Winter paddling in nature

Sea kayaking in the winter and spring

Sea kayaking in the winter and spring. Photo: Torbjörn Söderholm

Kayaking is a great activity for getting some of that sought-after stillness and reflection. As a canoeist you get the chance to really wind down and let your thoughts wander. It’s amazing to slowly glide through the water, enjoying a break from paperwork and mobile phones. And paddling a sea-kayak in low season gives you a naked, raw, and absolutely wonderful feeling of being at one with nature. You’ll find amazing opportunities to observe the animals of the archipelago and their everyday lives.

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Interview: Kosterhavet National Park

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Kosterhavet National Park is the first national marine park of Sweden and was inaugurated in September 2009. It is located in Strömstad and Tanum municipalities in Bohuslän, Västra Götaland County, Sweden. It consists of the sea and shores around the Koster Islands, however excluding the islands themselves. We got to sit down with Martin Larsvik
one the head Marine Biologist at the park.
How long have you been working as a marine biologist? How long at this reserve?

I have been working as a marine biologist since 1991. In 1992 I started at the Lovén Centre Tjärnö, which is close to the Kosterhavet Marine National Park, inaugurated in 2009.

Can you describe the sea life around the park?

In the Kosterhavet Marine National Park there are about 6000 marine species. More than 200 of those have not been found elsewhere in Sweden, but can be found further west in the Atlantic Ocean. There are, for instance, large brown macroalgae (kelp), sponge animals, polychaete worms, crabs, starfish, sea cucumbers and fish. The most spectacular species is the eye coral (Lophelia pertusa), forming coral reefs at a depth of 85 meters.

I heard that the park doesn’t allow cars? Is that true? Is there protection from all sorts of pollutents?

Motor vehicles are only allowed on roads, but since there practically are no roads, we can say that the park doesn’t allow cars. But the park allow for motorboats, and there is no regulation of what kind of fuel the motorboats can use.

What are some of the most unique creatures you have come across?

There are several species which have been discovered by science in the area close to the Lovén Centre. One is a 9 mm long polychaete worm without mouth or gut.

What do you think about the oil spills off the coast of the US? How traumatic is that for sea life?

Considering the very large volume of oil that have been spilled, I think it is traumatic. Long-term effects of toxic compound of the oil accumulated in the food web, is believed to be more detrimental than the more easily seen short-term surface and shore effects.

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Dalsland: Outdoor adventures!

biking dalsland

Had enough of the shopping, lounging, and eating? Well Dalsland is the perfect destination for your next trip. The beautiful yet rugged terrain is built for outdoor sports, hiking and biking.

In fact Dalsland, which is only 2 hours north of Gothenburg, has become a destination for MBO or Mountain Bike Orientating as they just hosted the annual event on May 8th which will drew thousands of bikers from all over.  The total course length of MTB-O is around 40 kilometres  divided into three stages. So channel your inner Lance Armstrong and gear up!  If you have no idea what MBO is, it “ most closely resembles ski orienteering, except on a bike, where the choice of route between the control points is more of a deciding factor than difficult control points.”

And, if you prefer water to land then get in a canoe! Dalsland also hosts an annual canoe race (which is run by the same people as the MBO event). Don’t regret your vacation feasts and get outdoors and a little sweaty in Dalsland.

Missing Summer

We found this fantastic video of Kosterhavet Marine National Park by Knut Bergsten and it made us long for summer…

More Fish…

Väderöarna, or the Weather Islands. Photograph: Nordicphotos/Alamy

Väderöarna, or the Weather Islands. Photograph: Nordicphotos/Alamy

Kira Cochrane of The Guardian has a great story online about her seafood adventures in West Sweden.

Check it out!

Sweden offers Nature’s Best

Natures Best

Natures Best

In line with Swedens attitude towards eco conservationism and the green movement, a national eco-tourism certification was created during the UN’s International Eco-Tourism Year 2002, identifying companies and activities that practice responsible tourism and eco-friendly tours.

Natures Best was created to help raise awareness of and promote eco-tourism in Sweden and has been designed to guarantee a high quality travel experience, in combination with an actively responsible attitude to protecting nature, a more environmentally friendly way to travel, and a caring attitude to the people and culture of the destination.

West Sweden has 8 experiences that have received Natures Best eco-certification, including sea kayaking, lobster safariing, and wool handling on local farms. Given the current need to keep our environment as sustainable as possible, Natures Best is a great way to enjoy your visit to West Sweden and keep your eco-footprint as small as possible. Check out more things great activities in West Sweden here or for a full list of the 124 Natures Best certified experiences in the whole of Sweden check out the Natures Best website.

The Hunt for Black Gold

The lobster fishing along the west coast of Sweden begins on the third monday in September every year. 7 AM the fishing starts and thousands of boats start searching for the black gold.

Chanterelle Season!


Fall is upon us and that means swedes head out in droves to the forests with baskets to hunt for wild mushrooms. And perhaps the most exquisite of all is the chanterelle, the elusive golden mushroom. Head over to our friend Alison’s blog to read about her chanterelle hunt in West Sweden.

And for some extra culinary inspiration, you might be interested in a delicious recipe for Black Cod with Chanterelle Ragout.

Boating and Fishing and Locks Oh My!

Göta Canal

Göta Canal

What do you get when you cross the civil engineering project of the century, an ambitious government minister and a desire to evade Danish tariffs? Why the Göta Canal of course! It’s a one stop shop for tourists today, but when it was first built it was also a major trade route and the largest civil engineering project ever embarked upon in Swedish history.

Conceived of many centuries before it’s realization, the Göta Canal was begun in May of 1810 and was expected by Baltzar von Platen, the man in charge of the project, to become the major thoroughfare for goods and passangers throughout the region. After it’s 22 years of construction von Platen’s dream was acheived and throughout the 19th century served not just Sweden but all of Europe. Today however with planes, trains and automobiles, it has transformed into the biggest tourist attraction in West Sweden.

Stretching 190 kilometers and comprised of 58 locks, the Göta Canal passes through beautiful countryside, fantastic restaurants, and fascinating museums among other tourist beloved staples. You can cruise its waters, bike its shores, and even fish its inhabitants! More of the myriad activities along the canal can be found online here, along with accommodation and dining options, and historical info or you can peruse the online version of the Gota Canal Magazine filled with all the tourist info you could possibly require.

And just something to think about while you’re lounging lazily on the boat passing through the locks, that the structure you’re sailing took about 85 million (85,000,000) man-hours to make!

The opening of the Göte Canal in Mem 1832. Painting by K. Chr. Berger

The opening of the Göte Canal in Mem 1832. Painting by K. Chr. Berger