Island hopping in Salten

Island hopping in Salten

Do you know how many islands there are along the coast of Bodø and Salten? We don’t know the answer either but, when the Bliksvær archipelago alone accounts for 60 islands, we can only assume the total number of islands is extremely high.

Most of the islands are small and uninhabitable, but many are popular summer holiday destinations for island hoppers. Some visitors bring their bikes while others bring hiking boots or climbing ropes. Besides the magnificent nature, some islands offer unique places to stay and an exquisite kitchen.


Owing to the Gulf Stream and a sub-Arctic marine climate, this island kingdom is arable, mild and green. The view on the approach to Bodø will take your breath away. The lush green islands surrounded by white sandy beaches and crystal-clear water mean it's like landing in paradise.

Fleinvær. Foto: Jesse Beamansunrise


Travel by express boat

Regardless of whether you go “island hopping” north of south of Bodø, when you board the express boat you will discover countless islands and mainland gems with white sandy beaches and lush green mountainsides. These beautiful places include Hamarøy, Steigen, Kjerringøy, Landegode, Helligvær, Givær, Bliksvær, Kunna, Fleina, Fleinvær, Fugløya, Sandhornøy, Sørarnøy, Nordarnøy, Støtt, Rødøy, Grønøy and Bolga. Don’t be tempted to do as many of the locals do and take a nap during the crossing. Keep an eye out for puffins, white-tailed eagles and various whale species. You will quickly discover that there are many exciting things to see – in the water and on the land.

The express boat. Foto: Lev i Steigen


Remember your tent and provisions

Many of the islands don’t have places to stay or eat, so it’s wise to bring food, drink and a tent or hammock. Some islands have a grocery store and/or café but check in advance to avoid disappointment. Norway’s public access rights allow you to pitch your tent in uncultivated area, providing it’s at least 150 m from the nearest inhabited house or cabin and you don’t stay in the same place more than two nights. Beyond that, the normal rules and good manners apply. Most islands are car-free but bringing a bike enables you to get around easily. Bikes and express boats are generally a good combination for island hopping in the north.

Foto: Frank R. Dahl


Not far from Bodø, on the island of Sandhornøy in Gildeskål, you will find the beautiful beach Langsanden (translated literally as “the long sand”). This is a great place to pitch your tent, sit by a campfire and enjoy fantastic views of the Midnight Sun and the beautiful coastal landscape. After an evening dip in the sea, you can brush your teeth in the modern service building, which has running water, a toilet and shower. If camping does not appeal, you can stay at nearby Følvika. Book a room in the old barn or stay in a glass dome with 360-degree panoramic views.

View from the top of Sandhornet. Foto: Frank R. Dahl


The quayside “brygge” resorts of Salten

Most of the islands you can reach by express boat have a “brygge” – a quayside resort providing accommodation, food and drink. If this is the first time you are island hopping in Salten, you may appreciate arriving to a made-up bed and food on the table! Most of these places offer boat rental so you can explore the archipelago on your own.

Idyllic Støtt Brygge offers activities such as fishing trips, RIB safaris trips and guided glacier climbing tours in the surrounding area.

At Helnessund Brygge or Nordskot Brygge, you can rent and fishing gear and go deep-sea fishing or use the resort as a base for cycling in Steigen.

At Arnøy Brygge, you can stay in a fisherman’s cottage (rorbu) and take part in activities such as fishing, canoeing, hiking and cycling, while at Bolga Brygge in Meløy you go deep-sea fishing or hike up to Bolgbørra. This natural hole in the mountain is like a cave with two entrances. The view from here is spectacular and on fine days you can see all the way to Lofotveggen (the Lofoten Wall) in the north.

Bolga. Foto: Bolga brygge

Nordarnøy. Foto: Arnøy brygge


Several unique places to stay along the coast

Villa Haugen Boutique Hotel, an exquisite and luxurious place to stay on the island of Grøtøy in Steigen, offers unique experiences with everything from “Arctic wellbeing” to first-class dishes straight from the sea. Part of the charm are the exceptional views of Lofoten and Steigen’s archipelago. Ask about renting a sea kayak. The archipelago in Bodø and Salten is perfect for sea kayaking and many providers rent out kayaks and the necessary accessories.


Looking for a slightly “rougher” yet exclusive option? You have no doubt seen the wonderful photos on magazine covers the world over; Mannshausen in Steigen and The Arctic Hideaway in Fleinvær have impressed travel journalists for several years now. Now it’s your turn to enjoy the sauna, a refreshing dip in the sea, fresh seafood and the Midnight Sun at these architectural gems. You can also spend a night in a hammock tent at Naustholmen, which is about as close to nature as one can get. 

The Artic Hideaway. Foto: Kathrine Sørgård

The Arctic Hideaway. Foto: Pierre Wikberg

Manshausen. Foto: Manshausen


Just don’t forget to take the obligatory snaps to post on social media and attract even more adventure tourists – from around the world – to an island-hopping holiday in Bodø and Salten.

2020-09-0711:28 Julie Abelsen