Points of Interest
From North to South
Saint Anna & Gryt are wild archipelagoes with almost all uninhabited islands. The area also has a rich history of people living their whole lives out here. It’s completely up to you what you choose to explore – visit cultural points of interest, do all wilderness, or more likely, a blend of both!
Saint Anna Archipelago
Saint Anna is a very wide and finely chiselled archipelago, stretching for twenty kilometres from west to east. Some of the highlights are Aspöja island, the long band of outer islets and skerries of Missjö and the famous lookout Kupa Klint.
Alnholm nature reserve
View fascinating primary rock formations and a giant kettle hole from the last ice age. Abundant birdlife – Eiders, Mute swans, Black-headed gulls and Herring gulls.
On the northern tip of the large island Aspöja you’ll find one of the most interesting geological spots in the archipelagoes. View folding processes that took place 2 billion years ago, when magma protruded through the hardened bedrock. Winding bands of dark rocks meander between white and reddish layers of marble in a beauitful relief pattern. There is a also a giant kettle hole, that was formed at the end of the last ice age by whirlpools of melting ice water. The whole area and surrounding islands show distinctive ice age features with smoothened rock surfaces and glacial striations.
There are lots of birds around here, for example Eiders, Mute swans, Black-headed gulls and Herring gulls. Old trees offer shelter and a plentitude of insects live in the dead wood, which provides an important food source.
Visit Forsmans where Helen and family breed sheep, smoke lamb & salmon, and run a small cafe. Wander the island and take in the history of people living here for centuries.
Land your kayak in the sheltered bay on the east side of the island and walk the little gravel road towards the village. Visit Forsmans where Helen breeds sheep and operates a salmon and lamb smoke-house. There is a small cafe where you can enjoy a lighter meal, baked goods, or purchase smoked products.
Interesting flora and beautiful views from this birch islet bordering on the outer archipelago. Historic remains from a fishing camp.
Typical “birch islet”, a narrow band of wild islands between the middle and outer archipelago, where short wind-pined birch trees grow. There is a beautiful creek to land your kayak to the northeast. It’s a hilly little island with long rifts filled with grasses where the birch trees are rooted. Here you can find bogs with Cloudberries, Crowberries and Hare’s-tail Cottongrass. You may spot Arctic skuas and plenty of other birds.
There are a couple of old house foundations with remains of a hearth. Likely it is a centuries old fishing outpost, where fishermen would spend the night during fishing excursion in the outer archipelago.
Off the northern tip of the island there is an old ship wreck, believed to have sunk in 1850. The quite macabre legend goes – the ship came to Harstena and the whole crew, except the cook, was beaten to death. The ship then drifted to Aspöja where the islanders killed the cook and unloaded the cargo of blubber before sinking the ship intentionally off Inre Brunnskär. They tried to sell the cargo in Söderköping, but ended up in legal trouble and sentenced to jail time on bread and water.
Melskär, St Gåsskär & Kalskär
Listen to thousands of Eiders in the early summer. Restored hunting cabin from the 1700s.
These three “birch islets” are located in the border zone close to the barren islets of the outer archipelago. There is a restored hunting cabin from the 1700s on Melskär, likely its history dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. For centuries, inhabitants from the homesteads closer to the mainland used the outer parts of the Saint Anna archipelago as hunting and fishing grounds. These types of cabins or outposts, close to the open sea, housed gear and functioned as resting or overnight spots. The islanders hunted coastal birds and seals, and caught eel, flounder and herring.
Kalskär is a surprisingly lush island with thick bushes of juniper, sloe and roses. Small birds that are unusual this far out can be found here, such as nightingales and whitethroats.
Many typical coastal birds breed in the surrounding area, such as colonies of terns and gulls and waders. In the early summer, thousands of molting Eiders can be heard from the outer skerries.
Atoll formation of islands with gorgeous views. Pretty meadows with orchids.
Paddle the narrow inlet between Lammskär and Kalvskär and end up surrounded by the beautiful and sheltered atoll formation of islands.
The island used to be somewhat populated and the inhabitants lived off fishing, farming and seafaring. Old stone fences and over-grown fields remain. The island is still used for grazing, which benefits the meadow flora of for example Elder-flowered orchid, Butterfly orchid, Dropwort and Heath-grass.
Uggleholmarna nature reserve
Very diverse flora, 200-300 year old pine and linden trees. Old cultural landscape with characteristically pruned linden for winter fodder.
