Accommodation, Businesses and more pictures from Øksnes
Øksnes municipality has approximately 4.500 inhabitants a covers a area of 319,1 km2. The administrative center in the muncipality is in Myre. In order to get around the islands in Vestbygda and Skogsøya, you will need a boat. A round trip here is truly balsam for the soul. Areas with separate cultural-historical theme pamphlets: Langenesværet, Skogsøya, Fiskeværene. The founding in the mid-1950s of Øksnes-Langenes Fishing Industry (locally called the Freezer, since the factory produces frozen fish fillets) is primarily responsible for the increase in population.
Kanstadfjord in the east and Øksfjord in the west are the most prominent fjords for varied outdoor activities. Øksfjord is the gateway to Møysalen National Park and is one of the starting points for excursions to the top of Møysalen (1.262 metres). Svællingen landscape preserve comprises nearly 400 islands and holms outside of Vestbygd, an often visited area for small boat outings and paddling.
Whale safaris, seal safaris, sea bird safaris, fishing trips, boat excursions, fjord cruises or combinations of all of these ingredients are things you can experience in Øsknes. But be aware of the special opportunities for scuba diving. The Queen’s Route between Stø and Nyksund is reviewed in the section entitled Trip Suggestions. A shorter trip runs from Stø to Skipssanden, where pebble beaches, sand and a dip in the North Atlantic at 69 degrees NL and 8 degrees C in the water will be remembered for a spell!
Among the less ambitious excursions, a ramble along the old road above Strengelvågsstraumen (part of the Norwegian Road Museum), to Gisløyskaga and Årnholmsneset, plus a child friendly trip out to Reinøysundet and Gossen, Myres most frequented bathing beach, are recommended.
In Vestbygda, a trip to the summit of Tindstiden (468 metres) is a must (access from the north). And at Skogsøya, a trip up Stigkollen (707 metres) will offer a stunning view, as well as encounters with birds and reindeer that you will be scarcely able to find any other place. The islands in Vestbygda – with the inviting sandy beaches at Tindsøya, Sunderøya, Dyrøya, Nærøya, Langøya, Sandholmen, Børrøya, Hjellsandøya and Skogsøya – offer paddling adventures that may vary from the laid-back, in grand style, to the most challenging of ordeals. Exercise caution in inclement weather conditions.
Today, there is only one fish feed factory on the harbour, and it stands as the industrial mainstay of the community. In Alsvåg, the municipality’s next largest town, employment is also dominated by fishing and fish-farming. Traditional coastal culture is nonetheless well represented in Øksnes, especially outside of the municipal centre.
The most easily accessible of these are Nyksund and Stø, communities still infused with tradition, despite the fact that modern and commercial enterprises are increasingly present. Even more genuine are the fishing villages in Vestbygda – shining examples of a by-gone time that modern development has not yet managed to erase.
A round trip on the western side of the island cluster has many an adventure in store – either as a passenger on the shuttle speedboat "Tinden", or on one’s own. Øksnes and Breistrand at Skogsøya, Tinden, Skipnes, Finnvågan and Barkestad – all of these places are highlights along a coastal-cultural round trip.
Regardless of the time of year you visit - with the mystical Midnight sun, a spectacular thunderstorm or the magical Northern Lights. The polar night occurs when the night lasts for more than 24 hours. This occurs only inside the polar circles.
Myre is the administrative centre of the municipality and is located on the northwestern part of the island of Langøya in the Vesterålen. Myre is one of the largest fishing villages in all of Norway. Myre Church is located in this village and is a relatively young town with a history of rapid development. A hundred years ago, only one percent of the inhabitants lived here; now six out of ten Øksnes citizens reside in the municipal centre.
The reason for this large growth is a combination of a good fishing harbour and the development of industry. Skrei from Myre is sold by Harrods, UKs most luxurious department store in London.
Parallel with Myre’s growth during the 1950s, the village of Nyksund became a backwater. Larger vessels required larger harbours. Nyksund was struck by stagnation, depopulation and deterioration. From 1975 until the late 90s, the old fishing village lay in near ruins. But like the mythical Phoenix, this "ghost town" has arisen to become one of the most interesting places in the entire region.
