Stories from my travels around the world


 

The West Coast of Sweden

Käringön

Karingon
Käringön

This page is about a tiny little island and village on the West-Coast of Sweden. This island is not about things that you 'must-see', it is more a sort of 'must-be'. An island that is not about any highlights or must do's. It all boils down to the feeling you have when walking around on the island while enjoying some good food, the beautiful views and above all feeling relaxed. On this page you'll find a few tips, a bit of the islands history, and of course some personal impressions and images. I hope you will enjoy reading it and maybe even be convinced to take a detour and go here! I promise you won't regret it!

Käringön

Käringön

Käringön is one of those little islands that you just have to see to believe that it exists. It's a tiny little island with a history that dates back to the 16th century, when the first fishermen came to the island.

The island had its heydays between 18th and 19th century, a time when herring was in high demand. The fishman salted and dried the fish on the island, but all of that is now a thing of the past. The feeling is still there though, with colourful houses clinging closely together on the grey rocks, overlooking the clear blue sea.

The only way to reach the island is by boat, which is not a bad thing, because the ferry trip is wonderful and that alone would make a trip to Käringön worth while to do! The ferry goes a few times a day back and forth between the little village of Hälleviksstrand (on the western part of the big island of Orust) and Käringön.

Don't forget to enjoy lunch at the restaurant Peterson's Krog! This is an absolute must when on this island, because of its ambiance and delicious food.

The village of Käringön

Käringön

The village of Käringön is small. About 130 people live here all year round and an interesting fact is that 180 of the islands 200 houses were build before 1920. It is a charming place to walk through, which of course has to be done in a leisurely pace, as everything seems to slow down as soon as you set foot on this little island.

It's wonderful to walk through the small winding streets and admire the little houses. And it is almost impossible not to dream away and just imagine owning one of these places and living on this isolated place for a few days in the summer.

Käringön Käringön

The busy little harbour

Harbour Käringön Harbour Käringön

The village is concentrated around the harbour on the northern side of the island, which is by far the busiest part of the island. Although 'busy' is probably not the correct word for it, 'cosy' is maybe more a word that I would use.

This is where the ferry arrives, where the little fish store is located and you can even find a small supermarket on the water's edge. On the other side of the harbour you'll find a few restaurants (of which my favourite of Peterson's Krog), some handicraft and souvenir shops, the hotel and also the youth hostel. So in short: all you'll need for your stay on the island is concentrated around the harbour. Not surprising that this is where everyone ends up at some point.

The island

Käringön

Only a few metres from the harbour area it is all peace and quiet that you will find. A lovely walk through the village will soon bring you to the empty space on the south side of the island.

The island is maybe best described as a rocky surface sticking out from the sea. Some shrubs and plants are spread out over the surface, and patches of heather bring colour to the grey rocks while the honeysuckle will surprise you with its wonderful scent.

It is a joy to walk around the island and take in the views and the sounds of the sea which can be seen and heard from every spot on the island (yes, the island is quite small!). On a lovely sunny summer day it is perfect to take a dip in the sea from the rocky shores at one of the bathing areas.

What's in a name?

statue at Käringön

I love this little island, but there is one thing that for me doesn't win the beauty prize: the statue called "Käringen" at the harbour. The statue is huge, you really can't avoid it, and well, I am not sure if that is such a positive thing. But on the other hand, it is funny in a way.....

The name "Käringen" for the statue clearly has been taken from the name of the island Käringön. "Ön" means "the island", so this is "Käring" island. And this word "käring" would mean either "loved one" or if spelled as "kärring" it would mean something like "old woman". So one would immediately think that the name of the island has to do with one or the other. But this is actually far from the truth.

The name "Käringön" is most likely borrowed from the Gaelic word "cairn". A cairn is an artificial pile of stones, often in a conical form. In Scandinavia the use of so called "sea cairns" were common for the purpose of navigation (In Swedish called kümmel). These sea cairns were usually painted white to increase visibility from the sea. And that the island of Käringön would need such a navigation marker isn't as surprising as the waters around the island are quite tricky to navigate during stormy weather.

So maybe they should change the giant lady statue at the harbour for a huge pile of white painted stones some day to do the name of the island justice :-)