Activities in Bothnian Bay National Park
Boating is the most popular activity in the Bothnian Bay. For recreational fishermen, the sea provides clean waters, abundant with fish all year round. During the winter, ice fishing close to the sea shore is popular. It is easy to access the sea ice, as the road network extends to the shores in many places. The natural features and cultural history play a main part on the islands.
Moving in part of the area is restricted during certain seasons. Please check the situation before setting off for your excursion.
Exploring the Cultural Heritage
On the southern tip of Selkä-Sarvi Island, you will find an old fishing village at the end of a one-kilometre-long trail that starts from the harbour. The village was a seasonal fishing base, starting from the end of the 16th century. In the village, you will see the restored Ailinpieti hut from the 1860s and the Jauhola shop, which is not quite as old as the hut. The village also has a few other old huts. One of them, entitled Kokko, functions as an open wilderness hut, whilst the other, named Kalla, is a rental hut. The restored day beacon reminds the visitors of the fishing and seafaring carried out in the area in the past. There are old sundials on the island. Due to land uplift, the foundations of old huts and fishing huts, as well as small bays, are currently located on dry land. The large boundary mark entitled Piispankivi (the bishop's stone) probably dates back to the 14th century.
The state border between Finland and Sweden is one of the least guarded borders in the world. It is easy to get around at sea, as well as on land. The shoreline keeps changing, due to land uplift. Ship and boat routes must be dredged or, even, moved because of it. Amongst the typical traces that the Ice Age has left behind in the Bothnian Bay area are shallow rocky shores, moraine formations and sand deposits. The western coast of the Bothnian Bay is deeper and has more islands than the eastern coast. The Bothnian Bay is, usually, covered by ice from December to May.
There is an excursion harbour on Selkä-Sarvi Island. Beaching your boat on the other islands in the national park is difficult. The nearest boat launch sites are to be found in Tornio and Kemi. The nearest fuel distribution points are in Kemi. Uleninranta in Kemi has a service point for boaters.
Diving is allowed in the Bothnian Bay National Park anywhere except within 100 metres of areas where landing is forbidden and the Möyly grey seal protection area.
Diving in the Bothnian Bay is significantly different from diving elsewhere in the Baltic Sea as the water is brown due to high concentration of humus and the species have adapted to brackish water with low salinity or even fresh water as opposed to sea water with high salinity.
In the Bothinan Bay National Park, the diver may find some steeper rocky shores on the southern edges of the outermost islets but the shores are mostly shallow and soft in places. Many sandy or soft bottoms are covered in vascular plants and Charophyta algae. Aquatic mosses, freshwater hydroids, freshwater sponges and filamentous algae can be found on reefs and rocky shores. The fish a diver is most likely to see include small bullhead, sand goby and sometimes perch or ruffe. The majority of other fish species shy away from the diver's air bubbles.
There are also several wrecks to be found in the Bothnian Bay as the water here has always been shallow and rocky. A torch is needed when diving beyond five metres, often even in shallower depths if one wishes to study smaller details. Diving in the Bothnian Bay can give a diver a whole new perspective on Finland's long Baltic Sea coast.
- Cross-country skiing: you can ski along the sea ice to the nearest islands. Please take care of your safety!
- Fishing: The majority of the water areas of the Bothnian Bay National Park belong to the public waters of the sea, except for the Huituri water area (about 5,000 hectares). In accordance with Section 6 of the Fishing Act, each EU citizen who resides permanently in Finland has the right to engage in fishing in public waters. In addition, the citizens of Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark have the right to fish in these public waters, for domestic and recreational purposes, irrespective of their residence.
- In the Huituri area, you can go ice-fishing and hook and line fishing under everyman's rights.
- For lure fishing, you will need a fishing management fee (eraluvat.fi) and a Metsähallitus recreational fishing licence (eraluvat.fi)
- For the Huituri area, fyke and net licences are only sold to professional fishermen.
- Fishers need to check the restrictions on fishing sites at kalastusrajoitus.fi (In Finnish).
- Birdwatching: in addition to the arctic tern, which is the emblem bird for the Bothnian Bay National Park, you may also see the velvet scoter, the black guillemot, the ruddy turnstone, the temminck's stint, the little tern or the greater scaup in the archipelago.
- Nature trails: on the Selkä-Sarvi Nature Trail (1 km), you can explore the island's natural features and cultural history. Go diving along the underwater nature trail (0.8 km).
- Berry and mushroom picking: if you are lucky, you may find arctic brambles (Rubus arcticus). You are allowed to pick sea-buckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides) berries from 20th August onwards. The sea buckthorn grows close to shores.
- Canoeing and rowing: you may canoe and row between the islands and around them. The most highly skilled canoeists venture out onto the open sea.
- Sights and the views: the spacious views are appealing. The old fishing huts and the ancient relics, the well-managed traditional rural environments, the natural features shaped by land uplift.
- Swimming: most shores are rocky and fairly shallow. There are sandy beaches on the islands of Vähä-Huituri and Pihlajakari. On Selkä-Sarvi, the beach on which the sauna is located is a good swimming place. There are no restrictions on swimming. You'll swim in waters of the national park at your own risk.
- Volunteer activities: in the archipelago, volunteer work camps are arranged together with the Pidä Lappi Siistinä association (the Keep Lapland Tidy association).