Hiiumaa, together with the surrounding sea and marshes, is a UNESCO biosphere programme area. This means that, as well as caring for nature, the island must be a good place for people to be, both visitors and locals.
Hiiumaa has 324 kilometres of perfectly marked hiking trails, untouched deserted beaches, rich fishing waters, moss and resin-scented forest paths, abundant berry and mushroom forests and well-maintained campsites.
Choose your favourite hiking route or places to visit from the menu below and remember that with your caring behaviour, you can also contribute to keeping the unique nature of Hiiumaa’s seaside island clean and enjoyable for future visitors.
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We offer adventurous nature enthusiasts sea trips from 15 May until 15 September, during which we will observe a seal colony. If possible, we will also visit an islet in order to experience its untouched and wonderful nature.
The trips take place on board a small vessel and are meant for smaller groups of up to 10 people. The trip begins at Kärdla Harbour.
The price includes a two-hour trip for a group of up to 10 people.
This unusual name marks the location of a unique headland. You know you are close to the destination if you see the statue of Leigri, a hero of Hiiu County.
The esker runs from north-east to south-west. Its higher parts are covered with vegetation but become a beach full of pebbles. Unique trees and shrubs grow here: honeysuckle, alder buckthorn, buckthorn, and snowball tree. There is an abundance of sea kale on the shores, which make the beach an amazing sight during the flowering period. Not to mention the marvellous brier flowers. Kassari is a popular place for summer holidays: for example, the writer Aino Kallas and the linguist-diplomat Oskar Kallas have stayed here.
Welcome to the northmost lavender field in the world!
The Lavender Farm is located on a rocky and sunny slope, on the edge of the Kärdla meteorite crater. Our 20,000 lavender plants grow in an area of almost 1 hectare and blossom from late June to early August. We make exciting products from lavender, such as lavender jam, lavender spice and lavender micellar water. During blossoming, there are 100,000 helpers at the edge of the field, who diligently harvest lavender honey.We look forward to seeing you at the Open Farm Day, Harvest Party and Conservation Holiday. At other times or with a bigger group, visits can be booked individually.
Ungru Stone is located on the peninsula of Ninametsa. The beautiful scenery of Ninametsa attracted the lord and lady of Kõrgessaare manor who often spent their leisure time by the sea. The lights of a summer house, which was built by the sea, was noticed by the people of coastal villages who were convinced that the Count of Ungru is involved in piracy. People believed that he had the light of Kõpu lighthouse put out and lured ships off course by lighting a fake fire on the top of Ungru Stone. Wrecked ships were allegedly robbed by baron’s servants and no mercy was shown upon castaways.
Apart of the legend claiming that the notorious Neckmansgrund reefs were for Baron Otto Reinhold Ludwig von Ungern-Sternberg a good source of income is probably true. Kõrgessaare estate had the obligation to help ships which had run upon the rocks and the state paid a considerable amount of money for it. The guilt of the count of Ungru was in the amount of remuneration there was a lot of wheeling and dealing related to it. And a lantern attached to the holes drilled in Ungru Stone was probably just to guide the rescuers back to the shore…
The City Park takes up 5.2 ha. The first part of the park was established in the 1860s after the church was finished in a place called Kirikupõllu (Church field). A more thorough tree planting took place in the beginning of the 20th century. The youngest part of the park was planted in the 1970s. Kärdla song festival grounds are located in the City Park. The first song festival in Hiiumaa took place in 1867 in Leigri village in the yard of Murru pub. There is evidence of a children’s party in Lepakopil in Kärdla already from 1874. In 1926 the first national song festival was held in Kärdla. This was conducted by Tuudur Vettik, a composer, choral conductor and music teacher who later became one of the leaders of the Estonian national song festivals.
In the early 20th century, major landscaping works were carried out and new plants added then and again in the 1930s. The newest part of the park was planted in the 1970s. The main species of trees include native ones like black alder, common ash, maple and linden. But represented are also spruces, oaks, willows elms and bushes like hazel, hawthorn, lilac and snowberry. Of alien species, the park features large-leaved lime, like hazel, hawthorn, lilac and snowberry. Of alien species, the park features large-leaved lime, spindletree, blue spruce, European and Russian larch and silver poplar. An interesting feature in the centre of the park is a circle formed of big ashes, where some dead trees have been substituted by new ones. The park has lots of high black alders and ashes standing at about 25 metres. All in all, there are more than 30 species of trees and bushes in the park. Choir singing tradition in Kärdla was established in 1855. In summer, song festivals were held in Lepa- kopli, where a temporary stage was built every year. The beginning of spring was celebrated with a party organized in early May at Kirikupõllu. For the Hiiumaa First Song Day, which took place in 1926, a permanent choir stand was erected in the park. The colour solution of the present choir stand was inspired by the colours of the municipal flag and was designed in 2012, when Kärdla became the Estonian Song Capital.
