‘The ocean has always fascinated me. All that energy in constant motion, in continual flux, its mood changing from minute to minute, hour to hour. Out here, beside the vast horizon, using the sea is the best way to experience nature.

Jan Thomas Rantaniitty is the manager of Skaarnesheimen Raw Ocean Lodge. Together with three other entrepreneurs, he started one of south-west Norway’s most westerly places to spend the night, on Sandve, just south of Karmøy. Whether staying in a bungalow, cottage, one of the two hotel rooms, or the jewel in the crown – the dome – you are guaranteed to wake to the scent of the salty air and the sound of waves whispering in your ears.

After waking in a comfortable bed, stretching, and then blinking at your room with its charming hint of the 1970s, let your eyes rest for a while on the view of the sea and weather outside the window. Now it's time to venture out and devour all that the glorious western-Norwegian nature has to offer. Once you've gratified your senses and your stomach tells you it’s time to eat, you can, in the hottest months of the year, enjoy the fruits of the sea in the summer cafe.

‘Being so close to the sea gives us unrivalled access to the freshest seafood,’ the manager says proudly.

‘We gather seaweed ourselves from the crystal-clear waters and create unique culinary experiences using local herbs and organic foods.’

Jan Thomas and his associates focus on quality and sustainability when sourcing what they use, both when it comes to meals and accommodation.

‘We are currently planning to build a plant dome on site where we will grow herbs and vegetables to use in our dishes. Compost from food waste, as well as seaweed, will be mixed in the soil to produce nutrients and optimal growing conditions. That allows us to create a circular ecology,’ he says enthusiastically.

‘It can't get any more organic and low-mileage. We also want to raise awareness about marine litter and show how people’s lifestyles impact the environment and the planet.’

The swell of the North Sea normally washes white foam over the rock faces, leaving them dark and smooth. Raging waves can push so far inland that they caress the tufts of grass and flatten dry grassland.

On other days the sea can be completely calm – undulating, almost steaming, like asphalt on a hot summer’s day.

Just like it is today.

In the company of Jan Thomas's four-legged companion, we settle down on a sun-warmed rock furthest out towards the ocean. It’s not possible to get any further west in Western Norway.

‘The sea fills me with energy and joy,’ says Jan Thomas entranced.

‘It makes me feel at peace.’ Whether it's spending an afternoon paddleboarding when the ocean is showing off its calm, crystal-clear waters, or spending the day doing what I’m passionate about – surfing – on a stormy day. I also work as a marketing director for a technology company and being able leave my desk to spend time in the sea air and salt water gives me balance in life.’

Time spent by the sea brings peace and tranquillity, removes all distractions, close to the real elements of nature.

‘If you spend your life rushing around, and the experience you get out here – being in touch with the raw elements of nature – can change that, then we've achieved what we set out to achieve.’

The small island, which measures just under 180 square kilometres, is situated between Stavanger in the south and Bergen in the north, with Haugesund as its nearest town. The locals have managed to pack this relatively modest area with experiences for visitors that offer a taste of the local culture, low-mileage meals and lashings of wild West Norwegian nature. Every adventurer can find something out here that evokes joy, passion and interest.

‘The place is the result of people having a passion for what they do. Together we’re developing a sustainable eco-lodge,’ smiles Jan Thomas.

After landing a big fish, or enjoying the view from the island's highest point, you can take a stroll along the car-free roads between the low, white-painted houses in Skudeneshavn, typical of the area. Some of them double as village shops and art galleries, in the local brewery, talented young entrepreneurs produce high-quality craft beers, andlocal farmers deliver the vegetables Jan Thomas and his chefs serve with dinner.

‘Nice little cafes pop up here and there on the island. There are so many ways to develop a small community in a sustainable way. We all produce our goods with a focus on caring for nature,’ he explains.

‘When everyone focuses on and believes in the opportunities there are – if everyone in a small village pulls together – you can create a vibrant and pulsating community.’

The founders of Skaarnesheimen Raw Ocean Lodge have created a place where people feel at home and feel proud of themselves, the landscape around them, and of how they manage to live at one with the elements and forces of nature.

‘I truly believe there is a strong connection between mankind and the ocean. In order to survive in such a fast-paced society, we need a place like this.’

We finish talking and Jan Thomas stands and stretches his legs.He's now ready to recharge his batteries in the best way he knows how. With bare feet and his paddle board under his arm, he strides down to the water's edge. With his dog standing at the very front of the board, like a proud figurehead, Jan Thomas drifts away from the shore. A fan-shaped trail emerges in his wake as he sticks his paddle in the water and calmly pushes himself towards the peaceful horizon.

Jan Thomas and his four-legged friend.|© Fjord Norge AS

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