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A red kayak is paddeling past a cliff. It's a sunny day and the water is clear.

Photographer: Roger Borgelid

Kayaking -  Kosterhavet National Park

The Koster Islands and the surrounding Kosterhavet Marine National Park offer amazing opportunities for kayaking. All the way from Ramsö and Ursholmen in the south to Saltholmen in the north are lots of small islands and rocks with inviting channels, rocky bays and beaches to explore.

Whatever your preferences, Kosterhavet offers wonderful and varied canoeing waters with plenty to discover both above and beneath the surface. Seals sunbathe on the rocks and underneath the surface unique sea creatures hide amongst seaweed and kelp. You don’t have to be a kayaking expert to navigate our archipelago. Feel free to take a shorter trip on your own or find a pleasant place and stay all day. The more adventurous kayaker can visit the open outer archipelago; perhaps a visit to Sweden’s most westerly built island, Ursholmen, seems attractive? Or try one of the guided tours on offer.

There are lots of benefits of exploring Sweden’s finest coastal landscape from a kayak. But remember that sunshine and calm waters can change in an instant – in the outer archipelago even a small amount of wind and waves can make a paddling trip challenging. On the other hand, you are never far from an island behind which to shelter.

Facing waves

Bohuslän is one of the world's best coastlines to discover from a kayak - at least that's what CNN says. They call the Swedish West coast a paradise for kayaking. From the Gothenburg Archipelago in the south to the Koster Islands in the north, Bohuslän offers magnificent kayaking experiences. Watch the trailer here!

Bring your kayak to the Koster Islands
There is an extra charge for taking your own kayak on the ferry to the Koster Islands. Remember that space may be limited in high season and that you may have to wait for the next departure.

Kayak rental
There are a number of rental firms in the area, examples include Kostercykeln/Skärgårdsidyllen and Kosterhavet Dykcenter/ Kosters Kajakuthyrning. When you rent a kayak, the following basic equipment is included: kayak, paddle, life vest, often also a cockpit cover and a pump. Remember to bring sunscreen, picnic, water and a change of clothes.

A very good navigational chart, scale 1:10 000, and the map GS01 Strömstad Utekartan (printed by Tyvek) are available to purchase from the book store in Strömstad.

We also recommend information folder Boating in Kosterhavet, a nature guide with an overview of the national parks’ regulations and a map. 

Photographer: Åsa Dahlgren

Canoeing favourites

Below are a few top spots for enjoyable canoeing in the archipelago of Koster Islands

The island of Burholmen is located in the outer archipelago, outside the Koster Islands, and visible from almost everywhere in the southern part of the Koster Archipelago. The highest rocks on the island offer great views and the sight of the lighthouses on Ursholmen against the horizon. The island is a popular spot for both swimming and camping.

This area is yet another mecca for canoeists. It is part of the wonderful Koster Archipelago and located just south of Sydkoster and north of Bockholmen. On the eastern side of the island is a great channel to paddle through. There are also a number of fun passages and several islets to circle between. Waste bins and earth toilets.

Tjälleskär & the Stora Sockna ‘archipelago’
A secluded group of islands, where it is easy to find enjoyable places to paddle between the many small islands and in the maze of narrow channels surrounded by high walls. Note also the amazing natural dinosaur-like rock formations to the north. Definitely a must see!

Rundholmen is in the western part of the Koster Archipelago and attached to the island of Tegelholmen, just outside Brevik, Sydkoster. Between Rundholmen and the mainland and north-east of the island are lots of lovely channels to paddle through. The islands have a number of small sandy beaches and two pleasant tent pitches.

Ursholmen – the most northerly lighthouse on the Swedish west coast
This island is a dramatic place in the outer archipelago and requires slightly more canoeing experience, as part of the route goes across an open sea, full of hidden rocks. Ursholmen is made up of two smaller islands, the Outer and Inner Ursholmen.
The islands are separated by a narrow strait. The two lighthouses on the western side give the island its characteristic skyline, visible from far way. The waters around the islands are home to lots of common seals. Waste bins, earth toilets and drinking water.

Useful information

Read more about conservation, camping and fire restrictions, and other exceptions from the Right to Public Access at www.kosterhavet.se.

Seal and bird protection
Eiders, greylag geese, oystercatchers and other birds breed on the islands. The birds are protected from the 1 April until 15 July (Mörholmen, Brand, Håskär). Stay at least 100 metres from land. No landing!
The seals have their cubs around the middle of June and are protected during the period 15 May-15 July (the islands north of Ursholmen and the area southwest of Ramsökalven). Stay at least 100 metres from land. No landing!

Camping & Fires
Camping is not allowed between 10 am and 6 pm on the islands of Tenholmarna, Burholmen, Bockholmen and Store Bror during the period 1 July - 15 August. At other times, camping is allowed for no more than two consecutive days in the same place. Lighting fires on the rock is not permitted – use the designated areas.

Grazing animals
There are loose sheep and goats on many islands – be considerate and do not fill entire fields with tents!