Flatey (pronounced Flat–eh) is an abandoned island settlement on the edge of Skjálfandi Bay. Spread flat, this veritable pancake of a land mass is rich in bird fauna, with over 30 different types of bird to watch, including both the dive-bombing Arctic Tern and the comedic, baked-potato-like Puffins.
Not to be confused with Flatey Island in the West Fjords, its name, as you might guess, simply means Flat-Island. Suitably, the highest point is a mere 20 metres above sea level. Though not much to boast about in the height department, it is 2.5km long and 1.7km wide, making it the 5th largest island off the coast of Iceland.
Many residents in Húsavík have houses on Flatey, which though uninhabited since 1968, was once a lively village with a church, a schoolhouse, and a lighthouse. The 100 or so inhabitants subsisted in a typical Icelandic fashion, through farming and fishing. Residents slowly left once electricity began to arrive on the mainland, but to this day, many people have summer houses there, and it remains an interesting destination for tourists.
Iceland sits directly in between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. With the boundary passing from the South-west in Reykjanes up to Tjornes in the North-east. On the Tjornes peninsula, there are a series of faultlines, one of which runs visibly beneath the northern side of Húsavík mountain, out to Flatey Island. The Húsavík to Flatey Fault-line eventually goes on to join the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a massive underwater mountain range formed by movement at the plate boundary.
Flatey Island lies just north of the similarly named peninsula, Flateyarskagi. On the opposite side of the bay to Húsavík, it’s clearly visible in good weather and is about 9 km from Húsavík. There is a guided trip run by Gentle Giants which is 4-5 hours long, or North Sailing also do trips on request.
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