Bothnian Bay National Park (sometimes also called by its Finnish name, Perämeri National Park) is located in Finnish Lapland, in the northern corner of the Bothnian Bay right off the coast of Kemi. The park consists of some 30 moraine islands and reefs, and is great for boat trips of one or two days though boaters need to be experienced.
The area's history has made Bothnian Bay National Park into a unique and wonderful piece of nature. During the last Ice Age, glaciers pressed the earth hundreds of meters down into the sea. Since then, the earth's crust has slowly risen and the first island has appeared above sea level around the year 1000 AD.
Ever more islands and reefs appeared above water, and they are still rising today, which means the landscape is ever changing. The youngest islands are reefs with hardly no plants, while the oldest have a thin layer of forest on them. In the high summer, meadows thrive on the shores of many islands.
Since their emergence from the sea, the islands have been used by hunters and fishers as seasonal bases. Especially when land harvests were poor, many people moved to the islands. They also brought livestock with them, who grazed freely and so created the typical pastures and dry meadows.
As mentioned, the islands are a great destination for sailing or motor boating excursions of one or two days. As the archipelago is windy and has large waves, boats must be sea worthy and able to resist extreme conditions. The water is shallow in most areas, in any case under 10 meters.
The park is home to over 60 bird species, so it's a great location for bird watching. Especially the Sarvi islands are recommended. Angling and ice fishing are allowed throughout the park as 'everyman's right', except the grey seal protection area and some nesting areas. Lure fishing is only allowed when you have the corresponding permit from the Province of Lapland. Swimming is allowed on the islands, even when there are no official beaches. The islands' shores are generally shallow and rocky. VÃ¤hÃ¤-Huitturi Island and at the north-end of Pihlajakari Island have sandy shores. Berry and mushroom picking in the park are unrestricted. You may be able to find Artic brambles on the islands.
The town of Kemi is the point of departure for the islands of Bothnian Bay National Park. Outside the winter season, the islands can only be reached by boat. In the winter, when there's ice, the islands closest to the mainland can be reached across the ice by ski or snowmobile. The outer islands cannot be reached across the ice as the Kemi-Tornio deep water channel is kept ice free. Alternatively, you can book a cruise on the famous Sampo ice breaker. Until 1987, this vessel cleared the path through the frozen waters in the area, after which it was turned into a tourist cruise ship. More information is at www.sampotours.com.
The nearest visitor center is Kalajoki Marine Nature Center located in Kalajoki. It's a two hours drive south of Kemi. The address: Jukupolku 5, 85100 Kalajoki. The center offers information about the area in the form of multimedia presentations, exhibitions, a library and an auditorium where nature films are shown. There are several sections for children, including a playing corner. Entrance is free, except for themed group tours.
Here's a video how the ice formations along the western coast of Finland look like.
A winter in Haukipudas(city), Finland. In case you are interested in driving where this video was shot, here are the driving directions from Ajos, in Kemi to Haukipudas.