the main thing
Text and pictures: James Venimore
There are twenty four thousand islands between Landsort and Arholma outside Stockholm that are just waiting to be explored, and these islands are not exposed to strong tidal currents and open ocean swells making only the wind the main element you need to plan for, and with so many islands you can always find shelter in most areas unless you venture to the outer remote exposed islands. A good tip is to plan a trip with the wind behind you making for easy paddling. Leaving more time to explore the Islands and cover longer distances.
A great suggestion is to paddle a length of the outer Archipelago from Dalarö to Gräddö or vice versa depending if the winds are southerly or northerly. Or going from either and timing your return with the wind behind you. The weather forecasts in Sweden are generally quite reliable for up to a week ahead.
July is when everyone in Stockholm vacates the city for their cottages on the islands or for their sailing boats making the harbours very populated, but come august things calm down quickly and there is a lot less activity. However, there is something special about paddling during midsummer, with the amazing long evenings that do not get dark, you will witness the local traditions and if you are may be invited to experience the traditional foods of pickled sill and fresh potatoes washed down with local spirits.
Respecting the “allemansrätt” law or rules that allow you to put you tent up in most places a reasonable with some rules of etiquette will allow camping in most places. Do ask the rental outfitter you use for advice on where to camp and the guidelines for “allemansrätt”. If you do camp on an island with habitants, it is always good to camp some distance from dwellings and polite to ask if it is ok, more often than not they will offer you fresh water and use of a toilet while you stay. Perhaps even an invite to their midsummer celebrations or a meal.
There are a good number of reserves where you can also stay for a limited time that also provide toilets and fireplaces. Some guest harbours are open to kayakers with places to put a tent, and often have a sauna for guests or club members. A great place to meet local folk.
There is a lot to experience in the islands, from old cold war fortifications, to historical reserves that have rare types of sheep from older times. You will also likely come across a local store with a fresh local bakery and even a restaurant, so it is a very good idea to have some cash with you for these.