Sweden might not be the first thing you think about when it comes to an island escape, yet the rugged West Coast and its Weather Islands will quickly make you change your mind.
The Weather Islands are a rocky and remote archipelago, which consists of a few hundred islands located in Tanum. The archipelago is about 13 km west of Fjällbacka and about a 2 hour drive (1,5 hour with car & 30 min boat) from Gothenburg. The Weather Islands are what the West Coast is all about – sun, wind, rain, fish and rocky, rugged nature. You can visit the islands year-round and you will find activities for any time of the year.
How to get to The Weather Islands
Your journey to The Weather Islands (or Väderöarna in Swedish), will begin in Hamburgsund – a small port town near Fjällbacka. Once arriving to Hamburgsund you will park your car by the Väderöarna office or a nearby school. The parking at the office is free for 24 hours and longer parking by the school is free for longer periods. Once you park your car and take out your things, you will walk a couple of seconds/minutes to the reception.
Once you check in at the reception and get your room and activities confirmed, you will start making your way down to the jetty. The Jetty is just behind the office and takes only a minute to walk to the boat from there. The return trip with a boat is always included in the accommodation price.
When you arrive to your boat, get a seat by the window and get ready for travelling through the world’s most beautiful archipelago. The boat ride will take roughly 40 minutes and if you’re lucky, you’ll even see some seals on the way!
Once you arrive to The Weather Islands you’ll first see the hotel in yellow and a small handful of houses decorating the rocky archipelago. It really looks like a fairy-tale! When getting off the boat, don’t be surprised if it gets very windy – Weather Islands are known to have one of Sweden‘s warmest and windiest climates.
Väderöarnas Värdhus – The only Hotel on the Islands
Staying over night on The Weather Islands definitely has a charm on its own. The houses there might be old, but they definitely make up for it with charm. Rooms are tastefully decorated and the views from the bedroom window were stunning. We had a double room with shared bathroom and we never had to wait on our turn. Be prepared to get cozy – you won’t have the comforts of a city hotel here, but that’s exactly how a hotel on a rugged West Coast should be. A place where the outside matters more and a place where adventure and experience should come before luxury.
Outside the hotel you’ll also be able to go to a sauna and a hot tub! We unfortunately forgot our swimsuits and couldn’t give it a go. But next time I will make sure to bring them along – it looked so nice!
TIP: for light sleepers, try to book a room that’s not in the main house. The restaurant and bar are located there and if there’s a party downstairs, you will hear it.
Activities on The Weather Islands
Depending on which time of the year you arrive, you will have a great selection of activities to do here. Some of the more popular ones are kayaking, fishing, lobster fishing and oyster evenings, however you can also book the place for special occasions, such as weddings, Christmas, New Years etc. We were there just in the start of the lobster fishing season and this experience is usually a package deal (with accommodation, food, transport and other things included).
Lobster fishing starts, religiously, on the first Monday after 20th of September at 7.00am. The fishermen take this so seriously, that there is a countdown on the boats and they stand ready to drop the traps when the clock strikes 7.00. Lobster fishing is only allowed with a permit, so this unique activity is luckily offered as a package deal every autumn!
Fun fact: The first kilo of lobster went for 102 000 SEK in 2012. It’s primarily the luxury restaurants who try to get their hands on the first batch.
Lobster safari tour started just after lunch. Since we had rain that day, we got warm and waterproof overalls to wear on the boat. This is great to know in case you forget your raincoat. I had wellies on me, but regular shoes would do just fine too. We boarded the boat and sailed off to the first buoy.
The small buoys placed in the sea (you’ll see them on your way to the islands) mark the lobster traps. Each trap is carefully thrown in at the depth of 20m (ideal depth for lobster catching). They usually put in a fish as bait and collect the traps when the sea isn’t too choppy. Strong currents don’t make a good catch, but regardless of the weather, on the tour you will get to experience the whole process of lobster fishing!
As part of the activity you will be able to pull out the traps yourself and even throw them in. For pulling out the traps they use the below device, which allows you to just easily pull the trap rope. The process of throwing in traps is really fun! You need to stand prepared and as soon as the boat is above a perfect depth, you will hear them screaming to release. I am still pretty sure the trap I released caught the most lobster 😉
We caught a couple of lobsters that day, but we also had to release one since it had eggs. The lobsters you catch on this tour are later going to be served as your appetizer – how amazing is that!?
After a successful mission, we had some fika on the boat (warm cinnamon buns and coffee) and then started heading back to the hotel. I would definitely do this activity again. I have never been fishing and am generally not a big fan of seafood – but this gave a new meaning to having fresh seafood and who am I to say no to that 🙂
The beauty of The Weather Islands
Besides doing activities here, you could just relax, take a walk and enjoy the hot tub with some sparkling wine. After lobster fishing the weather started clearing up and we were blessed with a gorgeous sunset – and a double rainbow! There is a walking path going around the island, but be prepared to have sneakers or good shoes there. The terrain is rocky and a little slippery out there after rain. The one stroll which you absolutely must do, is walking up to the pilot lookout. The views of the islands from there are magical.