Magerøya – What was left besides North Cape?

Nordkapp, Magerøya , Kodak Ektar, Leica M Summilux 1.4 50 asph. | ©

The north always attracts us magically. And so we approach him as far as we can: and arrive at the island of Magerøya in the Barents Sea. We introduce the island of Magerøya and show that it has much more to offer than just the beautiful North Cape. A longer stay is worthwhile anyway.

Magerøya and the North Cape – island of yearning

Magerøya, the island that rises up to 308 meters over the Barents Sea and every year is the goal of 200,000 people. Magerøya, of storm and waves, icy cold, grained, frayed. Magarøya, the northernmost point that can be reached by road, and finally at the North Cape.

One of the first tourists spent three years traveling from northern Italy to the island of Magerøya until he anchored devoutly in front of the island. Even today, it takes a few days by land or sea to reach the northernmost end of Europe. But you should not see the North Cape as the sole destination of his trip. The beautiful and unique island of Magerøya has so much more to offer than this magical place.

There is no tree on Magerøya

Magerøya, that means translated “barren island”. And then Magerøya lives up to her name. Reindeer are pretty much the only ones who can feed here in nature. And so every year about 3000 to 4000 of these gray meek and shy animals graze the island. Because a little grass, lichen and ground-level shrubs are all that grows on the rocky ground reasonably. One or the other has actually put a pine in the garden, because Christmas trees may be rare on Magerøya.

Magerøya, Mageroya, Kodak Ektar, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph.

Magerøya, Mageroya, Kodak Ektar, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph. | ©

Accordingly one should stay on Magerøya also on the ways. Because every blade of grass that is trampled here takes forever to regenerate. And so the barren green landscape alternates with the barren rocky landscape.

Gjesvær on Magerøya

The moon landing could have been photographed on Magerøya, which would have saved a lot of money and energy, the pictures have been at least as attractive. As a location we would have recommended the route to Gjesvær. We feel a little like a scree, because wide green slopes are still covered with snow in summer. The meltwater is constantly searching for its tracks. Elsewhere, the cold gray stones appear in desolate and bizarre formations.

Magerøya, Mageroya, Gjesvær, Gjesvar, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph., Kodak Ektar

Magerøya, Mageroya, Gjesvær, Gjesvar, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph., Kodak Ektar | ©

Once you have reached Gjesvær in the northwest of the island on Magerøya, you may even be looked at as if you were coming from the moon. Because here nobody gets lost for no reason. About 130 people live here their own cosmos, almost an hour’s drive on a lonely road. This makes Gjesvær unexpectedly the largest of the small fishing villages. In the parking lot is a rescue helicopter, in the harbor next to some fishing boats, two state-of-the-art and seaworthy boats rescue the sea. A naval ship gets lost in the harbor just like us, but turns off soon.

A bird safari is offered. She is waiting for tourists in her short season in Gjesvær on Magerøya. Otherwise, the cod for the personal use depends a little from here. The inhabitants of Gjesvær simply do not have time for hectic times. Because you prefer to spend in the small bistro / restaurant. Even modest guest rooms are available. What can it be called other than Northcape Seapark. One or the other endeavors in the place to invite guests. And get the hell out of the fat cruise business, where many pay and few earn too much.

We neither. And so somehow, with a touch of touch and admiration, we drive off quietly and slowly after half a day and let the melancholic landscape pass us by.

Skarsvåg on Magerøya

Back on the main road E 69 on the island Magerøya to the Nordkapp leading we turn off to the northeast and drive down the narrow road to the small fishing village Skarsvåg. On the one hand, with king crabs and modest accommodation options, one hopes to earn a little money on tourism in the short season on Magerøya, on the other hand, the people living here are increasingly annoyed by the huge white rolling plastic living boxes.

Magerøya, Mageroya, Skarsvag, Skarsvåg, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph., Kodak Ektar

Magerøya, Mageroya, Skarsvag, Skarsvåg, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph., Kodak Ektar | ©

Not surprisingly, if there are always people who simply ignore the “camping prohibited” signs and build their furniture in the shadow of RVs – would you like to have that on your doorstep? In Skarsvåg on Magerøya you have the unique opportunity to be allowed to stay overnight in the world’s most northerly campsite, even in the northernmost fishing village in the world.

If you park a bit off the beaten track, maybe a bit more modest when choosing a car, then you will be welcomed as open and warm as you are. Stinginess is by the way not a pseudonym for openness and cordiality. We have always had the experience that we encounter people quite differently when we treat ourselves to a waffle or a coffee, when we visit the numerous mini-museums and also buy locally. By the way, by the way, this is not, as one might think in Norway, much more expensive. Rather, we discover places like Skarsvåg much more intensively with their people and in some cases we even meet again.

But also a nice nature walk or a small hike can be found in Skarsvåg – perhaps on the western side just a kilometer away Kirkeporten, a unique rock formation on Magerøya. Above all, from here you have a pretty special perspective on the North Cape, which is only one kilometer away from the crow flies.

Kamøyvær on Magerøya

Magerøya is really bright in the summer. All night. But the lighting mood, that changes quite. At night the light gets even warmer in the sunshine and yet the air feels cold. But it can also snow here in the summer. Rain and fog are obligatory here, much more than a bright blue sky. But that’s part of life and discovery on the island of Magerøya in the Barents Sea.

