Who knew you could go island hopping in Sweden?
I live in Stockholm where we do have a long winter. As soon as the first warm days come around in May I am ready to go travel to the sea. Not that there is no sea close to Stockholm – look no further than the Stockholm archipelago with about 27 000 islands and islets in it! Our friend Giovanna Battaglia loves it, and what is not to love – it is amazing! But me being a restless soul, I would like to explore other seas. Like the one on the West Coast of Sweden for example.
I have explored the southern parts of the West coast but not the Northern parts. I had heard so much about the Koster islands, checked hotels there and made plans. So finally this year we went! Piled in my husband and my daughter in the car and started driving. We went to Strömstad and decided to stay there in a not so expensive place and just take the boats to the Koster islands the next day. So what is the best way to explore the islands?
Photo: Jan Palmblaad
- Stay in Strömstad – it is cheaper!
You can of course stay on the Koster islands, but it will be twice as expensive! Strömstad is quite a charming little city with a boat marina, restaurants and people strolling around. On our first evening there we just bought champagne and sat on the shore to watch the boats arriving in the harbour at sunset. Then we went to Bella Sardena restaurant for some smoked shrimps and white wine, which made for a lovely evening!
Photo: Mattias Larsson
2. Take a ferry to the islands. You can also take a yacht, if you have one.
The thing with Koster islands is that they are two islands – South Koster (Sydkoster) and North Koster (Nordkoster). I thought that we could take one day to see one of the islands and the second day to see the second one.
But which one to see first? I decided on Sydkoster, because it is bigger and has sandy beaches (plus rocks). We ate breakfast on a Saturday morning and took the boat from the harbor in Strömstad. A bit windy but sunny weather nevertheless!
Photo: Ekaterina Larsson
We were gliding past flattened rocks formed a million years ago during the ice age and numerous smaller or bigger islands. We got off at the first boat stop at Sydkoster. You are basically 100 meters away from Nordkoster and can spot many Norwegian sailboats and yachts docked around. (Yes, the islands are popular with the Norwegians and very close to Norway).
The rumour goes around that the inhabitants of Sydkoster and Nordkoster do not like each other that much so they refuse to have a bridge built between the two islands (talk about neighbour feuds!)
Photo: Ekaterina Larsson
3. Bike around the island – makes for best sightseeing!
Biking around the island is the best option. You could go on foot but that will take longer. The three of us rented bikes and set around the island. We went past a little wooden church and the main square with the ICA supermarket, past gardens with blossoming lilacs all the way down to Ekenäs harbor, where we stopped for lunch. Now lunch in Sweden can consist of a hotdog and mashed potatoes menu – very popular, especially when traveling with kids!
A few very well-dressed people were walking around the island, an air steward with a uniform was biking on the road.
I thought – ah so nice, people can go to work with a bike and a boat!
Came out, there was a wedding on the island. We walked to hotel Ekenäs perched on the hill with a beautiful view over the waters. And yes, they were getting ready for a wedding reception!
4. Get married on the island! Ok, only if you want to and have a partner.
Photo: Hotel Ekenäs
5. Go to a nice beach for a swim.
Duh, of course you will! Now, there is a little glitch with the Swedish weather, but if the summer is warm, def! There are plenty of beaches on Sydkoster – some sandy, some more rocky. Just look at the map and pick one. We decided to bike to a sandy beach, lie down there and share a bottle of prosecco. I started biking and followed a golf cart with well-dressed elderly gentlemen off the beaten path, under apple blossoms to a lovely secluded sandy beach! Hurrah! Only, the wedding crowd was filing in there and the band started rehearsing. Oh well, at least I managed to snap a few lovely pictures of the jetty and a boat!
Photo: Ekaterina Larsson
We had to continue south on the island and picked another sandy beach with oyster shells strewn around. Kilosand beach is also a stop on Koster for the boat to and from Strömstad. So a good place to hang around if you just want the beach experience or get stuck there all day. We picked some seashells, built a sand castle, finished off the bottle of prosecco and meandered back to Ekenäs harbour to board the boat.
6. Eat some seafood!
Fish is really good there, crabs and oysters. Perhaps the most gourmet menu is at Hotel Ekenäs. We tasted some curry fish soup at Rökeri restaurant. Although I have to admit the burger tasted much better (got to pick some of my husband’s food).
7. Go on an oyster and mussels safari!
We had no time to do that but you guys should definitely do it, especially if you decide to stay on the island!
8. Go kayaking around the islands.
Definitely worth doing to see all this beauty around from the water. Guided kayaking tours can be booked here.
Photo: Roger Borgelid
9. Plan your next visit there!
My plan next time is to definitely stay on the island for at least one or two nights, preferably in the summer. Nordkoster we skipped unfortunately. I did not feel like taking that same boat the next day again. But we went to Lysekil instead and lazed around on a beach there chasing crabs in the shallow waters. Next time I will also go on an oyster and mussels safari!
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Photo: Van Spa Hotel
Featured title image by Göran Assner.