Remote craggy Vaerøy, along with the even more remote island of Rost, lies to the far southwest of the Lofoten archipelago and is a bird-watcher's paradise. Vaerøy's Mount Mostadfjell is the nesting place for more than 1.5 million seabirds, including sea eagles, auks, puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes, cormorants, arctic terns, eider petrels, gulls, and others that breed from May to August.

Vaerøy's population is only 775 hearty souls who live on an island of Lilliputian fishing villages; white-sand beaches open onto Arctic-chilled waters, towering ridges, and seabird rookeries.

Ferries from Bodø (tel. 76-96-76-00) arrive here in 4 1/2 hours and cost NOK514 ($103/£52) for a one-way passage with car. For passengers without a car, it's NOK143 ($29/£14) each way. There is also a ferry link from Moskenes taking less than 2 hours and costing NOK210 ($42/£21) one-way.

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Seeing the Sights

The hamlet of Sørland lies to the east and south of the mountainous area on the island. At Nordland there is a large pebble beach, Mollbakken, right by the road from Sørland. Several burial sites from the Stone Age and also the Viking Age have been found here.

The mighty bird cliffs of Mount Mostadfjell can be found on the southwesterly side, facing the ocean. During the summer, trips to these cliffs are organized every day. Contact the tourist office for more information. If you don't like to join groups, you can explore on your own, as many hiking trails lead to the bigger of the seabird rookeries. One jaunt starts at the end of the route curving along the north of the island 6km (3 3/4 miles) from Sørland. This is our favorite walk in the remote southern islands because it not only has the best bird-watching in Norway, but it also leads rather eerily over the Isthmus of Eidet to the almost abandoned fishing village of Mastad, opening onto the rugged waters of the eastern shore. At one time, some 150 inhabitants lived here, catching puffins as a source of income, then curing the meat in salt. An unusual puffin dog, called the Mastad, was used to catch the puffins.

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Stout-hearted men or women can make the steep climb from Mastad up to the Måhornet peak, at 435m (1,427 ft.). Allow 1 arduous hour each way.

The only man-made attraction at Vaerøy is the Vaerøy Kirke, a wooden church with an onion-shaped dome at Nordland. It was taken apart and moved from the village of Kabelvåg and reassembled at Vaerøy in 1799. This is the oldest church in Lofoten. The altarpiece, from around 1400, is a late medieval English alabaster relief, depicting the Annunciation, the three Magi (or wise men), the Resurrection, and the Ascension. The church is usually open to visitors in summer but keeps no regular hours.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.