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Snorkeling with whales in Skjervøy, Norway

Boat Tour • Whale Tour • Snorkeling Tour

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 Orcas and humpback whales up close underwater!

Whale watching is wonderful and often downright magical. And yet - have you ever wished to be next to them? Not on the sheltered boat, but freely in the cool water? Wouldn't it be awesome to see the whole whale? The full extent of its elegance? under water? In Skjervøy this dream becomes reality. In the winter season (November to January) you can admire orcas and humpback whales in the wild and, with a bit of luck, experience them underwater.

For years the city of Tromsø was considered a mecca for whale watching and snorkeling with orcas, but then the whales moved on and followed the schools of herring north. As in previous years, snorkeling with orcas and humpback whales in the sheltered fjords at Skjervøy was also possible in winter 2022. Rarely fin whales or porpoises are sighted. So let's get into the dry suit! Dare the bold leap into your personal whale experience.

Experience orcas in Skjervøy

“A group of orcas has turned and is coming straight at us. Excited, I watch their sword-shaped dorsal fins and quickly adjust my snorkel. Now it's time to be ready. Our skipper gives the command. I slide into the water as quickly and quietly as I can. I stare in awe through my diving goggles into the dark Norwegian water. Two orcas glide past below me. One turns his head slightly and looks up at me for a moment. A nice feeling. Just as we are about to climb back into the boat, our skipper gives a sign. Something is different than before. More orcas are coming. We stay. Air bubbles roll past me. A single dead herring drifts towards the surface. My heartbeat speeds up. Hope. An orca swims past me, incredibly close. Then he slides down. More air bubbles. First chants. And suddenly there is a huge shoal of herring below me. I'm cheering inside Yes, today is our lucky day. The orca hunt begins.”


AGE™ took part in four whale tours with Lofoten-Opplevelser in Skjervøy in November and experienced the fascination of snorkeling with whales. The tour is called "Snorkeling with Orcas", but you also have a good chance of snorkeling with humpback whales.

First you will be equipped with a dry suit and all the necessary equipment, then you are perfectly equipped for the cold Norwegian winter. Well packed, you then board a small RIB boat for a maximum of twelve adventurous people. Whales are often sighted just behind the harbor in the first bay, but sometimes searching is also announced. We were lucky and saw humpback whales every day and orcas three days out of four. Both above and below water.

It is important to always be ready to go and have your snorkel ready in case you suddenly go into the water. The encounter with migrating orcas or humpback whales often only lasts a few moments under water, but these are unique and will remain in your memory. Finding feeding orcas is a matter of luck. On the fourth tour we were able to experience this highlight personally: a group of orcas hunted a good thirty minutes of herring and we were right in the middle of it. An indescribable feeling! Please remember that whale watching is always different, a matter of luck and a unique gift from nature.

Would you like to experience the hunt? In the AGE™ experience report you will find stories about all four snorkel tours and many beautiful photos of the hunt: With diving goggles as a guest at a herring hunt of the orcas

Wildlife ViewingWhale Watching • Norway • Whale Watching in Norway • Snorkeling with Whales in Skjervøy • Orca herring hunt

Whale watching in Norway

In winter (November - January) there are many orcas and humpback whales to see. The top destination in Norway for this is currently Skjervøy. In summer (May - September) you can spot sperm whales, for example in the Lofoten.

There are several providers for whale watching and snorkeling with orcas. However, some providers focus on classic whale watching and others on snorkeling with whales. Price, boat type, group size, rental equipment and duration of the tours differ, so it makes sense to read reviews beforehand and compare the offers.

AGE™ experienced snorkeling with orcas with Lofoten Opplevelser:
Lofoten Oplevelser is a private company and was founded in 1995 by Rolf Malnes. The company has two fast RIB boats for daily use and more than 25 years of experience snorkeling with orcas. The RIB boats are around 8 meters long and allow a trip in small groups of a maximum of 12 people. Lofoten-Opplevelser equips its guests with high-quality dry suits, neoprene hoods, neoprene gloves, mask and snorkel. The additional provision of warm, one-piece undergarments increases comfort significantly.
As one of the pioneers of whale tourism in Norway, Rolf knows the behavior of the animals inside out. In Norway there are no rules for whale tours, only guidelines. The personal responsibility of the providers is therefore all the more important. The most important thing, besides a good portion of luck, is a good skipper. A skipper who brings his guests close enough to the whales without endangering them. Who offers his snorkelers the best possible experience at all times and still keeps an eye on the behavior of the animals. A skipper who enjoys the beaming smiles of his guests with every success and still breaks off when in doubt and lets the animals go. AGE™ was lucky to find such a skipper at Lofoten-Opplevelser. 
Wildlife ViewingWhale Watching • Norway • Whale Watching in Norway • Snorkeling with Whales in Skjervøy • Orca herring hunt

Facts about snorkeling with orcas in Skjervøy

Where does snorkeling with orcas take place in Norway? Where does snorkeling with orcas take place in Norway?
Snorkeling with orcas used to be offered in Tromsø, but as the animals have migrated, the tour now takes place in the fjords at Skjervøy. The small town of Skjervøy is located in northwestern Norway on the island of Skjervøya. The island is connected to the mainland by a bridge and is therefore easily accessible by car. Skjervøy is around 1800 km from Oslo, but only around 4 hours' drive from the well-known tourist town of Tromsø.
You will find the Lofoten-Opplevelser winter base camp directly at the harbor below the Extra Skjervøy supermarket. For navigation, it is best to use the address Strandveien 90 in Skjervøy.

