Reprint – Are We Nearly Where Yet?

Reprint – Are We Nearly Where Yet?


From the Condé Nast Traveller October 2012 by Tony Cross

Are we nearly where yet?

If your eyesight isn’t quite what it was, you may need a hand spotting this luxury lighthouse that is set to become a cult destination for lovers of the Northern Lights. You can see the red roof and white walls just peeking out from the top of the right side of the island, but without some serious navigating skills you may still have trouble finding it altogether.

No roads lead to the Littleisland Lighthouse at Litløya, Vesterålen, Nordland, Norway, and that extended address may still not be enough to get you there. Accessible only by boat, a more useful location may be it’s co-ordinates – (+68° 35′ 37.91″, +14° 18′ 34.89″) – which will take you 130 miles inside the Arctic Circle.

Guests arriving from the airport at Narvik or Evenes (accessible via Oslo from the UK) travel by bus to the small fishing community of Vinje, where they will be met by lighthouse staff and provided appropriate clothing for the short but exciting trip by boat to the island.

But for many, the real beauty of staying at Littleisland Lighthouse is what can be seen at night during the winter months…

The 2012/13 “season” for viewing the aurora borealis is predicted to be the most spectacular for 50 years, according to NASA who make the prediction based on reports of solar wind activity around the sun. This means that from now until March, skies such as those pictured above should be reasonably commonplace for visitors to this remote part of Norway, just northwest of the scenic Lofoten Islands. At night, guests will be kept warm with blankets, hot beverages and a sweet treat while they enjoy the view.

The lighthouse, built in 1912, is celebrating its centennial year, and owner Elena Hansteensen believes it offers the right mix of boutique luxury and complete isolation. Elena and her staff provide locally-sourced healthy meals, which is fortunate because there isn’t any other food available on the island unless you’re a dab hand at fishing.

Inside, the lighthouse offers two double rooms, a cosy library and dining area – all with spectacular views of the sea and sky. But the island has one or two more treats in store for those brave enough to visit…

When day breaks you can explore the island’s Stone Age settlements, which were established some 6,000 years ago, or visit the remains of its 19th century fishing village, as well as spot orcas and other species of whale off the island’s coast.

Exploration can be done alone or with one of the lighthouse staff as a guide. Alternative activities include fishing, or simply relaxing at the lighthouse with their resident Norwegian forest cats Sirius and Sara. The lighthouse itself is still very much in use, its LED light powered by solar panels and flashing every 10th of a second to sailors passing the rocky coast.

Those in fear of the weather will be relieved to hear that Littleisland is blessed with a surprisingly mild climate. While you should probably forget your swimsuit, thanks to the Gulf Stream average winter day temperatures are above freezing, and snowfall is light and fleeting.

Rooms at Littleisland Lighthouse are available from 1 November 2012 to 1 April 2013. Maximum four persons in two double rooms. Stays available for two or three nights, arrivals recommended on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Two nights costs £310 per person, three nights £420 per person (subject to exchange rates), and includes boat transfers to and from Littleisland, all meals, and a guided tour of the lighthouse. Norwegian Air offers return flights from Oslo to Evenes from around £150. Find out more about Littleisland here.

By Tony Cross

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Retired (2001) British Columbia lighthouse keeper after 32 years on the lights.

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