Archipelago National Park is the labyrinthine Archipelago Sea, off Southwestern Finland, which has more islands than any other archipelago in the world. It has also been described as the world’s most beautiful archipelago.
The park was established in 1983 and covers 500 square kilometres of land areas. A huge land area considering that the area mostly is outer archipelago with few islands even 1 km2 – and the big ones are inhabited and mostly privately owned and thus not part of the park.
The National park by itself encompasses about 2000 of the 8400 islets and skerries within the cooperation area. The larger islands are mainly owned by their inhabitants.
It is part of the UNESCO biosphere reserves and received a PAN Parks certificate in 2007.
There are considerable areas of traditional agricultural landscapes within the national park. One of the objectives of national park besides protecting nature is to protect the archipelago culture and different cultural landscapes.
The rich natural resources attracted people to the post-glacial archipelago in the Stone Age and Bronze Age.
The Baltic Sea was much more saline in those days, thus offering large catches of Atlantic cod among other fish. A large population of grey seal inhabited the area.
The main means of transportation in the Archipelago National Park are shuttle ships or boats.
How to Get There?
There are free ferry services to all the inhabited islands. Of these, there are National Park services on the Jurmo Island, Björkö Island and the Berghamn Island in the municipality of Pargas (Parainen), and on the islands of Holma and Högsåra in the municipality of Kimitoön (Kemiönsaari).
Högsåra ferry timetables (www.finferries.fi). Departure from Svartnäs in Kasnäs. Roads are narrow and there is limited parking space on the Högsåra Island. Cars should be left at the Svartnäs parking place.
Local entrepreneurs provide transport services to Örö island. During the summer service is available on a daily basis and in other times according to demand.
There are buses going from Turku and Helsinki to the ferry departure points at Kasnäs (in Kimitoön), Prostvik and Pärnäs (in Pargas). Timetables can be found on the Matkahuolto web site.
By Car or by bicycle
It is possible to drive to Högsåra Island. Roads are narrow and there is limited parking space on the island. Cars should be left at the Svartnäs parking place.
It is possible to canoe to the islands of the National Park, but you should be experienced in sea kayaking to do so. Enterprises offer sea kayaking tours and courses and rent kayaks and kayaking equipment.