Visit Sweden’s west coast for stunning sunsets, tranquil archipelago views and a safari with a difference - and test your strength on a lobster-fishing trip
I had never eaten lobster before, let alone tried to catch and cook it. So given the opportunity to do just that, on a stay at the warm and friendly, family-run Handelsman Flink, I was game on. Getting started involved dressing up in a wholly unattractive security outfit, warm gloves and hat. All nine of us in the group had a good giggle swaggering on board the small fishing vessel in our huge buoyant suits, which would save our lives in the unlikely event we might fall in.
Despite the small size of the boat, it still managed to gather a speed of 28 knots, enough to get your adrenaline pumping, especially if you’re sat at the front. We travelled 10 nautical miles from the coast to the first lobster pot. Surrounded by smooth waters and pretty archipelago islands, it was hard to imagine we were so far from the mainland. The first volunteer of the group (accompanied by chef Niclas) hauled up the pot, which is not as easy as it sounds. An element of skill is involved, especially that of balance. Using a long metal hook, you bend over the side of the boat and fish in the rope. Then, with a deep breath and all your strength, you aim to haul up the next 20 metres with the heavy pot at the end. Unfortunately, my strength didn’t allow me to participate in successfully pulling up a pot, but I had great fun trying and then relaxing on the boat whilst offering my moral support to everyone else.
Collectively, my group pulled up around 20 pots, two of which had lobster. We threw back the first magnificent and shining lobster, as she was full of roe. Back went the second also, as he was a bit too small. Any lobster less than 80mm from head to tail tip (around six years old) goes back to sea to grow bigger.
We may have been unsuccessful with the lobster fishing, but we still caught over 30 crabs. This is probably why there was so little lobster - crabs tend to bundle into the pots together and enjoy picking a fight with any curious lobsters passing by.
It's not all hard work. En route back to the hotel and restaurant, we stopped off at a delightful fishing village for coffee, cinnamon buns and a bit of a chat. Clambering in and out of the boat with our heavy puffer suits with low crotches was a bit of an effort for the ladies, but no-one minded too much.
As the afternoon turned to early evening we were still out at sea on the boat. The light was still bright and the motionless fluffy clouds were low. We watched the sun set and each of the suspended clouds turned into stunning shades of pink, orange, golden and then red. Water propelled behind the engine, flowing like red ribbons.
On arrival back at shore, it was time for our cooking lesson. Fortunately for us, Niclas had caught some lobsters earlier in the week, so we all took turns in picking them up and having a good study. I'd never imagined I would calmly hold a huge lobster, with its sturdy, active pincers clicking away. Then came the dreaded moment when we had to put the poor chaps into the boiling pot. This was another job that I left to the others. ‘It's a quick death,’ they were saying and I know that it's true but it still felt quite harsh.
Niclas mixed a cocktail of blond beer and dill into the boiling water and within moments the perfume of stock and cooking lobster filled the air. Our crash course on extracting the lobster meat from the claw was simple and straightforward. We all got to have a little taste of the arms before freshening up for a glorious and rather posh dinner of half lobster, followed by a chunky wedge of halibut and our neatly prepared lobster claw.
It was a real learning experience to go out to sea to catch lobster. I now know not only how to catch it, cook it and eat it, but I understand why it's so precious and an absolute treat. Truly beautiful creatures, it seems so sad to submerge them in boiling water and eat them. Still, I felt better with the knowledge that my lobster had a good free-range life for at least six years before ending up on my plate.
SAS flies from London Heathrow to Gothenburg from £108 return. Ryanair has flights from London Stansted from £10 one-way, including taxes. If you pick up a hire car from the airport, it's just over an hour's drive north to Handelsman Flink.
One-night safari packages at Handelsman Flink, including lunch, lobster safari, evening meal and breakfast, cost from 3500 SEK (approximately £295).
Need to know
Lobster season on the west coat of Sweden lasts just six weeks, starting from the end of September.