The Shark Museum at Bjarnarhofn farm on the northern side of Snaefellsnes peninsula is where visitors can get a down-home taste of ‘real’ Iceland by meeting with the friendly curator and owner who reveals fascinating details about the local Greenland shark from which traditional ‘hakarl’ is made.
The shark processing operation has been the livelihood of this family for generations and is still going as the region‘s leading producer of ‘hakarl’. The museum has exhibits on the history of this culinary curiosity, along with the family’s fishing boats and processing tools. A video explains the hunting and fermenting procedure. Greenland shark is poisonous if eaten fresh but fermentation neutralizes the toxin.
Guests have the option to taste the pungent petrified shark meat (along with a shot of the famous Icelandic schnapps Brennivin) and dried fish ‘jerky’. You can also taste the shark liver oil which purportedly cures all sorts of minor ailments. The folksy museum is filled with an astounding array of shark fishing paraphernalia. That alone keeps young ones fascinated for hours.
Above Bjarnarhofn lies Bjarnarhafnarfjall, where seagulls are particularly common and nearby is the rugged Berserker lava field. The lava field is full of strange shapes, with beautiful colours, and stark contrasts in the rock and mosses. The area is steeped in history, featuring prominently in the classic Saga’s Eyrbyggja saga and Heidarviga saga.
What to see at Bjarnarhofn?
There’s a very good museum dedicated to fishing sharks at Bjarnarhofn. Mind you, there aren’t any Great Whites in the waters around Iceland, but Icelanders have fished Greenland Shark for ages. Make sure you check out the museum and try tasting fermented shark. It’s an experience, to say the least.
At Bjarnarhofn is also a small and beautiful chapel, which has some great artifacts. Making the short walk to the chapel is more than worth it.
Check out our complete guide to Snaefellsnes peninsula.