Lofoten is a world famous archipelago in the county of Nordland in Northern Norway. Tourists from all over the world are drawn to this Norwegian jewel. They all want to experience the dramatic landscape with high mountain peaks, fjords, midnight sun, northern lights, white beaches and authentic fishing villages. The beauty can not only be found above water. With scuba diving equipment you can discover the treasures hidden beneath the waves; shipwrecks, spectacular drift dives and an endless kelp forrest.
The wreck of the coastal steamer D/S Nordstjernen
The 22. September 1954, the beautiful coastal steamer D/S Nordstjernen is heading north through Raftsundet. It is in the middle of the night and most of the 163 passengers are sleeping. At the outlet of Raftsundet, the ship is off course and run aground close to Seiholmen. After just 20 minutes, she sinks to the ocean floor. Chaos breaks out onboard, but a few lifeboats are launched and most of the crew and passengers manage to get onboard. One crew member and four passengers lost their life in this tragedy.
Today, the wreck lies from 42 – 57 meters of water depth. The wreck is therefore only recommended for technical divers. A boat is also essential in order to get to the wreck site, which is close to a fish farm. Hadsel scuba diving club can assist with boat trips.
The wreck heel over to starboard side and is well preserved. A lot of the wood decks are still remaining and it is a really impressive sight. There are plenty of details to study and one needs several dives to explore the nearly 80 meter long ship.
Video from D/S Nordstjernen
Vaterfjorden – A short, but intensive drift dive
When heading west towards the capital of Lofoten, Svolvær, you pass a bridge just before the airport. The strait below the bridge is only a few meters wide. The tide pushes and pull the water from Vaterfjorden through this narrow strait. This generates a short, but very intensive drift dive where you lose all control for a few seconds.
Just park your car at the parking place next to the bridge. The conditions are best when the tide is falling and the water is flowing out of Vaterfjorden. Just follow the current towards the bridge. The current suddenly gets stronger, and you fly like Superman under the bridge. It is only a couple of meters deep here, but it drops to 10 meters just after the narrow straight. By kicking downwards, you will get underneath the current which will flow like a river above your head. There are millions of sea anemones and schools of pollock to be seen. Unfortunately, there are some garbage on the sea bed, but divers performed a clean up campaign in 2016. More clean ups will probably be performed in the coming years to restore a beautiful dive site.
Video from clean up in Vaterfjorden
Wreck diving in Svolvær
Svolvær is the capital of Lofoten with 9200 inhabitants. The city is surrounded by massive mountains on one side and the ocean on the other side. Here you will find two shipwrecks which are easy accessible from shore.
The first wreck is outside the breakwater protecting Svolvær harbor. It is possible to park halfway out on the breakwater. Climb over the concrete structure by using the benches and use the concrete steps down to the water. The easiest time to dive here is during high tide. At low tide it requires more climbing over slippery rocks. The wreck of KNM Farm is located 50 meters outside the breakwater and is normally marked with a buoy.
The wreck lies at the sandy bottom from 20 to 30 meters. The wreck was sunk here on purpose in 1982. She was built in 1890 for the Norwegian navy. During the war, the Germans used her as a hospital ship and minesweeper. She goes by several names and was called Siw Aina the last two years before she was scuttled.
KNM Farm is not a big wreck but the stern is a nice photo opportunity and there are plenty of fish to see. The cargo holes and bridge are damaged, and the bow is laying on its side. When you leave the wreck to go shallower, you will find the lovely kelp forest all the way up to the surface.
The second wreck can be found just outside Skarvik yard. The old steamship Hamburg was sunk here during operation Claymore the 4th. March 1941. This operation was a British/Norwegian campaign to shake up the German invaders. Buildings, ships and installations in Lofoten were attacked. It is assumed that nine big ships and many smaller vessels were sunk. Hamburg was a modern German fish production ship. For many years after the war, she projected above the water. Now she´s aged and starting to cave in. She can no longer be seen from shore. She rests on the starboard side with the stern pointing towards the shore. The wreck gets more and more intact the deeper you go. Even the wooden deck is well preserved. The bridge has big openings to swim through and the masts point horizontally into the water. The bow is the deepest point and is fully covered with colorful sea anemones.
The wreck of Hamburg is located inside an industrial harbor, and very close to a fish production factory. The visibility is usually not very good, but the size and details of the wreck makes it well worth a visit.
Nature diving outside Kabelvåg
Scuba divers gather every summer at Sandvika Camping outside Kabelvåg to explore the fantastic nature diving the area has to offer. The most popular places are narrow underwater canyons where divers can explore a rich marine life under a thick carpet of kelp.
If you are lucky, you might find a wolffish, with it powerful jaws and teeth. The master of disguise, the monkfish, is a common encounter. It can be seen on the sandy bottom where it patiently waits for its next meal to pass over its big mouth.
Video from the dive gathering “Lofotuka” in 2016
The wreck of the Icelandic trawler Gudrun Gisladottir
Naturally, not all the wrecks in Lofoten are accessible from shore. At a depth of 40 meters outside Ballstad we find the wreck of the Icelandic trawler Gudrun Gisladottir. She hit a reef on the 18th of June 2002. The following day there was an attempt to tow here to shore, but this failed and she sank. The trawler is 71 meter long, so it is a big fishing boat. Several salvage operations were attempted, but they all failed.
Such a new wreck is a treat for scuba divers. There are a lot of details inside the wheelhouse, and the paint is still intact on the hull. The wreck is located in an exposed area and swell may be experienced all the way down to the wreck.
Reine – A perfect postcard
The longer west you get in Lofoten, the wilder the surroundings become. The Island Moskenesøy is like a postcard, and the village of Reine is by many regarded as one of the most beautiful places in Lofoten. If you climb the mountain Reinebringen (440 meters), you will understand why, when you look over the edge and down to Reine.
In Reine we find the diving center Aqualofoten which is run by Therese and Lars. They offer rental equipment, air filling, boat trips, guided dives, accommodation, RIB safaris and fishing trips.
The wreck of M/S Hadsel
The wreck of M/S Hadsel can be found a short boat trip from the harbor of Reine. M/S Hadsel was a cargo and passenger ship which run aground outside Reine the 29th January 1958. She sank to the ocean floor within an hour. The wreck rests at the white sandy bottom on 45 meters. She is a wreck for the experienced divers. The visibility is usually very good and it is possible to see the entire wreck from stern to bow, when you approach.
Video of M/S Hadsel
End of the Road – Andstabbvika
The national road called E10 runs through the entire Lofoten. It stops in a large parking place at Å. If you are not afraid of carrying your scuba equipment, there are good diving to be found after 300 meters in Anstabvika. The yellow soft coral; dead man’s fingers, covers the rocks and the kelp is massive and strong. You may even come across a school of mackerel. This predator fish is very common further south in Norway, but is gradually moving further north as the temperature in the ocean is rising. The scientists are afraid of the impact on the herring juveniles.
We have only touched the surface of the scuba diving possibilities in Lofoten. You may be the one that discover the next hot spot. Come and explore the Norwegian jewel and you will not be disappointed!