Kayak Around the Stunning Archipelago of Östergötland
Where? KustCamp Ekön in Gryt
When? Mid-May to the end of September.
Along the coast of Östergötland, an archipelago with 8,888 islands is scattered in the Baltic Sea. In the southern part of the archipelago, KustCamp Ekön, a campsite near the nature reserve Ekön, offers camping by the sea and activities for active travelers. This idyllic destination can be reached in just 20 minutes after the exit from the E22 highway.
Here at the campsite, entrepreneur Christian Swanson has established his company Ostkustenkajak. After a long time working in the sports industry, he decided to start his own business eight years ago. Today he rents out kayaks, organizes guided paddle tours and sells outdoor equipment such as kayaks and „tree tents”— innovative tents suspended between tree trunks.
„I had moved to the archipelago village Gryt a few years earlier and found that a kayak rental was missing. The campsite was the perfect place to set one up. Gryt with its fantastic archipelago is a magnet for visitors from Sweden and the rest of the world, especially in the summer months,” says Christian Swanson.
The jetties in front of the campsite are getting busy. While some prepare for their paddling tour, others return from their trip with a smile on their face. On the large quay, motorboats are waiting to set sail and glide across the open sea.
„Paddling is popular with all age groups. Families, children, adults, couples and friends see a kayaking trip as a great opportunity to spend time together in nature and experience the sea. You feel a sense of freedom that is hard to beat,” says Christian.
At one jetty, the members of the Eklund family from Norrköping take their seats in their kayaks. Like many Swedes, they are cruising the archipelago on their own pleasure boat. To get even closer to nature, they decided to go for a kayak trip. Mom Ulrika and son Gustav share a two-seater, while dad Magnus and school friend Jordan take the other. Ostkustenkajak’s expert Lasse Wernqvist gives them last-minute instructions before they head out into the archipelago.
„Every summer we take our pleasure boat to the archipelago, and this time we thought we would not just sit behind the wheel and enjoy the view of the sea, but also go paddling. It's fun and adventurous, and you get close to water and nature in a different way,” says Ulrika.
For Jordan, it is his first kayak tour ever, so the family starts off with a few practice rounds in the calm bay, in order to test the water. Once they’ve got the hang of it, they paddle out to sea to explore the surrounding islands.
„Many parents have told me that they have traveled the world with their children during the holidays - but in the end, the kids like to remember simple things like camping or paddling. In Sweden, we have a fantastic nature that is open to all,” Christian Swanson of Ostkustenkajak concludes. Like Christian, you can discover nature at your own pace, by spending the day exploring the unspoiled local islands by kayak.
Good to know:
- The Gryt archipelago consists of hundreds of islands, of which only a handful are permanently inhabited. The archipelago of Gryt is unique because most of the islands are untouched.
- The largest islands are Ämtö, Stora Ålö, Fångö, Harstena, Kråkmarö, Gräsmarö, Kättilö, Håskö, Bondekrok, Bokö, Björksär and Häradskär.
- Exploring Gryt's archipelago by kayak gives you the opportunity to explore the outer part of the archipelago with its pristine islands.
- You can extend the kayaking tour to several days and sleep on a remote island, or book simple accommodation in natural surroundings. There are holiday cottages on Håskö (hasko.se/stugor) and Ämtö (amtostugorna.se). Häradsskär even has a hostel (haradskarsfyrplats.se). Ostkustenkajak also rents tents for the ultimate nature-rich experience.