Most probably, the Kinburn Spit National Park in Ukraine will not be the first thing that pops into your head when you are looking through camping destinations in this country. Not surprisingly, as this is even not the first pick for the locals, not because it is bad, but because it is still very much under-the-radar.
Another thing that takes points of popularity away from this destination is the fact that it is not very easy to get here. If you are flying to any of the airports of Kyiv, Lviv, or Odesa, you will then need to take a train to Mykolaiv, and a speedboat to Kinburn.
Yup, this adds up to quite a journey.
But the place is so worth it! Imagine acres of white sand beaches, clear blue waters of the Black Sea, budget-friendly camping areas, and not that many people even during the high season. Now, add lots of great things to do in the area, including stunning sunset boat tours, trips to the pink lakes, and birdwatching for the unique pink pelicans, and you’ll get the sense of the unique Ukrainian camping adventure that Kinburn has to offer.
What is the Kinburn Spit National Park in Ukraine?
The Kinburn Spit National Park is almost 100,000 acres of sands, a secluded strip of land hugged by the Dnipro-Buh bay from the north, and the Black Sea from the south.
Back in the USSR times, this piece of land was home to more than 1,000 villagers and was famous for the vast strawberry fields. The helicopters would arrive here daily, taking the locals with their harvests of deliciously sweet strawberries to the farmer’s markets in Odessa.
Today, with most of the locals gone, and only around 150 residents remaining in the three villages of Kinburn, the days of the strawberry glory and the booming local farmer economy are long gone, too. But this may not be as sad as it sounds.
Remaining off the touristic radars, Kinburn is the place where the local nature thrives, and the residents contribute to protecting it. The asphalted road stops around Heroyske village. From there, if you look at the sputnik maps of the Kinburn Spit, it is cobwebs of roads in the sand that you won’t be able to drive through unless you own a 4×4.
Kinburn National Park today is home to over 400 lakes, a population of unique pink pelicans that can only be spotted in a couple of other places around the world, and to one of the world’s biggest wild orchid fields. It is also miles of white sand beaches, crystal-clear blue water of the sea, and one of the best places for stargazing in Ukraine.
If you ask me, I pray for this place to remain wild and beautiful for years to come, as there are not that many locations like the Kinburn Spit left in Ukraine.
Why is the Kinburn Spit in Ukraine Perfect for Camping?
The locals joke that you have to visit the Kinburn Spit at least once during summer to soak in the park’s awesome vibes and to accumulate the energy that will keep you going through the rest of the year.
If we’re talking about the best of Ukraine’s camping sites, this one has 13 recreational areas to offer. Some are right at the tip of the spit, where the estuary and the sea clash. Others are hidden in the pine tree forests deeper in the park.
Budget-wise, this part of Ukraine is dirt-cheap when it comes to camping. Per any of the 13 recreational areas, you will be asked to pay a fee of 4 USD per day. This will provide a spot in the camp, access to the facilities, including WC, summer showers, and the field kitchen, as well as access to the freshwater springs and electric sockets.
In some camps, the 4 USD fee may also include a spot in the tent, but for the most part, you will be expected to bring your own tents, sleeping bags, towels, and whatnot. In high season, the local cafes are working, and you can order meals instead of making your own. This is a good solution because unless you a driving a 4×4 with a trunk filled with food to any of the areas, it might be too much of a hassle. The local small stores are usually operating onsite, but these have only that much diversity products-wise.
On the other hand, eating in any of the local small camping cafes will not be very expensive, as you can plan to pay anywhere between 2 to 4 USD per meal, depending on the personal menu preferences.
Kinburn Spit in Ukraine: Popular Camping Sites to Consider
As per the western part of the spit, closer to its tip, some of the most popular camping sites are:
- The Kinburn Strelka, which charges 4 USD as the standard fee, plus offers tent rentals at a cost of 4 to 5 USD, depending on the preferred capacity. A set of meals 3 times a day will cost around 10 USD per person per day. Additionally, the place provides boat rentals, organizes snorkeling, sunset boat trips, and more.
