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When summer comes to Ukraine, the majority of locals and tourists flock to Odesa — the most popular region by the Black Sea. For the longest time, this kept one of Ukraine’s seaside gems — Dzharylhach Island — under the radar. Those who found the time to visit, however, acknowledge that the location deserves more recognition. Many even compare it to Ukrainian Maldives.
Now, to keep the record straight — in terms of infrastructure and luxury, Dzharylhach is not anywhere near the Maldives. It is a national park that has one of its many beaches equipped with a few umbrellas and chaise-longues, and there is only one cafe/canteen and a couple of camping sites. No hotels or restaurants are allowed on the island.
Naturewise, however, Dzha (a sweet nickname that the locals gave to Dzharylhach) is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. It is the #1 destination for green tourism in Ukraine. In addition to the white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water that brought the island its fame of Ukrainian Maldives, the national park is home to a population of deer and mouflons, has 100s of salt lakes, and is famous for dolphin pods swimming closely to the shore and amusing the visitors.
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Blitz: 5 Reasons to Pick Dzharylhach as a Vacation Spot in Ukraine
- Pick Ukrainian Maldives for an amazing night under the stars. Camping here, away from the lights of the cities, means being able to enjoy the beautiful night sky of southern Ukraine.
- Swim with the dolphins. Dolphins in the waters near Dzarylhach eagerly and frequently approach humans and play with them.
- Observe wild animals in their natural habitat. They usually hide from tourists during the day but early in the morning, deer can approach the campsites.
- Spend a day on Ukraine’s biggest island. Grab comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and a hat, and venture into a hike across Dzarylhach, discovering its pristine nature.
- Take a plunge into some of the clearest waters of Ukraine’s Black Sea. In our opinion, Dzharylhach has the best beaches in the country.
TIP: Looking for some quality time by the Black Sea in Ukraine? Then definitely check:
Best Hotels Close to Ukrainian Maldives
If you don’t feel like spending the night on an island in a camp, you can opt-in for a day trip from the mainland instead. Private and scheduled public boats travel between the mainland and the island several times per day in the high season. Two of the most convenient hubs with regular public transportation to Dzharylhach are Skadovsk and Lazurne.
Both are small towns by the sea that are sleepy during most of the year but become very busy throughout the summer season. There is not much to do or see in these towns, so we would not add them as important stops on the Ukraine travel itinerary. However, we can still recommend them as convenient starting points to explore Ukrainian Maldives. Plus, there are quite a few great points of interest within an hour or a couple of hours’ drive away.
If you decide to stay in Skadovks to explore the area and the island, here are a few hotels to consider:
- Mini-hotel Vesenniy is a family-friendly stay with a swimming pool, a cute inner courtyard, and free private parking on-site. It is a bit фцфн from the beachfront, in a quiet and green part of the town. Check the prices and availability here.
- Hotel Cornelia is located closer to the beachfront and has quiet street views and a pool. Plus, the hotel has its own seafood restaurant. Check the prices and availability here.
- Art Room in one of Skadovsk’s guest houses also gets good reviews from travelers. It is just a 10-minute walk away from the port and all the nightlife of Skadovsk. Check the prices and availability here.
If you decide to stay in Lazurne to explore the area and the island, here are a few more hotels to consider:
- Lazurit Family Hotel is a small hotel with less than 30 rooms, a pool, and private car parking. Check the prices and availability here.
- Hotel Lido has a terrace, a pool, and is located conveniently within a few minutes by foot from the port. Check the prices and availability here.
- Hotel Granate features a restaurant, bar, a shared lounge, and a garden, as well as sea views from some rooms. Check the prices and availability here.
Visiting Dzharylhach: Things to Know
Located in the Kherson region, Dzharylhach is a national park — one of many lovely national parks in Ukraine. And it is also an island — one of the very few islands in Ukraine. In fact, Dzharylhach is the country’s biggest island. We are talking about 62 square km of uninhabited land in the Black Sea.
To the island’s north, there are swamps. To its south, it is mostly sands and bushes, as well as cane groves. Scattered across the island are smaller and bigger beaches. Most of them won’t have any visitors at all. Dzharylhach is home to deer, mouflons, pheasants, foxes, partridges, and many other representatives of wild nature.
Given its status as a national park, Dzharylhach is regularly inspected by rangers. To solo campers this means that they need to comply with the safety rules — take care of the waste, avoid setting campfires, abstain from using the island’s woods for fire, and whatnot.
For those who decided to go on a day trip to Dzharylhach, this means paying the entrance fee to the park upon disembarking the boats. This fee is minimal — less than 1 USD.
Dzharylhach is suitable for fans of green tourism, camping, snorkeling, hiking, and simplicity. It does not have luxurious hotels or even cafes. There is also no way to reach an island by car. Private vehicles are not allowed here, and there are no ferries to deliver them to Dzha from the mainland.
For daytime visitors: If you want to spend an enjoyable day at Dzha, here is a list of things we recommend taking with you:
- Swimwear and a towel if you intend to swim.
- A hat — preferably the one that covers the shoulders, too.
- Sunscreen and comfortable beach shoes.
- There are 4 freshwater springs so no need to bring water, only bottles for it.
- With only one cafe/kiosk where they run out of food by 2 pm (beware of the hungry campers), it is a good idea to bring snacks/sandwiches.
- A beach towel and an umbrella will be useful. There is one small equipped beach on Dzha but it gets filled with people very quickly. Usually, visitors disembarking the earliest boat are the ones to grab their chaise-longues in the shadow. These are free of charge, too.
- Some cash to pay for WCs.
- Antihistamines in case of a jellyfish sting.
