The beautiful Skjervøy archipelago in the Lyngenfjord region has become an extremely popular destination for whale watching safaris. People from all around the world are travelling here to get a close-up look at the beautiful whales.
When the herring moved
In the winter of 2017, the herring migrated from the coast off Tromsø northwards towards the Lyngenfjord. The whales were not far behind them in search of a feast and, in recent times, there has been phenomenal activity in the sea off Skjervøy.
Joanna from Italy is one of the many who have been on a whale watching safari off the coast of Skjervøy.
“It was completely amazing! I have never experienced anything like it before. It was unbelievable to see the whales swimming so close to us and to see how they moved in the sea. As soon as we returned to land, I just wanted to go out again,” she says just after returning from the whale watching safari.
The whales you can see
Two whale species in particular have been observed off the coast of Skjervøy: humpback whales and orcas (killer whales).
Orcas have strong family bonds and their groups often remain together for several generations. The orca has a black body with a large white patch above and behind the eye. The orca is the largest member of the oceanic dolphin family. The orca’s diet consists of fish (such as herring), seals, sharks and dolphins.
- The orca is the whale species with the largest dorsal fin. Male orcas can be up to 2 metres high. The average lifespan of female orcas is 50 years, but they can be up to 90 years old.
Humpback whales can live alone or in small groups. The humpback whale is stocky and strong, has black dorsal colouring and (as the name suggests) an obvious hump on its back. It catches herring by opening and filling its mouth. It can catch an entire school with a single mouthful!
The humpback whale is very acrobatic and is known for its spectacular jumps above the surface! The humpback whale also produces a unique and complex song.
- Did you know that female humpback whales are the largest? They can grow up to 19 m long and weigh 40 tonnes! The typical size is 12-14 metres and 25-30 tonnes! That’s huge!
To avoid disturbing the whales while they are feeding, it’s important to maintain some distance. However, this won’t prevent you from seeing the whales. Jumping humpback whales and orcas that want to play are often more curious and swim closer to the boats.
See the guidelines for whale watching safaris in the right-hand menu.
Don’t wait too long!
We recommend you don’t wait too long before going on an Arctic whale watching safari. The whale experts who have followed the whales for many years believe the whale adventure will soon be over.
The herring will migrate out to the open sea and, when this happens, the whales will follow them. Naturally, this will make it harder for us to experience them.
Go on a whale watching safari
If you want to experience this whale adventure up close and personal, we recommend going on a whale watching safari. Experiencing these huge and mighty marine animals at such close range is a nature-based experience you will never forget.
Several companies offering whale watching safaris have daily departures from Skjervøy and outer Lyngen.
Eat & sleep
If you need a place to stay, several places in the area offer accommodation and breakfast for whale enthusiasts.
Hotel Maritim Skjervøy
Hotel Maritim Skjervøy is a full-service hotel with restaurant, bar and café. It’s located in the centre of Skjervøy not far from the Hurtigruten quay. This is a nice place to stay if you want to see whales.
Skjervøy Fiskecamp is situated in a secluded bay on the island of Skjervøy, but still 10 minutes from the centre of Skjervøy. You can stay in a cabin or apartment. The camp also rents out boats.
Reisafjord Hotel is in Sørkjosen overlooking the Reisafjord, about a 40-minute drive from Skjervøy. This hotel provides everything you need for a pleasant stay.
Get the full package
Keen to combine a whale watching safari with accommodation? Several companies offer packages containing both accommodation and a whale watching safari.
XLyngen and Lyngen Experience Apartments Lodge offer accommodation and safaris departing from Lyngen.
Getting to Skjervøy
If you are driving from Tromsø, turn off the E6 highway and Langslett continue to Skjervøy. The drive from Tromsø to Skjervøy is 160 km and takes about four hours. You will be rewarded with a lot of beautiful scenery along the way.
You can shorten the drive by taking two scenic ferry crossings – over the Ullsfjord and the Lyngenfjord. View the ferry timetable
Bus to Skjervøy
There are daily bus services from the Passenger Terminal at Prostneset in downtown Tromsø to Skjervøy, which involves swapping buses at Langslett.
Express boat to Skjervøy
You can catch the express boat from the Passenger Terminal at Prostneset in downtown Tromsø to Skjervøy. The journey takes just over two hours.
Hurtigruten to Skjervøy
The Hurtigruten ships dock at Skjervøy twice a day. The northbound ship arrives at 22:45 (10:45 p.m.) and the southbound ship at 19:45 (7:45 p.m.).
Fly to Sørkjosen
You can also fly from Tromsø to Sørkjosen Airport and then drive from here to Skjervøy.