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The bow of the old wooden boat glides forward, as the well-used oars push the water back. Line Nicolaysen fixes her gaze on the traditional boat as it passes.

‘Sitting here on the rocks in silence, resting your eyes on the expanse of the horizon, until the sun sets in the sea. The force, the tide, the waves, the wind, the rush. There’s something about the sense of peace you get that’s simply unbeatable,’ she says with a sigh of pleasure.

Veiholmen is situated in the far north of the Møre coast, even further out than Smøla and as far west as you can get dry-shod. Line owns a tourism company here, comprising a restaurant and guesthouse, with her sister Hilde Røinås.

‘Veiholmen was once the biggest fishing village south of Lofoten. The area has been settled for thousands of years back in time,’ she tells us.

‘Proximity to the sea was synonymous with proximity to food. One hour less to row meant one hour more to catch fish. Everyone had boats of different sizes, and everybody fished. They might find a small patch of grass for a cow, a few hens and a pig to slaughter at Christmas time, but fish formed the essence of their existence. They navigated in the dark by the sounds of the different skerries. There’s still one old guy here who can do that.’

Experience Veiholmen

The two sisters from Grimstad started their Veiholmen project in 2015. Both they and their opportune idea were well received by the locals.

'We were born and grew up by the sea, in Southern Norway. Veiholmen is considerably more dramatic,’ Line underlines, pointing to the exposed surroundings.

‘We wanted to make a go of it here. To share it with other people.'

Superlatives abound when she describes this paradise in Western Norway.

‘You can walk out to the lighthouse and watch the weather, or do the ‘småttan’ walk between the grassy alleyways between the houses. The houses lie in clusters, arranged to protect each other from the unpredictable wind from the south-west.

The area around Veiholmen has what could well be one of the loveliest archipelagos in all of Norway.

‘The abundance of islets, skerries and sandbanks are perfect for diving and kayaking. You can go on an eagle safari, visit Viking graves, enjoy the delicious fare of northern Møre, or learn about the area’s history at the coastal culture centre ‘Brenneriet’.'

The centre keeps old traditions alive, by organising a wooden boat regatta, restoring old boats and teaching people to row.

‘If you get the chance, go and see the local male choir ‘Karrain’. People love singing traditional songs out here. In the olden days, the men used to gather in the boathouses in their spare time to sing.' 

© Fjord Norway

Respect for the sea

Today, the weather gods have served up an almost flat clam sea, although Line finds the winter storms every bit as appealing as the summer sun and warm breeze.

‘The weather is very changeable out here. One moment, you can be sitting in a south-westerly with your hair blowing sideways, and two minutes later the wind changes and it’s blowing in the opposite direction. The wind from the north-west makes the biggest waves, with breakers rolling in towards Veiholmen straight from the Atlantic, giving the solid breakwater the chance to prove its worth. I wouldn’t venture out beyond the breakwater in a north-westerly, no way.'

The breakwater was built from rock that was blasted when the harbour was created on Veiholmen in the 1930s. Thus killing two birds with one stone: A safe and sheltered harbour, and a breakwater to protect the community from storm surges.

The breakwater already proved its worth just a few years after it was built. Storms had been raging for days when huge waves started crashing onto the land.

‘It was the early hours of Sunday. The fishermen were off work, and most of the people on the island lay sleeping in their beds. That was probably what saved them. Nobody died, but they found fish from the depths of the ocean far inland.

The huge waves of the 1938 storm swallowed 25 buildings; boathouses, wharfs and outbuildings. The sea also flooded several homes, and around 30 boats disappeared or were smashed to pieces by the force of the massive waves.

‘Without the breakwater, twice as many would probably have been lost,’ the history-interested tourism enthusiast muses.

A gull cries in the distance. Line brushes away a blonde lock of hair that the breeze keeps pushing in front of her face.

‘There wouldn’t be any life out here if it wasn’t for the sea. Fear never stopped people from putting to sea to fish.'

The expression ‘the sea giveth and the sea taketh away’ has been part and parcel of life out here.

‘They watch that those of us without much experience don’t become too reckless. They have long lived close to the sea and the threat it poses, and have a lot of respect for it.’

Living history

Veiholmen is still a living fishing village. Most of the people who live on Veiholmen are from families with fishing backgrounds.

‘Many people have a small fishing boat moored in the inner harbour and chug off daily to catch fish for themselves or to deliver to a fish landing facility. The locals often value their old venerable wooden boat more than their car. But if the road hadn’t come 40 years ago, Veiholmen would probably have been abandoned, like so many other places,’ Line assumes.

There is a strong sense of community on the island.

‘On Veiholmen, people "go where there’s light", as they say. If the lights are on in a house, the neighbours are welcome to visit, unannounced. If you don’t want visitors, you have to lock the door and turn off the lights. The people are open and inclusive, and used to looking after each other.’

Line mentions the parties ‘at the hall’, as an example. Three long tables are set and people come together, whether they’re 18 or 80. To talk, to sing and to dance.

‘The openness of the people also applies to those who come to explore the fishing village. They are used to "strangers" turning up with the tide, and a smile or "hi" often gets a pleasant conversation going.’

Only weather

Line goes quiet for a moment, casts her gaze across the islets, skerries and sea.

‘You can gaze unhindered. Everything is open. Free. There’s such a sense of space. Sharing all this with others is an experience in itself. You don’t need a car, you can cycle or walk. Go for a walk out onto the breakwater, sit down on a bench and breathe out. Look at the sea. Really look at the sea. Getting a bit of head space is good for us now and again,’ Line concludes.

Looking at the sea is a meditative experience. The sound of the sea calms the constant stream of thoughts that bombard us.

‘Feel how great just being in the moment feels. Let yourself be drawn in; look at the waves, look at the colours as they change, look at the gannets and eagles gliding above, or a solitary heron.’ 

© Fjord Norway

The wildlife here is wild and beautiful. The area is home to Northern Europe’s largest population of breeding sea eagles, with 50 pairs breeding here each year. You can see otters, seals and killer whales, and squid, bluefin tuna, scallops and lobsters live in the sea. The guides at the kayaking firm Smøla kajakk know every sound, bay and islet.

‘Kayaking out here is just indescribable, there are so many islets and skerries. They’re so close together that, in some places, you have to paddle with your hands as there’s no room for oars. And the sandbanks below the turquoise water are teeming with life,’ Line eagerly reports.

‘If you’re lucky, you’ll see the Northern lights dancing above you, and, when the sea is compliant, evening kayaking trips are organised beyond the breakwater, giving you the chance to kayak into the sunset.'

It’s absolutely magical.

© Fjord Norway

We have passion for the ocean

The ocean has a magical way of capturing our attention and Fjord Norway’s coast is no exception. Experience our sandy beaches, go surfing, try kayaking among a myriad of islands and reefs or just be present in the moment. Meet welcoming locals, taste fantastic seafood and share our passion for the ocean!

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