May 26, 2024

Ring Road Day 2: Glacier Lagoon Kayaking

I was super excited for our day because the main event was glacier kayaking. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. I even tried signing up for it when we visited Patagonia, Chile but we went in winter, so kayaking wasn’t an option. I’m finally going to kayak in a glacier lagoon. I couldn’t wait. Our original plan for the day was to spend a few hours in the morning exploring Vatnajokull National Park, Iceland’s largest park.

two glaciers in the back

However, for the past few days we’ve been very sleep deprived and we were out watching sunset/sunrise until almost 3 am. We just couldn’t wake up early enough. By the time we managed to get ready it was time to go for the kayaking tour. Unfortunately, I had an email from Ice Guide letting us know that our 2 hour long Jokulsarlon Glacier Kayaking tour had been cancelled due to heavy wind.

ice cave

They gave us a few alternatives. We could either join the tour next day, get a full refund, or go kayaking on Heinabergslon glacier lagoon that was farther away. Kayaking in Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is obviously iconic and picturesque but there wasn’t much we could do about the weather. We obviously picked the 3rd option. Since that tour started a little later than expected, we still had time to make a few quick stops along the way.

stop on the way to Flatey Farm

One of the stops we made was at Jokulsarlon and it actually seemed very quiet and calm. In fact, it looked like a perfect day for kayaking in the glacier lagoon. Here’s a video. We were surprised the tour was cancelled. We saw so many glaciers on the drive. It’s one glacier after another after another. We saw maybe 5 glaciers all together on the drive to Flatey Farms, meeting point for the kayaking tour. Even though the glacier seemed calm, some of the stops we made were quite windy. It’s starting to make sense why the kayaking was cancelled.

start of kayaking was not very impressive

Once we got to Flatey Farms we put on a dry suit and were ready to go kayaking. They also gave us gloves but it was too warm. We got on a bus and drove about half an hour from the farm to the Heinabergslon lagoon. The tour guides went over the basics of kayaking so if you’ve never kayaked before, it’s not a problem. We also got information about the glaciers. Turns out all the glaciers we saw on our way originated from one source, Vatnajokull.

icebergs are getting bigger

The start of the kayak wasn’t the most impressive but that changes quickly. Even the weather became sunnier and warmer. Soon, we were kayaking next to huge pieces of icebergs that had broken off. Video of kayaking. We saw a small cave within a big iceberg and few other interesting formations that we wanted to explore. But one of the tour guides suggested we follow her. She led us to a glacier cove with a mini-waterfall. It was mind boggling! I got a little wet as we went under a melting iceberg and into the little cove but it was totally worth it. I’m glad I had the dry suit.

following one of our tour guides

I was initially disappointed that we didn’t get to kayak in Jokulsarlon lagoon but that was before I realized the tour we got placed on included a short glacier hike. We pulled our kayaks up to a huge glacier, put on our crampons and were ready to hike. We went on a short hike to a glacier cave. This was very different from the cave we visited at Katla. This was not on top of an active volcano. Parts of this cave beyond a certain point are unstable so we didn’t go too deep into the cave.

entrance of glacier cave

I had no idea the tour we got placed on included a short glacier hike to a small cave. That was an added bonus I wasn’t expecting. This was another amazingly fun and exciting day. We kayaked for 3 hours in a glacier lagoon around icebergs and went on a glacier hike. Our ideal goal was to go to Diamond Beach next but we were still tired, sleep deprived, and hungry after a 3 hour long workout. We drove to Hofn to check into our next Airbnb.

view from our Airbnb

Hofn is a cute little fishing town. Multiple people had recommended Pakkhus for dinner but we didn’t have a reservation. We had a few Icelandic gin cocktails while we waited for our table. The wait was surprisingly short. We had langoustine soup and smoked lamb and goose for appetizers. The smoked lamb came on top of smoking wood chips. We had THE BEST grilled langoustine of my life! It was so very fresh, delicately flavored, and cooked perfectly.

langoustine at Pakkhus

We also had the catch of the day, fresh ocean ling, which was also delicious. At any other time, fresh ocean ling would have been the star but it was definitely over shadowed by langoustine. The seafood was so fresh. How often do we get to have such fresh langoustine?! We had to take advantage and decided to have a second dinner. The langoustine pizza from the street food truck named Street Food was also mouthwatering. Even the street food had such fresh seafood.

langoustine pizza

One thing I noticed was how serious everyone was about recycling and the environment. Almost every restaurant, cafe, and coffee shop used recycled materials. No one was in denial about climate change. Our Airbnb host’s husband used to be a fishing boat captain and now works for the government fisheries department. We had a drink of Brennivin while chatting with him.

re-usable straws at Pakkhus

We had a great conversation with him about climate change, Katla volcano, fishing in Iceland and other topics. One of many reasons why I enjoy staying at Airbnb are these fun, interesting, and educational conversations we get to have with our hosts. This was a relaxing end to our day and we managed to get to bed by midnight. Pictures of kayaking. You can also follow me on Instagram @rupal.kakkad for my latest travels and adventures.

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