Kustavi is an archipelago municipality, with all traditions of fishing and seafaring you'd imagine, along with cottages along the shores. It is named after king Gustav III of Sweden, who reigned in 1783, when two chapels where consolidated to the one of Kustavi.
Because of the post-glacial rebound many former islands are now connected. The place names usually reflect the former islands, and the former sounds can often be recognised as deep bays and lowlands.
The parish village Kustavi is on the former island Kivimaa, by the main boating fairway between the Archipelago Sea and the Bothnian Sea.
As seen in many place names, the area is heavily influenced by the Swedish language.
Volter Kilpi, a famous Finnish writer, was born in Kustavi, and a Volter Kilpi week is arranged yearly by the local society of literature. His books are very hard to translate, using features of the Finnish language and colloquial speech for a very special style. His main work (Alastalon salissa) is about a meeting in Kustavi on building a sailing ship – a big enterprise for the countrymen (the 800-page book covers the grand 6 hr of the meeting). There is a culture path following the route described in another book by Kilpi (Kirkolle).
Most businesses try to use local produce.
Kustavi is at the end of road 192 (Kustavintie) from Raisio via Taivassalo. The junction from E8 is some 17 km north from Turku, a bit north of the Turku bypass and the centre of Raisio. Road 196 leads from Uusikaupunki (here called Lokalahdentie) via Lokalahti to Taivassalo and Kustavintie.
There are coaches from Turku to the centre by Taivassalon Auto. There are coaches also between Turku and the ferry quays of Vuosnainen and Heponiemi, connecting to some ferry arrivals. The coaches to Heponiemi either go via Kustavi centre or go there after Heponiemi. See Matkahuolto.
There is a ferry connection also from Iniö, in turn connected to the rest of the Swedish-speaking archipelago in season. The quay on the Kustavi side is in 2 Heponiemi, Laupunen. Bikers from the mainland can come via Naantali, Merimasku and Taivassalo, with the Teersalo–Hakkeenpää ferry of Velkua. These connections are part of the Archipelago Trail.
There are guest marinas in Vuosnainen (Vuosnaisten meriasema, by the ferry quay to Åland), in Parattulanlahti near the ferry quay to Iniö (Peterzéns), and south of the centre (Lootholma). For short visits to Kustavi parish village there are jetties near the road ferry quay and (restricted height and draught) in Flara east of the centre. There is a jetty for short visits also in Pleikilä (by the main 5.5 m fairway, near the north end of the Ströömi sound).
For getting around, you are mostly on your own: use your car or bike if you have one. There are coaches from Turku along Kustavintie, probably also some to Heponiemi and Vuosnainen, there are taxicabs, and you could hire a small boat or have somebody drive you by boat.
Small outboard-engine boats are for hire at Vuosnainen, a fast HT outboard boat at Lootholma and rowing boats at least in Lootholma, probably at several accommodations. All of these are primarily for trips in nice weather in sheltered waters. Off Lypyrtti or even on Iniönaukko to the south, a fresh breeze from the wrong direction will be too much for these.
The road from the mainland comes in from Taivassalo by bridges via several minor islands, reaching the main island. To the south is Laupunen with the ferry quay to Iniö. The north part of the island is Rahi. The parish village is on the former island Kivimaa in the north-west (the roads takes a shortcut by a bridge). The road continues north over a host of minor islands to Kaurissalo, which faces the Bothnian Sea.
West of these islands is Ströömi (cf "Stream"), a long straight sound connecting the Archipelago Sea with the Bothnian Sea, with a 5.5 m fairway, part of the main boating route from Hanko to Uusikaupunki. There is also a 3.4 m fairway east of the islands and a 10.0 m fairway along Skiftet, which separates Finland Proper from Åland. Most guest marinas and guest jetties are by Ströömi, often hidden behind an island or peninsula.
West of Ströömi is Vartsala with the villages Etelä-Vartsala and Pohjois-Vartsala and Vuosnainen (Osnäs) with the ferry quay to Brändö. The grounds of the former Middle-Age chapel lie at Kappeliranta near Pohjois-Vartsala. To the north-west lies an archipelago of a million tiny islands and rocks, and by the mouth of Ströömi the island of Lypyrtti (Lypertö) with the former coastal fort Katanpää (now a destination in Bothnian Sea National Park) at its north-west end. There is a boating route leading west of Vuosnainen to Lypyrtti.
The main islands are nowadays connected to each other and to the mainland with bridges. There is a 3 cable ferry passage across Ströömi from Kivimaa to Vartsala.
- Archipelago nature, including the geologically interesting rocks, the birdlife, and the variations depending on shelter, sun and soil.
- 1 Kustavi Church, Kirkkotie 3 (in the centre), ☏ . Weekdays 12:00–15:00. Wooden church inaugurated on its current site in 1783. Originally the church was built in 1675 as a chapel in Rahi (the neighbouring "island"), enlarged when rebuilt. A ramp can be put in place as needed for wheelchair access.
