Reine, the Most Picturesque Fishing Village in Norway’s Lofoten Islands

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Morning light in Hamnoy

If you are curious about visiting Norway’s Lofoten Islands, it’s most likely because you’ve seen images of Reine, an extremely picturesque fishing village.

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Frosty scenery (and marina) in Reine

Reine, and nearby Hamnoy, are probably the most photographed spots in the Lofoten Islands for good reason. The scenery is beautiful all year long. Gorgeous lagoons with bright water ooze Nordic charm during the summer months, against the backdrop of rugged and rocky Reinebringen.

Harbor Time Lapse in Reine video

In the winter, the same spots become a frozen fairyland with epic snowy scenery. The views are spectacular.

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Colorful cottages on the lagoon in Reine

Fishing is still the main industry in Lofoten Islands and reason for the plentiful docks, boats, and colorful fishing cottages (called rorbuer) that about. The cottages are filled with seasonal fisherman and visitors during the summer, and packed with photographers hoping to catch a glimpse of the northern lights during the winter.

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Pretty little church in Reine

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Cod drying racks about in the Lofoten Islands

Unsalted cod is dried in a traditional method on racks (called flakes) in villages all over the Lofoten Islands.

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Stockfish drying in the Lofoten Islands

In addition to cod, other kinds of whitefish, including haddock, pollack, ling and cusk are also used as stockfish.

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Fish heads, fish heads roly poly fish heads

Not even the fish heads go to waste. The arctic cod heads are dried and then sold to countries including Nigeria where they are ground up to be used in soups, stews, and in animal feed.

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An empty fish drying rack in Reine

Once dried, the arctic cod filets are exported to the world, and are extremely popular in Italy.

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Men hanging cod to dry on racks in the Lofoten Islands

Norwegian salmon is also popular and can be bought at almost every market on the islands.

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Left: stockfish snacks in a hotel minibar Right: Salmon, anyone?

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Fishing lures for sale at a market in Reine

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Pretty red fishing cabins in Reine

There is even a Lofoten Stockfish Museum in the islands where you can learn about the stockfish industry’s history in the islands.

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Moody gorgeous Reine

Reine looked very different in the winter than when I visited back in October. Check out these images I photographed from similar angles just four months apart.

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Left: Reine in October Right: Similar view of Reine in February

Both fall and winter have their benefit and charms. I’m glad I had a chance to visit in two different seasons.

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Left: Looking over Eliassen Rorbuer in October Right: Looking over Eliassen Rorbuer in February

If you are planning to visit the Lofoten Islands, you might want to consider staying at Eliassen Rorbuer and exploring the Lofoten Stockfish Musuem to learn more about the history of the fishing industry in the area.

Eliassen Rorbuer

Address: Hamnøy, 8390Reine

Phone: +47 45814845

rorbuer@online.no

Lofoten Stockfish Museum

Address: Å i Lofoten, 8392 Sørvågen, Norway

Phone: +47 76 09 12 11

Photographing Norway: Arctic Sunsets in the Lofoten Islands

 

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Icy sunset on Haukland Beach

The phrase “sunset on the beach” usually conjures up images of tropical destinations and cocktails decorated with with paper umbrellas. The beaches in Norway’s Lofoten Islands might not fit the stereotype, but the sunset scenery is no less stunning.

Sexy slow motion sunset (shot on iPhone 7 plus)

One of my favorite stops during my Arctic Photography Workshop was Haukland Beach, also known as Hauklandstranda.

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No Filter Sunset on Haukland Beach

The colorful sunset I witnessed (and photographed) had colors so unreal, some of the images I took looked overly photoshopped despite being #nofilter.

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Snowy sunset on Hauklandstranda

The drama of the colorful sky, clouds, sea, and dramatic arctic scenery was breathtaking.

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#NoFilter Sunset on Haukland Beach

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Sand, snow, and a sunset

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Pastel sunset in Northern Norway

Haukland Beach is considered one of the best beaches in the Lofoten Islands. Don’t let winter weather keep you from checking it out for yourself.

Haukland Beach, Leknes Island

8370, Uttakleivveien 200, 8370 Leknes, Norway

(10 km north of Leknes)

Just before entering the tunnel to Utakleiv is a parking area on the left.

Photographing the Northern Lights in the Lofoten Islands, Norway

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Gorgeous aurora borealis in Norway’s Lofoten Islands

Part of the reason I chose to take an Winter Aurora Photography Workshop in the Lofoten Islands with Stian Klo was the possibility of seeing the northern lights, and challenge of photographing them.

