or it’s history you can click on the following links: