A diving excursion from Karlskrona, Sweden might not be your first choice for a summer holiday but permit me to change your mind. My 48 hours with Saltstänk proved the Swedish know how to have fun!
Starting from Karlskrona
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 33 main islands of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. I spent three days in the region and loved every moment of it. Check out my list of 10 activities to do in Karlskrona.
However, there’s an island just outside the archipelago, off on its own lonesome. Saltstänk offers tours this island 12 miles out to sea.
A Saltstänk Bespoke Tour to Utklippan
Utklippan is an uninhabited double island shaped like two crescents with a protected harbor on the northern island (called Norraskär). Originally established with a lighthouse built in 1789 on the southern island (Södraskär), it’s now used for day trips by locals. On the south 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! Update: The Utklippan Hostel has since opened! Twenty beds are now available.
To get to Utklippan, you could take the ferry in July and August or you might even 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 on the cob. 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.
Then there’s the fika, included with every meal and inserted throughout the day. Fika is Swedish for “coffee time,” and is an integral part of the local culture. The best place on Utklippan to have a fika is up in the lighthouse, and only Saltstänk have the keys. In the afternoon, we got to 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 (actually, we just had instant coffee), but this is still one of those experiences you’ll never forget.
Snorkeling With Seals
Just a few dozen feet south of Utklippan are a series of rocky shoals. From the top of the lighthouse, we were able to see seals lounging in the sun on the rocks. As part of your excursion from Karlskrona, or as its own three-hour tour, Saltstänk will outfit you with dry suits and get you into the water near these playful sea creatures. You might not get close enough to actually pet a seal, but they’ll come up underneath you to check you out.
A Wood-Burning Sauna
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.
Sleeping Under the Stars
While we could have slept 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 choice 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. Despite the cold arctic wind, I was surprisingly warm with my Hobo Hammock wrapped about my flimsy sleeping bag.
Diving to a Submarine Wreck
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. While we didn’t dive, we went to the small monument on the shore set up near the crash site.
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 “goodest” 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 (update: volunteer there now that it’s open), and I certainly want to take their scuba excursion to the shipwrecks. Will I see you there?
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If you’re visiting Sweden and looking for more adventures, here are some other activities you might enjoy.
- Stockholm is One Step from Perfect
- A Complete Guide to Visiting Landsort, Sweden
- Swedish Food is So Much More Than Meatballs!
- I Had the Best Meal of My Life at Skeppsgossen
- 10 Activities for a 2-Day Visit in Karlskrona, Sweden
Five other travel bloggers joined me on this trip. You can read several of their Utklippan stories below.
Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.
- 5 Steps to Book Cheap Flights
- Hostels: To Book or Not to Book
- Is Workaway Worth it for the Traveler?
- Click here to claim your $25 credit with AirB&B