The nature of Åland is formed by the interaction between land and sea. Wherever you walk you are close to the water and wherever you sail you are close to land. The Åland Islands are quite windy and quite sunny. If the summer rains away in other northern regions you'll usually find a spot of sunshine in Åland. When you venture further out into the archipelago you will notice the vegetation becoming more barren and the pine trees becoming more crooked. On the largest island - "mainland Åland" - forests as well as meadows are larger. The massive pressure and violent erosion of the ice age have worn the rocky islands into smooth, rounded shapes and created many interesting geological formations.
Åland is called Ahvenanmaa in Finland, which means "Perch land". Perch is a tiger striped and tasty, but not the only fish that is abundant in the waters. Almost all cabin rentals include fishing options and the possibility of renting an equipped fishing boat or even a guide. The Åland Islands are a very popular destination for sport fishing, with the great pike as the favorite challenge to catch. During winter, people head out onto the frozen bays to drill holes in the ice for fishing.
If the weather conditions have been favorable, the forests will be full of mushrooms and berries by fall and 2017 was a record year for mushrooms. Out on the more remote islands you can find the delicious cloudberries growing in their fields and wild strawberries are found here and there. Even though the forests aren't big, they are populated by many elk and more than 25 000 deer. Hunting elk, deer, birds and other game is an ancient tradition glueing together society. If you want to hunt this fall, there are several hunting guides to help you make the best experience.
There is an abundance of birds in Åland and around the islands of Föglö you have a good chance of spotting the impressive white tailed eagle, several bird watching towers have been erected by hiking trails. Seals usually stay in the outer part of the archipelago, where they can be seen on small skerries by the dozens, basking in the sunshine.
The definite way to get the best nature experience in Åland is to get out on the water. To fish, sail, paddle or just explore. Most cabin rentals have boats or kayaks for their guests. During winter you can go on long distance ice skating between the islands. If you're a landlubber, there are many and varying hiking trails to explore.
Good to know
Emergencies at sea
The Åland Sea Rescue saves human lives and assists in case of wreckage. They have several bases around the archipelago and assist during serious accidents, pull grounded boats or tow if there is a motor failure.
The Meteorological Institute gives a forecast everyday for the weather at sea and issues warnings for heavy winds. The weather of the Baltic sea can shift on short notice.
Fishing is regulated in Åland. You need to purchase a fishing license for the area you would like to fish in. The license is not expensive and money collected is invested in conservation efforts.
Many people want to enjoy the summer evenings on the smooth boulders by the water. The strong heat from a bonfire will crack the rock and destroy it for eternity. Make your bonfire on gravel or sand beaches instead. The risk of forest fires can be extremely high during summer, therefore never make your fire on the forest soil. During prolonged dry weather any making of fire can be prohibited.
Bug spray is always recommended during summer. Be aware of ticks if you walk in forests or meadows. A good way to get rid off them is having a sauna in the evening. Be aware of symptoms of lyme disease if you've had a tick bite.
Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times to not disturb the wildlife.
Algae blooms can occur during summer. Some of these are poisonous to people and especially to dogs. The algae are recognised by their blueish green color.
Please close all gates behind you so the cattle doesn't escape. Do not tread on the farmers' crops.
Embarsund in Föglö