Drangey Island – A Birdwatching Paradise

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A deformed table-shaped structure located in the bay of Skagafjord Fjord, North Iceland, Drangey Island, is a hidden gem on the road less traveled. The rustic remnant of the extinct volcano lies 7 km off the coast and exploded around 7,000,000 years ago. The remains that still stand proud rise up to 200 meters from the sea and are overgrown with grass to make a majestic view from both afar, and close up. The prehistoric structure attracts visitors for a beautiful view, along with serving as an avian paradise. A huge range of birds can be found here for the perfect birdwatching experience, including puffins, razorbills, kittiwakes, large colonies of guillemots, ravens, Norwegian fulmars, and ravens. 

Drangey Island - North Iceland

The Myths & Legends of Drangey Island

From animals to heroes, there are many myths and stories associated with the island. Drenched in prehistoric drama, Drangey island is believed to be nothing but a big cow. As folklore has it, the cow was chased across Skagafjord by two trolls, Karl and Kerling. The cow got stubborn and grounded herself in one place, while the trolls remained determined to move her, losing track of time. Once the sun came up, the trolls turned to stones. The remains in the sea are said to be the cow who would not move.

Another local saga orients around the anti-hero, ‘Grettir the Strong’. Said to be a beast of a man, the antagonist came from a line of Vikings and had inherited his grandfather’s short temper. Though he wasn’t bad at heart, he was quick to act and hence, landed himself into all sorts of troubles and problems. Grettir was able to slay many enemies including a vicious creature and got cursed. Though a hero for killing rivals, he was also blamed for burning down a hall and was banned for it. Grettir, his brother, and a slave, together sought shelter on Drangey island. Though requests were made for the ban to be lifted, an attempt on his life proved fatal and made him a legend, forever associating him to the island.

A Memorable Experience

An adventure to Drangey island is unique in countless ways, perfect for every nature enthusiast. From sightseeing to birdwatching or sailing to hiking, everything is done under personal guidance. With a single man-made path stemming from the base of the island to the top, along the face of the magnificent cliff, a thrilling walk up the winding slopes with the help of ropes and ladders offers a bounteous reward. The top beholds a 360-degree breathtaking view of Skagafjord and the surrounding waters, blanketed with little borrows of puffins.

The island is small and can easily be navigated, requiring a mere 4-hour duration to enjoy the complete natural wonder. If you do not wish to go for a hike, although highly recommended, to see the expanse of the majestic view, you can stay at the foot of the island or enjoy the view in the boat. You can even go onto the shore, at the small harbor in Drangey to relax and relish the tranquil scenes of nature around you. Pro tip – carry a towel with you so you can enjoy the warm water spring of Grettislaug hot spring after the boat ride, once you deboard it!

Drangey Island - North Iceland

Visiting Drangey Island

The island has served residents every spring over the centuries. Each spring, locals resorted to the island for the collection of eggs, for catching birds, and for climbing cliffs. This tradition was banned in 1996 and residents started flocking during summertime. Boat trips to the island depart from the famous Grettislaug hot spring. They are scheduled from 1st June to 15th August, but remain dependent on the weather conditions, making it a wise option to check in before you visit. Boat trips are not scheduled in May and September but can be arranged on request. Besides the trip to the striking site, fishing at sea is also an inviting option.

Drangey island seen from Grettislaug hot spring

Drangey Island on a map

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