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The northern lights move quickly in the arctic sky GIF

Aurora hunting is always exciting. Photographing the northern lights in arctic winter conditions pushed me way outside of my comfort zone.

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Northern lights + cloudy skies = meh 

Conditions need to align to get a good photo of the northern lights. The first night I tried photographing the aurora, cloudy skies made it rather difficult. But it was good practice for playing with settings on my Canon SLR and getting used to shooting in these conditions.

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Arctic landscape + northern lights = win

The combination of cumbersome arctic gear, deep fresh snow, night shooting in cold temperatures was fairly stressful. I’m grateful I got a few images northern lights images I’m happy with.

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Northern lights on display in Norway

Once the aurora shows up, the cold just disappears and the adrenaline starts pumping. I forgot I was freezing. My tripod froze up and I did not care. I moved around a bit and took in the amazing light show. It wasn’t until after I was done shooting and I began to thaw in the car when I realized just how cold it was.

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Auroragasm in the Lofoten Islands

With a group of photographers in a workshop environment, it’s interesting to see how different everyone works. There were some hard core landscape photographers in the mix. As a travel photographer, I’m a solid all-around shooter. But my style is realistic. I’m not one who likes to spend hours editing to produce a perfect image. I’m convinced my strong suit will never be photographing in arctic conditions at night. But I am better at it than I was before taking Stian Klo’s workshop, and that was the point.

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Green streaks of the aurora in the Norwegian sky

I definitely picked up a few great editing tips from photographers/Lofoten Tours partners Stian Klo and Arild Heitmann to integrate into my workflow. It is always inspiring seeing how others photograph the same scene.

While chasing the aurora, I concentrated on still photography using my DSLR. I was blown away by Abu Dhabi-based landscape photographer Natasha Haggard’s time lapse and drone work. She graciously allowed me to include her fantastic video it in this post. Her YouTube channel is worth checking out.

Aurora Chasing video by Landscape photographer Natasha Haggard of The Light Majestic 

Take a peek at Natasha’s website, The Light Majestic to see more of her amazing work.

Much thanks to tour leader Stian Klo and photographer/driver Vidar who were great at both helping and pushing me outside my comfort zone.

Exploring Norway: Winter Photo Workshop in the Lofoten Islands

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White on white landscape in Norway’s Lofoten Islands

I’m currently in the middle of a week long photo workshop in Norway’s Lofoten Islands. I visited this spot back in October and truly loved it. It’s a winter wonderland in late February. I wanted to share this cloud lapse video I made so you could get a sense of the beauty of this special Scandinavian spot.

Arctic Cloud Lapse 

I booked this week long photo workshop through Iceland Photo Tours, a company I had a great experience with in 2015. This tour is being led by Stian Klo, a Norwegian native who has major photo game. Photographer Shane Wheel is also helping with this workshop.

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This landscape was the inspiration for the movie Frozen

I am definitely outside my comfort zone with extra gear, parkas, and toting multiple tripods. We’ll see if my photos come out great.

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Snowy marina in Reine

I’ll cover the tour in depth in future posts.

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Happy little clouds in Norway

Exploring the Riviera Maya: Andaz Mayakoba, Mexico

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The Cenote-inspired lobby of the Andaz Mayakoba

I recently spent a few days at the brand new Andaz Mayakoba just north of Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The chic beach resort, located within the Mayakoba Eco-Resort, opened in December 2016.

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Birds of Paradise in the Andaz Mayakoba Lobby

Located about 45 minutes from the Cancun International Airport (CUN), It’s the just the sort of spot on Mexico’s Riviera Maya that appeals to luxury travelers who want the golden sand of Caribbean beaches without the spring break vibe of a mega resort.

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One of the three pools at the Andaz Mayakoba

I was suprised to find that Cancun was only 4 1/2 hours from Los Angeles by plane, and my flight had tail winds and landed thirty minutes early. The user-friendly nature of Mayakoba makes the resort geographically desirable from both US coasts, since Miami is only 90 minutes away by plane.

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Colorful octopus mural by Senkoeat the Andaz Mayakoba

I was amazed by how well-oiled the resort Andaz Mayakoba ran after being open less than a month. The service was surprisingly seemless. We were the first guests to occupy our suite. The only “tell” I could find of the property’s newness was trying to find out how to adjust the fan in my suite’s bedroom. Matainance showed up and we figured it out together in less than a minute.

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Fun floaty toys at the Andaz Mayakoba

All the construction on the property was finished and there are a few murals that were not yet complete, but that also allowed guests to have a chance to spot Playa del Carmen-based street artist Senkoe on the property.

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Left: Pool side at the Andaz Mayakoba Right: Colorful patio furniture on the suite’s patio

Keeping with the clean, contemporary, and cool vibe of the Andaz brand, the Andaz Mayakoba also has some cool Mexican touches. There are some local snacks in the complementary mini-bar.

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The Mayakoba Resort is technically located in Playa del Carmen, but it’s a destination unto itself. Mayakoba features luxury hotels from Fairmont, Banyan Tree, and Rosewood and now the Andaz. It’s less than 15 minutes to the main drag of Playa del Carmen, but you won’t want for anything if you never leave the resort.

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Rainbow in paradise at Mayakoba 

Mayakoba also has a Greg Norman-designed golf course, El Camaleón, a tennis center, and a nature trail and bike path that connects all the individual hotel properties. This helps the resort feel big but not overwhelming. It’s not a mega-resort and it’s low profile makes it feel more connected to lush mangrove jungles and Mexican landscape.

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Ferry service at the Andaz Mayakoba Resort

There is even a ferry service connecting all the properties, making it easy for guests to stay at one property and dine at another. Complimentary bikes are available for guests to cruise from the Andaz to the any of the other Mayakoba properties. There is even a cenote, or water-filled sink hole, right on the Mayakoba property.

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Guest rooms at the Andaz Mayakoba

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In-room tequila set up at the Andaz Mayakoba

The rooms at the Andaz are contemporary Mexican chic with lots of light and colorful accents. Each building of the resort boast colorful bird murals painted by Senkoe.

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Interior of a bedroom at the Andaz Mayakoba

Our suite was spacious with a huge bedroom, walk in closet, bathroom, living room, two balconies and plunge pool.

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Mayan whimsical touches in the interior of the Andaz Mayakoba

I really like the laid back luxury of the Andaz brand. Service is top notch but not intrusive. The staff at the Andaz Mayakoba is very friendly. Jorge, who was in charge of taking care of us at the property, introduced himself to me as “your new best friend.”

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Another view of the Andaz suite living room

The Andaz has 214 guest rooms, 41 of which are suites. It is a family-friendly resort and has a kids club called Kimbo that hosts a killer movie night under the stars that adults are known to crash.

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Set up for movie night at Kimbo, the Andaz Mayakoba’s kids club

With three pools and generous stretch of white-sand beach, the resort doesn’t feel cramped. Of course there is also bright and airy spa with outdoor rooms that I did not have time to visit during my brief stay at the property.

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Margarita with lemon at OllaTaco

There are four restaurants on the Andaz property, with my favorites being the seafood-centric OllaCeviche. I was also delighted to lear that OllaTaco serves tacos for breakfast on extremely cute Mexican wrestler plates.

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Patron tequila at OllaCeviche

OllaCeviche also has a nice cocktail menu featuring Mezcal and tequila-based cocktails. It’s patio boasts a nice view of the beach.

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Chilaquiles + Mexican wrestler plates = win

Two days was not enough time to stress test all three pools and the beach. I did make a point of taking the nature hike and cenote tour, which is offered daily. It’s a cool way to check out one of the natural limestone sink holes and learn about their lore without too much effort.

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Left: a spicy Mezcal cocktail at OllaCeviche Right: broiled lobster tail for lunch

After spending a few days at the property my husband told me that he could “stay here a week.” This is high praise coming from a notoriously fical guest who usually gets sick of every property’s food after three days.

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Portrait of Jorge, my new best friend at the Andaz Mayakoba

One thing I especially liked about the Andaz Mayakoba experience was that while it had all the bells and whistles one needs in a Mexican luxury beach resort, it wasn’t isolated. You can easily head to a different hotel for lunch or dinner without requiring a taxi.

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The chapel interior in El Pueblito

The resort has El Pueblito, a small traditionally inspired Mexican village, complete with a cooking school, a church, art gallery, and a coffee shop that Jorge told me had the best coffee in the area. He was right!
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Left: exterior of the Chapel Right: a statue in the Chapel

The chapel hosts a Catholic mass on Sundays that is attended by guests as well as employees.

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Dappled light in the Mayakoba cenote

Two days wasn’t enough to fully explore all the Andaz has to offer and I’m certain I’ll be back soon to check out that spa. Room rates start at about $450.

ANDAZ MAYAKOBA RESORT RIVIERA MAYA

Carretera Federal Cancun-Playa Del Carmen Km. 298

Playa del Carmen-Solidaridad, Quintana Roo, Mexico, 77710

Tel: +52 984 1491234

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