This post is your complete guide to Kylmäpihlaja Island: Read on to find out what and where is Kylmäpihlaja, how to reach it and why should you bother!
What and where is Kylmäpihlaja Island?
Kylmäpihlaja is one of the outermost islands of Rauma archipelago. The convenient location right at the gate of the archipelago is exactly the reason why Kylmäpihlaja was once selected to be home to the new lighthouse. The distance to the mainland is approximately 10 kilometres.
Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse was built in 1953, and it was the last manned lighthouse ever built in Finland. It’s not manned anymore though – Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse was automated when renovated in 1988. That’s also when previously black and white lighthouse was painted red and white for better visibility.
Today the light on top of the lighthouse is set to work with a sensor with a beam reaching up to 31 kilometres. Besides the light, there is also a functioning weather station on top of the tower.
Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse used to house a pilot station, and addition to the two lighthouse keepers, also pilots used to inhabit the island. The last pilots left Kylmäpihlaja around the year 2000. That’s when Kylmäpihlaja Island was sold to the town of Rauma and the development of tourism started.
What there is to see and do on Kylmäpihlaja Island – besides the lighthouse?
Oh my, so much! I spent five full days and nights on Kylmäpihlaja Island and I just couldn’t get enough! That’s why I wanted to create a little list for you to show how diverse an island this small can be! At least these things you can find on Kylmäpihlaja:
A hotel and two restaurants
Yes, Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse is also a hotel – how cool is that!? The rooms are located in the lighthouse tower up to 8th floor. Before booking your room you should know that none of the rooms, not even the suite, has a toilet or a shower. All bathrooms are located on the landings or the bottom floor and there is no elevator. If you’re not a big fan of climbing up and down the stairs, I’d recommend you to ensure your room is located on the lowest levels.
Travelling with a dog? Some of the rooms in the lighthouse hotel are also pet-friendly.
A welcoming sparkling wine, breakfast and sauna are always included in room prices. Besides the general sauna (separate hours for men and women) you can rent a little sauna on the seaside rocks with a hot tub for private use. The restaurant in the lighthouse serves super delicious food with lots of seafood on the menu, of course.
Besides the restaurant in the lighthouse, an old shed is nowadays housing a souvenir shop and a café with a sunny outdoor terrace. Even if the island itself is owned by the town of Rauma, the restaurants and hotel are taken care of by a local entrepreneur.
An old shed is nowadays housing a café, a souvenir shop, an art gallery and a tourist info with a guide.
Viewing platform and the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen
The 9th floor of Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse is dedicated to breathtaking views. The viewing platform is located approximately in 25 meters and to reach it you need to climb more than 300 steps. But I promise you – the views to all directions are worth the effort!
Extra tip: you can borrow binoculars either from the tourist info or the restaurant.
Even with bare eyes, you can easily spot the coast of Rauma with the factories and harbours, and also the nuclear power plant of Olkiluoto. Most importantly you’ll be accompanied by probably the most beautiful sunsets you have ever seen, which are, besides the viewing platform, great to admire from the rocks by the sea.
Marina for small boats
Kylmäpihlaja marina is providing facilities for travellers arriving by boat. The depth of the dock is 4 meters and it’s nicely protected with breakwaters. You can find more information about the marina and its’ services in English here.
For us who don’t have their own boat, this small marina offers a top spot for admiring the beautiful sailing boats arriving in Kylmäpihlaja all day long.
The ground level of the lighthouse houses a small but cosy chapel for ceremonies. Not a bad spot for a remote island wedding, right?
A flag decorating the altar is from a cutter that sunk in a storm near Kylmäpihlaja in January 1964. The cutter took along two men working on the pilot station at the time, Alpo Sunila and Eino Vänttinen, and the flag remains in the chapel for their memory.
Also, other boat accidents nearby have made the Bothnian Sea as the final resting place for the members of the crew. Are their souls still haunting in Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse?
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but according to the staff, there’s no sign of ghosts in Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse. Excluding some unexplained doors opening and closing every now and then.
This summer the art gallery in Kylmäpihlaja exhibits artwork by a local artist Lasse Kempas. But that’s not all! On Kylmäpihlaja Island you can find art even on the rocks nearby the sea.
This summer Kylmäpihlaja will have another permanent piece of art: An ecological artwork ‘Fish Belly’ will be built on the rocks of Kylmäpihlaja by Maritta Nurmi with the help of the audience. You can read more about this interesting and environmental art project in English here.
