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Fuerteventura and Lanzarote

During august 2013 I decided to go for a solo kayaking trip to Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. These are Spanish islands part of the Canary Islands, located just off the northwest coast of Africa, 100 kilometers off Morocco.

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The guys at Kayak Fuerteventura, helped me plan the trip and rented me a kayak and paddles. Everything else I brought from Norway. This of course included a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, freeze dried meals, clothes, kayaking gear and various other stuff necessary to live off the grid for a few days. I had to buy a stove and gas canister in Fuerteventura, as the one I brought was not compatible with the canisters available in Fuerteventura.

The weather forecast was good for the next four days. However, as I was to find out, the wind would pick up and the waves would be a challenge.

The tide difference would be about 3 meters as it was full moon during my kayaking trip. This I did not consider a risk on this trip. My main concern was wave height, breaking waves and wind. Fuerteventura is known as a haven for wind sports, but high winds would mean big waves and at best hard work, and at worst dangerous conditions. The east coast is in general more protected compared to the west coast, where the coast is more remote, has fewer landing spots, is less populated and more exposed to the sea. Truth be told I want to paddle the west coast, but this is an expedition not done alone, but with a group of experienced paddlers.

My plan was to paddle from Corralejo in the north, over to the south east coast of Lanzarote. I would then return to the sand dunes south of Corralejo and be driven down to Las Salinas and continue on to Las Playitas in the south. The main reason for the drive, was to avoid the less scenic part of the east coast.

Crossing over to Lanzarote


I began the crossing over to Lanzarote in perfect conditions with very calm waters. The crossing is about 12 kilometres and took about 2 hours. I followed the craggy, steep and wild coast until I reached a black beach located about 1 km from the village of Playa Quemada.

East coast of Lanzarote
East coast of Lanzarote
A suitable beach to land on
A suitable beach to land on
First campsite, Lanzarote
First campsite, Lanzarote


I returned the next day to begin the crossing back to Fuerteventura. The wind and waves had picked up and I also hit a current moving east. There was a belt close to Fuerteventura where the current was faster and the waves were taller, compared to other places on the crossing. I did feel very small and at some times stupid to expose myself to such conditions. The waves were about 1,5 meters and some were breaking. Looking back I realise I was outside my comfort zone at the time. The risks were in fact higher than what I was comfortable with handling.

Reaching Lobos Island
Reaching Lobos Island


In any case I was glad to reach the small island of Lobos, northeast of Fuerteventura. I landed at a sheltered beach, where I met up with Jorge and Juan from Kayak Fuerteventura for a summary of the trip so far. They were there guiding tourists in kayaks. After an update on weather  we departed and I headed on towards the sand dunes on Fuerteventura.

Meeting up with Jorge and Jose on Lobos island


I met up with Juan, who drove me to my campsite where the road ended, south of Las Salinas. The full moon was shining bright and the desert landscape was glowing in its silvery light. It was great sitting there, reflecting on the trip so far.

Campsite number two, Fuerteventura
Campsite number two, Fuerteventura


The next day the 1,5 meter waves and strong wind was back, and I had a bumpy ride until lunch time at a wild area called Jacomar. After passing Jacomar the waves and wind calmed a lot down, making the rest of the trip a lot more enjoyable. The landscape was getting steeper and taller. It almost reminded me of the steep fjords we have in Norway, except the landscape here was dry and brown instead of green and wet.

A bumpy morning ride
A bumpy morning ride
Lunch at Jacomar
Lunch at Jacomar
Rock gardens on the east coast of Fuerteventura
Rock gardens on the east coast of Fuerteventura
A fisherman`s shelter at a remote spot on the east coast of Fuerteventura
A fisherman`s shelter at a remote spot on the east coast of Fuerteventura
Punta Del Jurado, Fuerteventura
Punta Del Jurado, Fuerteventura


For a change I received some following wind and sea on the last stretch before Las Playitas. I was paddling along at about 10 km/h, double of what I normally do.

I arrived at Las Playitas and Jorge picked up the kayak later that day. Fuerteventura can be a really challenging place to sea kayak. I`ve explored parts of the west coast on foot, and it is wild! A sea kayak expedition there is on my bucket list. I just need someone else to join me for a week or so.

The village of Las Playitas
The village of Las Playitas


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Lofoten is one of the most exciting sea kayak destinations to explore in Norway.

During July 2014 Tomasz Furmanek ( and I had the opportunity to paddle from the small island of Vaeroy up along the uninhabited west coast of Lofoten to the small town of Ramberg.

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The plan was to paddle from Værøy, cross the Mosken tidal current and explore the exposed west coast of Lofoten.

Værøy is a beautiful island with many sea eagles, puffins, numerous other kind of birds and lots of fish. There are white beaches with no one on them, awesome campsites and fantastic mountain peaks from where you can see Røst to the south and Moskenes island to the North.

Campsite on Værøy
Exploring Værøy on foot as the midnight sun is shining
From a peak on Værøy, looking south.
Værøy padling


On day 2 we had nearly circumnavigated Værøy island and we were ready to begin the crossing of the Mosken tidal current north of Vaeroy. However, the weather had other plans for us, as thick fog and strong wind moved in from the west. Visibility was poor and unacceptable for crossing this tidal current. We had to pitch our tents and wait another 12 hours before conditions were acceptable.

