Kvaløya is Norway’s fifth-largest island, covering 740 square km (285 square miles), and its name translates from Sami to "Whale Island" thanks to its cluster of central mountains. Lying west of Tromsø and connected by the elegant spans of the Sandnessund Bridge, the eastern shores of Kvaløya now form a suburb of the city, known as Kvaløysletta and home to a population of about 10,000.
Of its snow-capped peaks, Store Blåmann is the highest at 1,044 meters (3,425 feet) and can be scaled by intermediate climbers. Kvaløya is also indented by fjords and wild coastal scenery, with its western fringes hitting the untamed Atlantic, while the island of Sommarøy – famous for its glorious white sandy beaches – hangs off its southwestern coast. Humpback whales can be spotted offshore from late November until January, and the little settlement of Ersfjordbotn, dominated by the sheer cliffs of its fjord, is one of Norway’s top destinations for spotting the Northern Lights.