And so it is worthwhile to visit the small fishing village Kamøyvær even in bad weather. As in all places and villages on MAgerøya, the road ends here in Kamøyvær in a dead-end street. And you can hardly believe how quickly the roads here in Kamøyvær on Magerøya are clogged. A look at the huge bus parking lot on the way down told us the potential. And one of these buses is clogging the town Kamøyvær with tourists of a cruise ship. Certainly one, if not the, northernmost gallery in the world will be happy about this, here in Kamøyvær on Magerøya.

Kamøyvær, Kamoyvar, Mageroya, Magerøya, Kodak Ektar, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph.

Kamøyvær, Kamoyvar, Mageroya, Magerøya, Kodak Ektar, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph. | ©

If not a large sign would hang on the wall of this inconspicuous house, one would not think of stopping here. But the people who live here also want to live here and earn their living here, as the short season offers one of the few opportunities. About 60 people live here, either as indicated by tourism or from fishing. For the small fishing village Kamøyvær lies like a sickle on Magerøya around its modest but naturally protected harbor with its cutters.

And again, our recommendation is to get out and walk around the area, like to hike a bit in nature and experience the same perspectives you only get from glossy magazines. It takes a little time to feel, smell, hear and breathe a place like Kamøyvær on Magerøya. I know, each one of us has certainly seen the duels in some Westerns. However, the shot is made here with the smartphone and it seems the eternal competition who shoots first.

But why not just get stuck, observe, take in, look for the one, very personal motive of Kamøyvær on Magerøya and then come back and capture the soul of this motive and take it for yourself. Not for Instagram, not for Pintarest – all alone for me. Only in this way can I get the picture into my soul. Kamøyvær on Magerøya could be a nice exercise there. A feeling of happiness is guaranteed and shows itself when you smile into yourself.

Honningsvåg – the island capital on Magerøya

Actually, Honningsvåg is also a fishing village on Magerøya. But a pretty big one. And so it has the second largest fishing port on Magerøya. About 2,465 people live here. Reason enough for polar conditions to call Honningsvåg a city. But Honningsvåg on Magerøya has another meaning. First, it is the starting point for the Hurtigruten, the former mail boats. They care for and ensure the regular connection along the coast of Norway, also here on Magerøya.

Honningsvåg, Hurtigruten, Kodak Ektar, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph.

Honningsvåg, Hurtigruten, Kodak Ektar, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph. | ©

And yes, money is well known to justify everything, even the smoking cruise ships bless with their sooty Schwefelduft the so clear polar region and bring tons of climate-damaging exhaust gases and willing to pay customers, increasingly from Asia. And so travelers on the small island of Magerøya are lured out of the reserve with all sorts of expensive entertainment programs, apparently unable to deal with the island’s heritage and beauty themselves.

Incidentally, with the programs booked, they ensure that little money arrives at Magerøya, but even more so on the upper floors of the ship’s operators. Because the staff, apart from the Hurtigruten, often works under miserable and for Western civil societies hardly comprehensible circumstances.

So, our recommendation to get in the shoes, turn on the brain and heart and discover Honningsvåg on foot. Honningsvåg is not a Disneyland and I really wish it to stay that way. People are trying to make a living in their small modest shops. After all, they also live here in a season in which, so to speak, the lights go out, the sun no longer looks over the horizon. Thus, tourism with all the advantages and disadvantages, but also the fishing to the main income of the people.

Honningsvåg on Magerøya is actually the northernmost city in Europe, but not the world. But Honningsvåg has the North Cape with Magerøya, that’s advertising enough. So it leaves the label as the northernmost city in Europe confidently the southern city Hammerfest.

Honningsvåg on Magerøya offers everything your heart desires. Café and Pup, fish restaurants and shops, church, gas station and a very exciting regional museum at the tourist information in the harbor. Somehow everything in Honningsvåg meets with destination North Cape in summer.

Nordvågen on Magerøya

In Honnigsvåg we continue our drive along the coast of Magerøya. The road gets narrower, the steep slopes are fixed with massive barriers and protect the only road connection to Nordvågen on Magerøya from rockfall, landslides and avalanches. There is a year-round open connection to Nordvågen on Magerøya. Passing by the small offshore island Nordvågholmen, you can see on the opposite side Nordvågen with the largest fishing port on Magerøya.

The inlet cuts quite narrow but far into this part of the coast of Magerøya, so we drive along the small coastal road, then through a short tunnel to reach the entrance of Nordvågen on Magerøya at the end of the small inlet. In the curve is the northernmost ski lift in the world. During the summer months, more specifically, summer weeks, the ski slope is the ideal way to hike up to the summer pastures of reindeer.

Nordvågen, Nordkapp, Magerøya, Mageroya, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph., Kodak Ektar

Nordvågen, Nordkapp, Magerøya, Mageroya, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph., Kodak Ektar | ©

On the water side, a small boatyard repairs the trawlers, or somehow discards them. This has its own charm and tells an unexpected amount about the region, about the island life on Magerøya. Nordvåg seems a little at home in poverty, at least it lives here very modestly. One of the abandoned houses tells of the declining population on Magerøya. In 1960, around 5,300 people still lived on Magerøya, compared to only 4,000 in 2004. Currently about 3,100 people live on Magerøya. In Nordvåg there are about 430 inhabitants.

Those looking for beautifully decorated windows in a village like Nordvåg on Magerøya and romantic facades will not find their happiness here. But if you go to the café and order a coffee, you can listen to everyday life a bit like everyday life, as it can not be experienced in Disneyland Norway, but in an authentic place like Nordvåg on Magerøya.

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