In front of the Kärdla Church, a monument has been erected to the residents of Hiiumaa who were killed in WWII. The author of the idea of the monument is Hiiumaa-born Otto Mägi and in realising the idea, he was helped by Heino Kerde. The sculptor of the monument is Elo Liiv and its architects are Maris Kerge and Kadri Kerge. The sculpture was modelled after Marek Vainumäe, a young man from Hiiumaa. The monument was erected with the support of the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Defence, private persons and organisations. The construction of the monument was coordinated by the Kärdla Town Government and the Hiiumaa Organisation of the Freedom Fighters and Repressed Persons. The monument was completed in 2012.
About 455 million years ago, a meteorite crater about 4 kilometers in diameter formed in shallow seawater on the other side of the equator. After many geological processes such as the formation of sediments, the movement of the earth’s crust and several ice ages, the crater is difficult to see in nature today.
In order to get a better overview of the special natural monument, a model field of the crater has been built, which gives a spatially perceptible picture of the size and proportions of the Kärdla crater. The model field has a hundredfold reduction compared to the actual size of the crater, its diameter is about 43 meters and the length of the circle is 140 meters.
The largest area of loose sand in Estonia is located on Hiiumaa!
If you think you have already seen everything Hiiumaa has to offer, we invite you to discover something completely different! In the Pihla-Kaibaldi Nature Reserve, in the middle of a beautiful pine forest, there is a crescent-shaped field with loose sand. The nearly 12-hectare area was formed during World War II as a result of forest fires and the subsequent use as a training ground for tanks.
The sandy forest trails, unique heath pines, and white lichen there invite you to a short hike.Good to know: the Pihtla-Kaibaldi Nature Reserve was established in 1998 to preserve this unique natural community and the largest area of loose sand in Estonia, which was created partly due to human activities.
Kallaste cliff is a limestone outcrop, about 400 metres long and up to 10 metres tall.
There is an old pine forest on the cliff, through which you can walk along the terrace. In the southern part of the cliff, there is a biohermal reef, formed from coral and other marine invertebrates. It is one of the most representative of its kind in Estonia. Several rare species of fern and flowering plants grow in the cliff’s fissures.
According to legend, Vanapagan used to make weapons inside the Kallaste cliff for the locals during the ancient war for freedom.
Kallaste cliff has formed about 2000 years ago as a result of abrasional activity of sea. On the cliff extending up to 10 m above sea level there is cropping out an extensive section of Silurian (about 400 million years old) layers belonging to the Tamsalu Regional Stage. They were formed in shallow coast water and consist of numerous fossils and small coral riffs of that time. One of these coral riffs is cropping out as an irregular rock body in the southern part of the cliff and is considered one of the most interesting denuded reef-like formations in Estonia. Three and half meter layers of limestone, which contains corals, and clayey limestone are clearly distinguishable from each other. Clayey layers are less durable and the weathering has brought out two visible niches in the rock.
About ten thousand years ago, retreating glaciers left behind an enormous rock. It was too big to resist weathering and over some time it broke into eight large and a number of smaller rocks. These rocks are gathered close to each other on a half-hectare piece of land. When examined more closely, it can be seen which pieces fit each other.
By now, the island has accepted the rocks, found a nice place for each, surrounded them with junipers, pines and firs and covered them with moss. This remarkable collection of rocks was examined twice, in 1871 and 1879, by Gregor Helmersen – a Baltic German of Estonian origin, a professor at St. Petersburg Mining Institute and a member of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, the first chairman of Russian Geology Committee. He considered the boulders so amazing that he called it the best sample of boulders in the world. Now, his memory is saved in the name of the boulders he examined.
Ristna Visitor Centre, which forms the centre of Hiiumaa Recreation Area, administered by the State Forest Management Centre (RMK), is in the village of Kalana, just off the Kõpu–Ristna road. It provides information about all leisure options offered by the RMK on the beach and in the forest in the Hiiumaa Recreation Area.
A photo exhibition showcasing the diverse nature of Kõpu Peninsula is open all year round. We offer nature study programmes and organise events with a forest and nature theme. Ristna Nature Centre can also be rented as a venue for nature-themed events.
A ‘sea supermarket’ is also open. You will have to come and see for yourself what is sold there.
Alvars can be best described as thin-soiled meadows rich in lime where there are almost no trees or bushes. Alvars can have up to 20 centimetres of soil but at times there is no soil at all and vegetation in these cases can be found only in cracks of the cliffs or smaller concavities. In different seasons the same alvar can look very different, depending on the amount of precipitation. On Sarve peninsula you can see alvars in gravel-pebble beach ridge by the sea. These alvars are different in comparison with those in North-Estonia or other alvars in West-Estonia.
Kurisu sinkhole is located near Kurisu village.