When is snorkeling with orcas possible in Norway? When is snorkeling with orcas possible in Norway?
The orcas are usually in the fjords around Skjervøy from the beginning of November to the end of January, although the times vary slightly from year to year. You should therefore find out about the current situation from your provider in advance. The Lofoten-Opplevelser snorkeling tour starts at 9am. As of 2022. You can find current information here .

When is the best time to snorkel with orcas in Skjervoy? When is the perfect time to snorkel with orcas?
Most orcas are usually present in December, but the light conditions are better in November and January. Keep in mind that Norway has only a few hours of daylight in winter and polar night in December. It's not pitch black all day, but the twilight makes good photos difficult and reduces visibility underwater. Windless, sunny days are best. Luck is the key when it comes to whale watching. In principle, every winter day from November to January can be the perfect day.

Who Can Snorkel With Whales? Who Can Snorkel With Whales?
The minimum age for snorkeling is 15 years according to Lofoten-Opplevelser. Up to the age of 18 only if accompanied by a legal guardian. For the trip in the small RIB boat with whale watching without snorkeling, the minimum age is only 12 years. You should feel comfortable in the water, be able to use a snorkel and diving goggles and have a minimum level of fitness.
Scuba diving is not allowed because the air bubbles and noise produced by scuba diving would frighten the whales. Wet suit freedivers who don't mind the cold are welcome.

How much does snorkeling with orcas in Skjervoy cost? How much does a whale tour at Lofoten-Opplevelser cost?
Whale watching in a RIB boat including snorkeling with orcas costs 2600 NOK. The price includes the boat tour and equipment rental. Dry suit, one-piece underwear, neoprene gloves, neoprene hood, snorkel and mask are provided. Accompanying persons receive a discount.
  • 2600 NOK per person for whale watching in RIB boat & snorkeling
  • 1700 NOK per person for whale watching without snorkeling
  • 25.000 – 30.000 NOK per day private rental per boat for groups
  • Lofoten-Opplevelser does not guarantee sightings. However, the success rate for sightings of orcas or other whales has been over 95% in recent years. Snorkeling is usually possible.
  • If your tour has to be canceled (e.g. due to a storm), you will of course get your money back. The provider offers an alternative date subject to availability.
  • Tip: From 3 tours per person, a total discount of up to 10% is possible after prior consultation with the provider by email.
  • Please note possible changes. As of 2022.
  • You can find current prices here .

How long can you snorkel with orcas? How much time should you plan for the whale tour?
The tour lasts around 4 hours in total. This time also includes a short briefing and fitting into dry suits. The pure time in the RIB boat varies depending on the day & group and is around three hours.
The tour is subject to weather, waves and whale sightings, so AGE™ advises booking two to three tours with a time buffer for inclement weather.

Is there food and toilets? Is there food and toilets?
Restrooms are available at the meeting point, but there are no restrooms on the RIB boat. Meals are not included. A muesli bar, for example, is recommended for when you are hungry. Tip for afterwards: You can buy fish cake right at the port, a delicious regional finger food.

Attractions near Skjervoy? Which sights are nearby?
The area offers one thing in particular: Whales, fjords and tranquility. The top activities are whale watching and snorkeling with orcas. In addition, you can in good weather and suitable solar winds in winter Northern lights admire at Skjervøy. Tromsø, around 4 hours' drive away, offers numerous tourist activities.

Experience snorkeling with orcas in Skjervøy

Snorkeling with orcas is a special experience A special experience
Whale watching in a small RIB boat and a courageous jump into the cool water to see orcas and humpback whales. An experience that stays.

Good to know: experience whale watching in Skjervoy Personal experience whale watching in Skjervøy
practical example: (Warning, this is purely a personal experience!)
We took part in four tours in November. Logbook Day 1: Humpback whales from afar - long boat ride - lots of time with an orca family; Day 2: Great sightings right in the first bay - lots of time with humpback whales - orcas at the end; Day 3: Difficult visibility due to waves - no orcas - many humpback whales up close - a whale right next to the boat - got wet from the blow; Day 4: The main attraction is the herring hunt of the orcas - occasionally also sightings of humpback whales.

