How to Dress for a Whale Watching Tour in Iceland

May 20, 2019

Iceland is an amazing place to go whale watching! Encountering these beautiful gentle giants is an incredibly rewarding experience, one that lets us truly appreciate the wonderful diversity of life that we share our planet with. Against the backdrop of the jagged Icelandic landscape sculpted by millions of years of volcanic activity and glacial movements, it might even be the adventure of a lifetime. Here at Special Tours, we’ve done all the hard work and found the perfect spots to search for whales, dolphins, and porpoises, all within less than an hour’s sailing from Reykjavík – but there are still some things to keep in mind when preparing for your Whale Watching adventure in Iceland. Read on for some tips from the professionals!



Now, the waters around our North Atlantic island nation are very high in nutrients, due in part to deep sea currents that rising up just off the coast. These nutrients support the rich ecosystem that allows whales to thrive – and so every year, countless thousands of whales migrate to our waters to feed on a rich variety of fish species. In particular, the bay of Faxaflói in southwest Iceland benefits by being very exposed to the nutrient-rich North Atlantic Current. Due to this, Special Tours is one of very few whale watching companies in the world that offer whale watching tours year-round – every single day of the year!


Photo by Federico Facchin (Winter Whale Watching from Reykjavík)


Being in the middle in the North Atlantic Ocean, weather in Iceland can vary quite a bit from day to day, let alone season to season. We always provide free warm overalls to all of our Whale Watching passengers, included in the ticket price. These help not only trap heat, but also keep you dry in wet weather, allowing you to stay outside for much longer. But depending on the time of year that you sail with us, you may need to pack different types of clothing to make sure you’ll be extra cozy with us:


  • Hat and Gloves: In all seasons, I highly recommend always bringing a hat and gloves with you. In the summer months (May – September), thinner gloves should do the trick, but during the winter you should have something thicker.
  • Sturdy shoes: If you’re going sailing in Iceland, then definitely leave your sandals and high heels at home. Shoes with sturdy rubber soles, or thicker boots in the wintertime, will not only keep you warmer but also keep you safer when moving around the boat and going up and down the outside stairs. Don’t forget to pair them with a good pair of wool or wool blend socks!
  • Thermal layers: Usually only necessary in winter, thermal underwear is regardless a good thing to throw into your bag all year round, just in case. If you layer it up with a thick sweater (and in winter, a coat on top of that), then combined with our overalls you’ll feel nice and cozy.
  • Scarf or neck warmer: This is mainly for winter as well, and easy to forget. But in windy or snowy conditions, we can lose a lot of heat through our necks – so make sure to bundle up tight!
  • Sunglasses: Regardless of what some locals might tell you, we do actually get sunshine here in Iceland! Squinting through a sunny day on the water will really make you wish you brought yours on-board. Pro-tip: Always opt for a good pair of polarized sunglasses. This reduces the effects of sun glare on the water surface, and even allows you to see better into the water – meaning it’s easier to pick out the whales, dolphins, or porpoises before they even come up to breathe!

Photo: What to wear and what not to wear on a whale watching tour

No matter what time of year you join us for a whale watching tour, you have a high probability of an encounter with one of the four main species that we see – humpback whales, minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, and harbor porpoises. So never ever forget to bring your camera! Whether yours is built into your smartphone, or a high-end DSLR with a telephoto lens, or somewhere in between, it is easy to get memorable photos on any of our tours. Read our blog, How to Photograph Whales for some more tips about wildlife photography.




With Whale Watching tours all year round, and up to 10 daily departures in summer season, there’s always time to add a wildlife adventure with Special Tours to your Icelandic holiday. For more information, or if you have further questions, then feel free to contact our ticket office at or call +354 560 8800


Blog by
Jonathan Rempel
Instagram: @jon.rempel
Head Guide, Special Tours