These islands are located in the middle archipelago and boast an impressive flora. Very old pine trees, likely up to 300 years, grow on the higher rockier ground, and deciduous trees like oak and linden dominate the lowlands. Some of the linden trees are 200-300 years old, and many show traces of “hamling”, a specific way of pruning which allows for winter fodder for animals during the winter months.
The grove-like environment has a very diverse flora of for example Lilies-of-the-valley, Liverwort, Stitchwort, Wonder violet, Butterfly orchid and Baneberry. The open vegetation is great for wandering around and taking in the beautiful nature.
Nice boathouse restaurant right on the sea, delicious food, wine & beer. Paddle-board rental and sandy beach.
Mon, situated in a sheltered bay on the largest island in Saint Anna, is our launch site and it’s likely you won’t return here once your kayaking adventure begins. If you do however, be sure to visit the boathouse restaurant located right on the sea. They serve delicious food with a great view. There is a sandy beach here and you can rent stand-up paddle boards.
The most finely-chiselled of all archipelagoes in Sweden. Abundant birdlife and frequent seal sightings.
Paddle through this island wonderland with the blue horizon of the open sea as your backdrop. Hundreds of islands, islets and skerries in a large cluster stretches for 10 kilometres, and it’s absolutely stunning out here.
The Missjö archipelago is a bird lover’s paradise! Arctic skuas, Velvet scooters, Ruddy turnstones and Black guillemots breed on the barren islands closest to the open sea. A little further in, you’ll find Greylag geese, Mute swans, Shelducks, Tufted ducks, Great crested grebes, Great black-backed gulls, Herrings gulls, Black-headed gulls, Arctic terns, Mergansers and Oystercatchers.
The nitrogen-rich bird droppings generate an interesting flora of Woad, White sticky catch-fly and Danish scurvy-grass.
Seals are spotted regularly by Norrbådarna and Ådskär!
Shallow waters great for snorkeling, fantastic views, interesting flora.
This crescent-shaped smooth islet is surrounded by beautiful shallow waters stretching out to the north. It’s fantastic for swimming and even snorkling!
The east side is a popular spot for anchoring sail boats, but in a kayak you can cross the shallows on the northern side, viewing the bladder wrack forests on the bottom of the sea as you glide towards land. Between the smooth rocky surfaces you’ll find grass-filled cracks with Wild strawberries, Butterfly orchid and Yellow-rattle.
This amazing lookout offers a fantastic view of the Missjö archipelago and is a must-see. There is a black cairn up top which has been used as a navigation mark for seafarers for at least three hundred years.
Not to be mistaken for the Missjö archipelago, Missjö is quite a large island in the middle archipelago. Together with its parallell islands Lökö, Västerön and Småskär, they offer a very sheltered environment for paddling and camping with many beautiful narrow passages.
Visit sea dog Mats’s rustic pub for a genuine island experience! Enjoy beers and dishes made from game birds hunted nearby and fish from the surrounding waters.
Learn about life on the islands at the Archipelago Museum, walk the interesting nature trail and finish up with a cold beer at the pub.
Tyrislöt is a mainland hub of the area and boasts a flurry of activity. There is a well-stocked country store and a pub that serves lighter meals with great outdoors seating among the cherry trees.
Be sure to visit the Archipelago Museum to learn more of the history of the island dwellers. The exhibition houses many old objects used for surviving on the islands. View old photos and read about fishing and hunting methods, communications, and life on the islands. A 2.5 kilometer nature trail starts by the museum and takes your through different habitats with info-boards along the path.
A couple of days a week the fisherman from Kallsö sells fish down by the docks. Fresh deboned perch and hot smoked whitefish and salmon are some of the crowd favourites.
Hike the nature trail through an untouched forest with very old trees up to a beautiful lookout with vistas of the inner archipelago. End your outing with coffee and pastries at the cafe.
Uvmarö is located quite far into the inner archipelago and is a good option if you’re experiencing some windy weather and feel like exploring a more populated area. It’s indeed a very different landscape than further out to sea, the islands are large with very sheltered passages in between.
The forest around Uvmarö is very valuable for biodiversity, as it has been left largely untouched for a very long time. Many pine trees are hundreds of years old and the forests contain large amounts of dead wood, since trees are left to die and fall naturally. Lots of endangered insects, lichens and mushrooms live here. There is a great nature trail that takes you through the primeval forest up to a beautiful lookout with views of the archipelago.
By the Uvmarö marina you’ll find an interesting large building with a farm shop and cafe. It’s a beautiful old storage house for grains that has been moved from Herrborum, a little further inland. It was dismantled and built back up piece by piece at this location. The farm shop sells lamb, beef and furs from a farm nearby. The cafe serves baked goods, ice cream and home-cooked meals made from the farm products.
