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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