WESTERN NORWAY’S PRETTY WHITE BEACHES
One of our main goals for the summer’s epic road trip was to visit the pretty sandy, white beaches on the coast of Bremanger and Kinn in Western Norway. Until this spring, when Norwegian’s started exploring sites close to home on full speed and Instagram and Facebook were filled with beautiful images of all corners of the country, I had an idea that beaches like this could only be found in Lofoten further north.
Assuming is never a good idea. Only a day’s drive from Voss, we found large beaches clustered between steep mountains, cute small villages and the north sea. We spent four days beach hopping between Grotlesanden, Vetvika and Refviksanden.
GROTLESANDEN IN ALL KINDS OF WEATHER
We realised early on that we would not get that perfect beach weather with a clear blue sky and close to 30 degrees celcius like we experienced earlier this summer. The upside was that we got the beaches almost to ourselves. First stop was Grotlesanden beach in Bremanger. 700 metres of white sand that several times has been listed as the most beautiful beach in Norway.
Upon arrival clouds covered the backdrop of mountains and the temperature were as low as 10 degrees in the air. Nevertheless, can you have a beach like this to your self without swimming? Nope. And so we did. It was not the day for lingering in the water, but we could at least tick that of the list!
When first on the islands of Bremanger, a visit to the old fishing village Kalvåg is a must. Wander around the colourful boathouses, hike up to the view point above town and get panoramic views of the islands or go shopping in one of the cosy boutiques. Knutholmen in Kalvåg is said to have one of the country’s best seafood restaurants and a stay in one of their apartments or boathouses can be recommended. We did not stay long enought to eat, but drove back towards Grotlesanden and parked our motorhome at Iglandsvik Marina instead.
HIKING WITH A BEACH VIEW
To our surprise, the sun came to visit the next morning. It was the perfect day for hiking. The trail to Veten starts right by the beach and that was were we set off. When standing on the beach looking up the steep and rocky mountainside looks almost impenetrable. The first leg of the hike is steep, but the path is well marked and the view outstanding. As soon as you are up the first steep section, you reach the mountain plateau of Bremangerlandet and the terrains flattens.
5 kilometres after starting by the beach you reach Veten summit at approx. 530 masl. There is a small daytrip cabin at the top where you can enjoy the views of the north sea. Return the same way and opt for a well deserved dip in the ocean.
VETVIKA BAY – A WELL KEPT SECRET UNTIL 2020
Vetvika was our next beach on the list. It is not far from Grotlesanden, but only reachable by foot or boat. Until 1951 there was a small community of farmers living here. It was a harsh life without roads and electricity. As the bay faces directly west towards the north sea it is also prone to wind and storms, especially in autumn and winter. Nowadays the old houses that are left are used as summer houses.
We started hiking in the morning and opted for doing the round trip, where we started with the shortest, but steepest path. The first leg is just over 2 km on a gravel road that climbs almost 500 elevation metres. After that your are on well marked trails. After another kilometre or so the path splits and we continued uphill to the left for another few kilometres. As soon as the path turns downhill you can spot the beach far beneath you. This view alone is worth all the effort. The hardest part is climbing down the muddy and rocky mountainside, but you can see your award everytime you lift your eyes from the trail.
Note: Hiking to Vetvika is not for everyone. You have to be physically fit and used to walking in rough terrain.
The closer to the beach we got, the more people and tents came popping up in sight. Vetvika used to be a pearl of a well kept hidden gem. Now it is not a hidden gem anymore, but it is still a pearl. There can be up to 40 tents by the beach and filled with people wishing to see the sun set in the sea at night. The saddest thing is that there are plans to develop a windmill plant on the mountain plateau above. It that happens, it might not even be a pearl anymore. Before parking by the starting point of the hike, a local women stopped us to give us a leaflet about the wind power plans. I cross my fingers and everything else that the plans can be reversed!
After walking barefoot along the beach, chatting with an older man who sat reading outside his summer house and visiting the small graveyard we started our return. Instead of going back up the muddy hill, we chose the longer but less steep route. All together we spent 5-6 hours on our almost 20 km long hike to Vetvika. If you are fit to do it, do it!
A SUNSET FOR THE MEMORY BOOKS
Back in our motorhome we continued our roadtrip north. A ferrytrip later we arrived Måløy, the town centre of Vågsøy island. Some grocery shopping and looking at street art later, we were on our way to Refviksanden beach. Another 1,5 km of a white sandy beach. The local community at Refvik runs a rather large campsite surrounding the beach. There is a payment machine by the entrance where you choose your preferred way of staying. Tents, motorhome with or without connection to electric power. We parked the car, picked up a few cans of beer and a blanket and headed for the beach.
The peaceful atmosphere here was something else. Windless and quiet, even though lots of people did like us and chilled at the beach. There were even quite a few people bathing late at night. More and more people gathered the closer to sunset, and still it was quiet. No partying, just children playing in the sand and adults laughing. At 23:06 we admired the sun setting in the sea right in front of us. It was the most perfect ending of a great day of hiking.
The next morning it was windy and Refviksanden was empty. Is it possible to be that lucky? We went for a walk in the village and started the journey towards eastern Norway.