In terms of the number of islands, the Finnish archipelago, stretching across the western and south-western coasts of Finland, is the biggest in the world with over 20,000 islands ranging in size. While some of them are several square kilometers others are so small they can’t even fit a single tree. New islands are being discovered all the time, either because they were previously missed or because they have only just emerged from below the ocean surface. Saying that you have traveled the world’s biggest archipelago or even camped on an unclaimed island is a truly impressive feat.
The archipelago is also well-known for its beautiful wildlife, particularly the thousands of birds that pass through during migration season. There are 132 bird species known to nest in the archipelago, and it is a popular pilgrimage for bird-watchers. If you’re lucky you might also spot seals, mink, raccoon dogs, moose and the occasional whale.
A particular highlight of a camping trip in the archipelago is the experience of exploring the islands and trying out all the different water sports. The islands can be traversed by boat or kayak, with regular ferries between the most populated islands and travel companies such as Aavameri offering kayaking tours. If you think you can handle it, there is also the option of hiring a boat or kayak and exploring the islands freely. Fishing, wakeboarding and even surfing are also popular water sports in the archipelago.
Finland’s freedom-to-roam laws allow you to explore freely and camp anywhere on the archipelago, so long as you abide to local fire safety laws. Nearly every island has a campsite and firepit. You can even find your own dinner while camping by picking berries and mushrooms or catching a fish fresh from the sea and cooking it on a campfire. It is quite an experience to stay up with the midnight sun or relax in peaceful and idyllic surroundings. Midsummer is a particularly good time to camp in the archipelago, since you can partake in the ancient Finnish tradition of lighting a bonfire on the longest night of the year.
Whether you are kayaking through the waters or relaxing on land, you can always find amazing scenery in the archipelago that is unlike anything else in the world. There is the magical glow of the midnight sun, the clear Baltic Sea waters and the quaint villages that have barely changed since Finland was a part of Sweden.