Åland has some interesting excursions at sea to offer. In addition to lighthouses, you can also visit pilot cabins, fishing villages, archipelago farmhouses and nature reserves in your own boat or on an organised trip. Here are some recommendations:
Kobba Klintar pilot station is by the approach to Mariehamn. In former times the grand old sailing ships were given piloting directions when they came to the maritime town. The station was closed down in 1972. Nowadays modern ships pass by at really close quarters. The old pilot cabin dating back to 1862 still remains, as does the new pilot house from 1910, complete with foghorn. A wooden pilot is positioned on the house’s balcony looking out over the sea. Enjoy a snack in the pilot cabin’s little café. In the summertime a tour boat runs from the fishing harbour in Mariehamn.
Källskär is an island on the outskirts of Kökar’s southern archipelago where Baron Göran Åkerhielm created his own sanctuary in the 1960s, with stone formations, cultivation areas and statues in the harsh landscape. The beautiful rocks with their Ice Age formation Källskärskannan (“the pot or jug of Källskär”) also make the island worth a visit. Tours are arranged from Kökar.
The Glada Laxen restaurant is located on the island of Bärö in the Kumlinge archipelago – it has seven rooms in the old coast guard station. Fresh fish is one of the specialities on the menu. It is worth experiencing the view from the 40-metre-tall surveillance tower. Boat transport for the guests is arranged from Kumlinge and Enklinge.
Rödhamn is situated ten nautical miles south of Mariehamn in Lemland. The Åländska Segelsällskapet runs a service harbour with a café on the island, where you can also book a sauna. You can visit the engine house of the Radiofyren, which was closed down as a radio lighthouse in 1970 and is now a museum. There is also a pilot cabin, the foundations of an old pub and a seafarers’ chapel on the islands around the sheltered harbour. In summer, there are boat excursions to Rödhamn on Mondays.
Björkör nature reserve is in Föglö’s outermost archipelago. In addition to rich plant life, it also has a well-preserved archipelago farmhouse. In the summertime a supervisor is on the spot to give guided tours at advertised times or on request. The environment agency in Åland’s Provincial Government provides more detailed information.
If you go to the restored old fishing village on Sältingskär in the Föglö archipelago, you can experience how the people who lived in the archipelago used to stay overnight when they were about to go out fishing in the outer islands and skerries. The old fishermen’s cottages were also used in the spring in the seabird hunting season. Remember the Allemansrätten (legal right of access to private land).
As far back as the Middle Ages Signilskär, west of Eckerö, was a natural stop for seafarers (including the postal route farmers) crossing the sea around Åland, when the weather was bad. The island was inhabited from the 1500s to 1935. Today only three buildings are left.