The Archipelago Sea
The Archipelago Sea in the South West of Finland is a unique sailing destination and maritime ecosystem. Much of this vast area of over 25,000 islands forms the Archipelago National Park and is also part of UNESCO’s global network of Biosphere Reserves.
Visitors to the region will encounter an enchanting combination of natural harbours and sheltered bays, secret beaches and protected coves, beautiful seaside villages and forests of birch, alder and ash trees shaped by the sea wind. The sailing infrastructure and local guest harbours and marinas are highly developed and within reach of the Åland Islands, the Stockholm archipelago and Swedish and Estonian coastal waters.
The waters around Kimito and the ancient villages and settlements of Högsåra, Hitis and Rosala constituted an important intersection on maritime trade routes during the Viking age, in medieval times and during the period of eminence of the Hanseatic League.
A little further to the South lies the fortress island of Örö which until recently was a closed military area and is now one of the most popular attractions for international visitors and groups in the entire archipelago. Örö was variously fought over and controlled by both the Swedish and Russian empires and later functioned as an important Finnish coastal fortress.
Visitors today will find a large and well-equipped guest harbour, cafes, a restaurant, protected wildlife habitats, nature trails and activities for all the family.
Local Sailing Conditions
The prevailing wind in the archipelago during the summer months tends to be mild and South Westerly. The thousands of islands, islets, cliffs and skerries and the open water provide for a perfect, unhurried and very varied sailing experience.
A network of well marked and well maintained channels makes for safe sailing conditions and our experienced, local staff are always on hand to help you plan routes and itineraries to suit your group and to ensure an enjoyable visit.
Silence and Tranquility
Whilst always a popular seasonal sailing destination the archipelago also remains extraordinarily spacious and peaceful. Visitors and boat crews will find solitary islands, deserted beaches, woods, glades, flower filled meadows and unspoilt private moorings to explore and to enjoy.
The air in the archipelago is fresh and clean. There is no polluting industry and in fact there are more boats than cars in the region. The wind carries the scent of sea salt, pine forests, salt marshes and occasionally the tang of woodsmoke from numerous little saunas and smokeries.
It’s a sensory experience quite unlike anything to be found in modern day cities and urban environments.
Guest harbours and marinas throughout Finland offer plenty of available moorings and an exceptional level of services and facilities. Before the start and towards the end of the sailing season some are almost entirely free of traffic and may be able to offer a discount on your stay.
Local nautical charts are of excellent quality and will show natural harbours in the islands where you can moor at will. Towards the end of August visitors also have access to the islands belonging to the National Park when there is almost no one else around.
Distinctive Local Culture
Most locals in the archipelago tend to speak Swedish. Swedish speaking Finns are known for their spontaneity, friendliness and hospitality. There is a strong sense of togetherness, cultural ties and a shared past stretching from the coast and the inner islands all the way to the autonomous Finnish province of Åland far out to sea.
This combines with a long seafaring tradition throughout the region - many families have earned their living on the sea for centuries and continue to do so to this day. The island communities are remote, hardy and energetic and always welcoming of outsiders.
Helpfulness and Expertise
In the summertime the islands can often seem like a paradise but winters here can be harsh and unforgiving. This has shaped the character of the people.
There’s a strong and natural inclination to help others and to share information, local knowledge and seafaring expertise for the benefit and enjoyment of all.
Home Grown Food and Produce
There are shops and stalls adjacent to the guest harbours on several of the islands where visitors can buy locally caught and smoked fish.
There are also traditional markets held frequently in the market squares of many of the towns and villages where farmers sell seasonal vegetables, speciality breads, dairy products, mushrooms, fresh fruits and forest berries.
Sublime Seascapes, Characterful Communities and Enjoyable Experiences
The broad, open channel and the islands around Gullkrona are considered some of the most beautiful in Finland. In the 14th century the queen of Sweden was so taken by Gullkrona that she offered up her golden crown to the water, this is where the name derives from.
The picturesque harbour at Kejsarhamnen is known to have been a favourite of the Russian Emperor Alexander III who sailed here over several summers in the 19th century accompanied by the Empress.
Other regional attractions include the stately grounds and buildings of Söderlångvik Manor, charming Café Vivan, the old ironworks in Dalsbruk as well as the lakes, nature trails, large forests and sea cliffs that surround the village.
Farmors (Grandmothers) Café at a traditional working farm in Högsåra village is one of the most popular places to eat, to relax and to meet people anywhere in the islands.
Outside the holiday season there are relatively few visitors and recreational sailors out on the water. Pack some warm clothing and put out to sea in the spring or enjoy the month of August when the sea water has been warmed by the sun through the early summer.
This is a perfect time for picnicking and hiking out in the Archipelago National Park. Majestic sea eagles which are the official emblem of the national park are not an uncommon sight in the skies above your yacht.
Churches and Chapels
Christianity first came to Finland from the South West and consequently some of the oldest, most historically significant and most beautiful churches in the country are located in the area.
Many of these and the smaller chapels on the outlying islands contain large numbers of exquisite wooden miniatures of ships and boats. These have been carved and left here through the ages by local seafarers who have survived shipwrecks as a way to express gratitude to God.
The Midnight Sun
After the bleak and windy winter months the skies begin to lighten with the arrival of spring in mid-March and early April. Sunsets in the archipelago are prolonged and stunningly beautiful and the waters reflect the colour of the surrounding sky.
During mid-summer in June and July the sun never properly sets below the wide, open horizon and when out sailing this is an experience never to be forgotten.
The coastal waters around Finland and throughout the wider Baltic have a relatively low level of salinity. Those with experience of blue water sailing in saltier seas and oceans will find the archipelago a refreshing change. Swimming here is also a pleasant experience.
The waters in the archipelago are generally calm. There is no tide nor any especially strong currents and rollers and large waves are rare.
The islands offer protection from storms and from the open sea when needed and the closest harbour or safe mooring is never far away. Weather information is accurate, easily accessible and updated frequently. Mobile phone and data network coverage extends to very nearly 100% of all areas.