The beautiful saga island of Kinn with its cleft mountain lies on the coast outside Florø in western Norway. The mountain has been a sailing landmark for more than a 1,000 years and has now become world famous.
Kinnaklova, the mountain which is split in two and which is the signature mountain on Kinn and for the entire surrounding island community, is the backdrop for the well-known Hollywood film Dune. Come with us to Kinn, the island where anything can happen.
This article has been written in collaboration with Flora Historielag.
The Fjord Coast and Sunnfjord is the official destination company for Kinn and the Florø and Sunnfjord area.
The boat trip from Florø to Kinn goes almost due west and is an adventure in itself. The boat trip out to Kinn takes approximately 45 minutes. The boats that go to Kinn most often start from the Hurtigbåt terminal at Fugleskjærskaia in Florø Hamn and ends at Kinn Kai (the pier at Kinn), which is located on the east side of the island of Kinn.
There are usually several boats moored in Florø at the same time, and it is recommended to ask the crew on board which boat goes to Kinn. Be there in good time before depature, this can change for various reasons. Also notify the shipping company/boat when you need to return from Kinn. Do this in good time before the boat leaves Florø, it is not certain that the boats will stop at Kinn if it has not been booked and informed about it in advance by those travelling.
The boat trips can vary greatly depending on the weather and wind. You can experience sun and summer and flat seas. But there can also be autumn and winter storms with foaming wave tops where you can feel the forces that only nature on the west coast can have.
Some practical information about the boat trip to and from Kinn
- Book a boat to and from Kinn at Florø Skyssbåt.
- Notify the shipping company/boat when you need a return from Kinn. You should give them notice at least half an hour before the boat leaves Florø (remember that the boat you must give notice to is the same boat that you will be on, on the return from Kinn to Florø).
The island of Kinn and Kinnaklova (the cleft mountain) has been a landmark for boats and ships for more than 1,000 years. In addition, Kinn and Kinn Church is a destination for pilgrims from both at home and abroad, it is today part of the Coastal Pilgrimage Route between Egersund and Trondheim. Kinn Church dates from the Middle Ages and is a beautiful monument from a bygone era. The church from around 1150 is one of Norway’s oldest stone churches.
There is much evidence that the island of Kinn and the area around was one of the first coastal areas to be used by humans after the last ice age. Kinn was probably a good area for fishing and hunting. The many natural caves in the mountains on the island are proof of that, they gave those who visited the island shelter from the weather.
In the 19th century, when fishing and especially winter herring fishing was at its best, a total of around 1,500 people lived on the islands of Kinn and Nærøyna during the high seasons. Many were seasonal workers, but it also led to many people to settle on the island on a permanent basis. The rich seasonal fishing meant that many people had to rent sea houses to live in, and many also worked with salting, preserving and processing the fish. Kinn, and Nærøyna, which lies north of Kinn, had a total of 86 salteries in operation at most.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, fishing and the fishing fleet went through a major shift. The boats became larger and could go further out to sea, and the boats eventually became motorized. This resulted in fewer fishermen because the boats became bigger and more expensive, not everyone could afford the new and expensive boats.
Close distance to the fishing fields was no longer so important either, and the new boats required larger and safer harbours that were closer to the mainland. This has led to Kinn, like many other fishing communities along the Norwegian coast, being gradually depopulated in modern times. Today, there are only a few permanent residents left on Kinn, and only a few remains from the old boathouses as reminders of the time when fishing was at its best.
Today, people travel to Kinn mainly to visit Kinn Church and to see and experience Mt Kinnaklova and the beautiful and untouched nature and not least to experience the annual Kinnaspelet outdoor theatre. Many, both from home and abroad, also go to Kinn on pilgrimage.
The island of Kinn and the neighboring island of Nærøyna are both bird reserves, and dogs are must be kept on a leash all year round on the two islands.
The red “Malarhuset” (the painters house) at Kinn is situated just above the pier at Kinn, to the far right of the white house and the red houses on the farm. Kinn Gallery is located in Malarhuset, in addition to the skins from Old Norse Spelsau which is for sale both there and in the white house.
In the gallery there is an exhibition of some of Harald Seim’s paintings. Entrance is free, contact Sissel and Hermod in the white house and they will open the gallery for you.
Some practical information about the island of Kinn
- There is no drinking water on the island, you must bring enough drinking water with you when you visit Kinn. Kyrkjestova, which is located next to Kinn Kirke, sells drinks in addition to simple serving when there is a host there. It is usually open from the end of June to the end of August, exact dates and opening times are somewhat uncertain. It is therefore recommended to bring your own drink/food when you visit Kinn. Contact Kinn Church for more information and the opening hours of Kinn Church and Kyrkjestova.
- The weather can change dramatically in the west coast of Norway. This is the reason why you should follow the Norwegian Mountain Code when you are at Kinn. It can change from summer and sun to wind, rain, frost and winter in minutes! Always bring good clothes and hiking shoes. And have enough food and water in your backpack. Kinn is a harsh place with a lot of wind and rain. That is why it is often wet on the hiking trails and in the terrain.