Spots for BBQ
Instead of dining in a restaurant, you can pack your own food to go and have a nice barbeque on one of the designated spots for bbq. The town is providing chopped and dry wood that is available for all visitors in an open shed.
Hydrocopter shed for camping and chilling out
Right next to the bbq area there is an old hydrocopter shed that is nowadays providing a warm and sheltered spot for campers. Big glass windows open a lovely view to surrounding nature, and a stove will keep you warm even when the weather isn’t so great.
Inside the shed you can find also a long table with benches, so there you can have a bbq party even with a bigger group. You can spread your mattress and sleeping bags on the floor and spend a night safe from possible rain – completely free of charge of course.
Sea-buckthorn spreading as far as you can see
The majority of the plants growing on Kylmäpihlaja Island is juniper and sea-buckthorn. Are you familiar with the second one? Sea-buckthorn, in Finnish known as ‘tyrni’ is an orange berry extremely high in vitamin C. It’s not very common all over Finland, but in the archipelago, it’s growing wild and tall. Actually, here it’s so tall and widely spread that even Finns are amazed when arriving in Kylmäpihlaja.
Everyone is allowed to pick the berries, but only pick – not squeeze (some people just try to squeeze the juice out). The first sea-buckthorns will ripen around August.
More than 160 other plants
Besides juniper and sea-buckthorn, more than 160 different species of plants have been found on Kylmäpihlaja Island. Strawberries, jives and valerian are growing wild, as are many colourful flowers. Even some endangered species, like small and yellow moonwort, that Sari the island guide is protecting like her own baby.
Sari the guide is like a walking plant dictionary. If you’re interested in the flora of Kylmäpihlaja, go for a little walk with her. She’s happy to pass her knowledge on to anyone who is interested enough to ask.
Nearly 200 different species of bird
It’s been approximately 15 years since the bird species on Kylmäpihlaja have been counted last time. Back that time as many as 188 different species of bird were spotted on the island. Today the number is probably even higher, as for example the barnacle geese that are walking around the island weren’t included in that count.
30 species are also nesting on the island, and therefore some parts of the island are closed to the public. Remember to respect the signs and leave the nesting birds alone – they might become real life angry birds if disturbed.
The sign is warning about real life angry birds: tern danger! On the picture below you can see one of the many barnacle goose families that are living on Kylmäpihlaja Island.
Snakes – watch your step!
Just a little warning: there are snakes, also the poisonous adder, living on Kylmäpihlaja Island, so watch your step when walking around.
I have been planning to start geocaching for so long that once I realised Kylmäpihlaja has a cache, I decided to go for it. And I found it! You should try to find it too!
How to reach Kylmäpihlaja Island?
My vehicle was my dear kayak, ‘Colonel Prasu’, as I have named her. (Yes… I have actually done that!) The distance from the mainland is about 10 kilometres, and by kayaking fairly slowly with a few mandatory photographing breaks on the way it took 1,5 hours to reach Kylmäpihlaja Island.
If you fancy the idea of kayaking, please keep in mind, that even if the sea was calm on the coast it most probably won’t be when getting closer to the open sea. The last open area just before Kylmäpihlaja Island is nearly always rough with waves. Therefore I wouldn’t recommend this trip for a beginner, at least not without an expert to kayak with.
There are exceptions, though. When I left Kylmäpihlaja after five days, the Bothnian Sea was the calmest I’ve ever seen it. What a pleasure to kayak at!
Don’t have a boat nor fancy the idea of kayaking? Don’t worry! Water buses are taking tourists and travellers from the marina of Poroholma Camping to Kylmäpihlaja Island 2 to 3 times a day during the whole summer. The island guide will be waiting for you on the dock when arriving in Kylmäpihlaja, ready to take you around and introduce you to the secrets of Kylmäpihlaja. See the schedules and prices for water buses here (the English page seems to be ‘under construction’ at this very moment, but you’ll get an idea of the timetables on the Finnish page as well).
The same water bus is conveniently stopping also on the old military and fortress island of Kuuskajaskari. Also, I did a day trip to Kuuskajaskari during my five days in Kylmäpihlaja, but that’s a whole other story…
How does Kylmäpihlaja Island as a summer destination seem like? Would you like to go – or have you been there already?
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