- Camping site Dva Beregy (2 Shores) additionally rents trailers at a cost of 20 USD per night and offers onshore activities like volleyball, football, swings, and more. A 50% discount off tent rental is provided to kids under 12 years.
- The Kinburn Fortetsya (Kinburn Fortress) is located a bit afar from the tip of the spit, is you are looking for something more secluded. As far as the pricing goes, it is all pretty much within the average range for the area.
Moving further down the park, and closer to its middle, there are quite a few popular camping destinations, including:
- The Authentic Camp, with its boho-style tents. The place is known for building a friendly community and for throwing parties from time to time.
- Surf Hutir Camp is right next to the Authentic Camp. It is located between the sea and one of the many lakes of Kinburn.
Kinburn in Ukraine is suitable not only for camping. All three of its villages offer convenient hotels, homestays, and guest houses. All you need to do is decide where you’d like to go for a swim. If it is the estuary area, consider lodging at Rymby or Pokrovka villages.
If you’d like a stay closer to the sea, then we’re talking about the Pokrovske village. From here, it is a 10-minute walk to the clean and secluded beaches of the black sea. The prices per night in guesthouses start at 22 USD. In Porksovske, some of the best lodgings are at the Olhova Roschya (Alderwood Homestay) and Kryta Osyp.
Getting to the Kinburn Spit National Park in Ukraine
So, there is a number of ways to reach Kinburn camping sites.
Getting to Kinburn by bus
Option one is to get to the city of Mykolaiv. From many cities, this route is possible by trains or buses. You can also check FlyUIA or SkyUp, the local carries for a budget-friendly flight connection within the country.
From the Mykolaiv central bus station, there is a direct bus to the Pokrovka village. It takes around 6 hours to get to the destination and the schedule should be checked in advance.
Getting to the Kinburn Spit by Car
The first one is by land, but only on three conditions:
- You drive a 4×4
- You have a shovel and ropes in your trunk
- You have a strong GPS signal and a satellite map available on your navigator
The asphalted road to Kinburn ends around Heroyske village. Back in the days, they wanted to build a road right to the tip but the ecologists advised against the initiative. They said this would put the unique wildlife and flora of the are in danger.
So, not only does the road after Heroyske turns into trenches in the sand but it is also a cobweb of roads easy to get lost in. As you can guess there is also not much traffic going on around, and not much help, either. So, if you go by car, better be equipped properly. It is also a good idea to have a phone number of any of the drivers from Heroyske in case you need help getting unstuck from the sands.
Getting to Kinburn by sea/boats
From Mykolaiv, catch a speedboat Rocket by Nebulon to Kinburn. The pier that the Rocket docks at is at the northth-western tip of the spit, near the Kinburn Strelka camp. Depending on the weather, it will take between 1.10 to 1.40 hours to get to Kinburn from Mykolaiv. The tickets and schedule can be checked at the company’s official website.
If you are in the Ochakiv area, there are two piers in the city. The one is of the Forest Communal pier (GPS is 46.613629, 31.558420), and there is also a paid parking lot to leave a car. The boats leave at 8 am and 3 pm. The ticket costs 4.5 USD. The pier it docks at when it reaches Kinburn is the closest one to Pokrovske village.
Another pier in Ochakiv is pier 333. It docks at the Rymby village closer to the north-western tip of the spit.
Getting Around Kinburn
If you are not driving, the cheapest way (other than walking) is to use the public transportation of Kinburn. This will not be the usual buses, however.
Because the roads are a sandy challenge, the locals put together a park of buses on massive wheels to drive around. There are only three drivers, and everyone in the area knows their names and numbers. There is a schedule, too. The buses alternate days of the week to run scheduled trips to the tips of Kinburn, as well as to the piers, certain camps, and villages.
This is not a fast way to get around, as the bus will on average need about 1.30 hours to cover 15 miles of the sandy roads, but that’s just the way life is in the area. A ticket one way will cost between 2.5 to 4.5 USD.
