Time for a change. No bikes this time, but a kayak. No roads, but sea. No climbs, but waves. We decided to go for a six-day kayaking trip around the Stockholm Archipelago. Being novices, we were extremely lucky to have great weather conditions: around 23 degrees, mostly sunny, and hardly any wind. The trip was a great experience with beautiful surroundings and views, quietness and freedom, and deserted and private islands. This kind of trip is definitely worth considering!

route

Some overall stats: we kayaked about 70 kilometers in 5 full days (Aug 9, 2015 – Aug 14, 2015). For each day I shortly describe our route, where we stayed, and things that can be improved. We rented our kayak from Skärgårdens Kanotcenter; the kayak was fine for us, but I don’t have any experience with these things. The place is easy to reach by public transport and offers equipment for rent as well (think tent, sleeping and cooking gear, etc.). We bought plenty of food, although we could have brought much more given the size of the kayak. And of course we took water as well, since the water surrounding the islands is brackish.

The map above shows our route. In general, it was a great route. For more details, continue reading below.

Day 1: Resarö – Längholmen (7km)

When on cycling holidays, you’re glad when you finally manage to leave the city you start from. It is not too different with kayaking. The first day was overwhelming, with plenty of boats on the waters around Resarö: holidays, weekend, and beautiful weather attract many locals to the water. Since we were still getting used to kayaking in general, the first couple of kilometers were pretty exhausting in terms of navigating, steering, and watching out. This route also crosses a busy fairway with massive ferries and cruise ships. Anyway, after passing this fairway things get quieter quickly. And by the way, the views are already very nice, so don’t worry about that. Since we left around 14h, we decided to only do a couple of kilometers of kayaking on this day.

Sleeping: We decided to take the first opportunity to moor our kayak, these are holidays after all. We found a nice small beach on Längholmen with plenty of space to put up our tent. Make sure to find a spot on the west side of islands to catch most of the evening sun, this makes life very pleasant.

What to improve: The route was fine. There is another kayak rental place (Horisont Kayak), which is located closer to the actual archipelago. When you rent there, you avoid the first bit including the ferry fairway. On the other hand, the rental place itself is harder to reach by public transport.

Day 2: Längholmen – Norrskogen (15.5km)

Enjoy the morning sun, a full day of kayaking awaits us! (To be honest, we were never in a hurry and left our islands around 11:00 to arrive somewhere between 15:30 and 16:00, including a stop for lunch. Just so you know that you can definitely cover more ground, or water, on a day). Today’s route took us to Grinda, where we stopped for lunch (watch out for ticks), after which we continued east. From Grinda onwards the surroundings become even more beautiful, with many islands, fewer people and boats, and great views. Just take it slow and enjoy the silence.

Sleeping: We found a great spot on the north side of Norrskogen, close to Björkholmen. There’s a nice little beach, perfect for the tent, and even a fireplace. The waters are very quiet and ideal for an afternoon swim. On the other side of the island is a landing place for slightly larger ships, but you will hardly notice these.

What to improve: Not much. Of course, you can head in tons of other directions, but our sleeping place was really great, so ending up there is not a bad idea.

Day 3: Norrkogen – Storsand (13km)

From this day onwards we were mainly kayaking around in the Hjälmö-Låndna nature reserve for 2.5 days. It is quiet, beautiful, and plenty of islands to moor. Since we were running low on water we decided to get some more water at a gas station for boats (indicated on the map by the cup), which was on the way anyway. At the end on this day we had a bit of rain, but that made the dry evening all the more beautiful. At the end of today’s trip we circled around a bit to find a good spot to sleep. but that was not a punishment at all given the views.

Sleeping: In the end we found a good spot on a small island west of Storsand. Again, our own private island with a beach, rocks for the views, and nice swimming waters. The views are amazing, as you can tell from the pictures.

What to improve: Nothing much.

Day 4: Storsand – St. Hästnacken (9.5km)

We started the day with crossing a few larger bits of open water, nothing too big though compared to the first days. Although we head north of the nature reserve, we do go back south to have lunch at Bredvikholmen. Soon after leaving our lunch spot we found a really great beach to stay for the night, though. We did not hesitate to take the opportunity. A short day of kayaking, but who cares when you find such great places to sleep.

Sleeping: Today’s island is called St. Hästnacken, which is a bit bigger than last night’s island. The beach is great, good spot to put the tent as well, and it even had a little bench. For breakfast in the sun you have to cross the woods and find the grassland at the other side.

What to improve: Nothing much. Well, perhaps you could do a bit more kayaking by extending the route a bit, but the island of St. Hästnacken is great!

Day 5: St. Hästnacken – Aspholmen (17km)

Because of yesterday’s short trip, and the fact that we had to be back on time on day 6, we had to cover quite a bit of ground on this day. Since we also had to cross the open area west of Grinda, this became quite an exhausting day. Still, it was great! We left in southerly direction, headed west to find a very narrow passing between Örso and St. Byholmen (you can’t see it from a distance, just believe it is there). We had lunch on Västerholmen and continued past Grinda and staying north of Sippsön (to prevent doing the same route as on day 2). We ended up very close where we stayed our first night, but on a very different type of island.

Sleeping: We had some trouble finding a quiet spot: since the weather was still great, many people had taken their boats and were staying in the area around Storön and Bjurön. Finally, we found a spot on Aspholmen: no sandy beach, but plenty of space for the tent and beautiful views. Right, and still plenty of sun as well.

What to improve: Compared to the day before, this stretch is quite long. Either extending yesterday’s or tomorrow’s trip could be better perhaps.

Day 6: Aspholmen – Resarö (6km)

The last day, the last short bit of kayaking. We left Aspholmen, crossed the ferry fairway, and took a slightly different route than on our first day to get to the rental place. There is a somewhat sad feeling of leaving all the beauty of the archipelago behind us, but there’s also the feeling of accomplishment for successfully finishing our first ever kayaking trip!

Sleeping: If you’re up for some more nature, and you want to relax at the same time, we found this beautiful Airbnb. It is really great, highly recommended. It will take a while to get there by public transport from the kayak rental though, but it was well worth it.

What to improve: Not much, you have to get back somehow and we managed to not do the same route as on the way out.

Summary

The first time on a kayaking trip and we managed to succeed. Stockholm’s archipelago (or skärgård) is really amazing, with so many islands and great views. The quietness, the nature, the small private islands and beaches to sleep, it was a great experience. Things might be improved a bit (start closer to the nature reserve?), but the whole trip is highly recommended. Now for another trip, perhaps on the lakes…