Experience the arctic lifestyle and spectacular north-Norwegian nature
TEXT: INGRID OPSTAD | PHOTOS © Visit Karlsøy
Northern Norway offers some of the most incredible nature experiences. Welcome to the islands of Karlsøy, where you can discover the arctic lifestyle through everything from sea fishing, kayaking and skiing, to mountain hiking and locally produced food.
At 70° north, you will find the municipality of Karlsøy, encompassing about 600 islands and islets. Each island has its own distinctive character, ranging from rough coastal landscapes with steep mountains and long sandy beaches to wooded valleys, rivers and lakes. Ringvassøy, Vannøy, Reinøy, Rebbenesøy and Karlsøya are still inhabited today. The islands offer their visitors the possibility to experience north-Norwegian coastal culture and explore how life with nature, between northern lights and midnight sun, has shaped the people who live here today.
Local products and hospitality
The local farms in Karlsøy focus on a natural food production that is symbiotic with the environment. The ingredients harvested from both land and sea are then prepared in both traditional and modern ways. “We are very proud of the local farms and fishermen that provide such high-quality produce. If you want, you can visit the farms, which are idyllically embedded in the landscape, to meet the animals living there and enjoy a homemade meal in a cosy environment,” says Franziska Wentzlaff, project manager at Visit Karlsøy. “We also have a great selection of accommodation facilities, making it possible for our visitors to stay in everything from modern houses or apartments to traditional fisherman huts or even in an old, charming lighthouse.”
Hunting the northern lights
“Seeing the colours of the arctic lights and the aurora borealis is best during the autumn and winter months,” says Wentzlaff. In Karlsøy, you are surrounded by fantastic landscape with excellent conditions for seeing the lights dancing in the sky. “To see the aurora, you can start in Tromsø with one of our guided tours, which leads you to one of our local basecamps at the Skogsfjordvannet lake. There, you can enjoy a hot cup of coffee next to the fireplace in a cosy hut while waiting for one of nature’s most spectacular shows to start. It is also possible to try ice fishing on the nearby frozen lake, and get expert tips from our guide on how to take the best photos of the northern lights,” she recommends.
Another possibility is to stay at one of the local accommodation options, where you just need to step out the door to view the lights. Either way, it is a great experience, Wentzlaff promises. To be far away from crowded cities and hear and feel the silence and peacefulness of the landscape is an amazing feeling in itself.
Deep sea fishing
The islands of Karlsøy are directly located at the open sea, creating excellent conditions for deep-sea fishing enthusiasts. The season usually starts at the beginning of May and lasts until the end of September. But moreover, fishing in winter and spring is growing in popularity, since the quality of the fish is best during that time. If the weather is rough, the surrounding islands offer protection from the wind. It is common to get halibut, cod, wolfish, monkfish, redfish and haddock on the fishing rod.
“We have had some of the biggest halibut caught by fishing rod here in the region, at about 194 kilogrammes. Fishing is a great activity for groups and families who want to get out on their own. Staying at a comfortable house or apartment and having your own boat frees you up to go fishing whenever you want,” says Wentzlaff.
Karlsøy municipality offers a varied landscape and a rich bird and wildlife, and a wonderful way of getting a close-up experience is sea kayaking. The islands of Karlsøy offer numerous excursions of varying length, suitable for both beginners and advanced paddlers. You can paddle around idyllic islets and stop at hidden sandy beaches, or if you prefer a greater challenge, you can paddle out to exposed areas or surf on the waves. “Due to the clear water, you can get a glimpse of the life under the surface, and it is not unusual to see porpoises, seals or eagles while being out on tour,” says Wentzlaff.
Phoyo: Bull Gård
Visit Karlsøy consists of these partnering tourism organisations offering transport, accommodation, events, food and activities:
– Vang Gård
– Elements Arctic Camp
– Torsvåg Havfiske
– Bull Gård
– Mikkelvik Brygge
– Dåfjord Havfiske
– Visit Helgøy
– Ringvassøy Havfiske
– H. Hoel Sjøtransport
– Vannøy Sport & Havfiske
– Karlsøy Buss & Amazing Aurora
– Hansnes Havfiske
– Vannøy Seacamp
– Direktør’n Bistro & Dans I Karlsøy
– Nordhavet Guesthouse