- Always check the weather before you travel to Kinn. It is recommended not to go hiking in thunderstorms and when there is fog and bad weather!
Kinn Church dates from the Middle Ages and is a beautiful monument from a bygone era. The church dates from around 1150 and is one of Norway’s oldest stone churches.
There is much uncertainty as to why Kinn Church was built on the island of Kinn. It may have been Celtic monks from Ireland who came there already in the early Middle Ages. Historical sources tell of monks with a great thirst for adventure who put to sea in open boats and let the wind and ocean currents take them where God decided. These monks and other holy men traveled to several remote places along the Norwegian coast to worship their God in solitude.
It is claimed that these holy men looked for divine signs in nature to show them where to settle. Kinnaklova may have been such a divine sign from nature, and is therefore a possible reason why Kinn Church was built exactly where it stands today. Both Kinn and Selja, which lie further north, are islands where the monks settled, and Selja and Selja Monastery became a religious center and diocese for Western Norway.
Kinn Church is open in summer. Kyrkjestova, which is located next to Kinn Church, sells drinks in addition to simple serving when there is a host there. Kyrkjestova is usually open from the end of June to the end of August, exact dates and opening times for Kinn Church and Kyrkjestova is somewhat uncertain. Therefore, contact Kinn Church for more information and the opening hours of the church and Kyrkjestova.
Kinnaspelet, Songen ved det store djup, is a historical play with Kinn Church, Mt Kinnaklova and the Atlantic Ocean as mighty backdrops. At the premiere in 1985 and for several years afterwards, the weather was so nice at Kinnaspelet that “Kinnaspel-weather” became a new expression that was introduced both by the participants and the audience from near and far. They believed that the person who set it all in motion must have had direct contact with the person who controlled the weather. And it was, not surprisingly, the priest himself who had the idea and who took the initiative for the historical play. Odd Stubhaug started as parish priest in Kinn Parish in 1974. He sowed the seed that same year and was the initiator of what eleven years later became the historic Kinnaspelet.
The story behind the historical play is the legend of Sunniva and the story of the Selju-men who were supposed to have been both at Selja and at Kinn. The central part of the story is connected to Kinn Church and the legend of Borni who built the church, from long before the church was built until after the Reformation and the break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Kinnaspelet and the performance of Songen ved det store djup was a great success. Both the story, the song and the music and the performance in the mighty scenery by the ocean made a big impression on the audience, the press, radio and TV. Therefore, Kinnaspelet has been an annual tradition and event ever since its inception. The exception was in the years 2020 and 2021 when there were no historic plays due to the pandemic.
Walking along Sunnivaleia / Pilgrimsleia around the island of Kinn is a great hike with beautiful views. You start from the pier at Kinn and turn left behind the white house that stands just above the pier (see sign next to the house). You follow the marked trail that runs along the south side of the island. Continue across Høyskaret and down onto the flat ground on the other side of Høyskaret, where you turn right towards Kinn Church. Høyskaret is the highest point on the hike and is located at 110 meters above sea level. If you look to the left when you are at the bottom of the flat ground, you are looking straight up towards Mt Kinnaklova.
See Flora Turlag’s article about the hike for more detailed information with map description, only in Norwegian language. This is a round trip of a total of 4.6 kilometers that takes you about two hours to walk. The last part of the hike, from Kinn Church to the pier at Kinn, is about 1.3 kilometers along a gravel road.
Sunnfjord is situated between the Sognefjord and Nordfjord, and is a great area for nature experiences, culture and activities in beautiful and wild nature. Some of the things you can do in Sunnfjord are glacier-hikes, Alpine Ski-touring and Ski Centres, mountain hikes, biking, kayaking and trout fishing on Lake Jølstravatnet and island hopping on the western coast. Lake Jølstravatnet is the lifeblood of the 12 villages that are idyllically located down by the lake in Jølster. There is a short way to the diversity of what you can see and do in the area around Lake Jølstravatnet and Kjøsnesfjorden. Astruptunet in Jølster, with all its contents, the workshop and the equipment that belonged to the painter Nikolai Astrup, is open for guided tours during summer. The road over Gaularfjellet takes the traveller into the waterfalls from the mighty Sognefjord. The 130 kilometer long drive is exciting and varied and is one of ten National Tourist Routes in western Norway. The new viewpoint at Utsikten at the top of Gaularfjellet is one of many great viewpoints along this road which goes between Balestrand in Sogn and Moskog and Sande in Sunnfjord. The road is closed during winter. Farthest west is the city of Florø with its many islands. One of the islands is Kinn with Kinn Church, a stone church from the 12th century. There is the annual Kinnaspelet which tells the story of Princess Sunniva from Ireland who escaped from the Viking King Ramn who wanted her as his queen. Førde and Florø are cities and municipal centers in Sunnfjord which stretches from the Jostedalsbreen Glacier in the east to the coast and the archipelago in the west.