How do I get there? Pictures Description

Snöan is one of the pearls of the Kvarken area with its archipelago of small islands and wealth of birds. It's yet another group of islands with its own personality and feeling. The history of the land uplift and grazing has created a unique environment on Snöan: windswept crowberry heaths, impressive rock rubble fields and flowering shoreline meadows waving in the breeze.


Snöan archipelago

Snöan is the main island in an archipelago of small islands and islets, which slowly rise from the sea outside the Järnäs peninsula and Hörnefors. Snöan, which is the biggest and highest of the islands, rose from the sea at about 2000 years ago as a solitary reef far out to sea. Five hundred years later the eastern part of the island, now known as Österskatan, was used by fishermen and seal hunters of the time. A hike over Österskatan's heaths reveals traces of these ancestors in the form of several house foundations or tomtningar in the rock rubble fields. These tomtningar are circular stone walls which surrounded the simple dwellings. When the western portion of Snöan, Västerskatan, rose from the sea, the island's hunters and fishermen built a sheltered harbour inside the bay between the two sides of the island. Look at the dip between Österskatan and Västerskatan to see traces of the old harbour in an elongated bog with foundations from sheds and dock attachments and a maze on the sides.

In the sixteenth century Österskatan once again had a harbour and it was during this time that all of Snöan's mazes and compass roses were arranged in the rock rubble fields.

In the nineteenth century a small chapel was built on the southern portion of Österskatan. Until the 1940s fishermen kept goats and cows on Snöan, which is one of the reasons that the island landscape is still so open, characterised by its heaths. A clear cultural influence on the vegetation can be seen in particular between the old chapel and the shore. Slowly but surely, however, young pine forests are becoming established on the island. A closed stand of pines can already be found in the dip between Österskatan and Västerskatan. Out on the heaths, spruce grow in groups known as "grankloner" which are also slowly growing together to form continuous stands of trees.

Snöan's beaches feature both sea buckthorn shrubs and richly blooming shoreline meadows. The large archipelago has an abundance of birdlife with species such as the black guillemot (Cepphus grylle), red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator), goosander (Mergus merganser), velvet scoter (Melanitta fusca), common eider (Somateria mollissima), greater scaup (Aythya marila), skua (Stercorarius parasiticus) and turnstone (Arenaria interpres).

The entire archipelago is protected as a nature reserve. Going ashore is prohibited on the islands of Måkläppen, Gråskär and Pilhällrevet between 15 April and 15 August to protect birdlife.

Snöan is classified as a historic environment of national interest.

Photo: Jörgen Wiklund/N
Photo: Jörgen Wiklund/N
Photo: Jörgen Wiklund/N
Maze on Snöan with Bonden in the background
Snöan's small chapel on the rock rubble heath
Snöan's chapel is a spiritual place
Photo: Jörgen Wiklund/N
Photo: Jörgen Wiklund/N
Photo: Pekka Bader
Carpets of crowberry and stands of spruce trees dominate the heaths on Snöan
Part of an old "gistgårdsvall"
A blooming beach on Snöan

How do I get there

To visit Snöan you must take your own boat or order a boat ride from either KFUM Norrbyskär, (090) 123 700 or Norrbyskärs Värdshus, (0930) 240 49. You can dock on Snöan at the small harbour at Järnhällan on the west side of the island.


Small boats can enter the small harbour at Järnhällan on the west side of the island, but the harbour is shallow.


Nearest service is at Norrbyskär.


Umeå municipality


The isolated bird island of Bonden. Bonden is just over 8 kilometres farther out to sea. Next to Bonden are the seal rocks at Sydvästbrotten and Tuvan.

Texts: Anders Enetjärn, Lise-Lotte Molander.
Translation: Accent Språkservice AB.
Layout & illustrations: Päivi Anttila.
Webbdesign: Fredrik Smeds, Freddi Com Oy Ab.
for maintenance & updates contact: [email protected].