In what is sure to be welcome news for anybody who is simply fed up with monitoring emails and social media, the island of Ulko-Tammio in Finland is asking travelers to turn off their phones while visiting.
Since this is believed to be the world’s first phone-free tourist island, there are even stickers for visitors to place over their phones as a reminder. “Apply this sticker to cover the display and camera,” is printed on the sticker.
“The island of Ulko-Tammio, which is located off the coast of Hamina, will be a phone-free area this summer,” Mats Selin, a Visit Kotka-Hamina spokesperson, said in a statement. “We want to urge holidaymakers to switch off their smart devices and to stop and genuinely enjoy the island.”
The program, which is voluntary, is part of a larger campaign aimed at encouraging people to take a break from social media and smart devices even when they aren’t on the island.
Ulko-Tammio is located in the Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park, one of the country’s 41 national parks. Considered to be the “jewel of the Eastern Gulf of Finland,” the island is about 100 miles from Helsinki.
The Need For “Digital Fasting”
Many people now find it difficult to put their phones down. From sending and checking emails to browsing social media and uploading pictures and updates, phones have become a constant companion for most people.
“People are not meant to be glued to screens all the time,” says Terhi Mustonen, psychologist and program manager of the Limitless Gaming and Limitless Social Media programs at the Sosped Foundation, a non-governmental welfare organization in Finland. “Even a short digital fast can be useful and improve our well-being and help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.”
Fortunately, a summer vacation — especially one to a destination where travelers can be outside and enjoy nature — is a perfect opportunity to practice digital fasting.
“Switching off your phone, exploring nature, and meeting people face to face are bound to boost your mood and well-being,” says Sari Castrén, psychologist and research manager at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. “We spend countless hours scrolling our social media feeds, so taking a short break from them means you have more time for new experiences.”
What Ulko-Tammio Offers
First, it should be noted that the phone-free vacation is a voluntary program. Plus, the island is covered by a mobile network.
Still, about now, you’re probably wondering what there is to do on Ulko-Tammio while you’re practicing digital fasting.
“The island is uninhabited and harbors rare birds and plants,” according to Visit Kotka-Hamina. “Ulko-Tammio’s beautiful and lush nature, with its rugged rocky shores, is impressive. You can hike along well-marked nature trails on Ulko-Tammio, and the island’s bird tower offers a magnificent view of the national park.”
What’s more, since it’s in the Gulf of Finland, the island of Ulko-Tammio was fortified as an advanced frontier post during the World Wars. Reminders of the island’s wartime history include a cave that was intended to be a shelter for soldiers during World War II and two restored cannons in their original positions.
Know Before You Go
Ulko-Tammio is located in the Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park, along with more than 100 other islands. The largest islands are Kilpisaari, Ristisaari, Ulko-Tammio, Mustaviiri, and Pitkäviiri. Ulko-Tammio, which has the only sheltered harbor, is the park’s main island.
Ulko-Tammio can be reached by private boat, sea cruise, and water taxi. The trip from nearby Kotka to the island takes between 1 and 2 hours depending on the weather and the vessel.
You can learn more about the Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park at Visit Kotka-Hamina’s Breathtaking Archipelago webpage.