Hólmavík small village at Strandir
Updated: Apr 1
Hólmavík is a small village located in the Steingrímsfjörður fjord. It is the only village on the remote east coastline of the Westfjords, called Strandir. For those interested in traveling this road, nr. 643 to Norðurfjörður fjord, it is quite convenient to start the trip at Hólmavík. The road has always been difficult, so I recommend this as a summer tour; I would not recommend driving during winter. The Strandir road is one of few touristy roads and places that you must travel back and forth. But it’s not a ring road or a loop and not part of the main circle whereby you can travel around the Westfjords. It offers, on the other hand, a spectacular scenic drive through fjords, mountain passes, and valleys.
An old village that developed late
Hólmavík is not an old village and settlement on the lowland around the Steingrímsfjörður fjord was never fertile or particularly good for farms and agriculture. The first settlement in the Hólmavík area was in the late 19th century which developed around a small trading post set up for the convenience of the relatively few people living there. In the second decade of the 20th century, there were only eight houses forming a small cluster. It wasn't really until the forties and fifties that Hólmavík began to develop as a village. At that time, the Magistrate for the County of Strandir was set up at Hólmavík, as were other government-related services.
A typical fishing town with tourist services
When the town started to develop in the early fifties, it was mainly fishing and fish processing that formed the base of the village's economy, as in most Icelandic villages on the coastline. The first pier was built from driftwood that had piled up on the shoreline in East Húnaflói through centuries. Driftwood coming from Russia from the Barents Sea through the Norwegian Sea has always been viewed as an extra resource in this area. However, instead of cultivating the traditional halibut and cod stock, Hólmavík moved to prawn catching and processing because of the abundant supply on the Húnaflói bay. Today, the town's economy depends on fishing and fish processing, but the prawn industry is still essential. Government services are still there in the village that serve the larger county located in Hólmavík, and a regional field office of The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration is one of the most important ones. Tourism is also growing, as it is in most places in Iceland, as more and more visitors are interested in traveling to Strandir and some of the most isolated places on the east shore of the West Fjords.
A good place to stop before driving to Strandir
Hólmavík offers all the necessary services and facilities for a town to function properly. It has a preschool and a primary and a secondary school, a sports center, and a nice swimming pool. The town also has an excellent camping site, a lovely café, and a fabulous restaurant. All these make it a great place to visit and stop at, whether you plan to drive to Ísafjörður or Strandir. Although transportation and the village’s isolation were common issues in the past, the place is quite well connected today.