The Norwegian Holiday Paradise Island

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The Norwegian Holiday Paradise Island

Søndre Sandøy is the Hvaler archipelago’s outermost outpost. A short trip across the strait Sekken is Sweden. No cars are allowed on the Norwegian holiday paradise island. Cabin and camping guests must carry their belongings in wheelbarrows or on bicycles.

Søndre Sandøy has lovely sandy beaches, good cycle paths and a rich plant life (540 different species have been registered). Gravningsundet is an idyllic pearl between the two islands. At Nedgården there is both a pleasant café and pottery gallery, while Stuevika is the place to be if you want to put up a tent.

The Norwegian Holiday Paradise Island
Søndre Sandøy, Hvaler. Photo: Visit Hvaler

Related: Five Star Camping in Norway

Norwegian Holiday Paradise Island for rich cabin owners and camping tourists alike
Bring your bike! Here, on the car-free island there are so many wide and narrow paths that it would take days to get to know them all, so here the bike comes in handy. The coastal trail on Søndre Sandøy is just a tiny part of the large network of paths on Norway’s most forested island.

Unsprayed vegetables are sold from a farm. Put 30 kroner in the milk bucket and take a bag of sun-warmed tomatoes or potatoes that still smell of soil. The cucumbers cost even less. The island is a holiday paradise for locals from the area and people from the capital of Norway who can pay millions for a cabin. But camping tourists with tents are also warmly welcomed.

The Norwegian Holiday Paradise Island
From Gravingsund. Photo: Wikipedia

Related: Four Best Camping Sites in Norway

Two ferry jetters
Søndre Sandøy has two ferry jetters, Nedgården and Gravningsund at Buvika. A fine gravel road connects these, but there are many other paths that will bring you to bathing spots on the east coast. The island has some dark woods with uneven terrain, but also beautiful countryside with lovely flower meadows.

The coastal trail starts at the island’s ferry landing in the south, Nedgården. From here the trail makes a swing of the southern part of the island (approximately 3.5 km). It then winds through woods, agricultural landscapes and then down to beautiful sandy beaches.

Related: Everyman’s Right in Norway

A former sizeable fishing industry
In the decades before 1900 the fishing and processing of herring was a sizable industry, not least in Gravningsundet. The large red buildings on both sides of the sound that were part of the industry are still existent.

At Nedgården Café Oline, with a pub, restaurant and entertainment, is open all summer long. It is a popular place – many ferry passengers going directly from the jetty to the café – but also an important component in keeping Nedgården a small, but thriving community on the island.

As a curiosity it is worth going round the southern promontory to Grøtvika. Here you will find a disused gneiss quarry from which the façade stone for Oslo City Hall was taken.

The Norwegian Holiday Paradise Island
At Nedgården is Café Oline, with a pub, restaurant and entertainment all summer long. Photo: Visit Østfold

The landscape on the island changes frequently, and sometimes instantly, when you’re biking on the island. Green meadows and farmland, stately wooden villas from the 1800’s and red boathouses, forest with a delicious scent of pine needles, sandy beaches and an open archipelago landscape with bare polished rocks and islets – makes your bicycle ride an idyllic experience.

Stuevika Camping site, on the east coast, is run by the regional coastal authority. The camp on the beach is far from all traffic noise or the uproar of nightlife. Nor will you be woken early in the morning by suitcases trundling on cobblestones. The children will be safe in the long shallows of the beach. It’s the ideal spot if you love the sun, but hate the stress of package tours. But be aware, there’s no luxury here!

Feature image (on top):Gjøvika beach. Photo: Visit Østfold

The Norwegian Holiday Paradise Island, written by Tor Kjolberg

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