The second option is to hire a local taxi. Whoever you are staying with will surely give you some contacts. This way of transportation is a bit pricier, but faster and more comfortable, too.
Things to do around the Kinburn Spit National Park
Explore the tip of the Kinburn Spit
This part of Kinburn is as magical as it gets. Right at the tip of Kinburn, the waters of the Black Sea and the Dnipro-Boh estuary clash, forming waves and whirlpools. It is windy and wild, too. In high season, you will need to share the small space with other tourists, but in September, it almost feels like you are the only person left in the world. You, and, well, all the birds that live there.
Warning: do not swim at the tip, as it is dangerous. Where the waters of the two basins meet, they form powerful whirlpools that are almost impossible to get out of. It is perfectly safe to swim at either part of the Spit, but not the tip.
Admire the pink lakes
Located near Heroyske are the unique artificial lakes. The reservoirs may be filled by men, but the unique pink color of the water is all real.
Spring through fall is the season when the locals labor the sun and the salty waters of the sea to produce some of the tastiest salt in the country. They fill the basins somewhere around April. By summer, the water in these lakes turns all shades of pink and slowly evaporates.
By September, it is the harvesting season, with huge trucks being loaded with tons of crystals of salt. It is still pink by the time the trucks unload it into pyramids where they let it sit for months before it becomes a ready-to-use product.
Wander the Herodotov Forest
Located near Pokrovske village in the middle of Kinburn is the beautiful Herodotov forest, part of the National Park. Its area is closed for camping but is perfect to hike in. While the sun of Kinburn may be very demanding in the high season, it is always refreshing in the shadows of the forest.
It is almost hard to believe how it is all sandy, dry, and hot outside, but the forest is home to swamps, lush greens, oaks, alder woods, and unique wildlife.
Stop by the Kefal Lakes
Out of more than 400 lakes in the area, the Kefal Lakes are some of the most amazing. Kefal is the Russian word for mullet, a type of fish typical to the water area of the Balck Sea. In spring, the mullet whitebait swims into the lakes, where it grows throughout the summer and leaves in September, as soon as the weather gets cold.
The locals say that if for any reason the some of the fish fail to swim away as the cold season begins it jumps out of the water onshore simply because it can not survive in low temperatures.
The area is free from industrial fishing, and individuals are allowed to fish. That’s one thing to do here, but you can also swim in the lakes, walk around, and explore the local flora.
Check amazing sunsets and unique populations of the pink pelicans
Everyone knows that sunsets in the Kinburn area are second-to-none. You can make it even more fun by booking a boat tour to the nearby islands. Not only will you get to enjoy the sunsets, but if you are lucky, you will get to see the unique populations of the pink pelicans.
Enjoy the blooming orchids
This is a season that’s hard to catch as it happens in early May. Acres of land around the Porkrovske village turn into the orchid blossom. This is the second biggest Wild orchid blossom in Europe, and it continues for about two weeks.
Go snorkeling in the clear waters of the Black Sea
Many of the camps in the area rent out all the equipment and even organize the boat tours. Despite its odd name, the Black Sea is not black-watered. In remote areas like Kinburn, the water is crystal-clear, with lovely blue and green hues, and the underwater life is rich and busy.
Hike to the Yahorlyk Bay
Unlike many other spits, Kinburn actually has two tips. The first one is the north-western tip, and the second is the south-eastern one. This second tip is hugged by the waters of the Black Sea on one side and the Yahorlyk bay on the other one. This area is perfect for birdwatching, has beautiful nature, and opens views to the islands.
Take a Private Tour to the Tender Spit
This is even a bigger under-the-radar gem than the Kinburn Spit. Tender is part of the Black Sea Biosphere Reserve, and most of it is closed to visitors. The spit is home to unique nature and wildlife, and it is almost impossible to reach from the mainland.
There are, however, private boat tours (cost around 300 USD) to a small area of the shore of the Tender Spit where you will be able to enjoy secluded beaches, pristine waters, and a unique feeling as if you were on a deserted island.