- 2 Archipelago museum (Saaristolaismuseo), Vartsalantie 256 (in the Etelä-Vartsala village), ☏ . Midsummer–August. Local history museum. Also items brough from abroad by sailors.
- 3 Zoo (Rahin kotieläinpiha), Rahintie 561, ☏ , . Daily 21 May–August 12:00–16:00. Domestic animals, reptiles etc. Café. Barbecue for brought food.
- Maypoles in Etelä-Vartsala, Pohjois-Vartsala and Rahi. Kustavi is one of few Finnish-speaking areas with this tradition.
- Kustavi is on the main boating fairway through the Archipelago Sea, described in Hanko to Uusikaupunki by boat. For this you need a boat suitable for archipelagos, not only sheltered waters, unless you wait out any fresh winds.
- Kustavi was on the Great Post Route from Stockholm to Turku, inaugurated in 1636, although the route had been used also previously. It continues to the north, and along the southern coast as the King's Road to Vyborg (now in Russia). In Kustavi the route from Rantapuhti in Etelä-Vartsala (where the boats from Brändö landed) towards Turku is marked with red poles (many of which are missing as of 2021).
Fishing is big here, both professionally and as a leisure activity. Getting fishing equipment and directions should be easy. Although some angling (without a reel) is included in the right to access and only those 18–65 years old have to pay the national fee, check the regulations.
Any paid accommodation has sauna, sometimes included in the lodging fees, some available also to people not lodging. The sauna at Klipunkari is free for the public (two evenings weekly; see Swimming below).
- 1 Isokari (Enskär). July. Guided tours to the Isokari lighthouse in the Bothnian Sea National Park. Restaurant and café on the island.
- 2 Jeremias's caves (Jeremian luolat), Kivimaantie 176. An area with outcrop hills, rocks and caves, in a nature reserve. Keep to the trails. The area is rough with no safety measures. Guided tours can be arranged. The story has a man named Jeremias was asked for advice by a British navy division in the 1700s and hide here for the angry mislead enemies.
- 3 Katanpää (by boat only), ☏ (national park), (harbour and transport services), (café and accommodation), email@example.com. Part of the Russian chain of coastal forts from the 1910s, later part of Finland's defence, now part of Bothnian Sea National Park. Lunch, grill and café fare, guided tours, accommodation and sauna available. The island can be visited by own boat or as part of a tour, otherwise check transport options.
- Kustavin luontopolku, Keskustie 7. A 4-km nature and culture trail between the centre and the parking by the road ferry quay. Not suitable for wheelchairs or prams. Free.
- 4 Vuosnaisten luontopolku, Vuosnaistentie 617 (By the Vuosnainen ferry quay). 1 km nature trail along the shore. Not suitable in wet weather or in winter, as the rocks are dangerously slippery then. Free.
There are tours to Isokari and Katanpää, a free ferry trip to Iniö is possible, and fishing trips and other excursions can be arranged. Small boats are available for hire without crew, see Get around above.
- Merenpolku, Wihurintie 18, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Fishing trips and archipelago tours.
- Kustavin Charter, Lindeninkuja 2, ☏ , email@example.com. Brändö, Iniö, Isokari, Katanpää etc. Also an overnight archipelago visit or other destinations by agreement. €25–50/person, longer trips by agreement.
Swimming and beach life are free. The official beaches may be the easiest option, but if you want to take a dip where you happen to be, if you want to swim by yourselves or you wish to swim naked, you can use any suitable shore. Keep your distance to ferry quays, jetties and cottages and you should be fine. There should be no non-obvious dangers, except slippery rocks and underwater obstacles – don't jump in without having checked. Keep close to the shore to avoid possible boats and to manage if you get problems.
- 5 Klipunkari beach, Klipunkarintie 38 A, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Sauna and shower April–October M Th 17:00–21:00; beach 24 hr daily. Sandy beach, jetty, springboard, changing cubicles, outhouse toilets, sauna and showers. Free.
- 6 Laukkari, Ruoninluodontie 100 D (signage from the Iniöntie road, parking 100 m from the beach). Rocky beach with swimming jetty. Changing cubicles and outhouse toilets. Lean-to shelter. The shelter grounds are accessible by wheelchair, the shore is not. Free.
- 7 Lootholma beaches, Kuninkaantie 193 (on the Lootholma grounds). Sandy shallow beaches, suitable for children. Free.
- 1 Sale Majakka, Pleikiläntie 2 (in the centre), ☏ . Groceries. ABC fuel station. Alko. Fish and vegetable/berry stands by independents.
- 2 Käsityökylä (Kustavin savipaja), Iniöntie 411 b (along minor road, junction at the road from the Heponiemi ferry quay towards Turku), ☏ , email@example.com. June–August, some shops all year. "Handicraft village" with several workshops and a factory outlet. Café. Ceramics, candlemaker, blacksmith, silversmith, glass manufacture. Animals.
