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Saltstraumen Maelstrom in Norway

The strongest whirlpool in the world which has existed for over 2000 years

Best time: March (year round, every full moon)

Saltstraumen Maelstrom
Saltstraumen Maelstrom
Saltstraumen Maelstrom
Saltstraumen Maelstrom
Saltstraumen Maelstrom

Saltstraumen is a strait with one of the strongest currents on the planet. Located in Nordland county, about 10 km (6.2 mi) southeast of Bodø, this short (3 km) and narrow (150 m) channel connects the Saltfjord and the Skjerstadfjord between the islands of Straumøya and Knaplundsøya. The tidal current in the strait is so strong that it pushes 400 million m³ of seawater through the strait with speed up to 37 km/hour. The currents form vortices up to 10 m in diameter and 5 m deep. One way to look at Saltstraumen is the Saltstraumen Bridge located on Norwegian County Road 17. The currents are the strongest in March and during the full moon every month.

Maelstrom means a "very powerful whirlpool." The Nordic word became international thanks to Edgar Allan Poe's story “A Descent into the Maelström.”

The current is formed when the tide moves towards the Skjerstad fjord. The height difference between the sea level and the fjord is almost one meter and the current speeds can be over 30 km/hour because of this difference. When the current turns, it's possible to go through the strait by boat and waters seem quite calm.

One of the most thrilling experiences in the Saltstraumen is snorkelling in the strait. Local companies offer dry suits, snorkel masks, and other equipment to experience the speeding away from the whirlpools.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Saltstraumen Maelstrom?

To witness the strongest tidal current, visit Saltstraumen Maelstrom in March or during a full moon. Snorkeling can be done throughout the year, and companies provide equipment and guidance for visitors. Show more

Where is Saltstraumen Maelstrom located?

Saltstraumen Maelstrom is located in Nordland county, Norway, and connects the Saltfjord and Skjerstadfjord. Accessing the maelstrom can be done via the Saltstraumen Bridge, which is located on Norwegian County Road 17. Show more

What is the speed of the current in Saltstraumen Maelstrom?

The current at Saltstraumen Maelstrom can move at impressive speeds of up to 37 km/h, pushing 400 million m³ of seawater through the channel. This creates vortices that reach 10 m in diameter and 5 m deep due to the height difference between the fjord and sea level. Show more

How large can the vortices be in Saltstraumen Maelstrom?

Vortices in the Saltstraumen Maelstrom can be seen as large as 10 meters in diameter and 5 meters deep during high tide when the currents are strongest. The height difference between the sea level and the fjord creates the strong currents that form the whirlpools. Show more

Can visitors go snorkeling in Saltstraumen Maelstrom?

Snorkeling is allowed in Saltstraumen Maelstrom, and local companies offer equipment along with guidance from experienced snorkeling guides. Visitors can safely experience the currents and whirlpools, but should only go with professionals and protective equipment due to the chilly temperatures and strong currents. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin