This far north, in spite of winters devoid of sunlight, residents maintain some of the world’s highest happiness quotients. Case in point: the Bathing Angels, a group of women who swim in the Norwegian Sea every month of the year except
July, when “everybody swims” in midsummer’s balmy 45- to 60-degree water, as one of the Angels told me. Something special has been going on in Lofoten for more than five millennia, and, like other visitors creating a recent tourism surge, I wanted to check it out.
To get there, I flew from Oslo
to Bodø, then boarded a ferry for the six-hour crossing to Moskenes, near the archipelago’s southeast end. Tour operator 50 Degrees North
organized my self-driving itinerary and arranged a meeting with Havard Lund, a jazz clarinetist and unofficial Nordland ambassador known throughout Norway’s artistic community for his musical collaborations and colorful insights. “The sea is calm on the inside, but rough on the outside,” he told me. “I guess the locals are the same.”