Climbing A Volcano on Iceland’s Westman Islands

As mentioned in my earlier post, we took a 35-minute ferry ride to Iceland’s Westman Islands for the day.  After a morning with whales, a black sand beach and a puffin, we headed to lunch.  The restaurant, Slippurinn, is known as one of the best restaurants in Iceland, and we certainly don’t disagree with that!  C said it may have been his favorite meal ever.


The kids got something boring like chicken nuggets, but C and I went with the 3-course set lunch menu, and it was 3 courses of heaven!  Seriously – 3 for 3, when does that happen?  We started with a fish soup based on the chef’s grandma’s recipe.  I don’t really like super-fishy things.  But, this was dyn-o-mite! Chunks of white fish (halibut?) with a creamy soup poured over it.

Then, we had the fish of the day a Blue Ling (for more detail, see the menu above).

I don’t even pretend that I take pretty food pictures – plus, I didn’t think of taking a picture until he had already dug in.

Then dessert was an amazing skyr yogurt with some sort of frozen greens on top. Doesn’t sound good, but of course, it was!

This was also the only beer that C was willing to drink while we were in Iceland, due to the outrageous prices.

Cheers to a $12 beer.  He licked the glass clean. Because he is cheap, not because it was that good.  Not that it is bad, just not lick-the-pint-clean good. Just lick-the-pint-clean expensive.

After our 2 hour lunch (time is ticking towards our 4pm ferry ride back), we spent the rest of our time on the island focused on the infamous Eldfell Volcano.  In the early hours of January 23, 1973, a fissure opened in the earth on the eastern side of the island, less than a mile from the town, and began spewing ash.  A stroke of luck in the form of a storm the previous day meant that all fishing boats were docked in the harbor and all inhabitants could be safely evacuated.  The new volcano continued to erupt for 6 months, covering much of the island in ash.

This picture comes from this article in The Atlantic. If you are interested, you can see more pictures there.

Eventually, the eruption stopped and people came back to the island, clearly much changed in the six months of the eruption.  We visited the Eldheimar museum, which focused on the eruption and its aftermath. It is a fairly new museum, so the displays were modern and full of bright, colorful photos and included a few interactive displays.

The boys listening to their audio tour in front of an actual house that was damaged in the eruption and left in situ, full of volcanic ash.

After the museum, we headed to the volcano with plans to climb it!


It was pretty steep, and was made of loose volcanic rocks, so it was kind of tricky to climb.  I had read that it was a little bit scary on windy days, but we were lucky to have a calm day.

The entire mountain was made up of these loose volcanic rocks.  All of which spewed out of the volcano during those 6 months in 1973.  It is hard to comprehend the scale!


We zig-zagged our way up the mountain, with A & L leading the way.



C and N, bringing up the rear. Check out the cars parked below, getting smaller as we climbed higher

We took a few stops to investigate the rocks making up the mountain.

the volcanic rock was so light, the boys could pick up even the biggest rocks they found


Eventually, we made it to the top.  I was a little amazed that L wasn’t scared, since we were basically climbing straight up, but I guess this trip has made him a little braver!


At the top, we took a quick stop to *ahem* answer nature’s call, then enjoyed the amazing views of the island, the town and surrounding sea.

have you ever peed off the edge of a volcano?



We walked along the volcano’s edge (lip?) IMG_20170730_141732

And of course, wherever you go, there you are, we stopped for a snack


and for N to inadvertently ruin someone’s rock cairn

N, the view, and the rock cairn, in its last moments before N knocks it over.  Luckily whoever built it didn’t have to look hard to find rocks to build it with!

So, as is often the case, the trip back down was almost more scary than the trip up.  It looked VERY steep walking down, and I could imagine just tumbling straight down.  In fact, the boys decided it would be easier to just slide down the hill.


Of course, sliding down a hill made of lots of little rocks doesn’t work at all, and only gets you really dirty, so we had to stand and walk.


After climbing Eldfell, we headed back to the ferry for our ride back to the mainland.


We didn’t see any whales on our return trip, but did see lots of puffins flying above the water.  And that ends our action-packed day on Westman Islands.



  1. I shared some of these photos with my TAG scholars today! Thank you for posting!!!

    In December a scholar from our class is going sail boating around the world!

    The scholars say, “We loved it!!!”

    SE & JW from TAG and 2nd grade say, “Hi A!!!”


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