The Hvaler archipelago is a made up of more than 800 islands, islets, and skerries. Throughout these rocks jutting out from the sea, you will find beaches and beautiful granite and gneiss rocks smoothed by the ocean waves. Hvaler is blessed with the most hours of sun of any place in Norway, making it one of the best places to relax and soak up some much needed vitamin D.

Island Hopping

Island hopping with the local ferry company, Hollungen AS, is a great way to get out to the islands close to Skjærhalden on Kirkøy. The ferry runs from the harbor at Skjærhalden to the islands with small settlements, like Nordre and Søndre Sandøy, Herfelt, and Lauer.

With a day ticket, you can hop on and off the boat several times on the different islands. A single trip costs NOK 55, or you can buy 12 trips for NOK 550. If you are bringing a bike, you will need to pay NOK 35 in addition. Remember to bring cash. You can purchase tickets on board the boat but it is cash only. It is not possible to pay by debit or credit card.

The first departure is early in the morning and the last one is late at night. The schedule can be found on Please note that you inform the ferry company at least 45 minutes before departure if you would like to stop at Lauer or Makø.

Nordre and Søndre Sandøy

Nordre and Søndre Sandøy islands each have two ferry ports. Between the harbors, there is a gravel road that is perfect for hiking or biking. On both islands, there are also excellent cafes. Cafe Oline on Søndre Sandøy has a restaurant and pub and is located at Nedgård, near the ferry terminal. This cafe is a charming place with outdoor seating and great food. On Nordre Sandøy, you’ll find Makø summer cafe. Here, Tore and Lene Amarius have created an idyllic atmosphere where you can enjoy a meal outdoors in the beautiful weather. A visit to Makø is worth the entire island-hopping excursion alone.


Herføl is located just south of Søndre Sandøy. The southwest section of the island is part of Ytre Hvaler National Park. On the dock at Herføl, you will find the food store, “På Posten”, serving arguably the world’s best cinnamon buns and coffee in the summer months. In good weather, enjoy your meal outside while watching the passing boats navigate through the narrow Hersfrenna straight.

Take a walk along the small roads and paths, or over the bare rocks. If you want to swim, the possibilities are many and varied. The headland Svanetangen, has several fine potholes. The “Cathedral” is one of the largest and most beautiful. At Linnekleppen, 31 meters above sea level, you will uncover an amazing view. Finally, at Green Bay, there is a thin cove with a fine sandy beach.

Potholes in gneiss at Herføl island in Hvaler.
Potholes in gneiss at Herføl. Photo Terje Fjellvang


Continuing to the west, you will come to Lauer, which is made up of two major islands and a selection of smaller islands and islets. The large island to the south is part of Ytre Hvaler National Park and the island to the north has a small port where fishing boats are welcomed in with their catch. Today, the buildings on Lauer have been converted into holiday homes, which are well-visited in the summer. Oslofjorden’s Recreation Council even has a small seaside cabin which they rent out.

If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful archipelago in the Oslofjord, the Ytre Hvaler National Park Visitor Center in Skjærhalden is the place to seek advice or ask any questions.

Cover Photo by: Wikimedia / Sulfsby

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