With beaches reminiscent of the Riviera, fantastic views and vibrant fishing villages, Sommarøy is a fine getaway destination from Tromsø, and makes for a great stop-off point along the coast.

A hardworking community

With its 300 inhabitants, Sommarøy is one of the busiest fishing villages in the county of Troms. The main produce here is herring, which is processed and packed in a state of the art processing plant where it is frozen for global export. This fishing community is thus an important contributor to the national economy, and the export value per capita is substantial.

A new fishing village

A more evocative name than Sommarøy is hard to imagine. The name goes back to the time when most people lived on the neighbouring Hillesøya Island; they used the land on Sommarøy to graze their cows in summer. Sommarøy began to develop around the turn of the last century, in tandem with the motorisation of the fishing fleet. Previously, when rowing and sailing were the norm, it was common to live as far out on the coast as possible. However, with the arrival of the motorboat and larger vessels, the need for a proper harbour grew.

The view

The views from Sommarøy Island are impressive to say the least. To the north you can see all the small islands of the Tromsø County. Håja is the highest of these islands and rises 486 meters straight out of the water. It has the same shape as the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø. Coincidence? The jury is still out on that one! To the south, you can see the all the way to the Kjølva headland, past the steep shoreline of Senja. Facing inland and towards the east is the view of the mountains of Kvaløya, whilst Storhavet itself lies to the west. If you manage to be here at midnight in the height of summer, the midnight sun shines on the horizon that lies due west of Håja Island.

White beaches

The beaches are of Riviera standard, and there are many warm and shallow coves on Sommarøy. The water temperature can't exactly be called inviting, but during some summers, a dip can be just the ticket. However, it is much more common to take long, pleasant walks along the beach, picking up shells and just taking in the scenery.

To Tussøy Island

Tussøy, the island due north of Sommarøy, is serviced by a boat a couple of times per day. Tourists are welcome to use this service, which takes a good hour there and back. It is possible to go ashore in the morning and to be fetched in the afternoon. Proper clothing is essential. Being an island with only five inhabitants, it has no services, so you will be out in the bracing open air for many hours.

Meet the people of Sommarøy

One of the nicest things about Sommarøy is meeting the people. You will find them in the shop, where there is a café area set aside for the men. It is known as the 'Kaillkråa'. As it is mostly the women who do all the shopping, the men are left in the Kaillkråa, where they each have a hook with their name on where their coffee cups hang. A couple of the old gals from the community also frequent the Kaillkråa. The handicraft 'Husflidsutsalget' shop is another interesting place to visit. You can buy 'Sjyvotta' mittens here, that have a thumb on both sides, so that when the mitten becomes worn or dirty, one has only to switch sides.

Brensholmen - an old cultural landscape

Sommarøy is a recent addition to the cultural trail, whereas the cultural landscape of Brensholmen is one of the oldest in the region of Troms. The farmers of this rich farming community can barely put a spade in the ground without their having to call Tromsø museum with yet another find from the Iron Age. In Sandvika, on the northern side of the village, there is a fine and isolated crescent-shaped beach. There are many burial mounds here, as well as the sites of some large Stone Age houses. However, you really have to know what archeological evidence to look for; most of the visitors to the beach remain totally unawares.