Visit the lighthouse at Litløy and be inspired by the limitless might and power of nature where the fjord meets the sea. A stay here provides space to take a break, to experience the elements up close and be alone with nature in the open landscape.
Text: Edda Espeland / Translation: Linda Vikaune / Photo: Lucas Amaral
But still never completely alone – unlike other self-service lighthouse hotels, the old lighthouse keeper’s quarters at Litløya offers full service night and day. Guests are picked up and taken back, they get all the assistance they want or need and are served delicious seafood – all organic and homemade.
Litløy Fyr is as far west in the northern Vesterålen archipelago as you can get, a 15 minute boat trip from Bø. The lighthouse was built in 1912 and automated in the mid-1980s. It was one of very few that still employed lighthouse keepers to keep up the maintenance and monitor the shipping lane. After a while this proved too costly and in 2003 the last lighthouse keeper moved from the island. A few years later the Norwegian Coastal Administration installed a new light which runs on solar cells and emits a white flash every ten seconds.
Open all year round
Many guests are surprised when they realise how big the island actually is. It takes one and a half to two hours to walk around it, and many of the guests do, regardless of the time of year. The hostess, Ellen Marie Hansteensen, never talks about seasons. The hotel is open all year round, and people come to see the northern lights, to see storms and rain, sun and glittering sea. Winters can be mild and beautiful, or wild and brutal. The light dances and changes tone and colour with the time of year, and when clouds rest lightly on the sea, the horizon seems endless.
The lighthouse keeper’s quarter at Litløya, two hundred steps up the stairs, is more than a hundred years old and used to be the home of two lighthouse keepers and their families. The reserve assistant lived in the attic. Today Litløy Fyr offers guests two peaceful double rooms with wonderful beds, a writing desk and a deep windowsill where you can sit and enjoy the breathtaking view of the ocean and the dramatic Lofoten mountains. There is even a guest library with a wood burning stove. Ellen Marie hopes to one day take over the octagonal lighthouse with a 360 degree panoramic view of the sea and mountains from 55 metres above sea level. She would love to create a suite there, in her very own lighthouse castle.
Nature in charge
Litløya has been populated since the stone age, says Ellen Marie. Six thousand years ago people came to the island, and up until the 1950s there were two hundred people living on Litløya and its neighbour, Gaukværøy island. Back then cod was one of Norway’s most important exports, and the island was a busy fishing village up until WWII. After the war most boats had motors and needed better docks, and it was also expensive to bring electricity out to the few families living out there. So the state offered a financial incentive to move, and around 1950 the last inhabitants left the island. Today Ellen Marie is the only inhabitant at Litløya after buying the lighthouse in 2006, but she has a team of good helpers who stay with her throughout the year.
Sometimes people get stranded at Litløya because of the weather. The safety of the guests is always paramount, so they never go out on the sea when there is a storm, and that can happen three or four times a year. Ellen Marie always recommends that guests book flexible tickets if they arrive by plane. Or that they plan for an extra day after staying at the lighthouse.
Out here nature is in charge, and it keeps changing. When the herring comes, hundreds of fishing boats sail towards the horizon, and after the herring come the killer whales. One day the sea is wild and foaming, the next it is like a mirror with the Lofoten mountains in the distance.
A stay at Litløy Fyr is an unforgettable experience.