Instead of paddling back out the way you came, you can cut south through a long narrow boat passage and end up by Väggö.
Gryt’s identity is somewhat different from Saint Anna’s. There are many large islands with a mosaic of different habitats, surrounded by smaller islets and skerries. A must-see is the idyllic old village on Harstena and other highlights are Håskö’s wood-fired sauna by the sea and the endless horizon by the Häradskär Lighthouse.
Väggö & Amtö Nature reserve
Paddle beside Väggö’s dramatic steep walls. Visit the nature reserve for hiking trails through a variety of habitats.
You have now entered the Gryt archipelago, and northern Väggö arguably offers some of the most dramatic scenery of the whole area. Sidle up right next to the steep rock walls that crash almost vertically into the water.
The northern land area is protected most of the season, but on the east side of Väggö you can find remains from the Bronze age, a burial mound measuring 6-7 meters in diameter.
Ämtö Nature Reserve is located to the west of Väggö on the same landmass. Ämtö bare many signs of farming in the past, especially livestock grazing freely across the island, which has made for open forests with lots of light shining through. There are several hiking trails that take you through old agricultural landscapes, rocky pine forests, oak meadows and wetlands. There are lots of smooth rocks and shallow sheltered creeks perfect for sunbathing and swimming.
Small-scale fishing operation renowned for their deboned perch and alder smoked salmon. Enjoy a wood-fired sauna by the waterfront!
The traditional homestead on Håskö is one of few year-round operations in the archipelago and there is a small kiosk here. These days the Håskö dwellers live off forestry, livestock, fishing and tourism.
Cows and chickens walk freely across the island and there is also game such as deer, roe deer and boar. The fisherman Göran mainly catch perch, whitefish, flounder and salmon, and he is well-known for his fresh deboned perch and hot smoked fish. If you’re lucky you may catch the alder smoked salmon still warm right from the smokehouse.
There is a self-served wood fired sauna right by the waterfront at a very reasonable price. Firewood is piled behind the sauna and you cut and replenish as much as you used.
You can also relax in wood-fired hot tubs, but they take a while to heat it up so make sure you call in advance for that one.
The seafaring route by Håskö has been used for hundreds of years. Steam boats and ships from afar passed by here, which created opportunities for the residents to pilot and steer boats through the dangerous waters. There are records of ”Hasse i Håska” who lived in the middle of the 1500s, and the marine piloting tradition lived on until 1895. There are still remains from six mariner cottages, gardens and jetties.
The large wild island Torrön is surrounded by hundreds of little islets, which makes for fantastic views and paddling. It’s an incredibly beautiful sheltered area with shallow waters, smooth rocks and calm creeks – perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Be sure to look down to see the large bladder wrack forests on the bottom of the sea as you approach the island!
The many protected creeks attract many birds, e.g. Velvet scooters, Tufted ducks and Mergansers. On the northern part of the island there is a small lake covered with pretty white water lilies.
Idyllic old village seemingly frozen in time. Visit the Harstena Museum at the old school, munch on cinnamon rolls from the bakery, enjoy a delicious meal at the waterside restaurant and wander the beautiful island.
Harstena village is an absolute must on your kayaking adventure! It’s truly like travelling back in time wandering the gravel roads between the picturesque houses that are dotted over the island, the oldest ones dating back to the 1700s.
Plan on spending a few hours here. You’re met by an amazing view as you paddle the narrow inlet towards the village and land your kayak by the restaurant.
Start off with a visit to Harstena Musuem in the old school building. The history of the village is illustrated by old everyday items and a large collection of old photos. Now once you’ve learned a bit about the importance seal hunting played, stroll down to the old building for rendering seal blubber.
Be sure to pay a visit to the bakery, the freshly baked cinnamon rolls are heaven! After some refreshments wander the path towards the east side of the island and the little lake. It’s covered with a rare variety of bright red water lilies, and it’s nice taking a stroll outside the village.
Finish up your outing by treating yourselves to a very nice meal of delicious archipelago fair at the waterside restaurant. And some great cold Swedish Lagers too of course.
The smokehouse right by the water is renowned for its smoked fish, and many visitors come here especially for this reason. Depending on fishing luck there may be salmon, whitefish, flounder or herring for sale. Be sure to pick some up before you launch your kayak and bid this idyllic village adieu.
Grönsö & Sandgärdet
Dubbed “the most beautiful islands” – amazing biodiversity and a perfect spot to experience an old culture landscape with meadows and pastures.
