Hvaler is an island municipality in the province of Østfold in
Viken county in Eastern Norway. It is located at the far end of the
Oslo Fjord, on the east side of the fjord, south of Fredrikstad. The
municipality consists of 833 islands, islets and reefs over 20 m².
The largest town is the municipal center Skjærhalden, which is
located on Kirkøy. From Skjærhalden to Fredrikstad it is approx. 28
km. The municipality passed 4517 inhabitants in 2017. In the summer,
the number of inhabitants multiplies if one includes all the cabin
guests. It is estimated that there are approximately 30,000 people
in the municipality during the most active holiday period. The
largest primary industry is fishing (in 1990, 8% of 1,452 were
employed in fishing). The largest port on Hvaler is Utgårdskilen,
which is the largest fishing port east of Lindesnes.
The municipality has a county road connection (county road 108) to Fredrikstad. The connection, which is called Fastlandsveien, was completed in 1971. It goes over embankments in the sea and via bridges from Kråkerøy and Kjøkøy in Fredrikstad municipality to Vesterøy, Spjærøy and Asmaløy. The Hvaler tunnel under Løperen to Kirkøy was opened on 2 October 1989. There are boat and ferry connections from Skjærhalden to Nordre Sandøy, Søndre Sandøy, Herføl and Lauer, and a scheduled boat to Strömstad in Sweden.
During the Swedish invasion in 1814, the Whale Islands were occupied by the Swedish forces.
On May 26, 1887, the Hvaler County Council decided to
build a new chapel with 175 seats. Two years later, on May 22, 1889,
the foundation stone was laid. On it is mounted a silver plate with
the text "Dypedals Kapell eret Aaret 1889 til Vaar Herres Jesu
Christi Ægr og Hvaløers Menigheds Gavn".
The architect was Jacob Wilhelm Nordan, while mason Peder Emanuelsen Utengen from Kirkøy was responsible for the construction. The chapel was built in granite carved out of the rock south of the chapel. The building was completed in 1891.
The Coastal Museum Hvaler was established in 1971. In 1973, Nordgården on Dypedal, Spjærøy, was bought to establish a village garden on Hvaler. Nordgården was a typical fisherman's farm which was later bought up by the stone industry before it was again sold to private individuals. The museum has restored the buildings, and in the main building there are now offices. The exhibitions are in the old barn. The museum's main focus is the old coastal culture and the fish farmer, the stone industry and fruit growing. The Coastal Museum Hvaler is from 2010 a department under the Østfold Museums.