Ruhnu Things to Do
You can play paintball in an abandoned soviet military base which is situated at the west side of the island. They are renting good quality paintball markers (tippmann) and the field is quite big (20 ha). Field includes old military buildings such as barracks and bunkers, forest and meadow.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
The older was built in (if I remember correctly) 1643 for sailors and fishermen. At that time Ruhnu belonged to Sweden. Modest outside and beautiful inside. The newer one was built in 1912 by architect from Riga. Both are located side by side. Right behind them is a local cemetery with some ancient grave marks (like in times before Christianity).Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
0 Hotels in Ruhnu
There are 2 ways to get there - by boat and by plane. Regular boat trip - from Saaremaa capital Kuressaare (Roomassaare harbour) (info about schedule see www.laevakompanii.ee - Roomassaare-Ruhnu), occasional - from Latvian coastal town Roja (boat "Lasis"). Trip length - about 2 - 2.5 hours. In the rough sea waves can be quite high. :)
My first experience was with small ship (or large boat) "Aegna". Trip to Ruhnu was a bit frightening for me during rough sea. On the contrary, trip back to Saaremaa was very peaceful - waves were hardly noticed.
It is possible to land in Ruhnu, flying from Parnu to Kuressaare (and vice versa, it takes about 45 min from Parnu to Ruhnu and about 20 min from Kuressaare to Ruhnu.
Ah, yes, there is third way to get there - floating on a chunk of ice. We have precedents like that famous big brown bear travelling in early 2005 from Latvian coast to Ruhnu.
Ruhnu Warnings and Dangers
I was not lucky to see him (or was I lucky indeed? LOL) but I swear we (my wife and I) have heard him roaring which (I admit) scared the hell out of me, because we were deep in the forest (on the way to the Limo beach) and who could tell how far he was from us... But nevertheless, he seems to be quite nice guy, I have never heard from locals of bear attacks to livestock (there are plenty of sheeps), let alone to humans. But still BE VARY CAUTIOUS. NEVER WANDER IN AREAS WHERE BEAR MIGHT BE AT THAT TIME, REMEMBER - ISLAND IS VERY SMALL, IN JUST A COUPLE OF MINUTES BEAR CAN SURFACE IN OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND. HE MAY BE NEXT TO YOU, WATCHING. :) Locals say he is quite curious.
Update - It seems that somewhere in the late 2006/early 2007 this bear returned back to Latvia by sea. So the island is safe until next big brown forest king arrives.
This ir safe place. There is not even police! :) Nearest policemen, as far as I know, are in Saaremaa.
Actually, potential criminals would find very hard to escape, since island is isolated from the rest of Estonian islands and boat traffic is usually three or four times a week (in summer) and just once a week in cold times of the year.
In late winter 2006 one bear wandered at Latvian coastline (probably, fleeing from hunters in northern Kurzeme (Kurland) region) and suddenly big chunk of ice separated, cutting beast's escape route back to coast. So ice chunk with hapless bear floated far away in the open sea. Border guards (who spotted him from choppers) thought he eventually drowned but - what a surprise - bear managed to survive long journey and landed on Ruhnu beach in the early spring, giving a shock to the inhabitants.
Since that, bear still lives quietly in the forest and does not disturb locals (in summer there are plenty of food for him in the forest without need to get too close to village) but still it's VERY ADVISABLE not to wander far away from village alone. If you are in the forest, make noise (i.e., sing loudly), so bear will not be surprised (which may prompt him to attack) and this gives him time to retire. Local authorities have declared north part of island as restricted area until bear will be caught or shot.
Previous attempts to catch him (using well trained dogs who helped to track down many bears in Norway and Finland - so I was told) flopped, because this bear is "way too smart". When he hears incoming dogs, he runs into the sea, swims a bit and dogs lose trace. Locals all hope that bear will be caught (giving him a shot of sleeping drugs and transferring to one of the mainland's nature parks), instead of killing. Nobody wants him killed.
Favorite thing: This is very beautiful little island right in the middle of Gulf of Riga. Ruhnu island (in Latvian - Roņu sala, Swedish - Runö). It covers just 11.9 km2 area, length - 5.5 km, width - 3.5 km. Nearest mainland - Kolka (37 km), Roja (41 km) (both in Latvia), Kuressaare (68 km) (in Estonia).
About 4/5 of island is covered by forests. One village in the middle of island with two beautiful churches (one of them built in the middle of XVII century, other - in 1912). About 60 inhabitants (including tourists in summer months there might be more than 100). I was lucky to be there in the June of 2006 without too many tourists, so I could enjoy beautiful nature and quietness for couple of days. This is perfect place to get away from urban stress.
There aren't much to do (except visiting both churches, local cemetery, museum and beaches or walking to Eiffel tower (yes, he was architect of this red-brown tower -well before he designed famous tower in Paris!) in the east side of island halfway between village and Limo beach), but this is perfect place to relax - mentally and pshysically.
People there are very friendly, so tourists are welcomed there if they do not make too much noise and litter around. :) Inhabitants speak Estonian, of course, and most of them also in Russian. Some people speak English too.