- 3 Friisilän tila, Friisiläntie 8 (between the parish village and Heponiemi), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily in season, weekends in the spring. Vegetables, potatoes, berries, flowers. Produce for sale also by Sale Majakka in season. Café with own pastries. Also lunch. Chicken, ducks and rabbits in the yard. Playyard.
There are restaurants in the main village, by the guest marinas and at some other lodgings; see also Sleep below.
- 1 Kustavin Krouvi, Kärtyntie 5 (in the centre), ☏ . Tu–Th, Su 12:00–18:00, F–Sa 12:00–19:00. Pizza and snacks. €15.
- 2 Saaristoravintola Prykä, Kivimaantie 11 (in the centre), ☏ . Sandwhiches, burgers, sallads.
- 3 Spauna, Vuosnaistentie 616 (Vuosnainen, by the ferry quay for Åland), ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 09:00–19:00. Restaurant, cottages, store and boat hire. The former owners kept the place as Kustavin Kalatuvat, serving fishermen, and the new owner couple try to cater also to this group. Small open boats with outboard engine (for sheltered waters in nice weather). Groceries, nature cosmetics, lifestyle products etc. Pizza, pasta and burgers €15, waffles €13, snacks €5–11, children's menu €7–11; breakfast €15; boat €20/hr, €100/day; Cottage prices complicated, 2 persons in season with breakfast €94/140 (small cabin/cabin with sauna).
Most accommodation is in cottages or as camping. No hotels. There are restaurants, though, by many of the accommodation businesses. Pets are usually allowed in some of the cottages, tell when booking and pay an extra fee.
Sleeping in the woods (with or without tent) is allowed according to the right to access, as long as you do not disturb or harm people or wildlife. No campfires. Leave no trace.
There are two lean-to shelters that are also free to use. Campfires allowed unless there is a wildfire warning. Use provided firewood sparingly, don't harm trees. Be considerate to other people. The shelters are accessible with wheelchair; one can drive closer from the parking in these cases.
- Kivimaa lean-to (Kivimaan laavu), Vähämaankuja (700 m from the parking), firstname.lastname@example.org. Free.
- Laukkari lean-to: by the shore, see Swimming above.
With a tent, caravan or yacht, also the options below are quite cheap.
- 1 Peterzéns (in a bay near the Heponiemi ferry quay), ☏ , email@example.com. Marina, restaurant, shop and accommodation. Food ingredients mostly from local suppliers. Shop with clothes, souvenirs and other design products, partly local handicraft. Accommodation in "boathouses", refurnished sea-freight containers, 1–4 persons. Private toilet, shared showers and sauna. Breakfast and linen included. €98.
- 2 Vuosnaisten meriasema, Vuosnaistentie 616 (Vuosnainen, by the ferry quay for Åland), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–W Su 09:00–17/19:00, Th–Sa 09:00–19/20:00; buffet 11:30–16:30. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Cottages, restaurant, marina, shop with bakery, and equipment rental. Breakfast and linen to be reserved in advance. Besides groceries and pastry, the shop has an odd collection of things you might need, including fishing equipment and toys. The fish is from local (Kustavi and Brändö) fishermen, all food is made on-site. Grill menu when café open. €75–105 for 2 persons, off season €55–95; 4 persons €100–145/€90–135, 6 persons €185/175; linen €12, breakfast €10–12; buffet: by weight; grill fare €3.50–15.
- 3 Lootholma, Kuninkaantie 193 (2 km south from the centre; don't confuse with Lootholm south of Kustavi), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:30. Guest marina, camping, accommodation, restaurant, shop (clothing). Accommodation in cottages and yurts. Electricity, television, Most have kitchen, some have private sauna, some have private toilet and shower. Harbour fee includes electricity, sauna, and laundry machine and dish machine use. HT-boat for hire. Harbour fee €25; tent €14+€5/person; caravan €17+€5/2, electricity €2/5; accommodation: variable, e.g. €154/2 persons; meals €15–30, children's menu €10–15; rowing boat €20/2 hr.
The sea is the main danger.
Don't swim alone, and if you have children, keep an eye on them all the time – somebody disappearing below the surface will not call for help, and unless you keep staring at the exact position, finding them is difficult. Also quays and jetties are dangerous.
If you go boating, check weather forecasts and respect the sea. Going by the wind or staying on an island you won't notice the waves growing, and the boats available here are not for rough weather.
- The Archipelago Trail goes through Kustavi. Going south along the trail means taking the ferry to Iniö, and to the "small island" part of the trail. Going east will take you to the "mainland" part of the trail; Taivassalo and the Vakka-Suomi countryside.
- Brändö – the north-eastern part of Åland is a short ferry ride away.
- Uusikaupunki – one of the oldest cities in Finland is also an option. Drive to Taivassalo and from there north to get to Uusikaupunki. When going there you can take a sidetrip to the hamlet (sic!) of Helsinki.