Take it easy on sheltered waters
Canoeing along Lofoten's inner shore in the summer can be magical. The fishing villages with rorbu fishermen's cabins, jetties, fish landing stations, village owners' houses and fish-drying racks all face the sea, so a kayak gives you a perfect view. The water is calm between the islets, skerries and sheltered bays, with plenty of lovely places to go ashore. These days, most people see Lofoten from the road, but its best side is definitely from the sea. You can easily pull your kayak up onto the beach and then spend an hour or two climbing one of the relatively easy peaks for a bird's eye view of the landscape.
Kayaking through the maelstrom
The rough outer coast of Moskenesøya is a challenge reserved for only the best kayakers. The trip takes four days, going from Fredvang at the north-east tip of the island, around Lofotodden to Reine, along a completely uninhabited coast. You're at the edge of the Atlantic here, and the coast is mainly mountainsides rising almost vertically up to 1000 m (3200 ft). If you capsize here, there's no way of getting back to shore, so you need to be able to get back in the kayak unassisted. Local knowledge is vital for safety, so you should only come here with a local guide. There are a few places to get ashore, where you will spend the night. However, the legendary Moskstraumen, or Maelstrom in the works of Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe, is not an impossible challenge if you paddle close to the shore.
Winter kayaking from Hattvika
You can even kayak along Lofoten's inner shore in winter. Lofoten fishery is at its peak from January to April and the fishing villages are bustling. Boats go out in the morning, return before dark and then the fish are hung on racks. However, winter kayaking is much more difficult than summer kayaking, and the outer coast is now completely out of bounds. Hattvika Lodge in Ballstad offers accommodation and short kayaking trips or longer weekend trips or expeditions.
Bring your friends to Hattvika
Hattvik is the perfect place to come with your friends for a weekend. You can begin your Friday evening with some easy kayaking out in the archipelago beside Hattvika, giving your guide a chance to assess your skills. Early risers on Saturday morning will see the sunrise in the east and the mountains bathed in the dawn light. Then you can kayak east, toward Sennes and Mortsund, pull your kayaks ashore and hike up one of the peaks. From 540-metre-high Nonstind (1772 ft) on Vestvågøy, you can see most of Nordland, from Børvasstindan behind Bodø, out to Nykan off the coast of Røstlandet. On Sunday, the tour heads west across Nappstraumen to Flakstadøya, where you can visit picturesque Nusfjord and enjoy lunch at the excellent restaurant. Delicious local seafood and a hot tub make Hattvika Lodge a superb base for a kayaking weekend.
Hattvika Lodge also organises kayak camping throughout the summer season, and individuals and couples are welcome. A wide range of trips are on offer. Competent kayakers with a "Wet Card" can sign up for an interesting week of varied kayaking, workshops based on themes like outdoor food, food from seaweed and kelp and how avoid impacting nature. Real experts can sign up for the challenging trip around Moskenesøya. At the opposite end of the scale are beginners' courses, which are organised jointly with tour operator Hvitserk and can qualify you for a "Wet Card".
The following pages can help you plan your kayaking trip to Lofoten.
- Hattvika Lodge has its own website.
- Lofoten Aktiv is based in East Lofoten and offers kayaking trips.
- Reine Adventure takes kayakers to the outer coast of West Lofoten.
- Lofoten Outdoor is another activity company in West Lofoten.
- Destination Lofoten is the tourist organisation for the entire archipelago and has a wealth of information about everything there is to do here.