Puffin Party – Sailing Out To See Iceland’s Most Beloved Birds

Puffin Party – Sailing Out To See Iceland’s Most Beloved Birds

Photos by
Hörður Sveinsson
Catharine Fulton

Puffin Express brings you to the forefront of puffin life with their daily rides out to Akurey Island, which is just a short distance from Reykjavík Harbour. The business, which is sixteen years old, employs a fifty-year-old ferry, which is said to be the oldest in the harbour area. The company, a group of people from the same small town in the Westfjords, prides itself in a “quiet, up close, and personal” experience with the puffins, as manager Hjörtur told me.

Puffin may of course be seen in large amounts in practically every store in Reykjavík, their faces adorning t-shirts, coffee mugs, and keychains of all styles and sizes. Their shiny orange beaks extend from their puffed white cheeks, a quality that will garner reactions usually reserved for newborns. “Ooohh” and “awww,” in particular. The puffin, Iceland’s most common bird, has that certain draw that makes adults and children alike all gooey and cooey. And what could be better than getting closer to that cute little bird you wish you could hug?

I got to experience the closeness on a beautiful Thursday afternoon as I caught the last Puffin Express ride of the day at 16:30. The ride out to the island was pleasant, as I was almost lulled to sleep by the slight rocking of the boat, the sunshine, and the pristine green-blue waters. Small black dots started to form in the distance, and we came upon the first puffin. The group of twenty or so people flocked to one side of the boat, cameras in position.

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The “ooohhs” and “awwws” began. I surrendered, helpless, and cooed over them along with the others. Puffins seemed to innately do that to people (or so I told myself). Suddenly, what started as a lone puffin soon stretched in to thousands as we approached the island.

There they were, bobbing up in down among the waves, flying in great groups above the water, and standing, checking out the boat from the rocky terrain of their homeland. The captain, Sævar, turned off the engine of the boat a few times so that the water grew still, and we could float along silently, and get even closer to the puffins. Hjörtur told us the facts along the way, pointing out the holes that act as the puffins’ own “little apartment.” Those holes have two rooms, you know. Smart puffins.

The delighted reactions to the puffins continued well in to the ride back as most of the passengers looked over their recently snapped photos. I felt satisfied with my up close experience with the puffins, and browsed through my own photos as well. Almost like a doting new mother.

  • Where: Located at Reykjavík Harbour
  • How Much: Adults: 3000ISK, Children 1500ISK
  • When: Four Rides Daily
  • Web: www.puffinexpress.is

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