Seals, Barbecues and Coffee in a Lighthouse: A Saltstänk Adventure

Saltstänk in Karlskrona, Sweden doesn’t offer the usual vacation package. When you think of a holiday, sleeping in a sleeping bag under the stars might not be your first choice. However, if you’re the adventurous type like me, you’ll jump for the opportunity. I certainly did!

Photos of Utklippan

I was introduced to Karlskrona by Visit Sweden. The city is the only one built in the Baroque style in Sweden, located on the southeastern coast and spanning over 30 main islands. There are beautiful locations to explore throughout the islands. Saltstänk offers tours to an island outside Karlskrona, exactly 20 km out to sea.

Biking in Karlskrona Harbor

Utklippan is an uninhabited double island shaped like two crescents with a protected harbor in the center. Originally established with a lighthouse in 1789, it’s now used for day trips by locals with their boats. On the island there are five buildings. One is a birding station in the summer, one is an abandoned hostel (which could be re-opening in the summer of 2017), and one is a tiny wood-burning sauna!

Selfie on Utklippan with Saltstänk.

To get to Utklippan, you might be able to get a ride with one of the locals on their boat, but Saltstänk is a much better choice. Throughout the summer, Saltstänk offers RIB (rigid inflatable boat) tours to the island for a day or two, depending on if you want to spend the night on the island. The high-speed RIB only takes about 30 minutes to reach Utklippan, and the ride is a blast. Depending on the weather, the seas could be a bit choppy. At the speed you go, you’ll be in for a wild time. I was laughing the whole time, although I almost lost my phone when the wind nearly ripped it out of my hand while I was recording.

The tour includes a barbecue lunch or dinner on the island. They will bring all the food and supplies with them, and grill the food Swedish style. Dinner was chicken breasts and steaks, potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, bell peppers and corn. The following morning, they made eggs, pancakes, bacon and potato scones on the grill. On the ride back we stopped at another small island to have a lunch of cheeses and crackers, salad and watermelon.

Brunch on the Island

Then there’s the fikka, part of every meal and throughout the day. A fikka is Swedish for “coffee time,” and is an integral part of the local culture. The best place on Utklippan to have a fikka is up in the lighthouse. Saltstänk are the only ones with the keys. In the afternoon, you can enjoy a coffee or tea on the mirror deck with a beautiful view of the island and surrounding sea. Sweden might not have the best coffee in the world, but this is still one of those experiences you’ll never forget.

Fika in a Lighthouse

Another option of the tour is to go snorkeling with the seals at the micro islands a few meters out to sea from Utklippan. You might not get close enough to actually pet a seal, but they’ll come up underneath you to check you out.

The highlight of the island, in my opinion, was the wood-burning sauna. Every house in Finland has a sauna, but they aren’t as common in Sweden. Finding one on this small island was wonderful, and there was nothing better at night than an hour in the sauna, and then jumping into the cold Baltic waters to wash off.

Martina and I in the sauna

While you could sleep in one of the old hostel rooms, I preferred to make the experience a little more unique. I’m the adventurous type, and I love the outdoors. When I was told I had the option of just sleeping under the stars, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. The trick was finding a spot using one of the buildings as a windbreak. With a clear sky, it was wonderful and refreshing. I only regret that it was only for a single night.

Sleeping on Utklippan

Saltstänk also teams up with Unique Dive and Travel for another amazing adventure. While I didn’t get to do it myself, they offer scuba diving to shipwrecks around Karlskrona. These aren’t the safest waters to sail in, and there are plenty of wrecks to explore in the area. One of the most famous was the U-137, a Russian spy submarine which became stuck in one of Karlskrona’s many straits.

U-137 Karlskrona Submarine Memorial

Throughout the tour, Saltstänk will give you information about everything you’re seeing along the way, the history about Karlskrona and what it’s like to live in Sweden. With Sweden recently named as the best country in the world, this is definitely a place to spend your vacation. I’ll be back there for sure. I might even help out next year to restore the hostel, and I certainly want to take one of their scuba excursions to the shipwrecks. Will I see you there?

Resources

  • Further Reading

Find my top tips for visiting Karlskrona here.

Read more about Karlskrona on the Visit Karlskrona website.

Five other travel bloggers joined me on this trip. You can read several of their Utklippan stories below.

Martina from PimpMyTrip.it

Rachel from BlondWayfarer.com

Sam from ForgetSomeday.com

  • Transportation

Find the best flights to Sweden on Skyscanner. Read my tips on how to find the cheapest flights.

Cheapest transportation to Karlskrona from Malmo or Stockholm is by train.

  • Lodging

Find great deals on hotels and hostels with Agoda. Read my guide on whether you should book ahead at a hostel.

If you’re traveling with more than one person, I’d recommend using Airbnb. Some locations can be fantastic, especially in Sweden. My Airbnb host in Stockholm was truly memorable.

Couchsurfing is my favorite way to stay in a city. Stockholm can be very difficult to find hosts, depending on the season, but not impossible. I had two amazing hosts there.

You could also find a hostel or other volunteer job to work at via Workaway. Hopefully the hostel on Utklippan will be available on Workaway soon.

Disclaimers:
Skyscanner, Agoda and Airbnb are affiliate links, and using them here will help to support me financially in my travels.
Sleeping bag photo credit to Terje Pedersen of Visit Karlskrona.
This was a complementary tour organized in coordination with Saltstänk, Visit Sweden and Visit Karlskrona, all of which have my utmost gratitude! As always, my views and opinions are completely my own.

Saltstänk in Karlskrona, Sweden doesn't offer the usual vacation package. When you think of a holiday, sleeping in a sleeping bag under the stars might not be your first choice. However, if you're the adventurous type like me, you'll jump for the opportunity. I certainly did! I was introduced to Karlskrona by Visit Sweden. The city is the only one built in the Baroque style in Sweden, located on the southeastern coast and spanning over 30 main islands. There are beautiful locations to explore throughout the islands. Saltstänk offers tours to an island outside Karlskrona, exactly 20 km out to sea. Utklippan…

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