Located in the outer Stockholm Archipelago, Sandhamn is one of the most legendary sailing destinations in the Baltic Sea, especially among the sail racing folks. Sandhamn is probably best known as the main scene for the prestigious Gotland Runt sailing competition, which gathers every year around 300 boats to take part in the race around the Gotland.
My first visit to Sandhamn was in the summer of 2009. This was actually my first trip to Stockholm Archipelago as well, so approaching Sandhamn after 80 nm singlehanded Baltic Sea crossing from Kökar felt particularly thrilling. There were a lot of boats at the sea, but one could tell from a good distance, that Sandhamn was full of masts already in the early evening, so I was a bit anxious if I would find a berth from the harbour. Also the sea charts and marks in Sweden are a bit different, so that required some extra attention. The Stockholm Archipelago appeared to be very lively, and the contrast was large to quiet Åland Archipelago, which I had left early in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, I love those quiet anchorages on Åland, but Sandhamn is a place, which should be experienced during the high season: the harbour with almost 200 guest berths is filled every night with boats of all-sizes, coming from all over the Baltic Sea and further.
Sandhamn is actually the name of the harbour on the island called Sandön, that is a Swedish expression for ‘sand island’. Indeed, the whole island is basically made of sand. Nowadays, it is difficult to imagine, that the island has originally been barren and treeless. Pine trees were planted on the island to anchor the sand, and nowadays the island is covered by lush forests, which give Sandön a somewhat exotic appearance. The middle part of the island is scattered by numerous trails which offer great walks to the different parts of the island.
During the summer season it may be a good idea to look for a berth from a nearby Lökholmen, also owned by the Royal Swedish Yacht Club (KSSS), which is one of the oldest yachting clubs in the world. The atmosphere on Lökholmen is quite different than on the nearby Sandhamn: the island has kept its natural state better and the overall feeling is quieter and more like on a wild/natural anchorage — even if there are fairly good facilities and berths for about 200 guest boats. Sandhamn can be easily visited from a nearby Lökholmen, since there is free ferry boat running hourly.
If we have enough time during this season, we would like to make a detour to Stockholm Archipelago, when going to or coming from Gotland. Visit to Sandhamn/Lökholmen is almost a must.