Stóra Dímun, Faroe Islands

Photo: Stóra Dímun
Photo: Stóra Dímun

You missed your chance. You had the opportunity to visit the Faroe Islands a few years ago, before anyone was paying attention to them. Now the archipelago, halfway between Iceland and Norway, is the new adventure destination. Tórshavn, the little capital, is home to a boutique hotel, a growing music festival, and a restaurant that attracts foodies. While flights regularly arrive from not only Copenhagen, but Reykjavík, Bergen, and Edinburgh. Now you might have to venture beyond Streymoy, the main island, to get a real sense of life on the remote islands.

After exploring Tórshavn and Streymoy for a few days, it’s time to head to Stóra Dímun. It’s the smallest and one of the southernmost islands in the archipelago. Boats cross the dark, choppy water, but only when the weather is calm and clear. The twice-weekly helicopter, which delivers groceries and supplies, is the better way to travel. During the quick, 20-minute flight from Tórshavn, you have amazing views of Sandoy, Skúvoy, and the forbidding sea.

Stóra Dímun is a less than three-square-kilometer island. It’s steep and treeless with grassy slopes and lichen-covered rocks. Many families inhabited the island from the 13th century onward. Today, it’s down to just two.

Photo: Stóra Dímun
Photo: Stóra Dímun

The island is an Important Bird Area for nesting seabirds. More than 40,000 pairs of orange-beaked Atlantic puffins, 15,000 pairs of dark European storm petrels, and 50 pairs of red-legged black guillemots call the island home. The birds may be noisy, but they provide excellent fertilizer for the soil. So the seven people who live on the island, or at least the four adults, are farmers. They graze cattle and sheep, and grow famed turnips.

The farm has a separate cottage for visitors. During the winter months, it’s used as a classroom. But once the school year is over and the summer begins, it’s open to tourists. The cozy cottage has a turf roof and a black-tar exterior, while whitewashed walls brighten the space inside.

Once the helicopter lands and its powerful propellers stop turning, follow the zigzagging path up the steep hill. You can already see the island’s two peaks—Høgoyggj and Klettarnir—a lone lighthouse, and lots of ewes as you climb. When you reach the farm, you’re warmly greeted, though the grocery boxes you’re helping to carry might have something to do with it. You change your mind when, upon checking out the cottage, you’re invited to join the family for dinner later in the evening. This is the Faroe Islands you couldn’t wait to visit.

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