Ísafjörður, (pop. 2,624) the biggest settlement in the West­fjords, gained municipal status in 28th January 1866. Skutulsfjörður (“Harpoon fjord”) is the westernmost south–reaching fjord off Ísa­fjarðardjúp, surrounded by high, sheer mountains. Near the middle of the fjord, under the mountain Eyrarfjall, a long, flat hook–shaped gravel spit reaches out into the fjord. Inside it is Pollurinn (“The puddle”), one of the best natural harbours in Iceland. Between the spit and the mountainside opposite is a narrow channel known as Sundin. The community in Skutuls­fjörður used to be called Eyr­ar­hreppur, named for the parsonage Eyri that stood at the land–end of the spit. Land­­námabók (“The Book of Settlements”) tells of two settlers in Skutulsfjörður, Helgi Hrólfsson, who built his farm at Eyri and Þórólfur brækir, who settled in Skálavík. Helgi is said to have found a harpoon washed up on the beach and named the fjord for it. In 1786 a royal decree abolished the trade monopoly in Iceland, and six trading centres were established, Ísafjörður being one. In the spring of 1788 Norwegian merchants came to Ísafjörður, which is what the new trading centre was named, settled just below the parsonage at Eyri and built their stores there. One of these buildings is still there, Aðalstræti 42 in the area known as Hæstikaupstaður (“The highest trading place”). In 1816 Ísafjörður lost its trading centre status, but trade continued and there was a lot of growth around mid–century. Ísafjörður again became a legal trading centre by royal decree in 1866. The basis for Ísafjörður’s prosperity was the fishing on so–called þilskip (“boats with decks”) instead of the open rowing boats that were still common at the time. Merchants owned and operated the fishing boats which fished for both cod and shark. From about 1900–1930 there was also a good deal of herring fishing. There was a steady increase in population, reaching 1,085 by 1901. One of the largest companies in Iceland at the time, Ásgeirsverslun, operated in Ísafjörður. The company was by far the biggest producer of the country’s most valuable export product, saltfish. In 1996 the town of Ísafjörður was amalgamated with the villages of Suðureyri, Þingeyri and Flateyri to form Ísafjarðarbær (Ísafjörður municipality). Borea Adventures offers kayaking for both beginners and experienced kayakers on Ísafjarðardjúp fjord. The serene beauty of the fjord system is well known by locals but unfamiliar to the outside world. The coast of Snæfjallaströnd really gives you the feeling that you are close to the Arctic Circle with its snow covered hills and the fifth largest glacier in Iceland just around the corner. Folafótur a small peninsula between the sheltered fjords of Seyðisfjörður and Hestfjörður, is a beautiful place to paddle around in a long day, enjoying the marine wildlife and the coastline from a unique angle.