Landing in thick fog


The word maelstrom originates from the Norse word of male, which means to grind. The Moskenstraumen or Mosken tidal current, was in the old days marked on maps with enormous whirlpools and dragons. The phenomenon has also been described by poets, explorers and authors as something very dangerous. It seems this may have created an undeserving reputation, as it is possible to cross it with a sea kayak.
The Mosken tidal current forms between the small island of Mosken and the larger island of Moskenes. As the tide pulls and push a large amount of water through the narrow and shallow Mosken strait, the water speeds up through this overfall. At its strongest the tidal current forms a system of eddies and currents which, given rough conditions, is risky to cross with a sea kayak. However, given low waves, low wind, good visibility and good weather the tidal current can be crossed fairly easily.

Approaching the Mosken island in the middle of the Moskenes strait.


Given that all the risks above are eliminated, there only remains the risk created by the tidal current itself. So how is it possible to eliminate this remaining risk? It is essential to understand how tide and this specific tidal current works.

Looking over to Mosken island and Moskenes Island from Værøy island. The Mosken tidal current is between the Mosken island and Moskenes island.


The tide moves in and out with an interval of 6 hours. So after high tide, low tide occurs after 6 hours.

The flow (speed) of the tide increases with 1/12 of the total difference between low and high tide in the first hour.
The second hour = 2/12.
The third hour = 3/12.
Fourth hour = 3/12.
Fifth hour = 2/12.
Sixth hour = 1/12.

Landing on the small Mosken island for a break.


In Lofoten the total difference between low and high tide is about 3 meters. So in the first hour after high tide, the water level decreases with 1/12 of 3 meters. So the water level will decrease in the following manner:

First hour: 1/12 of 3 meters = 25 cm
Second hour 2/12 of 3 meters = 50 cm
Third hour: 3/12 of 3 meters = 75 cm
Fourth hour: 3/12 of 3 meters = 75 cm
Fifth hour: 2/12 of 3 meters = 50 cm
Sixth hour: 1/12 of 3 meters = 25 cm

So, knowing this we can see that the third and fourth hour is when the flow of the tide is the fastest, while the first and sixth hour is the slowest. The first and sixth hour is of course when the tide is turning, and hence there will be a brief moment when the tide is standing still before it starts moving in the opposite direction again.

Knowing this we have to find out how the tide behaves locally at the Mosken tidal current. There is a Norwegian Pilot guide (a rather large PDF document, see page 234) which describes in Norwegian the Mosken tidal current in detail. According to the pilot guide, the Mosken tidal current turns 1,5 hours before high tide and 4,5 hours after high tide. Knowing this we can use the tide chart for Bodø and plan to be in the middle of the tidal current either 1,5 hours before high tide or 4,5 hours after high tide.

In the middle of the Mosken tidal current, low tide.


We left Værøy at 10 am and paddled over to the small Mosken island in the middle of the Moskenes strait. At Mosken island we took a long break waiting for the optimal time to make the crossing to Moskenes island.

The crossing itself went fine as all the risks above had been eliminated with careful planning and favourable conditions. The crossing would not have been attempted if any of the above risks had been unacceptable. This place can kill you and it is certainly not worth risking anything, to cross this tidal current. As we were crossing we noticed that waves were moving in a very gentle current. There were a few hotspots where eddies and stronger currents formed. I can imagine these hotspots will be rough when the flow is at its strongest in the third and fourth hour. The waves were mostly 0,5 meters with some 1 meter waves. All in all it went well and we felt in control.

After arriving on the uninhabited and exposed west coast of Moskenes island we landed at Refsvika for a snack and a rest.




Our aim, due to pretty much perfect conditions, was to paddle as far as we could in order to avoid being stuck due to bad conditions. So we paddled on towards Bunes beach, which we knew had water and a possible escape by portage to civilisation if conditions turned ugly.

Reaching Moskenes island after crossing over from Mosken island.


The west coast is wild and truly an awesome place to be. There are several large caves and tall, steep, craggy mountains all along the coast.

One of several caves along the west coast of Lofoten.


We arrrived at Bunes beach 11 hours after leaving Vaeroy island. The midnight sun was shining from a blue sky and we were two very happy and tired paddlers sipping whiskey and soaking up the atmosphere.

Approaching the Bunes beach,
Campsite at Bunes beach.
Enjoying the midnight sun view.


The next day, fog was forecasted to set in at 3 pm. We knew that part of the trip would be encased in fog, so we started early towards Ramberg.

We just had to stop at the Horseid beach, it is awesome.
The fog moved fast at 3 pm, exactly as forecasted.
Staying close to land due to fog


After a couple of hours in the fog, it cleared as the wind picked up. We ended the journey with some following wind and waves, allowing us to surf towards our destination. A great end to a fantastic, challenging and most memorable kayaking experience.


Surfing towards our destination in Ramberg.


Here’s a video from the trip:


And here´s a video from a trip done in July 2015 in the same area:


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