BOHUSLÄN: A PARADISE FOR KAYAKERS

Hamburgsund, Bohuslän
Per Pixel Petersson/imagebank.sweden.se

Discover the Bohuslän Coast

Known as a Swedish natural treasure, the Bohuslän Coast stretches from Gothenburg, all the way to Norway, a total of around 280km of stunning coastline, perfect for a sea kayaking holiday.

The rocky coast of Bohuslän with its remote outer archipelago and sheltered inner islands, is known as one of the most beautiful areas for sea kayaking in Europe. With its varied landscape, it perfectly suits both novices and more experienced kayakers. Novices have the option to stay in the more sheltered areas of the archipelago, where the hundreds of islands create a natural barrier from the open sea. Those with a little more kayaking experience may choose to venture out to the outer archipelago for a challenging but rewarding trip.

Exploring by kayak is the best way to see Bohuslän's stunning coastline. Along the way, you will find crystal clear waters, an abundance of white sandy beaches, majestic rock formations, and picturesque fishing villages neatly nestled amongst a vast archipelago of over 8,000 islands, islets and skerries.

Sweden's Stunning Archipelago

The archipelago offers solitude whilst never being too far from civilisation. Experience true coastal wilderness around the outer islands or skirt the coastline to take in the atmosphere from some of the lively fishing villages found in the area.

With Sweden's 'right to roam' law, you can paddle, hike, forage and setup camp almost anywhere around the archipelago. Of course it's not just about exploring by kayak. When your not paddling, explore deserted islands on foot, spot some of the stunning wildlife which lives in the area, visit traditional Swedish fishing villages, snorkel around sheltered coves, cook on an open fire and go fishing from the rocks.

Whether you choose the shorter 4 day trip or the slightly harder and longer 6 day trip, our self-guided trips start from the very best of Bohuslän. You can choose to follow the suggested route, which will take you to the highlights of the Bohuslän coast or discover its hidden gems for yourself.

'A Paradise for Kayakers' - CNN Travel

cnn travel

CNN Travel recently named Bohuslän coast as a 'paradise for kayakers', due to it's sheltered coves, unspoiled natural beauty and abundant wildlife. It also named it as one of the top 10 last great wilderness areas in the world.

lonely planet

Lonely Planet also describes Bohuslän Coast as 'Dramatic, stark and irrepressibly beautiful', and in a way far more eloquently than we ever could, James Kay (Lonely Planet) writes; 'Drifting across the mirror-still surface of a shallow bay in Kosterhavet, Sweden’s first national marine park, the reason why the Bohuslän Coast beguiles visitors becomes as clear as the water barely stirring beneath the kayak'.

bradt travel guide

Bradt Travel Guide describes Bohuslän Coast as 'one of Sweden's most enchanting and alluring regions'.

Hamburgsund, Bohuslän
Scandinavian Kayaking Adventures

Bohuslän Flora and Fauna

The Bohuslän Coast is full of nature, with a diverse range of animals on land and in the sea. There is a rich plant life along the coast which brings with it a vast array of mammals and bird species. Kayaking is the best way to spot wildlife as you paddle silently around the islands of the archipelago. Below are some of our favourite animals which inhabit the coastline.

Common Seal

Common Seal

Common Seals inhabit the waters of Bohuslän Coast and are often spotted resting on rocky shores, sandy beaches and mud flats. They are known to swim up stream into large rivers and fjords when in pursuit of prey but will generally be spotted resting on the granite rocks or bobbing around in sheltered harbours. They often follow kayaks, purely out of curiosity. If you want to be guaranteed to see these beautiful animals, head out to the seal sanctuaries at the outer edges of the Fjällbacka archipelago.

Common Seals feed upon fish. Mainly herring, cod, flatfish, sea bass, anchovy, menhaden, sand eels, gobies, hake and whiting. They will also occasionally feed on squid and shrimp.

