The northernmost inhabited Icelandic territory, Grimsey represents a unique destination for guests who wish to experience the Arctic Circle. This tiny, charming island stands alone far out on the horizon, surrounded by the expansive Arctic Ocean. Steep cliffs can be found everywhere, except along the southern shoreline. Despite its northerly latitude, Grimsey is generally mild due to the North Atlantic current, which brings warm water from the Gulf of Mexico.
Though treeless, the island's vegetation cover is rich, consisting of marshland, grass and moss, and the island is home to a dense population of diverse bird species, especially auks. The birds nest in the high cliffs surrounding the island, except by the harbour. The chorus of seabirds never stops during the summer months, as there is no night in Grimsey at this time. During winter, the daylight is very short, and most of the seabirds stay far away on the open sea.
The principal industry on Grimsey is commercial fishing, although agriculture and collection seabird eggs are also common practices. The fishermen harvest the rich fishing banks all around the island, but often venture much further north on the Arctic Ocean. The islanders live a relatively modern life in the small village by the harbour; a prosperous and fertile community. The Grimsey Church was built from driftwood in 1867, and the island also features a community centre and school. A ferry serves the island three times a week, and an airport has been built for regular flights.
In spite of its small size, opportunities to explore Grimsey by land and sea abound. Guided sightseeing tours, including walking, biking, hiking, bird-watching, golfing, and local home visits, offer wonderful memories of this lovely island and its people. Coastal boat tours, sea angling, shore fishing, sea swimming, and diving bestow guests with an unforgettable introduction to the teeming, crystal-clear Arctic waters surrounding this lovely island.
Going Ashore in Grimsey
The ship may be anchored and guest will tender to the Grimseyjarbryggja Pier. Grimsey's town centre can be reached via a short taxi-ride or on-foot.
Wool, certificates and souvenirs can be found in Grimsey at the Gallery Sol. The Budin Supermarket stocks everyday consumer goods and foodstuffs. The local currency is the Icelandic Kroner.
The cold, clear, teeming waters along the coast of Grimsey offer a bounty of delectable seafood selections popular among residents and visitors alike. Fresh fish, seafood and local specialities are available for lunch and dinner at the Krian restaurant.
The Arctic Circle crosses Iceland at its northernmost point, on Grimsey Island. A symbol, a kind of a bridge to cross the Arctic Circle, can be found at 66°33'N, north of the airport terminal and beside the north end of the Guesthouse Básar. Next to the symbol is a pole showing the distance to many renowned cities throughout the world.
Although a church was first established on Grimsey in the 11th century, the present-day church was built in 1867, mainly from driftwood that washed ashore on the island.
The Thermal Pool in Grimsey is open four days a week, and features an indoor pool, hot tub, showers, toilets, and wardrobe.
Above the harbour and near the store and restaurant facing the ocean is artwork honouring Mr. Daniel Willard Fiske, a wealthy American scholar, chess enthusiast and patron of the island, Fiske donated a chess set to every home on the island, and a considerable amount of money to the community.
Basalt Column Formations
Grimsey has many beautiful basalt columns formations, especially in the southwest corner of the island. Ancient lava flows cooled by the ocean created these special hexagonal formations. Rapid cooling resulted in small columns, while slower cooling produced the larger columns.
Built in 1937, this renowned island landmark was first operated by a gas lamp that had to be turned on-and-off manually. Today, the lighthouse has been automated and plays a vital role to boat traffic in the surrounding waters. Although closed to the public, the lighthouse offers splendid panoramic vistas of the cliffs on the east coast of the island.
Since no natural resources of hot water or other means of producing electricity in an environmental way is possible in Grimsey, all electricity and warming of water is produced by means of a diesel aggregator. However, a windmill was built in 1973 as an alternative method of producing electricity. The experiment failed, as the mill broke down shortly after it had been build. The remains of the windmill stand on a hill on the southwest corner of the island.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship.