About Hvaler

Welcome to Hvaler

Hvaler is a municipality that is a group of islands in the southwestern part of Østfold county, Norway. The administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Skjærhalden, on the island of Kirkeøy. The only police station in the municipality is located in Skjærhalden. Hvaler was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt).

The name is the plural form of hval which means "whale". The form and shape of the islands are resembling a pod of whales. Prior to 1889, the name was spelled "Hvaløerne".


The coat-of-arms is from modern times. They were granted on 9 December 1983. The arms show a silver-colored boat on a blue background. This boat is the type that was typical in the 13th century. This was chosen since this island municipality has been dependent on boats for all its history, and because fisheries and sailing have been the main economic activities for many centuries.[2]


South of Skjærhalden lies a chain of a few inhabitable islands as well as several hundreds of smaller islands and rocks. The bigger islands are named, clockwise, Nordre Sandøy, Søndre Sandøy, Hærføl, Søndre Lauer, and Nordre Lauer. Another smaller island is Tisler. On all of these islands, with the exception of Søndre Lauer, summer houses fill the landscape. The islands of Søndre Sandøy and Hærføl are the two only islands that have local shops and roads which support car traffic.

Nordre Sandøy, situated on the north end of this chain of islands in southern Hvaler is one of the largest islands with a distinct flora and fauna diversity. Although equipped with a good stretch of roads, car traffic is forbidden there and no commercial activity whatsoever exists. In many ways, this gives its population (mostly summertime vacationers) a greater feeling of isolation from the average Norwegian's hectic life and it acts as a buffer against pollution. Nordre Sandøy is thought to have been one of the bases of Peter Tordenskjold during his time as a privateer. One of the bays on the island is named "Tordenskjoldsbukta" (Norwegian: Bay of Tordenskjold). The remains of two privateers have been found on the island. Legend has it that he buried some of his treasure on the island. In 1997, a local boy, Simon Rene Magnussen, found three old golden coins while scuba diving in the area.

Hvaler is the most sunny geographical area in Norway.[citation needed] The closest weather station is on the island of North Koster just across the border to Sweden.