Some may have noticed that I love the sea and the islands, I suppose growing up on or close to islands have something to do with it. Anyway, when we moved to Helsinki, we decided that every summer we’ll try to visit one island we haven’t been to before. Helsinki and the neighbouring city of Espoo have quite a lot of islands that are easy to access but somehow in the daily lives we don’t end up enjoying those opportunities that much. When we go, we tend to visit the same ol’, but all in their own way lovely, ones like Seurasaari, Tervasaari and Mustasaari, Pihlajasaari, the zoo on Korkeasaari or the fort Suomenlinna. Pyysaari and Harakka are a couple of those we haven’t been to more than once, even though I’d be happy to go back. One can visit them all by crossing a bridge or taking a very reasonably prices ferry/ boat.
This time we decided to celebrate Midsummer by exploring Kaunissaari. The Kaunissaari we went to is an island that Helsinki uses for recreational purposes but I think it actually is a part of Sipoo (but if you google, be aware that there are other recreational islands with the same name in Finland). There is a boat leaving to Kaunissaari from Vuosaari in the far east of Helsinki, please find the schedules here. The boat trip takes an hour and a return trip costs 20e per adult. It is a fair bit more than for the most boat trips to Helsinki islands, which might be because this one is a bit further out but also because it is a private boat taking passengers (I think…).
The islands itself is beautiful and, even though there are rental cottages (outrented looooong before the summer season) and a fair bit of people visiting the island, it is very much in a natural state. People have mostly respected the nature and used the paths. One can also rent one of the two saunas there. As we were pretty spontaneous in our decision to camp on Kaunissaari, we obviously took our new tent along. We did promise to borrow our old one to our friends, but realised on the boat that we had forgotten to take it along. Ah well, 7 people in one tent for 5 was very cosy.
It is easy to camp on Kaunissaari in the way that they have 5 taps with drinking water, showers with the best views (maybe even for the spectators… no, we didn’t use them, too cold for a swim) and also 5 cooking shelters with fire places. Apart from those places one is not allowed to have a fire on the island. There are also dunnies on a few places, and they were quite tidy. Pitching the tent up for one night cost us 15e but they also have rates for those who choose to camp for a week, monts or the whole summer. It surprised us how many were actually camping there long term. A woman told us that last summer she had only visited mainland twice. She was able to stay on the island as there is a “shop boat” coming twice a week. There is also a restaurant but we couldn’t figure out it’s open hours. Next to the restaurant there is a small playground.
At midsummer they light the traditional bonfire at 9pm on Kaunissaari. We didn’t see it as we choose to camp on the other side of the island and being out in the fresh air the whole day made our kids ask if they could go to bed shorty after 7pm! But I did take a picture of the beach were we camped at 11.15 pm just because it was beautiful. And overall a great way to celebrate midsummer!
P.S. For the ones not speaking Finnish, here is a crash course: if you haven’t guessed it so far, then ‘saari’ at the end of the island names really means island.