Kayaking between cabins and mountains in Lofoten

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“Look over there to your right” our guide Marina instructs us, “you can sometimes see seals poking their heads out of the water!” My partner and I turn quickly, careful not to rock the kayak, and squint trying to make out forms in the distance. No seals today, but what we do see is turquoise water all around us that looks like it belongs in the Caribbean. If I didn’t know any better, I could easily forget that I’m in Reine, Norway kayaking in 8°C water.

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I’m in a double kayak on a beautiful September afternoon, taking a guided tour of the Reinefjord. The water is so calm it looks like glass and reflects the towering, pointed mountains that we are paddling between. Every few kilometers we come across a brightly colored fishermen’s hut, but mostly we see miles of mountains and beaches that look both wild and inviting.

Reine is located in the northern part of the Lofoten Islands, on Moskenesøya Island. It’s been called one of the most beautiful places in the world and is an adventurer’s dream offering fishing, kayaking, hiking and biking options.

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As we start the two hour kayak trip, Marina instructs us to punch out with the paddle and make a figure 8, so that we won’t get tight neck muscles.This trick works wonders as not only am I able to paddle with more speed and consistency, but it prevents me from dripping water on my kayaking partner. It takes some time getting used to paddling with a partner, coordinating our strokes and getting into a rhythm; communicating to steer left and right so we don’t hit into rocks or the other kayakers. My partner notifies me when we paddle near a jellyfish and I stop to stare at the giant stinging jellyfish noticing the way its tentacles elegantly move through the water. As we continue our journey we pass the Reinebringen mountain, known for its risky hiking conditions. The trail was closed this summer due to rockfall and injuries. Looking up at the steep mountain reminds me that while Norwegian nature is beautiful, it is also important to always be cautious. In this case, it means making sure we paddle strong into the waves whenever a boat passes so that the strength of the waves won’t flip our kayak over into the icy cold water.

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At one point we kayak underneath a bridge only to be greeted on the other side by a mountain that I’ve seen in every promotional photo of the Lofoten Islands. “This is usually where people take selfies.” Marina shouts to us. She offers to take our photos but I’m too in awe of the landscape to take the time to dig through my bag and get a camera. And besides, it would be difficult for a single image to capture the feeling of being so tiny in front of such a breathtakingly beautiful landscape. As we end the trip and begin to paddle back I find myself unwilling to get out of the kayak. I can’t believe it’s already been two hours since we started. I’m smiling from ear to ear and am in a state of total relaxation. Marina smiles at me knowingly, that’s what kayaking in Lofoten will do to you.

Text: Michelle Spinei