In the hope of ticking Lockie’s bucket list item, of seeing and photographing puffins off the list, we spent hours searching for clear and correct information on where and how to sight puffins on the island of Værøy, in the Lofoten Islands chain in Norway. We found plenty of information that stated there was indeed a large puffin colony on the island, but no exact nor clear information on where exactly to find these magical birds.
We contacted the local tourist information centre, who did confirm we would be able to see these beautiful arctic creatures on foot, but we were not given precise or clear information. Maybe for locals the information given would be enough, but for tourists and foreigners not from the area, it was very vague. We came across some blog posts that stated they did a bird/puffin safari whilst on the island, but there is no information online about any companies offering this. It all seemed very strange to us. With the little information we managed to collect, we researched some more with no luck. We thought surely, once we arrive in Værøy, someone will be able to give us the information that we needed.
On arrival by ferry from mainland Lofoten, we stopped at the tourist information centre in the main town, Sørtland, in Værøy. We were given maps and a hike to follow but no exact location as to where we could actually hike to and reach the bird cliffs. The bird cliffs are protected from April-August when the puffins return from sea to nest. We did not wish to disturb them, just to sit and watch them quietly, from a reasonable distance.
Thankfully, the island is very small, we managed to explore most of it by foot over a three-day period. We found that there is indeed two locations where you can sight arctic puffins from the land on Værøy, but they are both only accessible by hiking. The other option you have is to do a bird safari, which we did also manage to do whilst we were there. The first location you can sight puffins from is called ‘Kalkomnan’. This hike sets off from Nordlandshagen, as do many other hikes on the island, so it’s a great place to base yourself if you have a tent or campervan. The other place to see puffins on Værøy is via the hike ‘Måstadheia’. This hike sets off again from Nordlandshagen and will take you to the well marked town of Måstad. From here, you hike up the mountain until you reach Måstadheia and then you follow the sign marked ‘Lundeura’. This will take you to the top of the bird cliffs. You need to arrive here at the right time as the puffins are out to sea most of the day. Unfortunately, as we made it here to the lundeura, clouds rolled in and visibility wasn’t good. In good weather, we are sure if you are patient and there around dusk, you would get a good view. We could see the puffins from a far flying around in the clouds. Our best sightings on the island of Værøy, were at Kalkomnan. We sat on the rocks and watched them for hours. Please be mindful that these areas are protected during nesting season so follow signage and respect these beautiful creatures. With patience and some camera gear, Lockie was able to capture these arctic beauties and fulfil his goal of photographing puffins.
If you are not a hiker but do want to see these birds, then we recommend doing a bird cliff safari. We were able to get details at the tourist information centre in town. The company who runs the tours is the Lofoten Værøy Brygge. They run a hotel on the harbour. We suggest giving them a call or dropping into the tourist information centre for accurate details. The safari will cost you around 750 NOK per person (75 euros) but it is well worth it. You will also get to see the island by boat and cruise past the amazing Sanden Beach, which is only accessible by boat.
As well as seeing the puffins here, the island has so much more to offer. If you are a hiker then it is absolute paradise, especially in good weather. We spent three days exploring the island and had a blast. It has definitely been a highlight for us and we hope to return one day.