Suðureyri tiny village in Súgandafjörður fjord West Fjörds
Updated: Jan 8, 2022
The tiny village of Suðureyri is located near the mouth of a narrow fjord named Súgandarfjörður in the West Fjords. A fjord is surrounded by steep mountains with limited lowland. This village is only accessible through a tunnel, either from Ísafjörður or Flateyri. When you arrive through the tunnel, you may wonder what made people want to settle here in the first place, let alone start a village in this remote part of Iceland, especially because Suðureyri is a relatively new village that didn’t exist at the beginning of the 20th century. Before that, the not so sizeable inhabitable area in Súgandafjörður fjord consisted of only about dozens of farms for centuries. Access to rich fishing grounds was an advantage, and the farms were scattered throughout the lowland of the fjord, below the steep hills. The fjord has limited reference to the Sagas from the early settlement but has been inhabited for centuries. With this in mind, it is a fascinating place to visit.
The development came with motorboats
Until the last decade of the 19th century, the fjord was always relatively isolated during the wintertime, and the only access was by sea or walking trails to neighboring farms and villages. Then, in the first decade of the 20th century, a village started to grow with increasing fishing and fish processing ventures after motorboats were purchased and a pier improved. However, the fjord didn’t connect to the main road system in Iceland until 1940, when houses were built, and people started to move to the cluster of houses that began to form at a small sandbar by the shoreline. Even at that time, it was only connected with a challenging mountain road on Botnsheiði mountain pass, and the tunnel wasn’t built until 1996.
Suðureyri had its booming time located on a sandbank
It only took about three decades for the population to grow to almost 400. In the seventies, the village built geothermal heating with hot water from Laugar, a nearby farm. Unfortunately, the geothermal venture didn’t last, as there were not many geothermal heating plants in the West Fjords, and the village reverted to electric heating. In the fifties and up until the eighties, the village was booming. A small airport was built to enhance communication and transportation. The village also built a preschool, a primary school, a middle school, an excellent sports center and swimming pool, a community center, a health center, and a church.
Moving towards tourism along with the fishing industry
As of January 2022, the population is around 260, and most of the people work in the fishing industry. Suðureyri is now part of the Ísafjörður municipality as the distance is not that large and the roads are open all year round. Suðureyri, like many of the villages and towns in the Westfjords, is moving towards tourism, serving people traveling in Iceland. The village offers accommodation and has a small restaurant, a gas station, and a small store. The fjord Súgandafjörður is part of a beautiful scenic drive in the Westfjords and it is absolutely worth taking the turn in the tunnel to visit. There are many interesting old houses in the village, and a stroll through the main street should be a part of your visit to the Westfjords.