Estonian Islands vol2: Pakri Islands

Text: Anu Vane Photos: Marleen Valdmaa, Visit Estonia Published: 22 / July / 2018

Only an hour or two away from the contemporary heart of Tallinn, unique islands, where you can completely forget about work, schedule and real life, await you. Spring and early summer, when the shining sun gets warmer every day, is the best time for discovering them.

Thanks to satellites, we found out in the summer of 2015 that Estonia has all together 2,222 islands; not too long ago we would have told you that Estonia has 1,521 islands. Since many of the islands are located just a day away from Tallinn, why not take this one day, and visit some of them? A unique experience is guaranteed! Here we present the islands, which can be reached most easily in summer.

#2 Pakri Islands – from military training field to conservation area

Although it only takes 15 minutes to get to Väike-Pakri by speedboat, very few Estonians, let alone tourists, have been on the Pakri Islands, which are under the jurisdiction of the town of Paldiski. The reason for this is that even in 1992, the Pakri Islands were used as a training field for the air forces. Among other things, it was used by strategic bombers from the Far East, and as the long flights were difficult for the pilots, it is no wonder that sometimes planes crashed there. The occasional flames over the islands, which marked another machine's demise, were a public secret among the people living in Paldiski.

The ground of the Pakri Islands is still full of mine marks, but today the islands are de-mined and most of the military hardware has been removed. Signs of the past are still mainly found in the northern part of Suur-Pakri. In between the two islands you can still see the ship wrecks that were used as targets for bombs. You can freely move along the roads and paths of the islands and camp in designated areas. Both islands are under conservation due to diverse natural biospheres.

Enda Pärsimaa: "The northern tip of Väike-Pakri is a place where you can just forget about everything."

Pakri Eesti Saared Estonian Islands Nordica FlyNordica Photo Marleen Valdmaa Visit Estonia
Väike-Pakri. Photo: Marleen Valdmaa, Visit Estonia

What distinguishes the Pakri Islands from other islands?

Enda Pärisma (Pakrisaared.ee Guide): "The Pakri Islands' military history is absolutely one of a kind. But at the same time, there are visible traces of Swedish coastal culture, plus, of course, a wonderful natural environment. For example, we probably have the biggest area of sand pink flowers growing in Estonia."

What is the best time to visit?

Enda Pärisma: "Perhaps one of the most fascinating periods for a visit is in late May and early June, when the ground is covered with a carpet of lily of the valley. After Midsummer is also a good time to visit when there is the greatest number of orchids in bloom. Finally, from the second half of August to the end of the navigation season, you can see moose and white-tailed eagles."

 

What is the one thing you should definitely do on the Pakri Islands?

Enda Pärisma: "Feel good! And if possible, try local pies or the traditional dumpling soup of the Pakri Islands (both have to be pre-ordered)."

 

What is your own personal favourite place or thing on the Pakri Islands?

Enda Pärisma:" The northern tip of Väike-Pakri is a place where you can just forget about everything."

 

How to get there?

Enda Pärisma: "You can reach the Pakri Islands with the speedboat Arabella from Kurkse harbour. Organized trips are provided on days and at times suitable for the client from May to September, and the trip takes 15 minutes. More information about travel opportunities and the islands at: http://pakrisaared.ee."

Article was published in Nordica´s in-flight magazine Time Flies  (summer 2017).