These beautiful islands are seldom visited but they offer fantastic old cultural lanscapes with a rich flora.
Grönsö is dominated by rocky pine forest, but there are also deciduous trees and grazing lands where livestock help keeping the landscape open and diverse. It’s extra beautiful in the early summer when vast quantities of Elder-flowered Orchid, Cowslips and other flowers cover the ground.
The neighbouring island Sandgärdet was used by residents on Harstena for their most important pastures and meadows. They harvested hay, left their cattle to graze, and maintained large hazelnut groves that produced lots of nuts.
There are a variety of habitats here. Old and thick deciduous trees grow on open and half open meadows, hazelnut groves still remain as well as old pine forests. In 2009 an initiative to restore the ecological values of this old cultural landscape was started, reintroducing for example scything and grazing by animals.
Ytterö & Innerö
These wild untouched islands are right on the open sea. Hear the waves crashing on the smooth rocks and stroll around the magical lake. Rich birdlife.
These islands close to the open sea evoke a feeling of wilderness, exposure to the elements and unbridled forces of nature. Smooth rocky beaches and knotty old pines dominate the islands, which are unusually large for such a far out location.
There is a magical lake on Ytterö, and it’s well worth spending 20 minutes walking around it. On the south side the waves crash in on the smooth rocks and all you can see is the blue horizon.
Innerö is hillier with aspen and spruce trees – climb up the hills to get a splendid view of the archipelago. The shallow area to the south is home to waders like Oystercatchers and Sandpipers, and colonies of Arctic terns.
Wander the path up to the old cairn for fantastic vistas of the surrounding archipelago. Regular White-tailed eagle sightings from the top.
This is a great lookout for viewing the Gryt archipelago. A half an hour walk up the hill will take you to the cairn and you can often spot White-tailed eagles soaring past.
The cairn has been a navigation mark for centuries, and there used to also be a fire beacon for signalling danger to neighbouring areas. In the event of peril, the beacon at Harstena was lit, which could be seen from Gubbö, where the beacon in turn was lit and so on down the coast.
Paddle through the narrow passage between the islands and view the picturesque old homesteads, boathouses and stone fences.
This large island has a long history of human activity and there used to be as many as 16 homesteads here. Many of the old houses have been restored as summer homes, and the settlement hasn’t changed much since people lived here permanently.
On the western side of the island the homesteads are gathered like a small village with houses, boathouses, storage sheds, jetties and stone fences. It’s a very beautiful paddle through the narrow passage between Kråkmarö and Armnö and then down the west side past the collection of well-preserved old buildings.
Fångö Copper Mine
Check out the abandoned copper mine where two hundred people used to toil in the 1800s.
Copper was mined on Fångö from the 1820s until 1876, when salt water penetrated the mine. The extracted copper was shipped to Valdemarsvik, or in the winter, dragged across the ice.
At its peak 200 people lived and worked here. The story goes that the island got its name (prisoner island, loosely translated) from Russian prisoners of war toiling in the shafts, but there are no written records to substantiate this claim.
These days, there are many remains from the mining era. There are six steep water-filled shafts, the deepest one is 144 meters. Massive piles of waste rock are a monument to the extensive work that was done here. You can still find a few house foundations, but as most of the dwellings were simple dugouts or huts, they were quickly reclaimed by nature.
A paddle to the end of the world! The lighthouse is located right on the open sea. Waves crashing on the flat rocks, an abundance of birds and old lighthouse keepers’ buildings.
The lighthouse at Häradskär is the last outpost of the Gryt archipelago. You’re at the edge of the open sea and all you can see is endless horizon. You’re as far out as you’re going to get and it’s beautiful!
The lighthouse was constructed in 1863 and is still in use today. There was a marine piloting station built here in the 1600s, and for the next three hundred years Häradskär was a base for steering seafarers through the hazardous waters. A simple sea mark consisting of a barrel on a pole was raised, and later replaced by a wooden day-mark in the 1700s.
The present lighthouse is 29 meters high and made of iron. In the beginning it was fuelled by rapeseed oil and later kerosene and gas. It wasn’t until the 1960s it got switched to electricity, and the very last lighthouse keeper packed up and moved to the mainland. These days no one lives on the island, but at its peak more than 40 pilots and lighthouse keepers resided here. There was even a school on this wind-pined island at the edge of the world! The old cottages where the lighthouse keepers and pilots lived are still here.
The birdlife is rich, especially in the autumn when large quantities of migratory birds rest on the island.
Mainland hub of the Gryt archipelago and likely the end point for your adventure. Unload your kayaks and enjoy some ice cream while watching the boat life.