Short-beaked Dolphin

Short-beaked Dolphin

Not easy to spot but a truly amazing experience when you do. Dolphins are fond of coastal waters. Generally, they prefer warmer weather so if the summer is good, the chances to spot a dolphin increase significantly. Although rare, many of our groups have been spotting dolphins in an increasing number recently. Kayaks peak the curiosity of dolphins and this has led to some amazing encounters with these intelligent mammals.

Short-beaked dolphins normally travel at 5 to 7 miles per hour (although they are known to reach speeds of 29 miles per hour when pursuing food), and can move up to 150 to 200 miles in a 48 hour period.

Great Cormorant

Great Cormorant

Watching the Great Cormorant dive is a fascinating sight and what better way is there to observe it than sat at sea level, in a kayak. Another one of Sweden's large birds, which can be found all along Bohuslän Coast. Cormorants are generally gregarious, nesting in colonies, gathering in flocks and often hunting together in groups. They are very easy to spot due to their distinctive shape as they dry their wings, spreading them out in the sun.

They feed almost entirely on fish, which they catch by diving from the surface, chasing their prey under water and seizing it with the hooked bill. They can typically dive to a depth of around 10 meters. They also eat small numbers of crustaceans and marine worms.

Eagle Owl

Eurasian Eagle-owl

Sweden's biggest owl is the Eurasian Eagle-owl. Recently, quite a few of our groups have spotted this magnificent animal late in the evening, hunting for its supper. Although completely harmless to humans, their impressive size can sure give you a fright if you spot one watching you from high on the rocks, as you sit by your campfire.

Eurasian Eagle-owls usually hunt at night, flying low over the rocks. They are silent hunters that use their keen eyesight and hearing to locate and capture prey. Like other owls, and some other raptors, Eurasian Eagle-owls are equipped with a group of feathers around their heads that helps direct sound to their ears. Eagle-owls are not picky eaters. They mainly eat small mammals such as rats, voles and rabbits but also hunt herons, woodpeckers and other birds, even including other raptors. They also prey on amphibians, reptiles, fish, and insects.

Herring

Herring

It is hard not to mention the Herring when writing about the Bohuslän Coast. The commercial fishing of herring boomed in the 18th century, and the province flourished during a major Herring period around 1747 to 1809. It is then, when many small fishing communities grew up around the coastline. Before the large scale fishing of Herring started, Bohuslän had considerable forest cover. Timber was once the largest export product and main source of income in Bohuslän. But with the increased importance of Herring fishing, more wood was needed as construction material for houses and boats, and also for fuel for Herring oil boilers. Deforestation during the 19th century gave rise to the rugged, rocky landscape which you can see today. The landscape was transformed and many of the villages are what they are today because of the humble Herring.

Herring is still extremely popular in Sweden today, with over 3,000 tons consumed on just Midsummers day alone. If you get the chance it is worth trying the various pickled herring dishes available. You may want to give fermented herring (Surströmming) a miss though.

You are most likely to see herring with a fishing rod, in a jar or as the unlucky prey of some large seabird. Many groups have success catching herring when fishing for the easier to catch Mackerel.

White-Tailed Eagle

Bohuslän

White-Tailed Sea Eagle

White-tailed sea eagles are Sweden’s largest bird of prey, 70-90cm long with a wingspan of up to three metres.

More than 100 years ago, the sea eagle disappeared completely from Bohuslän. In fact as recently as the 1970's they were almost extinct in whole of Sweden. However, recent projects to reintroduce the sea eagle back to Bohuslän are starting to prove successful and we are beginning to see these magnificent birds in the area again.

Recently, some of our groups have spotted the Sea Eagle around the Hamburgsund area. An important part of the project is the reporting of Sea Eagles, so if you are lucky enough to see a Sea Eagle, take note of the location and let us know at the end of your trip so that we can pass on the information to 'Project Sea Eagle'.

White-tailed eagles are versatile and opportunistic hunters and carrion feeders, sometimes pirating food from other birds and even otters. They eat largely fish, but also take various birds, rabbits and hares.

 

 

Fishing Villages

You can find picture perfect fishing villages dotted all along Bohuslän Coast, each with their own unique characteristics and charm.

