For visitors looking for tranquil and silent spaces, Kvarken has a lot of great locations to offer. You can get away from crowds and disappear into lush forests around the region to experience activities that help you recharge and reconnect with your inner self.
In our frantic world, taking the time to detox, disconnect, and reconnect in nature is often seen as a luxury. Mindfulness is something we’re all quickly losing as we rush about our daily lives. But we also know that by closing our eyes and taking deep breaths, we can calm our thoughts, fears, anxieties, and fully relax our minds.
We humans have been living in and with nature since the beginning of time, but over time, we’ve moved into more urban lifestyles and away from the forests, pastures, rivers, lakes and other natural habitats where we actually feel most at home.
That’s why when we go on vacation, we’re always looking for places and experiences to reconnect us back to what’ve lost… our bond with nature.
There are so many opportunities to relax and rejuvenate around Kvarken and you can be one with nature at Emmes Retreat, where they offer recreational packages and a calming selection of outdoor activities that include elements of nature therapy such as forest bathing, forest yoga and meditation hikes together with your hosts Ulla-Beth Mäki-Jussila and Henrik Wiik who have created the perfect place for silence out in the Finnish woods.
So, what is forest bathing?
Developed in Japan during the 1980s, “Shinrin-yoku” or forest bathing helps you fully be in the moment and experience healing effects by just being in the forest. It is often considered a form of preventive health care in Japanese medicine. Scientific research shows that spending time in forests in connection with nature has restorative effects on our bodies – both emotionally and mentally.
As you slowly walk through the forests surrounding Emmes Retreat, sounds become sharper and louder, and you’ll begin to notice small items such as berries and mushrooms that you would normally walk past without a second glance.
More importantly, you begin to fully relax in nature. This feeling is called Biophilia, which is our natural capacity to feel at home very quickly in forests and out in nature.
When we spend time outdoors, we begin to rejuvanate in a way that feels very natural to us.
Forest bathing sessions can last a few hours and the experience invites silence. Staying at Emmes Retreat is a full mindfulness experience, so make sure you take a refreshing early morning swim in the lake as the sun rises above the treetops, and relax with a lakeside sauna experience at the end of the day.
Another way to connect with nature is to be awed by its grandness, and on the Swedish side of Kvarken, Höga Kusten Walkabout will take you on an exhilarating hike along the rising land of the High Coast. You can go hiking in Skuleskogen National Park through majestic spruce and pine forests with spectacular views of the Gulf of Bothnia and other landscapes around the UNESCO World Heritage High Coast. You can also visit islands such as Ulvön and Mjältön – the highest sea island in the Baltic Sea – and hike along their coastlines.
Reconnecting with nature doesn’t have to be a physical outdoor activity. It could simply mean sleeping out with direct views of the starry night sky as northern lights dance across in curtains of green and red. And there are many unique lodging opportunities across Kvarken which will get you closer to nature than ever before – from tree houses perched atop gently swaying trees to isolated lighthouses that invite silence and opportunities to detox and disconnect, while being on a remote island.
On the small steep island of Högbonden is where you’ll find the old lighthouse Högbonden fyr. While modest in its lodging, its goal is to get you away from the everyday trappings of luxury into a tranquil and quiet atmosphere high above the Gulf of Bothnia, where you can relax, explore and be at peace with nature.
Similarly on the other side of the Bothnian sea, in the Finnish archipelago, Tankar Island offers you an opportunity to disconnect with the everyday humdrum of life and reconnect with nature in an original and genuine archipelago way of living. There is a weathered wooden guest cabin located on the cozy island village, where you can truly live as close to nature as you can with very limited resources, while listening to the gentle lapping of waves in the Baltic Sea.
By the time you return from the island, you’ll leave with deeper appreciation of what it truly means to relax and still your mind.
If you would rather connect with nature in more unusual ways, you can try sleeping in tree houses or cabins with unrestricted views of surrounding river and forests. On the Swedish side of Kvarken, situated along the Umeälven River in the lush countryside, Granö Beckasin offers unique bird’s nest lodging in one of six tree houses.
As the sun sets, you can enjoy airy views of the river from your tree hut, take in the sounds of nature, and sleep as it gently rocks you to sleep from the movement of the trees. A benefit of its riverside location is that you can enjoy hiking trails along the shore, or even paddle a canoe or ride a raft, at sunset across the river’s still waters.
Better yet, why not take a swim as the sun dips for the night?
If you prefer a view of the calming Baltic Sea, the midnight sun overhead, or gazing at millions of stars sparkling in the dark night directly from your bed, the glass houses at Kalles Inn is the perfect choice for you. Situated in the Finnish archipelago, where urban life ends and living in nature begins, these glass houses represent a middle ground between the full comfort of a hotel room and the wild elements outside. You can rest and relax in fully soundproof huts with a 180° degree view over the sea and horizon after a day of exploration or a visit to the traditional smoke sauna or the lighthouse sauna found at the property.
Another place where you can enjoy nature from the comfort of modern and fully equipped lodging, are the stand alone cabins at Glasbruket Resort, also located in the constantly rising Kvarken archipelago. These large cabins are perfect for families, companies or groups of friends looking for a unique place to rejuvenate out in nature. Each building is equipped with a glassed-in patio, three bedrooms, fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, private sauna and a luxurious outdoor spa.
Whichever experience you choose to reconnect with nature in Kvarken, you’ll be returning home refreshed and ready to reconnect with renewed energy.