Good to know: Experience snorkeling with orcas in Skjervoy Personal experience snorkeling with orcas in Skjervøy
practical example: (Warning, this is purely a personal experience!)
We were able to go into the water on all four tours. Logbook Day 1: Orcas migrating – 4 jumps, three successful – brief sightings of orcas under water. Day 2: So many jumps that we stopped counting - almost every jump was successful - brief sightings of migrating humpback whales or orcas under water. Day 3: Migrating humpback whales - 5 jumps - four successful. Day 4: Our lucky day - stationary, hunting orcas - 30 min non-stop snorkeling - listening to the orcas - experiencing the hunt - goosebumps feeling - orcas very close.

You can find photos, stories and an audio track with orca calls in the AGE™ field report: With diving goggles as a guest at a herring hunt of the orcas

Good to know: Is snorkeling with orcas dangerous?Isn't snorkeling with orcas dangerous?
Orcas eat seals and hunt sharks. They are the true kings of the sea. They are not called killer whales for nothing. Is it a good idea to swim with orcas of all people? A valid question. Nevertheless, the concern is unfounded, because the orcas in Norway specialize in herring.
Orcas in different regions have very different feeding habits. There are orca groups that eat marine mammals and others that only hunt salmon or only herring. Orcas are reluctant to deviate from their usual diet and are more likely to starve than eat anything else, which is why swimming with orcas in Norway is considered safe. As always, of course: don't press, never touch. These are not stuffed animals.

Good to know: Is snorkeling with orcas very cold in winter?Isn't snorkeling freezing in winter?
A dry suit is included on this snorkeling tour. This is a special wetsuit with rubber cuffs. This keeps your body dry while you swim. The water temperature was surprisingly pleasant with the rental equipment, but it can still get cold in the headwind.

Interesting information about whales

Facts about orcas What are the characteristics of an orca?
The orca belongs to the toothed whales and there to the dolphin family. It has a distinctive black and white coloration and grows to around 7 meters in length. The unusually high dorsal fin is larger in the male than in the female and is called a sword. Orcas live and hunt in groups and are highly social.
Orcas are food specialists. This means that different orca populations eat different foods. Orcas in Norway specialize in herring. They propel the fish upwards with air bubbles, keep them in small schools and then stun them with the flapping of their fins. This sophisticated hunting method is called carousel feeding.

Link to more facts about orcas You can find more facts about killer whales in the orca profile

Facts about humpback whales What are the characteristics of a humpback whale?
The Humpback Whale belongs to the baleen whales and is about 15 meters long. It has unusually large fins and an individual underside of the tail. This whale species is popular with tourists because they are often very lively.
The humpback whale's blow reaches a height of up to three meters. When descending, the colossus almost always raises its tail fin, giving it momentum for the dive. Typically, a humpback whale takes 3-4 breaths before diving. Its typical dive time is 5 to 10 minutes, with times of up to 45 minutes being easily possible.

Link to more facts about humpback whales You can find more facts about humpback whales in the humpback whale profile 

Link to more articles about snorkeling with whales AGE™ Whale Snorkeling Reports
  1. Snorkeling with whales in Skjervoy, Norway
  2. With diving goggles as a guest at a herring hunt of the orcas
  3. Snorkeling and Diving in Egypt

With diving goggles as a guest at a herring hunt of the orcas: Curious? Enjoy the AGE™ testimonial.
In the footsteps of the gentle giants: Respect & Expectation, Country Tips for Whale Watching & Deep Encounters

Wildlife ViewingWhale Watching • Norway • Whale Watching in Norway • Snorkeling with Whales in Skjervøy • Orca herring hunt

This editorial contribution received external support
Disclosure: AGE™ were given discounts or free services as part of the report – by: Lofoten-Opplevelser; The press code applies: Research and reporting must not be influenced, hindered or even prevented by accepting gifts, invitations or discounts. Publishers and journalists insist that information be given regardless of accepting a gift or invitation. When journalists report on press trips to which they have been invited, they indicate this funding.
Texts and photos are protected by copyright. The copyright of this article in words and images is entirely owned by AGE ™. All rights are reserved. Content for print / online media can be licensed on request.
The content of the article has been carefully researched and is based on personal experience. However, if information is misleading or incorrect, we assume no liability. If our experience does not match your personal experience, we assume no liability. Since nature is unpredictable, a similar experience cannot be guaranteed on a subsequent trip. Furthermore, circumstances can change. AGE™ does not guarantee topicality or completeness.
Source reference for text research

Information on site, interview with Rolf Malnes from Lofoten-Opplevelser, as well as personal experiences on a total of four whale tours including snorkeling with whales in dry suits in November 2022.

Lofoten-Opplevelser (oD) Homepage of Lofoten-Opplevelser. [online] Retrieved 24.11.2022-XNUMX-XNUMX, from URL:

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