One of the highlights of exploring western Sweden and its small villages and towns along the country’s western archipelago, is the seafood. A unique tour and a good way to spend part of a day exploring the local seafood industry is with Orust Shellfish based in the small town of Lysekil. Lysekil is about 130 kilometers or 90 minutes north west from Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenburg.
It was a bright beautiful sunny early morning in June when we met Adrian the co-owner of Orust Seafood at the North Harbor in Lysekil. He drove out onto the dock to meet us – we were already perched in the shade of the large shiny metal propeller that stands as a testament to the depth of the seafood industry in this part of Sweden.
Adrian was a bit late but we didn’t care – we could smell the inviting scents of pickled herring in the air and the salty breeze of the bay. We waited until his business partner, Lars arrived from across the bay – piloting his 1953 2 cylinder engine driven wooden boat from within a tiny captains room. Signe – the name of the boat, is a tribute to his grandmother.
Lars has lived his entire life near Lysekil – he fishes and farms his land – this is way of life and his livelihood. He has grown up with the ocean and the rocky land in his blood – so to has many generations of his immediate family before him; his ancestors settled in this area in 1760.
Adrian is originally from Holland. How did he move to western Sweden and setup shop in the seafood industry? He has long been involved with catching and farming seafood; many years ago he met Lars at a seafood conference. They became friends and Adrian moved to Sweden to help him build what has turned into a mutually beneficial business commercially farming seafood. In 2011 they decided to embrace agri-tourism; today they offer a variety of trips focusing on both mussels and oysters.
When traveling I look for authentic local experiences. A trip with both men, on their small fishing boat with a look into their world truly defines this type of experience. After a scenic drive through the archipelago to their Mussel lines – you stop to examine the growth of the mollusks on these lines. These are weighted ropes extending about 6 meters down – with thin filaments protruding all around the rope. The mollusks initially attach to these filaments – in their early days of life, they are the size of the tip of a sharp pin. Over the next 18 months they grow to maturity before they are finally harvested.
While mussels are commercially farmed in the bays, oysters are not. The grow in the shallows around the rocky outcrops of the islands and mainland.
Ultimately the boat will dock on Lar’s private island – the island is mostly composed of well sculpted, rounded and lichen covered rocks. Oh and a few sheep graze here as well. A small 1-room structure awaits – which is where you will enjoy the fresh bounty of your catch – either mussels or oysters. A large metal pot appears. Soon steaming smells of seafood waft from their portable kitchen. Perhaps you would like to bring some beer or wine – this would be the perfect time to invite those alcoholic delights into the company of friends!
There is no hurry to go anywhere – the aromas of fresh seafood, the gentle lapping of the water on the rocks, the quiet of the surroundings, passionate fisherman – are all what makes a visit here uniquely special.
Take some time to explore the immediate vicinity of the hut, or if in the summer – watch the delicate jellyfish gently pulsating in the nearby shallow waters.
Because of weather, most of their tours run from April through October. They typically can take 6-8 people although slightly larger groups may also be accommodated.
To reserve a tour and for more information about their programs visit: www.orustshellfish.se
Stay: the charming and cozy Strandflickornas Havshotell is located in a residential part of Lysekil – friendly staff, well decorated, clean and comfortable rooms, a local breakfast and beautiful views make this an excellent choice. To book visit: www.strandflickorna.se