Log out, switch off, and enter an ecosystem of pure natural beauty
TEXT: LINNEA DUNNE | PHOTOS: PIA HANSSON
With 365 islands, one for each day of the year, The Weather Islands make up Sweden’s westernmost outpost, a place where ships moored back in the 15th and 16th centuries while waiting for better times. These days, however, there is no waiting for the good times. This is a place where people come to just be, surrounded by crystal clear sea, stillness, seals and porpoises. In other words: a destination for your bucket list – the good times are here.
“People get here and feel as though time stops,” says Pia Hansson, who runs the inn on Storö, the main island. “It’s like nowhere else. There’s no TV, no radio – it’s like stepping right into a mini ecosystem where everything you need is right there. You could be standing in the pilot’s lookout with 360-degree views as the wind howls all around. We embrace nature – we’re right there at the heart of it.”
And at The Weather Islands, they walk the talk. They have their own recycling, their own treatment plant. As there’s no freshwater on the island, they desalt it themselves, adding some minerals for a pure, refreshing flavour. “You don’t just leave the taps running,” Hansson insists. “It brings an awareness: there’s a desperate scarcity of drinking water on this planet, and we’re going to look after it.”
In fact, The Weather Islands have been a pioneering destination when it comes to responsible tourism for a long time now. Everything is done with sustainability in mind, and the idea is that guests take that experience of being at one with nature with them when they leave: the feeling of sitting on the cliffs with the salty waves crashing in towards them. The next goal is full self-sufficiency, including with regards to electricity. “We’re nearly there, I suppose,” says Hansson. “We’ve already got sun panels, we fish for our own seafood… We’ve got no one to rely on but ourselves, and that’s in a way what makes being on the island so unique.”
A warm welcome
Currently, there are 16 rooms, ranging from family rooms to a number of small, en-suite rooms with west-facing terraces, perfect for watching the magical sunset. As of next summer, another dozen-or-so en-suite double rooms will welcome guests to stay in the old, little dwellings dotted out across the island.
When guests reach the main island by boat, a host or hostess greets them to help them settle in, adding to what is a thoroughly welcoming, personable experience. “People hear about us through word of mouth, and they come here to get away from beeping phones and just sit in the stillness, perhaps meditating or just breathing in the clean air,” Hansson explains. Alternatively, you can put a silver lining on that stillness, sitting in a hot tub with a glass of bubbly in the middle of a snow storm, then popping into the warm and cosy restaurant for a comforting meal. “There are contrasts everywhere, and we emphasise those contrasts,” says Hansson. “And it’s a sociable place. You get to know the kitchen staff – and the food is fantastic!”
Hansson stresses that activating their guests is not a priority. “Sure, there’s plenty to do. You can enjoy a hike on the walking trail; you can go out in one of the boats to watch the seals – Sweden’s biggest seal colony – resting on the cliffs; we’ve got Sweden’s best diving waters, incredible wildlife, a coral reef that was just discovered a few years ago… But you don’t need to do anything. Just come here, sit, stroll, and enjoy the perfectly clear waters and the warm climate, thanks to the Gulf Stream that passes us in the east.”
Offline, year-round bucket list item
While conference guests are provided with all technical necessities, there is no open wireless network for other guests. “Everyone, teenagers included, is offline – you won’t be streaming movies. But no one ever protests, it becomes more of a simple fact,” says Hansson. “A 14-year-old boy came asking for the WiFi the other day. I said that we didn’t have one, and he said ‘OK’ and walked off to play a board game instead.”
Summertime is peak season at The Weather Islands, indeed a real summer paradise, if you ask Hansson – think sailing boats, speed boats, people swimming in the sea and sunbathing on the cliffs. But the unique environment of the islands make for an unforgettable trip no matter the reason, whether you end up crayfish or lobster fishing, exploring the walking trail, bird watching or just relaxing in the hot tub.
“I had a group of journalists here recently, and as I welcomed them to the island I was giving them an introduction. But after a few minutes, I realised that they weren’t listening; they were just standing there, jaws dropped in awe,” Hansson laughs. If that’s not an item for your Nordic bucket list, what is?
Fly to Gothenburg Landvetter Airport or Gardermoen Oslo Airport, where you can continue by car or aircoach transfer, or be collected by The Weather Islands’ own minibus.