Norway Part 2: Paddle Kristiansand & Palmesus Music Fest

paddle boards on the shores of Kristiansand festival and excited norwegian

Paddle Kristiansand & Palmesus Music Fest

With a paddle in Oslo under our belts and a heat wave in full swing we loaded up the Ford Fugot and headed south west to our next destination Kristiansand. Our Norwegian host unfortunately could not join so we set off on our own and bid him adieu for all his help. Kristiansand is Norway’s southernmost point and is a charming little village situated right on the water with a small narrow waterway passing the town on the east emptying into the north sea.  The drive from Oslo was around 4.5 hours with some pockets of traffic but never disappointed with endless lakes, valleys and summer homes along the entire route. It seemed around every corner lay a new amazing paddle spot to stop and check out but we had to press on to our final destination as we were already running late for the first night of Palmesus Music Festival and it was not to be missed. We finally pulled into town around 9pm to find a hussle bussle about the street with festival goers pouring out of houses and hotels headed towards the booming sounds of the main stage on the beach. After a quick check in at the hotel and only a few hours of midnight sun left we made our way to the small river that spilled out near the festival and paddled down and around the horn of the bay to catch a glimpse of the rage. As we rounded the corner of the bay we found thousands of people on the beach drinking and dancing and quickly had a run in with the police who said all vessels need keep 100 yards off the beach perimeter.  With dark approaching we made a mad dash back to the hotel to see the festival first hand from the sand.  After a long and expensive blurry evening of Norwegian style festival rage we awoke to once again a picture perfect day for the second and final day of the music fest.

Bystranda Beach and The Palmesus Music Festival

Dirk paddle boarding around Bystranda Beach and The Palmesus Music Festival

With another gorgeous day at our disposal we opted to spend some time around the sandy festival beach of Bystranda with the paddle boards and then scout some cool looking rock islands we spotted offshore. Lots of people gather on the beach early in the day before the festival security start checking for bracelets and moving the non ticketed people outside the perimeter. The festival starts at noon and runs until 1am and prior to 3-4pm most are out having a good time bronzing it up listening to the warm up Dj’s on the beach rockin out and then head home to then come out rage ready and dressed to the nines for the main event talent around 6pm until 1am.  After, the night clubs are open for the after parties until 4am if you still have some pep in your step.  We did some laps around the water surrounding the beach and since no one for the most part had ever seen or heard of paddle boarding we made some quick friends and offered up the boards to the many curious onlookers.  Made for quite a laugh and even had some fully dressed people who clearly had a few too many bagged champagnes (Many of the people where drinking champagne from these little plastic bags that looked like Capri Suns) jump on the boards fully clothed with shoes who soon ended up in the water, so much for the soaking $250 leather jacket..

Dirk instructing two first time Norwegian paddle boarders in Bystranda Beach  Norway

As the festival goers filled in more and more we figured it was time to head over to the rock looking Islands just offshore and check them out before we come back to join the revelers.

The Rock Islands and Harbor just off Bystranda Beach

Dirk paddling around a rock island Bystranda Beach and The Palmesus Music Festival

With late afternoon approaching we made our way between the buzzing yachts and watercraft across the bay near the mouth of the harbor to a group of rocky islands.  The afternoon sun was still very warm and inviting and many of the little islands had people camping or enjoying the sun from the little nooks and crannies in the rock formations.  The small islands remained mostly naked of vegetation while the larger islands had huge trees of all kinds and made for lots of eye candy along the paddle. We were even joined by a few large white swans cruising around enjoying the calm waters provided by the rocks. After a little rest on land and a dip in the warm water to cool off we made our way into the harbor for lunch and docked our boards on the sand. Lots of people were just relaxing on their boats having a vino or visiting the many nice restaurants along the waterfront.  After slugging a few pre rage or “forspiel” afternoon beers (forspiel means “pre party” in english) and a delicious meal of chicken and seafood in a waterfront outdoor restaurant it was time freshen up and hit Palmesus festival again for the headline performers.

