One of the main things we wanted to do in Iceland was see puffins, and we managed to find them two nights in a row! They are the cutest bird I’ve ever seen! I freaked out when I spotted them flying around awkwardly, but the look on Kyla’s face when she first saw them made my trip: PURE JOY!
Here are some tips for seeing puffins in South Iceland, so that you can feel pure joy too! The two locations I talk about are near the small town of Vik (about 2.5 hours from Reykjavik).
When? In general, May to late August is when puffins arrive back on land from their ocean adventures. Dyrhólaey is CLOSED during nesting season, which includes parts of May and June (I imagine that this sensitive time isn’t the best to seek them out elsewhere, either, but you can probably still see them on cliffs near Reynisfjara). July or early August would be the best time to spot them, and they can most reliably be seen between 7-10 a.m. and 6-10 p.m. If it’s rainy, you’re in luck: there’s a possibility of seeing them during the day! We saw lots on rainy evenings! If it’s sunny, they may not be back until after 9 p.m. Here’s some info from a Vík tourist map:
Where? Reynisfjara: You should visit this beach whether or not you’re looking for puffins! It has black sand, lava stack formations, and mystical basalt columns. Right as you pass the first set of basalt columns (from the parking lot), face the cliffs, and you should see puffins! From a distance, my first clue was a flying football-shaped thing!
Where? Dyrholaey: This promontory offers great views of Reynisfjara and Vík to the east, and black sand beach for days to the west. We drove all the way up to the top. It says 4 wheel drive only; it was fine for our little rental, but it’s quite a steep gravel road. You can also park below and walk up. Up top, there’s a lighthouse, and the cliffs nearby were where we spotted the puffins! If you look down (again, look for the awkward flying footballs and head towards them), you should see some, not too far from the path!
How? Don’t forget your binoculars and camera with zoom! Be respectful of the birds’ habitats and be safe: don’t go beyond any ropes or signage. Happy birdwatching!