Estonia’s curvy and variegated coastline is not densely inhabited and very natural - there are sand beaches, stony areas, cliffs, reed beds and also muddy areas suitable for waterfowl. Estonia is a paradise for birdwatchers. We have over 1,500 islands and islets of all sizes, making up nearly 10% of the country’s land. Only about ten islands are permanently settled: the rest are the kingdom of birds and during the hatching time access can be limited. The largest islands – Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and Vormsi – can be visited year-round by ferry, while in winters, ice roads are opened.
The Baltic Sea is connected to / the Atlantic Ocean by the narrow Straits of Denmark, and thus Estonia does not have significant tides, and the sea water is low in salinity. This has helped create a unique mix of salt- and freshwater species adapted for living in these conditions.
The sea in Estonian history – fishing, trade and nautical battles
The majority of Estonia’s historical subsistence was related to the sea. Besides fishing, there was active trade with neighbouring Finland. Estonia had more grain, while Finland had more fish, and other items were also exchanged. Seal hunting and smuggling of salt and spirits were other sources of living. As northern Estonia had many pine trees suitable for the masts of sailing ships, shipbuilding was intensive in the 19th and 20th centuries and a marine school was established in Käsmu. Estonian captains and Estonian-built ships could be found on the seas all over the world.
Due to its favourable geographic location at the intersection of shipping routes between Russia, Scandinavia and continental Europe, Estonia became an important object for conquerors. Traces of military activity can be found even now in the sea – many shipwrecks are accessible to divers.
The sea in Estonia is changeable – in the summer, the water temperature can exceed 20 degrees; but in winter, the ice is thick enough to support roads. Many opportunities for seaside relaxation, water tourism and water sports await. Come and discover them!