Trip Advisor is a good way to find things to do in your city. I recommend it even if you have lived somewhere for a long time. A recent browse led me to Pihlajasaari (Rowan Island) – a small island 3km off the coast of Helsinki.
After fearing summer would never come, July has been amazing and it was on a very sunny day that Miko and I walked to Ruoholahti and caught the boat across. They seem to leave every 15 minutes in summer. The return fare is 6 euro and as usual, children under seven travel free.
Pihlajasaari is actually made up of two islands connected by a footbridge. It has an area of about 26 hectares in total and has no permanent residents, although you can camp on the eastern island. There is also a restaurant and a sauna you can hire.
Back on the main beach there’s a gorgeous row of wooden changing sheds. Pihlajasaari is also home to a unisex nudist beach, one of only two in the whole country. That beach apparently has very little sand though and is not suitable for swimming….
The view back to Helsinki is of Länsisatama (West Harbour) where some of the big cruise ships to Tallinn and St Petersburg berth. It’s quite astonishing to be relaxing on the beach, hear a loud noise and then see a huge 3000-passenger ferry the size of a large building come sliding into view.
Miko slept for two hours in the stroller so I enjoyed the luxury of reading my book before he joined me in the water. It’s quite different to the beaches we are used to, as although it is the sea, it is not very salty at all, there is no surf and swimming is hardly affected by the tides.
As we got off the boat on the way home Miko dropped his cricket bat about 10 feet down into the water. I was ready to kiss it goodbye but a small rescue effort was deployed which ended up involving a man in a fishing boat coming across and hauling it out for us. A small cheer went up from the crowd that had gathered, which was really nice considering some may have not even known what a cricket bat was!