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Bjornoya (Bear Island), Norway

Bjørnøya, fondly known as Bear Island, has enjoyed status as a Nature Reserve since 2002. With only a small Norwegian weather station housing any human inhabitants, this island is a sanctuary of solitude seldom touched by visitors. The island's story begins in 1596, when Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz discovered it. Its name, a tribute to a fierce encounter his expedition had with a polar bear, belies the fact that sightings of these majestic creatures are now extraordinarily rare. Over the centuries, Pomor hunters, Norwegian trappers, and brief coal mining operations in the 1920s have all left their mark on Bear Island.

The southern edge of Bjørnøya is a spectacle of nature's dramatic artistry, with near-vertical cliffs, towering rock columns, and mysterious caves. These precipices serve as the cradle for some of the North Atlantic's largest seabird colonies. Hundreds of thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots and common guillemots claim these cliff ledges as their nesting grounds, laying their uniquely oval-shaped eggs directly onto the rocky platforms. Kittiwakes, fulmars, puffins, and gannets also nest here, thriving on the bountiful food found in the surrounding waters. 

Zodiac Cruise
Experience dramatic views from aboard your Zodiac, including steep cliffs teeming with seabirds and the exploration of deep, water-filled caves.

*Experiences subject to change

Bjornoya (Bear Island), Norway