Nyksund is under reconstruction and renovation, and both Norwegians and foreigners are moving here. Today the venerable fishing village promotes itself more and more visibly as a centre for cuisine and art. A visit here should almost be obligatory for all tourists!
In neighbouring Stø, the fishing industry is holding its own. But here also new ventures have been established, both in traditional fishing industry and in tourism. Stø is a fishing village located on the northern tip of the island of Langøya , along the Gavlfjorden. Today Stø is a popular destination for caravan campers, as well as a point of departure for the whale safaris, where an encounter with the spermaceti whale in its natural habitat becomes the optimal goal. Both Nyksund and Stø are excellent vantage points for viewing the midnight sun. The atmosphere, location and architecture are the trademarks of Nyksund and Stø.
Anda Island is a nature reserve with a large population of birds and seals located approximately 5 kilometres north of the island of Langøya. Species of birds that can be spotted on the island include the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), puffins (Fratercula arctica), cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo), shags (Phalacrocorax aristotelis), kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla), common guillemots (Uria aalge), and razorbills (Alca torda).
Just east of Stø, however, lies a true old-fashioned fishing village, Langenes. It is difficult to imagine that this was once Vesterålens largest "city" during the Middle Ages. The information board in front of the 400-year-old Langenes Church (Vesterålen´s oldest) recounts the historical tale.
ØKSNES COMMUNITY MUSEUM
Øksnes Community Museum in Alsvåg relates the development of fisherman-farmer history during more recent times. There is also an archaeological exhibit, the Alsvåggården, which houses the museum and which once comprised 16 separate buildings. Three of these have been preserved and restored, including the manor house, which is period 1880-style and one of the oldest in North Norway. In addition, there is an old country store and post office. The museum is partially wheelchair-friendly, and there are tours conducted by guides.
Øksnes Church (notched log construction from the 1500s – sister church to Langenes Church) and Breistrandgården (1730) on Skogsøya.
At Tinden, one finds the municipality’s drawing card, the realm of legendary Skjalg Halmøy (1914-2002), now deceased. The buildings in this quaint fishing village from 1700-1800 are still intact, however, and they are preserved and guaranteed to be unscathed by new technology. The old general store – with its work boots, fishermen’s caps and sugar candies still for sale – is open for business during the summer season.
Neighbouring Skipnes, on the other hand, is a relatively modern fishing village, but lost status when modern fishing industries replaced the conventional fish-processing methods. During recent times, Skipnes has been restored and is now operated as a holiday centre. At Skipnes, there are specially designed facilities for sports diving. Skipnes is also the base camp for the international Arctic Sea Kayak Festival during the last week of July. The area is also definitely recommended for individual paddling adventures.
The old school buildings at Finnvågan have also been restored and serve as a holiday centre.
Barkestad is the only fishing village in Vestbygda that still boasts permanent residents year-round. Here there is still a fishing station and trading centre. The remainder of the stops on the local shuttle boat route are inhabited only by seasonal tourists.
Vesterålen has rich and varied bird life. The nutrient-rich ocean areas surrounding the islands normally provide abundant food for aquatic bird fauna. All of the usual bird species at the northern latitudes are represented. Among the rarer species is the black-tailed godwit, which nests on the island of ‘Andøy in Norway. The northern fulmar and northern gannet are two rare species found only on seaward shores. The puffin, razor-billed auk, guillemot, European shag, heron and swan are interesting fauna on the seashore. The white-tailed eagle has enjoyed a strong comeback during recent years. The most well-known bird rocks lie off the coast at Nykvåg, Hovden in Bø and in Bleik on Andøya.
Fish have always been the very basis for life in Vesterålen, particularly owing to the proximity of the rich fishing fields off the coast. Fish species that are common along the entire coast are also found in great numbers in the Vesterålen area. Cod, haddock, saithe, redfish, wolffish, salmon, herring, tusk, ling, flounder, halibut, squid and crabs are the most important edible species. The most significant economic resource, however, is the spawning cod fishery during the winter, an activity that attracts large numbers of local and visiting fishermen – both before and after the annual Lofoten fishery during January-April. During the autumn, large influxes of herring dominate fishing activity.
Skrei from Myre in Vesterålen is sold by Harrods, UKs most luxurious department store in London.
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