By the beach at Styrsö, Sweden. Summer 2020.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

If you take a drive along the Swedish west coast, you’ll find surprisingly few long stretches of soft sand beaches. Even if you stopped at well known scenic coastal villages located at Tjörn, Orust, Skärham, Lisekil and Marstrand, bathing spots are characterised mostly by large boulders smoothened over by heavy ice during the most recent Ice Age and weathering by the elements.

When I first arrived in Sweden about twenty years ago from tropical Singapore and the perfect constructed beaches of Sentosa Island, I didn’t quite understand how to use the boulders by the Swedish west coast. Do I lay out my towels over their curves? Do I place my shoes and belongings between the cracks of the rocks? How can I get a flat surface to place my picnic packed plates and cups? It was perplexing and a little frustrating. The immediate upside noticed however, is how those rocks warmed quickly with the summer’s sun and you could use that heat from the rocks to warm up after coming out of the cold ocean waters.

Today, the curves of the rock formation have internalized in my mind’s eye. From knowing when to take off your sandals (or risk twisting your ankle or sliding on macroalgae right into the icy waters of the ocean), to knowing where to uncurl your beach towel (a rock curve that suits your bodily curves) and where to chuck your belongs out of both the summer sun and the ocean tides for safe keeping (a nice shaded, dry crevice) whilst you dive into the waves. But even with information internalization, you’ll still need to watch where you land your feet. There are still no soft sands around here that you can instinctively curl and bury your toes into. They’re rocks, and even if in tiny bits, they can have a most striking foot reflexology sensation you might wish to avoid if you are no advanced yogi or mindfulness practitioner.

On crowd information. This summer at Styrsö beach front is almost like every other summer. There is not much of a crowd. Literally, noone. Possibly due to the time of day or the day of the week. But that’s a small treasure to experience for an hour or so, to have a bathing spot all to yourself. Perfect weather this day, and water was actually warm to the feet. Very nice.