With a reputation as the go-to beach destination for so many years in the Soviet Union it isn’t surprising to me that during the summer holidays the area gets rather crowded. And this time around a couple of Americans joined in the crowds, heading out to the waterfront to see what the excitement was all about. We were there for an afternoon, not at night when the party scene is known to heat up, but we definitely got a decent bit of exposure to the beach life.
The ride out to Arcadia Beach (one of several near town) was about 20-30 minutes on one of the trolley cars that serves the city. Most convenient and quick, dropping us off at the top of an arcade-type area, with restaurants and shops lining the way to the beach front. Some featured crazy futuristic offerings such as 8D cinema (I didn’t ask for an explanation of what the 8 are) but most were typical boardwalk offerings of food, beach gear and hair braiding stalls.
We navigated our way down to the beach and immediately were faced with a decision: to pay for beach access or not.
It turns out that much of the beach front is owned by clubs. They charge varying rates ($6-10/person is what I saw) to access their beach area, plus the other facilities available. The private clubs include nicer chairs, umbrellas and cabanas if you’re willing to pay for it. Some also have pools and they all feature waiter service for snacks and drinks. It actually was probably worth it for the price, especially if you’re going to make a full day of it out on the beach; we were only there for a couple hours so it was less useful.
The alternative is the free beach. Needless to say, it was rather more crowded. That’s good and bad, really. Lots of entertaining people watching, but also loud and busy, things I try to avoid when I go to the beach.
We actually ended up sitting on a bench out on one of the piers for a while, relaxing there and watching the scene. Mostly because the water was nasty enough that we weren’t particularly inclined to go in.
Part of the reason we were at the beach was because we had booked a boat excursion for the afternoon. We were all set for a three hour cruise along the coast. I was most excited when the ship pulled up near the pier. They sent the skiff over to pick up the passengers – there were about 15 of us in the end – and ferried us out to the yacht.
It was a pretty nice boat but the actual ride was less than stellar. We basically just puttered a couple hundred yards off shore and dropped anchor for a couple hours. There was swimming, sunning and some music (I’m now well versed in Russian Pop music) but no refreshments. My fault for not packing beer myself.
And then we headed back in to the beach, still as crowded as when we left a few hours prior. People were loving it. I am not so sure why, though that may also be because I have more to compare it with.
The good news is that we found other beaches which are much, much better. More on that soon.
Read more from this Trip Report under the Ukraine2012 tag here.
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I was in Odessa overnight once and the Black Sea was, as expected, black. And it was November. Wish I could make it out there in the summer!
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