Depending on how you’re getting to the Lofoten Islands, you may have a stopover in Bodø. While the quaint coastal city is mostly a way station en route to the well known archipelago, if you have some time and have a means of transportation I would highly recommend heading 10 kilometers south to the Saltstraumen Bridge to see one of the wonders of Norldland. The bridge spans a small strait which connects the outer Saltfjorden to the large Skjerstad Fjord. What’s so special about this channel? Indeed there is no shortage of Fjords in Norway, however the Salstraumen Strait has one the strongest tidal currents in the world.
It is essentially a very narrow path between large bodies of water. As the sea level fluctuates and moves through this bottleneck, it creates a large vortex. When the currents are their strongest, whirlpools or maelstroms up to 10 meters in diameter and 5 meters in depth are formed. These torrents of water are popular with tourists, of course for photography, but also for fishing and diving. It’s possible to take a boat tour to get up close and personal. For those that don’t want to leave dry land there is ample parking beneath the bridge (coming from Bodø) and a viewing platform on the shore.
While this natural phenomenon is easier to catch than say the northern lights, you should still be aware that there are four times in a day where the current is at its strongest. The greatest speeds and most activity are reached at certain times before or after high tide, but I found this continuously updated graph to be most helpful rather than calculating the right times myself:
The strait isn’t the only attraction in the area. There are a number of historical sites and cultural activities nearby, however in terms of photography this is the main draw.
Like most hotspots on the Lofoten, Kvalvika Beach is not exactly a breeze to get to, having said that the double beach is arguably the most spectacular, so it’s worth the hike – check out a short video and a photographs of Kvalvika Beach.