Would you like to visit Maldives, but don’t have enough money? Don’t worry, we have a great alternative for you. It’s Dzharylhach – Maldives of Ukraine.
National Park Dzharylhach is situated on the largest island of the Black sea in Ukraine. Dzharylhach island has 52 square kilometres and is uninhabitat aside of 1 monk and temporary staff of lighthouse. Dzharylhach island is habitat for many wild animals and endemic plants. Together with neverending sand beach it makes it great escape for any backpacker and nature lover. Top of “out off the beaten path” in Ukraine. It’s Dzharylhach – Maldives of Ukraine.
What to do on Dzharylhach – Maldives of Ukraine
The island is habitat for 30 different spieces of mammals and there is plenty of other animals around as well. You can see deer, boar, rackoon dog, fox, hare, black stork, red duck and different lizards and frogs. But be aware, you can also meet viper and black widow spider (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus) there. Just be careful when walking in high grass to avoid being bitten by these venomous animals.
Because there are no people on the island beside the location around lighthouse, you can easily see and photograph plenty of animals while walking around the island.
Never-ending beach encircles almost whole island and 99% of it is totally empty. The water is clean, but be aware that sometimes the sea nearby the beach is full of seaweed and it also randomly brings jelly fish.
Of course it cannot compete with the best beaches of Indonesia, but it has its charm.
Locals also arrange excursions around to island. As there are no marked routes around the island, it might be good idea to join the excursion. It cost 50 UAH.
Deep sky night photography
Because there is no city and light polution nearby the island, the night sky is so bright and you can make amazing deep sky night photos.
Here is the short video we made during our stay on Dzharylhach:
Food and water
There are 4 fresh water springs on the island, so you don’t have to bring it with you.
You can buy some cooked food and beer on the boat which stays next to the lighthouse during the day. Sometimes locals walk around the lighthouse and sell cooked shrimps and homemade wine. These are actually very nice.
Visitors are bringing fishing nets and fish for shrimps, mussels and other small fish. You can do the same. Ideal Robinson Crusoe experience. We brought some canned food and dried fruits to cook for ourselves.
How to get there
The journey to Dzharylhach will probably go via following points.
-> Cherson -> Skadovsk -> Dzharylhach
Cherson is a big city and the most convenient way to get there is by train. You can book tickets online on official website of ukrainian trains. It is even in English.
Many minibusses are going from Cherson to Skadovsk . They are leaving either from train station (with small extra charge of 10 – 20 UAH) or from bus station. If you are foreigner and don’t speak local language, we recommend to take a van from the train station. Those 50 cents extra are worth the service. The price for the journey is 100 – 120 UAH per person.
Once you are in Skadovsk, you need to get to the port (which is also the main tourist area) to buy a tickets to the Dzharylhach island. There are several option for a boat to the island:
There is a steamer coming every day during the season (aprox. June to September) from Skadovsk port to the lighthouse area. It leaves from Skadovsk at 9.00 and the journey takes around 1 hour. Depending on the demand it can either stay there for the day and leave back to Skadovsk at 16.00 or even make more routes per day.
The price in June 2018 was 180 UAH for return journey, but if we wanted to stay over night, we needed to pay another 90 UAH. During the peak season when the boat is coming and leaving more than once per day, there is no extra charge for staying overnight and you will pay just 180 UAH regardless if you stay over night or not.
You can inform yourself about the current situation on these phone numbers: 067 637 58 38 or 050 888 39 03.
Alternatively you can go to Kosa Glubokaja (deep sandbank) by speed boat. The boat goes only if there are enough people (10 people) and the price is similar to steamer (180 UAH for return journey).
If you go outside of the season or want a private experience you can hire a speedboat (they call it yacht, but it’s not:)) for yourself. It will cost your around 2000 UAH. Call to these numbers to reserve it: (067) 637 58 38 or (050) 888 39 03.
Where to stay
You can bring your own tent (like we did) and build it anywhere you like it. If you prefer a bit more comfort, you can choose from following places:
1. Tent camp offers accommodation and full board for 350 UAH per night. They also includes excursion around the island for free. Unfortunately they are Ukrainian oriented, so there is no info available in English, but you can check their website (in russian).
2. Wooden cottage camp is located just next to the port on the island, unfortunately they don’t have online booking, so you have to ask around the port in Skadovsk before you leave to the island.
3. There is small house nearby lighthouse which can accommodate even 8 people. You can inquire online.
Kosa Glubokaja area
This is the most developed area of the island, but in our opinion it loses all the charm of the island. Anyway if you decide to stay there or make it as base for your day trips, you can book it online. Tent area around the beach with free wifi can be booked on booking.com.
If you need to stay in Skadovsk the night before or after the Dzharylhach, there are many options and we have chosen the best for you:
Pansionat Yuzhnyi – soviet style place, don’t expect much, but also don’t pay much.
Parus – well restored place nearby beach, with barbeque area and childern’s playground. Great for the families.
Laguna Hotel – located just in the middle of action with access to the beach, private swimming pool and restaurant.
Private villa – located in the calm area nearby sea, but still very close to the center. You will have everything you need and more.
Dzharylhach – Maldives of Ukraine – is beautiful island, but it is not for everyone. It is wild and there are no luxuries of the civilization. The mobile internet on the island is weak, but it works. If you are willing to overcome the discomfort, the wildlife and serenity of the island will reward you with amazing experience.
If you consider to grab a drone for your travels to capture those moments from new perspective, check our Best travel drone article.