Nestled on the eastern shores of Skjálfandi bay, the small town of Húsavík has carved out a reputation as the whale watching capital of Europe. But, look closer, and you'll see that it is also fast becoming a hub for local food and creativity.
Published in the 2012 October-December issue of Iceland Review – IR 04.12. By Zoë Robert. Photos by Áslaug Snorradóttir.
The village’s fishing boats are mirrored in the calm waters of the bay, the late summer sun offset with a gentle breeze. A couple sits at one of the picnic tables that line the waterfront, watching the boats come in. At first sight, this unassuming seaside town, population 2,200, seems like any other, but behind the facade of boatsheds and whale watching facilities lies a surprising variety of artistic and culinary innovation.
After having built up the industry over the past 20 years, North Sailing, run by three generations of the same family, offers tours on renovated traditional oak fishing boats. A growing number of tourists head to Húsavík for the minkes, humpbacks and porpoises that frequent the bay. All in all there are 11 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises in the area and seabirds abound too; puffins, razorbills, guillemots and skuas are among the 18 bird species to have been spotted.
Before the tourism boom, Húsavík once served as the export harbor for silica extracted from nearby Lake Mývatn. Now, the community is looking at further ways to boost employment opportunities with large-scale industrial projects, including silicon metal factories at nearby Bakki, powered with geothermal energy. In the meantime, fishing remains a mainstay of the local economy. The obvious proximity to the sea and the agricultural fields inland ensure a fresh supply of local ingredients for the town’s bustling cafés and restaurants. Not far out of town lies the greenhouse production area of Hvammur, and further north, near Kópasker, salmon production and carrot farming.
You can read the remainder of the article in the 2012 October-December issue of Iceland Review – IR 04.12. Four times a year the print edition of Iceland Review & Atlantica brings you a wealth of articles on all aspects of life in Iceland including Páll Stefánsson's latest images of the country’s majestic landscape. Click here to subscribe and here to browse through a selection of pages from the current issue.