A group of fifteen islands, that lie at a short distance off the south coast. So named because the Nordic settlers in the country called the Irish, that the islands are named after "westmen" – the men from the west.
The islands are assessable by several daily flights from Reykjavík and Bakki. And a daily ferry from Þorlákshöfn. Bus connections with ferry available from Central Bus Terminal in Reykjavík. The islands have excellent tourist facilities, hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and a variety of sightseeing tours on land and sea.
All the islands have been created in submarine volcanic eruptions during comparatively recent geological time. The colourful town, the beautiful bird-cliffs, the new lava and volcano and the landscape in general give the islands a scenic interest as varied in character as any in the country.
Heimaey "Home Island" the largest and only inhabited island in the group is Iceland´s longest off shore island, with an area of 13,4 sq. km. At the northern end of the island lies the town. Fishing and fish processing and subsidiary trades are the main source of income. It´s the foremost fishing port in Iceland that accounts for up to 15% of the total annual catch in the country.
The town lies in an extremely picturesque position. Sheltered to the north by low mountains and the imposing bird-life Heimaklettur, which protects the narrow cove at the end of which the harbour lies. Up from the shore, spreading south to the new lava to the new (1973 )volcano Eldfell and its older sister Helgafell.
The outermost of the islands formed in a submarine eruption and the one furthest to the west is Surtsey. The eruption began in 1963 and build the island over a period of three years. Scientists are studying how life evolves and the forces that make and break this latest addition to the landmass of the world.