Helsinki City Escapes VI: Kayaking in the archipelago

My Helsinki City Escapes are probably my favourite topic to share with you, because it’s simply my favourite thing: to get out and be in nature. I’m repeating myself all over, but Helsinki’s proximity to nature, is what makes me fall in love with my city over and over again! And kayaking is probably the easiest and also the most breathtaking way to do it.

To visitors: if you have even only half a day to fill – go out and do it. Nature is part of Helsinki and if you have great weather and love the sea, this is the perfect way to do it.

To locals: dude, if you haven’t been kayaking yet and you live in Helsinki, you’re doing it wrong. Can’t say no more.

Helsinki is a peninsula, so there is water all around is anyway. But especially the archipelago around the Eastern coast is so easily accessible and offers an amazing opportunity to be out in the wild. There are a bunch of kayak rental spots around, but the paddling center of Natura Viva in Meri-Rastila has been my favourite all along. (One of my most beautiful memories is a midsummer kayaking trip with my best friend. We picked up kayaks, paddled about and but up our tents on a random island, enjoying the endless day with red wine. Amazing.)

But even only “quick” day trips out here are the perfect way to give your mind a little rest and get some shoulder muscles while you’re at it. You can schedule guided tours with pick-up in the city centre and drive right out, or take the metro to Rastila and walk about 10 minutes from there. The equipment is well maintained, the staff friendly, skilled and helpful; also genuinely wishing for your trip to be as good as possible. I was amazed by how they actually never cancelled a trip!

“We have special rain gear for kayaking and if it’s windy we have different starting spots around so it’s easier for the guests”, tells Outi, who took us out on the kayaking trip. While out on the water we learn that there is an island exclusively for the people who work for the city of Helsinki, we see an island owned by the church that has a summer camp for kids and we waved to the lucky bastards who own cottages on the islands. Next on my list: kayak to the island that has the wood-fired sauna!

Lucky for us the weather that day took a turn for perfection, basically. Two hours before we started heading out, I was in downtown Helsinki and I looked like someone had emptied a bucket of water over me, that’s how soaken wet I was from the rainstorm there. There ended up being no wind whatsoever, but the Helsinki sky was bright and clear, shining blue and only giving us a few decorative clouds so the photos look even better. Even though it didn’t seem like much “work” to be kayaking in still water (more or less), we got some tips on how to use our muscles to our advantage: don’t paddle with your arms, but use the strength in your shoulders and your lower torso when pushing back the water (and at least I felt it in the back of my shoulders the next day!).

Nonetheless, kayaking is a sport that doesn’t feel like one. Countless times we looked at each others and sighed something along the lines of “aaah this is just SO wonderful”. And took a deep breath. We were treated to a snack and some delicious sea-buckthorn juice, all on a tiny island with a cute little beach, in a bay, with a view.

Thank you to the ladies, Laura and Inka, and of course Natura Viva for hosting us. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to spend a Friday evening like that!


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