view from the water at Bystranda Beach and The Palmesus Music Festival center stage

Day turned night and the full moon rose once again over Bystranda beach as the festival kicked into full gear.  Nothing but hordes of good looking party people lost in a sea of lasers, fog ,booming base and endless expensive champagne, beer and liquor.  It was a party to be remembered and suddenly it was morning and another gorgeous Norwegian summer day. Earlier we met a very nice local Dutch waitress at the restaurant during our lunch the first day who offered to take us to some secret lakes above the city and we took her up on the offer and made plans to meet. As morning arrived she was waiting in our hotel lobby and we set off to explore this new paddle zone above the city excited to have some local knowledge on hand.

PALMESUS OFFICIAL AFTERMOVIE 2013 from Palmesus on Vimeo.

Paddling the Lily Pad Lakes Above Kristiansand

Dirk and lita having a isle paddle board yoga session at the Lily Pad Lakes Above Kristiansand

As we arrived at the base of the lakes we parked our vehicle and prepped the boards for the long hike up to the top of the winding trail leading to the top of a large rocky highland. On our way to the top we found an amazing lookout point with incredible views across the city with its old church and islands scattered across the waters to the south.  We stopped to soak it all in and made our way around the trail to a completely pristine lake with hundreds of lily pads and flowers. With the temperatures still in the mid 80’s and water quite warm for swimming nothing could be more inviting after the long hike up the trail with the paddle boards. Prior to parking our gracious host a grabbed us a quick and delicious lunch consisting of organic strawberries, grapes and Norwegian crackers and chocolate. After giving our strawberries and grapes a quick wash in the fresh lake we enjoyed our delicious snacks in between paddles and even on the lake.

Paddling the Lily Pad Lakes Above Kristiansand

After lunch we took a dip in the water and it felt as if the lake had rejuvenated our bodies from the previous nights hangover, a day to remember and we really didn’t want to leave but we had to press on to the next location.  After a few cliff dives on a nearby rock formation we said our goodbyes to our wonderful host and headed for one more stop before the long journey to Stavanger, the next stop.

Before we leave a quick stop at the World Famous Krisitiandsand Zoo

a tiger smiles back at the world famous Kristiansand zoo

During the festival we met a couple really cool guys from Sweden living in Norway. One of them was a zoo keeper at the local wild animal park and he invited us to go behind the scenes and fed the giraffes and zebras at the zoo in the pens and take us on a personal tour of the zoo.  We just couldn’t pass it up so we opted to make the stop before we left and it turned out to be an incredible experience. We arrived at the zoo and he came out to meet us and took us behind some locked gates and handed us a giant bucket of carrots. He walked us into the pens and within minutes we got swarmed with hungry and curious giraffes , zebras, and antelopes. The giraffes truly are an amazing creature and when you are standing right under it and its neck is 15 feet in the air and it swoops down for a carrot and looks you in the eye with its giant baseball sized eyeball its quiet the experience.

marc feeding a giraffe at the world famous Kristiansand zoo

They also have 12 inch prehensile tongues that reach out and grab the carrots and slurp them into their mouths. After a lot of laughs we exhausted our bucket of carrots and made our way to check out the other animals in the zoo. The one that really stood out the most was the Siberian Tiger. One of the coolest looking creatures I have ever witnessed and also one of the rarest with only 100 or so left in the wild.  After a few hours we said our farewells and headed on to Stavanger.

On to Stavanger and the Gladmatfestivalen!

Next stop is Stavanger on the West coast with its world class Fjords , Beaches and Waterfalls and just in time for their largest festival of the Summer Gladmatfestivalen or “Happy Food Festival”




Posted in Travel
Marc Miller - Co-Founder of Isle Surf & SUP. I started Isle back in 2004 to share my love of paddling and surfing in the ocean with others one board at a time. I love to surf, paddle , travel and write about it. When im not in the office I can be found on foreign shores searching for waves and fun.