Hvítserkur is a striking, 15-meter (49-foot) basalt stack located along the eastern shore of the Vatsnes Peninsula in northwest Iceland. Its structure represents the remains of a hardened volcano plug once surrounded by a large crater that has since been washed away by the north Atlantic Ocean in the Húnafjörður Bay.
The base of the rock has two large holes that ocean waves swish and curl around as the tide rises and falls. It’s is a popular tourist stop along Route 711, a dirt road around the peninsula traversable with two-wheel-drive vehicles. From the parking lot, there is a short path leading to a cliff-edge observation platform. You can get a good view from above or walk down to this geological oddity via a myriad of unofficial trails. It is also possible to go straight down to the shore from the parking lot, but you have a good high chance of encountering some aggressive birds. In low tides, it’s possible to walk up next to the basalt stack!
Hvítserkur is a beloved icon of the region that was commemorated on an Icelandic stamp in 1990. The name Hvítserkur means "white shirt" in Icelandic and refers to the white color scattered across the rock face. While this coloration is actually due to the guano of several nesting bird species (most commonly gulls and fulmars), it seems to add to the mysteriousness of the rock formation. Its foundation has been reinforced with concrete to help protect it from the harsh seawater and keep this monolith standing.
Temperatures here tend to remain fairly consistent throughout the year. It is warmest during July, and the coldest average temperature is -5°C (22°F) in the evenings. In winter, freezing periods are prolonged with March being the coldest month and May being the sunniest and driest month. Rainfall is most expected toward the end of the year in December.
The people in this area depend largely on agriculture, industry, trade, and fishing for their livelihoods. Nearby, the Ósar Hostel provides accommodation, and the local villages provide a plethora of information and a pleasant atmosphere. While the population is relatively small, the Hvammstangi Village on the northwestern tip of the peninsula is home to one of the oldest and largest seal colonies in the country. You can visit the Icelandic Seal Center, watch seals from shore, and learn about their active research.