The Bohuslän coast stretches from Gothenburg up north to the Norwegian border and some 8,000 islands dot the sea scape. Adventurers will love exploring the islands, islets, and rocky outcroppings in a sea kayak, slicing your paddles through the water from one fishing village to another. Experienced paddlers can stuff their canoe and head out to camp on rocky outcroppings and uninhabited islands for as long as the supplies hold out. Adventurers seeking a hot shower and some comfort after a long day of paddling can chose from a variety of villages to paddle between or even guided kayaking day trips.
Though we only got a small taste of what the Bohuslän coast has to offer on our In a Volvo trip around Gothenburg and West Sweden, it was both pleasing to our eyes and our stomachs. Lysekil and Smögen are two of the most popular villages along the coast and we had a chance to explore both of them, and some islands in between, in and out of the water.
Lysekil is the largest town in the area and definitely worth a stop for stocking up on supplies if you’re headed out on a multi-day kayak trip. While you’re there, explore the lighthouse, castle, sleep in a charming turn of the century bed and breakfast, and feast on amazing sea food.
Not to be missed is a meal at Norra Hamnen 5, with a location on the new jetty at the north port perfect for watching the sunset and renowned for its fresh seafood. We recommend the seafood platter with fresh mussels, crayfish, crab claws, oysters, and marinated mussels.
Norra Hamnen 5 also offers an overnight lobster fishing program in Lysekil. You’ll head out on their boat for lobster fishing and finish up the day warming up with clam chowder and learning to cook your fresh lobster with the chef. After a few hours of relaxing, you enjoy the fruits of your labor with a lobster feast.
Stay at the lovely Strandflickornas Havshotell, a bed and breakfast in an Bohuslän mansion. The views over the town and the sea are gorgeous, especially if you end up in one of the two top floor rooms with their own roof decks. You’ll appreciate the comfortable room, hot shower, and breakfast especially if you’ll be camping on the islands for a few days.
Nautopp Sea Kayaking
Nautopp Sea Kakaying Sweden is located just a few minutes from Lysekil and owner Tor-Björn outfits experienced kayakers with a kayak, paddles, and the equipment you’ll need for your multi-day kayak trip. He also offers tours varying from day tours to multi-day tours.
We got to hang out with Tor-Björn while paddling and he’s full of knowledge about the islands and the wildlife around the islands. The sea here is also teeming with seals that typically like to bask in the sun on the rocky outcroppings, though they were shy on our trip most likely because of the rain. One seal did pop-up right in front of our kayak and was just as interested in watching us as we were in watching him.
Tor-Björn also taught us a few Swedish camping tricks, like how to make gourmet camp food from just a few ingredients. My favorite from our acclaimed kayaker-chef was a hard type of bread with boiled potatoes, smoked caviar paste, fresh red onion, and pea shoots. It’s delicious and packed with protein to keep your energy up for paddling and exploring the islands. All of these ingredients are easily found at the grocery store and keep, so are excellent for camping.
One of the islands you can easily paddle to on a day kayaking tour is Stora Kornö. Though when arriving, it seems as though you’ve paddled up to an uninhabited island, there are actually a handful of people that live there. The first clue is that when you set off to explore, a flock of sheep are happy to greet you. They actually belong to the Töllås Fårgård farm, which you can visit the full farm, restaurant and shop on Orust Island.
Keep walking and you’ll be surprised to find yourself in a tiny village, though there are no restaurants or tourist services here. Just a small schoolhouse and a few red fisherman’s houses full of history. There’s not much to explore, but the 15 minute or so walk in to “town” is a nice way to stretch your legs after paddling.
Smögen is one of Sweden’s liveliest fishing villages in the summer and is linked to the mainland by a bridge, making it easy to arrive there by car if you don’t want to kayak from Lysekil. There are two main tourist attractions on the tiny island: the 600 meter long jetty and it’s pink granite rocks.
Ingrid Bergman spent her summers in Smögen and she no doubt whiled her days away popping in and out of the little boathouses that are home to a number of boutiques and watching fisherman bring their daily catch straight from their boats to the restaurants lining the jetty, known as Smögenbryggan. While it was quiet and we practically had Smögen to ourselves the first week of June, the summer tourists would soon arrive and the season would be in full swing in no time. The summer season brings yachts mooring all along Smögenbryggan, the longest jetty in Sweden.
If, like us, you can’t sit still and just enjoy the beautiful views, head out for a hike on Smögen‘s pink granite rocks. Stretch out on one of the smooth rocks and soak up some sun or cool off in the salty sea. You could even bring a picnic from town to enjoy away from the summer crowds.
The Sea Lodge, a popular B&B for kayakers because you can paddle right up to it and easily pull your kayak out of the water, is made from shipping crates. The Sea Lodge Restaurant is Taste of West Sweden certified, a program put in place by the tourist board in 2000 to highlight the best eating experiences in the region. Our candlelit dinner of fresh fish didn’t disappoint. The menu changes based on the day’s fresh catch and we enjoyed an appetizer of a type of fish cake, followed by a main of a Swedish white fish with caviar and asparagus, and finished off with a chocolate cake.
Though I wasn’t thrilled with the rooms, mainly because they don’t have ensuite bathrooms, our stay at Sea Lodge was pleasant. There are several outdoor jacuzzi to ease your aching body after kayaking and when in Rome…or Sweden…you can toss yourself into the cool sea after a hot soak just like the Swedes.
Our days on the Bohuslän coast were mostly rainy and we only got a tiny taste of what this stretch of coastline has to offer, but we think it’s definitely worth planning to spend some time exploring on a kayaking trip.
Disclosure: Our trip was provided by Visit Sweden and Volvo as part of the #WestSweden and #inaVolvo campaign. As always, all opinions about the experiences, restaurants, and accommodations are entirely our own.