Elliðaey Island Lodge - Atlas Obscura

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Elliðaey Island Lodge

Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Internet rumors, often involving Icelandic singer Bjork, have abounded regarding this isolated outcrop of rock.  

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It’s a sight that piques the imagination: a small, white building, contrasted on all sides by flat green grass, and, beyond that, treacherous, Seussian cliffs. It’s difficult to ascertain which photo was the original, iconic glimpse into this isolated piece of Iceland. However, by 2010, multiple shots of the scenic isle were proliferating across the internet.

Spread by social media accounts dedicated to travel and “interesting facts,” by 2012, it was widely misbelieved that the island was the home of Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk. Although former Icelandic prime minister David Oddson had indeed offered exclusive use of an island named Elliðaey to Björk in February of 2000, as she had “…done so much for the country,” the island in question was located in the bay of Breiðafjörður, west of the Icelandic mainland. (She formally declined the offer in 2004, in light of public outcry and concerns regarding tourism-related over-exploitation.)

Elliðaey (our Elliðaey, that is) is located off Iceland’s rural southern coast, part of the Vestmannaejyar (or Westman) Islands. The history of the island is somewhat murky, due in part to misattributions like the one described above. However, at some point, a small hut was built on the island, which stands today and is used for storage and as a workshop. In 1953, the larger white structure seen in the images was built by the Elliðaey Hunting Association.

This building, which is apparently powered via propane gas and lacks water except that collected via precipitation, serves as a rustic lodge for anyone daring (or bored) enough to make the journey by boat to the rocky beach on the island’s eastern side.  

This trip can be made only from the Vestmannaejyar archipelago’s principal town, also called Vestmannaejyar. It has a population of about 4,000. There’s not much to do except admire the puffins and the scenery, but that’s exactly why some people come. 

Know Before You Go

Elliðaey is officially listed as a protected area by the Icelandic government. Although independent access of the island via boat appears to be legal, it would indubitably be best to entrust the cold, rocky waters and possible legal thorns to a local professional. Several tour companies operating in the Vestmannaejar peninsula offer day trips to Elliðaey. 

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