For solo campers: If you are looking to set up your own camp, you will need everything — from a tent and a sleeping bag to a mini-stove (non-electric), a mini-fridge or a cooling bag, food supplies, power banks to charge devices and more. Setting a solo camp on Dzharylhach also means renting a private boat rather than boarding a public boat, which inevitably leads to bigger expenses on transfer to and from the island. The fee for camping in the park is 2 USD per night per tent.
Organized camps: There is an organized camping site on the eastern tip of Dzha that was authorized by the local Tourism Board. You can either rent a camp or come with your own equipment but pay for a spot and camp’s amenities. These include food, showers, WCs, electric sockets to charge devices, as well as hammocks, and whatnot. On average, get ready to pay from 22 USD per day for an all-inclusive stay in a camp to 15 USD for your tent and sleeping bag and the camp’s amenities. Check the latest prices for camping on Dzha.
Also, on the southern tip of Dzha, there is a small site with bungalows. These are very basic, with room for three people per bungalow and all the amenities like shower and toilets located outside. The bungalows cost 22 USD per room per night and in high season, get booked very quickly. Check the prices and availability before going.
Ukrainian Maldives: Things to Do and See
There are plenty of exciting things to do on an island. Whether you are into relaxing on the beach or more into active vacations, you will find activities to your liking when visiting the Ukrainian Maldives, Dzharylhach.
Relax by the Sea
Dzharylhach has kilometers of white-sand and clean beaches. You can either stay on an equipped but crowded beach close to the pier or alternatively, pick a spot on a less crowded strip of sand just 500 meters or so away from the pier.
Explore the Lighthouse
Dzha currently has two lighthouses built in close proximity to each other. The older one is truly noteworthy. It was built in 1902. The design was developed in Paris and overseen by Eiffel. Yes, that same Eiffel that built the legendary tower in the capital of France.
The lighthouse is currently not working and as of 2005, is closed to visitors but it remains the signature landmark of the island and the entire Skadovsk area. One of the 4 springs with freshwater is located right next to the lighthouse.
Also in close proximity is a newer lighthouse, which is one of the most important lighthouses in the water area of the Black Sea.
Swim with the Dolphins
The dolphins are the first ones to greet everyone coming to Dzharylhach. Pods and single species can be spotted from boats and they are also frequent guests to the eastern tip of the island.
If you are patient enough, you will easily spot them from the beach. And if you are lucky enough, they will even approach you as you and play with you as you go for a swim. It is truly amazing, really, how wild nature is thriving in the area of the island.
Move along the coastline or head deeper into the island to watch deer, mouflons, and wild birds in their natural habitat, or to explore 10s of salt lakes. Fishing in these lakes is allowed. The island is huge so it won’t physically be possible to cross it all by foot within one day.
Visit the Monk
The only person living on an island is an Orthodox monk who stays in a small wooden church on the western tip of the island. He had the ambition to build a bigger shrine but soon after he started the construction, the authorities issued a law that prohibited building anything on an island.
Enjoy Water Activities
Public boats from Skadovsk take travelers to the eastern tip of the island, to its Lighthouse Pier. Private boats, however, can also take travelers to the southern pier of the island, Pier Glubokiy where all sorts of rentals are available, from SUP boards and catamarans to boats and snorkeling equipment.
Camp and Stargaze
Camping is a reason why most travelers come to this island. With kilometers of beaches, it is really not a problem to find a secluded spot, or alternatively, to make new friends in either of the two campsites. And there is no night sky like the one over the island!
Getting to Dzharylhach
By public boats: The easiest and fastest way to reach Dzharylhach by public transportation is from Skadovsk. Motorboats OM-103 and OM-104 have three daily scheduled routes to Dzha in the morning (starting from 8 am) and three evening routes from the island to the mainland in the evening (the last one leaves at 6 pm).
The cost of the trip is 9 USD both ways and the capacity of the boat is 200 passengers. When boarding the boat, you will need to choose the time of the return trip. This allows the transfer company to evenly distribute the passengers between the evening routes. These motorboats take travelers to the eastern tip of the island, to the Lighthouse.
By private boats: In Skadovsks and Lazurne, phone numbers of the private boats that are ready to take passengers to Dzharylhach are glued to every tree, lamp post, and window. Unlike public boats, speedboats can take you not only to the island’s eastern point, but also to Gluboky Pier on the southern tip, or Milka on the western tip.
The cost of the private boat is around 75 USD one way. You can split the cost between other passengers if you manage to find travelers that would also like to skip the public boat. The capacity of the speed boat is around 14 passengers.
Private boats are a smart pick for those who intend to camp on an island (they can take all the personal belongings) and for those who’d like to see the monk on the western tip or head to bungalows on the southern tip.
By feet: Yup, this is also an option. A somewhat extreme one but there is a path to the island from Lazurne. The best time to head to an island by foot is during the low tide because you will need to cross a strait between the mainland and the spit leading to Dzha.
A journey is not dangerous just somewhat challenging. But plenty of families with kids venture into it and the path is not an unknown one.
Written by Inessa Rezanova
I am a Kyiv-based screenwriter with 10+ years of experience in producing scripts. I love my job, and no, I did not quit it to travel the world. I see different countries in my spare time. As a storyteller, I believe that it is the emotional journey that matters the most. This is why together with my sister I started this blog to encourage everyone to travel and to do so with a heart and mind opened to adventures.
Images by Natalie Rezanova
I am a photographer based in Kyiv, Ukraine. I am lucky to be able to do what I love the most for a living. Photography is an endless source of inspiration for me. My mission on this blog is to inspire by sharing some of the favorite captions from my journeys. I also provide professional photography tips to help the readers bring home some beautiful photo memories.