Boat tour with boat waiting in front of one of the glaciers of the Eternity Fjord near Maniitsoq - West Greenland

Boat tours & sailing

The ocean and fjords around Greenland have been the country’s primary “highways” for more than 4,500 years.  And while most Greenlanders have swapped the traditional qajaqs (kayaks) and umiaqs (large canoes) for motorboats, a summer adventure in Greenland is not complete without an exploration of its waterways.

Discover Greenland’s ocean wildlife

The best way to spot marine wildlife on your visit to Greenland is on a boat tour from Sisimiut or Maniitsoq. Humpback whales are very common in the summer months, and you have a great chance of experiencing these magnificent creatures up close on a dedicated whale watching tour.  Seals are also around in large numbers and tailing a pod of them as they skim across the top of the water makes for a fun adventure.

If you are more into fishing, you are guaranteed to catch something (usually many somethings) when you book a fishing tour. Cod is extremely common, but it is also possible to catch redfish, halibut and wolffish in the right season.

For birdwatchers, keep a keen eye out while sailing to see how many of the following you can spot: King Eider, Common Murre, Glaucous Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Black Guillemot, Long-tailed Duck, Mallard, and the majestic White-tailed Sea eagle. Alternatively, book a boat tour that specifically explores the bird cliffs in the fjords around Maniitsoq.

Contemplate the glaciers

There seems to be a glacier around almost every corner in the Maniitsoq area. Set sail to explore some of the lesser-known fjords and glaciers or head a little further north to experience Greenland’s most beautiful fjord – the Eternity Fjord.  There you will see an enormous number of hanging glaciers, as well as several of these “ice rivers” that reach all the way to the waterline. Floating in front of the wall of ice that makes up the glacier face is always spectacular, and you may even be lucky enough to see a calving event! 

Visit one of Greenland’s small settlements

Although most Greenlanders now live in towns, there are still some who prefer to live in the small settlements that were once the backbone of the Greenlandic economy.  A day tour to one of these villages is a great way to experience how Greenlanders used to live, as residents still mostly rely on fishing and hunting for their livelihood and there is very limited infrastructure. 

Napasoq, Atammik, and the colourful Kangaamiut are within easy reach of Maniitsoq. While Itilleq and Sarfannguit make great excursions from Sisimiut.

Leaving Sarfannguit on a boat transfer to Sisimiut - West Greenland
Photo: Lisa Germany – Destination Arctic Circle
Approaching the abandoned settlement of Assaqutaq near Sisimiut on a boat tour - West Greenland
Photo: Lisa Germany

Explore a ghost town

In the 1960s, the Danish government sought to consolidate the population of Greenland into larger towns by closing many of the small settlements.  There are several such ghost settlements around Sisimiut where buildings still stand, including Uummannaarsuk, Saqqarliit, and Ikerasak.  But the largest and most accessible of these is Assaqutaq – located 10km from Sisimiut.  Here you can see derelict buildings that continue their slow decay as well as fully restored buildings that are now used for school group activities. You can even get married here!

Many people visit Assaqutaq on an out-and-back boat tour, but it is also possible to take a boat transfer out to the ghost village and hike back to Sisimiut. The hike is quite strenuous so you need to be in good shape, and we recommend you read more about it on our hiking website before committing to it.

Experience the UNESCO World Heritage site

Greenland’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site – Aasivissuit-Nipisat – stretches from just south of Sisimiut to 40km inside the Greenland Ice Sheet near Kangerlussuaq. It protects an ancient hunting corridor where the Inuit would sail and walk from their coastal homes to hunt reindeer in the interior during the hunting season.

You can visit several of the coastal sites on a boat tour from Sisimiut, including Arajutsisut, Nipisat, and the living world heritage settlement of Sarfannguit to understand why the Inuit chose to live and hunt in these areas.

Boat tour to the UNESCO World Heritage listed island of Nipisat near Sisimiut - West Greenland
Photo: Lisa Germany
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