Kayaking trip in Vestfold, Norway

Kayaking trips in Vestfold / Tønsberg

In this blog post, I will share my experience of kayaking around Nøtterøy, which is a large island located on the southwestern side of the Oslo Fjord, just south of the coastal city of Tønsberg. The trip took two days and was approximately 30km. What I think is cool about this area, is that it is not far from Norway’s capital city, Oslo (where there are 1000’s of eager paddlers in search of new kayaking locations), which means you really don’t have to travel far to have access to beautiful coastlines and slightly more exposed waters. Not everyone wants to travel all the way to Lofoten for a kayaking adventure – but if you do here is our blog post about kayaking in Lofoten – so instead, why not catch the train (only 1.5 hours) down to Tønsberg from Oslo. Talk about saving time and money, while still going on epic kayak adventures!

packing for overnight kayak trip

Our kayak trip kayaking around Nøtterøy 

Starting in the coastal city of Tønsberg, two intrepid kayakers (my girlfriend, Anoushka and I) pushed off from land and started paddling south down the Tønsberg Fjord on the western side of Nøtterøy. It started off quite scenic (see banner photo) but quickly the landscape became full of holiday homes, and there was quite the overbearing and loud presence of heavy boat traffic. Now, if you are a boat person and, also love looking at houses that are not overly unique, then these sights may excite you, but I go kayaking to experience nature and wilderness, with the wind, waves and birds as my music…not the loud roar of petroleum fuelled boat engines! Anyway, that rant is for another day!
It was a relatively short paddle down the coast, even with a headwind and, soon we were paddling eastwards through the canal that intersects Nøtterøy and Tjøme (another island). Once through the canal, we were now on the eastern side of Nøtterøy and we quickly found a lovely and quiet island to camp on – I would totally camp here again. 
The next day, we paddled north along the coast and around into the canal intersecting Nøtterøy with the mainland, in essence, paddling through Tønsberg. It was then a short paddle back to where we started at Danholmen, just outside Tønsberg. 
paddling under bridge at nøtterøy

Our route (curtesy of Norgeskart): 

kayak route around nøtterøy

What I learned for next time

  • Next time I will start by paddling eastwards and out into the archipelago off the eastern coast of Nøtterøy. Here there are far less houses and boat traffic, as the islands in this area are mostly nature reserves. 
  • Even though it was not the biggest deal, I would prefer not to paddle that stretch again with a head wind, so in hindsight I would paddle on whatever side that allows me not to have to do that – if possible! 

Other cool things to do in the Tønsberg

  • Check out other kajakkpadling.no – here 
  • Check out the viking ship in the centre of town – here 
  • Visit the old fort on top of the hill – here 
  • Visit Verdens Ende at the tip of Tjøme – here 
kayaking around nøtterøy

Tips and tricks for kayaking trips in general

  • Check out the Beaufort wind scale for learning how to recognise wind speed 
  • Norgeskart is excellent for measuring distance and seeing contours / gradient 
  • Windy for checking wind speed and direction 
  • Check out the Padleled Vestfolds project, creating a paddle route starting from Oslo, and going all the way down the coast, with little kayak huts you can stay at along the way
  • Learn how to roll a kayak
  • Check out our how to pack a kayak properly for an overnight kayaking trip
  • Remember to check the weather before you go, pack and plan accordingly, and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back – always bring a communication device that works wherever you may be going kayaking. 
  • If you want to rent kayaks in Norway you will need a våttkort. If you are planning to do multi-day trips we recommend taking at least the NPF Foundation Course in Sea Kayaking (Grunnkurs hav) or if you have never kayaked before you may want to start with the Introducti0n Course (Introkurs hav). See all of our kayak courses here.
camping with hammock

Video from our trip

You can also find more kayaking-related content on our Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVBbz8gdwrnujF3wOsFHgFw/videos

On a philosophical note 

We desperately need a change in boating culture in Norway. While kayaking around Nøtterøy, we saw a lot of boat industry-related marine pollution: oil on the surface of the water, plastic boat ropes and stray buoys, loose nets and plastic rubbish floating in the water and on the shore. This cannot continue if we want a more sustainable future. I really hope that electric boat share providers like Kruser, really take off so boat users and kayakers can all exist in harmony. If you want to help us clean up our waters then please consider supporting clean-up initiatives like the Fjord CleanUP in Oslo. 

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Self-service Kayak Rental – Bispevika, Oslo

Self-service kayak rental (kajakk utleie) in central Oslo. Book online, get a code and pick up a kayak and all equipment - it is that easy! Remember that at least one person in the group needs their våttkort. You can get your våttkort with us on our 3hr introduction to kayaking course held in central Oslo.

Accommodation Options at Mad Goats Sjoa – Heidal Valley

Camping spots (telte / campingplasser) and simple cabins for overnight (overnatting) accommodation while on your kayak course or tour in Sjoa. Enjoy the beautiful forest views and the sound of birds singing beside the Sjoa river. We also have a sauna and hot tub that you are welcome to use when staying with us in Sjoa, Heidal.

Guided whitewater kayak tours on the Sjoa, Otta and Lågen Rivers

Mad Goats can guide you down the 3 main whitewater rivers in the Sjoa and Heidal area - The Otta, Lågen and Sjoa. These rivers grade in difficulty from 1 to 3 so we can easily find the right fit for you! If you are wanting to be guided down Åsengjuvet or the Åmot sections we can arrange this but you will need to show a high level of competence first on the Sjoa play run section (Sjoa Normal) - catch you on the water!!

16hr Våttkort Basic Course in Sea Kayaking – Overnight – Lysaker

Overnight NPF Våttkort basic course (Grunnkurs i havkajakk) on Oslo Fjord. This is a beginner kayak course that runs over two-days, which includes camping overnight on an island on Inner Oslofjord. We also run the same course without the camping element if this suits you better - check out “basic course 2x days - Lysaker”. Private basic courses (Grunnkurs Havkajakk) on request.

Private SUP Beginner Course & Tour

2-hour course covering the basics of stand up paddling. Perfect for parties and team building in Oslo. This is a fun loving and easy activity suitable for the whole office! Also a great activity for an utdrikningslag where will will make sure to get the bride-to-be wet!!

Våttkort Basic Course in River Kayaking – Sjoa, Norway

NPF 2-day basic våttkort course in whitewater kayaking in the famous Sjoa valley. This is a beginner kayaking course so you do not need to have kayaked before to join. This the Norges Padleforbud “Våttkort Grunnkurs i elvepadling / elvekajakk) and you will be awarded you Grunnkurs Elv våttkort after completion. On this course you will have the opportunity to learn the kayak roll (kajakkrulle) with is a must when learning how to river kayak - it is not fun swimming down all the whitewater rapids. We have accommodation (overnatting) options if you need a place to stay overnight in Sjoa.

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