Käringön is one of those little islands that you just have to see to believe that it exists. It's a tiny little island with a history that dates back to the 16th century, when the first fishermen came to the island.
The island had its heydays between 18th and 19th century, a time when herring was in high demand. The fishman salted and dried the fish on the island, but all of that is now a thing of the past. The feeling is still there though, with colourful houses clinging closely together on the grey rocks, overlooking the clear blue sea.
The only way to reach the island is by boat, which is not a bad thing, because the ferry trip is wonderful and that alone would make a trip to Käringön worth while to do! The ferry goes a few times a day back and forth between the little village of Hälleviksstrand (on the western part of the big island of Orust) and Käringön. You can find more info about the ferry under the transportation tips.
Don't forget to enjoy lunch at the restaurant Peterson's Krog! This is an absolute must when on this island, because of its ambiance and delicious food.
I fell in love with this house when I saw a photo of it on Simone’s page. First I thought that this is just a little summer house but when we were on Kärinön I realised that this is another of these pilot lookout houses, similar as the one on Gullholmen. They have been used during the days when meteorological forecasts and weather measures weren’t that advanced. But this little house looked as if it would still be in use. The weather measurement devices like the anemometer are still there and there was a thermos standing on the window board inside. The one who uses it might be a lover of India, given this cute porcellain blue-white elephant which stood near the ladder to the house. Views from above are exceptional, even in the cloudy weather we had on that day.
The little lookout is located in the western part of the island. It is easy to get there, just follow the main path uphill. Wear comfortable shoes, because it can get slippery when it rains. The last part of the path leading up to the house is via the rocky surface.
The website below has a map where the lookout is marked (= lotsutkiek).
The little church on Käringön is well worth a visit, after all it was the priest long time ago who is responsible for the colourful plants all over the island (but this is a story for the local customs section). The church is quite old,. Built end of 19th century when the island had its heydays as a fishermen island with approx. 300 inhabitants. Inside it is also simple but beautifully decorated. The votiv ship, customs for many churches with reference to the sailing history, hangs in the middle of the church. The gallery, where the organ stands, has pretty paintings of four evangelists, Aaron and Moses. I loved the clock, which seemed somehow out of place in a church but looked fitting here, in this plain one. Another reference to the sailor history of Käringön is outside in the churchyard: a stone and anchor are placed as a memorial to all who lost their lives in the rough sea.
Like in case of the church in Hälleviksstrand I didn’t look at the opening hours. We have been there on a Wednesday afternoon, and it was open.
The website below has a map with exact location of the church.
You might wonder why I recommend this church on a page about Käringön, because the church is just outside of the tiny village of Hälleviksstrand where the ferry to Käringön (island) leaves from. But it is so close on the way to the ferry anyhow and well worth a visit. I discovered it on Google Earth’s photos and immediately fell in love with its bright red colours. And I was happy to see that we were off to visit this little church on my first day on Orust island. The weather did its best (luckily, because it got cloudy the following days) and I could take photos with the church shining in bright sunlight.
Not only the colour is special among Swedish churches but also the layout. Without the tower it would look like a villa with the big tall windows and the several gables. Or lit looks a bit like a red stave church. It was built in early 20th century by architect Adrian Peterson. Inside it is rather simple with a light blue painted apse which shines extra special in sunny weather. When we were there, a member of the parish was there as well and offered us cookies and coffee or tea. This seems to be quite popular in Sweden (I experienced it twice) that someone is on duty to explain about the church and maybe change perception of belonging to a parish.
I don’t have the slightest idea about opening times. Maybe it was written somewhere but I didn’t see it. We were there during the week (on a Tuesday), early afternoon. There is no entrance fee.
This is easy. The church is located north of the village of Hälleviksstrand, direction Ellös. You cannot miss it through its bright red colour, at least when you come from the south. If you come from the north: as soon as you see the houses of Hälleviksstrand, look at your right, there is a tiny path leading to the church (which is hidden behind the huge trees).
The village of Käringön is small. About 130 people live here all year round and an interesting fact is that 180 of the islands 200 houses were build before 1920. It is a charming place to walk through, which of course has to be done in a leisurely pace, as everything seems to slow down as soon as you set foot on this little island.
It's wonderful to walk through the small winding streets and admire the little houses. And it is almost impossible not to dream away and just imagine owning one of these places and living on this isolated place for a few days in the summer.
I love this little island, but there is one thing that for me doesn't win the beauty prize: the statue called "Käringen" at the harbour. The statue is huge, you really can't avoid it, and well, I am not sure if that is such a positive thing. But on the other hand, it is funny in a way.....
The name "Käringen" for the statue clearly has been taken from the name of the island Käringön. "Ön" means "the island", so this is "Käring" island. And this word "käring" would mean either "loved one" or if spelled as "kärring" it would mean something like "old woman". So one would immediately think that the name of the island has to do with one or the other. But this is actually far from the truth.
The name "Käringön" is most likely borrowed from the Gaelic word "cairn". A cairn is an artificial pile of stones, often in a conical form. In Scandinavia the use of so called "sea cairns" were common for the purpose of navigation (In Swedish called kümmel). These sea cairns were usually painted white to increase visibility from the sea. And that the island of Käringön would need such a navigation marker isn't as surprising as the waters around the island are quite tricky to navigate during stormy weather.
So maybe they should change the giant lady statue at the harbour for a huge pile of white painted stones some day to do the name of the island justice :-)
Only a few metres from the harbour area it is all peace and quiet that you will find. A lovely walk through the village will soon bring you to the empty space on the south side of the island.
The island is maybe best described as a rocky surface sticking out from the sea. Some shrubs and plants are spread out over the surface, and patches of heather bring colour to the grey rocks while the honeysuckle will surprise you with its wonderful scent.
It is a joy to walk around the island and take in the views and the sounds of the sea which can be seen and heard from every spot on the island (yes, the island is quite small!). On a lovely sunny summer day it is perfect to take a dip in the sea from the rocky shores at one of the bathing areas.
The village is concentrated around the harbour on the northern side of the island, which is by far the busiest part of the island. Although 'busy' is probably not the correct word for it, 'cosy' is maybe more a word that I would use.
This is where the ferry arrives, where the little fish store is located and you can even find a small supermarket on the water’s edge. On the other side of the harbour you'll find a few restaurants (of which my favourite of Peterson's Krog), some handicraft and souvenir shops, the hotel and also the youth hostel. So in short: all you'll need for your stay on the island is concentrated around the harbour. Not surprising that this is where everyone ends up at some point.