One of the best things about kayaking around Bohuslän, is the mix of wilderness and civilisation. One moment you can feel like you are exploring a prehistoric landscape, the next you can be enjoying Swedish fika in a bustling fishing village. Of course, being a self-guided trip, the choice whether to stay in the wilderness or explore these villages is yours to make.

Freshly caught fish, crabs, oysters, lobsters, mussels and more, are on sale from the shops or straight from fishing boats, so stock up for a evening feast over the campfire, or enjoy some from the traditional, harbourside cafes and restaurants.

Below are some of the highlights which can be found along the coast.

Fjällbacka, Bohuslän

Fjällbacka

Fjällbacka is a favourite with many of our groups who often stop by here due to its convenient and central location. As with many of villages around the Bohuslän Coast, it is made up of charming wooden houses, creating picture perfect views in all directions.

The resort takes its name from the large rock mountain (Fjäll is Swedish for mountain), that characterizes the village. Old Fjällbacka is located beneath the mountain, next to the sea. Offshore, Fjällbacka archipelago stretches all the way out to the west, where the Weather Islands are located.

You can take an easy hike up Fjällbacka's famous mountain, 'Vetteberget', which looms over Fjällbacka. From there you have a fantastic view of the islands of the archipelago and the mainland. Be sure to checkout the unique 'Kungsklyftan', the gorge that divides the mountain into two parts.

Fjällbacka is best known locally for the books and tv-series by crime writer Camilla Läckberg, all set in this idyllic seaside community. Ingrid Bergman called Fjällbacka her paradise on earth and she stayed here for over 20 summers. You are likely to spot her house standing alone on the rocky island of Lökholmen, as you paddle around the Fjällbacka archipelago. The guidebook which we will supply you, will show you where to find all the best points of interest in the area.

Grebbestad, Bohuslän

Grebbestad

The finishing point for all our trips, Grebbestad is one of Bohuslän's most popular seaside resorts. As with so many other places in Bohuslän, fishing and seafaring have in the past, been significant industries and even today there are still several fishing trawlers left in Grebbestad. In fact Grebbestad is famous for producing 90% of Sweden's oysters. Fresh fish, shrimp, lobster and of course oysters can be enjoyed in many of the restaurants in Grebbestad.

Grebbestad and the surrounding area offer a wide and varied range of activities and sights. In the busy harbour you can find plenty of cafes and restaurants. To the south of the harbour you can find a fantastic beach, which makes a great stop off point to grab an ice cream and soak up the sun.

Hamburgsund, Bohuslän

Hamburgsund

Hamburgsund is split between the mainland and the island Hamburgö. In the village, you can find a large proportion of older buildings which still stand in the form of boat houses and old residential buildings.

Hamburgsunds marina is quieter than others in the area but has a few quaint cafes and restaurants. It also has a conveniently located supermarket to stock up on supplies.

Hamburgsund and the surrounding area is full of history. Don't be surprised if you come across a Viking ship whilst paddling in the channel between the mainland and Hamburgö, as just south of Hamburgsund is a replica Viking village. Here you can also find the ruins of Hornborgs castle. There's not much left of the castle today, but with a little bit of imagination you can imagine how imposing it would have been perched high upon the cliffs.

Smögen, Bohuslän

Smögen

If you decide to book onto our 6 day Expedition, be sure to checkout Smögen. The village is located as close to the sea as you can get and is best known for its long wooden pier, which runs along the side of the old fishing harbour. During the summer months, this is one of Sweden’s most popular visitor destinations, with a large range of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.

Smögen is also home to one of a small number of Swedish fish auctions – a fantastic experience for anyone interested in seafood! As soon as the boats dock, their catch is unloaded and taken straight into the auction. Next door, private individuals can buy fresh fish or shellfish to cook later over the campfire, or you can try some of the delicacies of the sea in one of the many restaurants located in the harbour.

 

Bohuslän Map

Below you can find a map of Bohuslän Coast, highlighting the area where all our trips take place.

Image Credits:

Freepik