The upper part of the sinkhole has a diameter of about 32 metres, in the lower part it narrows down to 12 metres, and it is 6.2 metres deep. In here, the creek coming from Pihla wetland disappears under the ground.
In summer, when the weather is dry, you can see a limestone bedrock and a little opening to a cave at the bottom of the sinkhole. During high water in spring, so much surface water gathers here that the crater is filled with it and some of it spills over to the surroundings so that the whole place is reminiscent of a little lake.
The water that disappears into the sinkhole re-surfaces on the ground 3 km away on an old pasture in Pihla village.
Karst is a geological phenomenon in which rainwater dissolves easily crumbling bedrock and is absorbed through fissures, creating underground cavities, caves, and even underground rivers. In Estonia, karst phenomena occur mainly in the areas where limestone and dolomites form the bedrock. Karst is wide- spread in Estonia, mainly in Northern, Central and Western Estonia, including the islands. Large sinkholes are called ‘kurisu’ in Estonian. They can be funnel-, bowl-, or saucer-shaped and often reach dozens of metres in diameter.
In Hiiumaa, the karst phenomenon occurs in several places, but the most magnificent of them is the Kurisu sinkhole. During spring ﬂooding, the whole funnel is full of water and resembles a small lake. The water ﬂows away through a small karst cave at the bottom of the funnel and an underground river. Sometimes, when the absorption is rapid, a vortex can be seen in the middle of the funnel.
Several legends are known about the sinkhole. The most common one is the story of a girl who is said to have taken oxen exhausted by working to drink at the sinkhole. The vortex happened to be so powerful that it swallowed the oxen with the load and the girl. Only the girl’s red hair ribbon is said to have been found later in the pasture of Pihla farm, where the waters of the sinkhole come to the ground again. It is believed that such incidences were the reason why people started to call the sinkhole an “evil mouth” (‘kuri suu’ in Estonian). However, it is likely that the word ‘kurisu’ actually comes from such Balto-Finnic words as ‘kuristik’ (abyss) and ‘keeris’ (vortex).
The town of Kärdla is situated in the crater of a meteorite that hit the area about 455 mil- lion years ago during the Middle Ordovician period. The falling speed of the ‘star’ was about 20 to 30 kilometres per second and in a couple of centiseconds, it penetrated the water and the seabed and exploded at a depth of about 200 metres in the soil deposit at the seabed. The explosion, which equalled the power of 8000 nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima, moved the limestone plateaus at the bottom of the seabed slantwise upwards and this way created the Artesian wells or pressurised groundwater in the town of Kärdla. Rain water absorbs easily in the areas on top of the dome – Linnumägi, Antonimägi and Paluküla, where fissured limestone is covered only with a thin layer of soil and from there, it rapidly runs towards the lower areas of Kärdla. Where the limestone bed residing lower is covered with waterproof deposits (varved clay), the groundwater is pressurised; when the protective layer of varved clay is drilled through, the groundwater bursts out like a fountain and keeps flowing as a reach – Artesian water.
This is why there are many Artesian wells in the north western and western part of Kärdla, in particular in Tiigi and Aia Streets.
In the depths of the Kärdla meteorite crater, mineral water of very high quality was found too; it contains about 3 to 4 grams of solute mineral salts rich in Cl-Na-Ca per litre and also some bioactive components (bromine and iodine). This mineral water with medicinal quali- ties was produced here until 1991. (Deeper down, at 500 to 815 metres, the drilled well pro- duces mineral water with a mineral content of up to 16 grams per litre).
In early 19 century, an old Swedish village was replaced by a new settlement of the workers of a new cloth mill which was built in 1829. The houses of “factory nobs” or masters were built in the proximity of a Swedish cemetery. Very soon, the first director of the factory Baron Robert Eginhard von Ungern-Sternberg (1813- 1898) had the graveyard turned into a garden. The former cemetery is reminded by an iron cross which was erected in memory of Karel Taning, the last Swede laid to rest in the graveyard in 1848.
The Baron’s garden has by now become Kärdla Beach Park. The majority of the total of 29 species of trees and bushes are maples, ash trees, elms and fir trees. Foreign species decorating the park are purple-leaved beech, larch, white pine and silver fir. An area between the harbour and the Factory Square is filled with common alder hence the name Lepakoppel (Alder Paddock).This area used to be a popular place for open air concerts and summer parties.
By the seaside one can find a hill which is called Lubjaahjumägi Limekiln Hill. The name is an evidence of one of the past activities of Hiiumaa people lime burning. Now, there is a popular café and restaurant “Rannapaargu” on the top of the hill. The restaurant was built in 1971.
Close to the water is a boulder. The horizontal lines engraved in the stone mark the highest water levels in the history of Kärdla.
Kassari Ratsamatkad (Horse Riding Hikes) is located on a little Kassari Island at the edge of Hiiumaa and it offers the possibility to hike on horses according to the wishes and possibilities. The hikes last from one hour to several days. On short hikes (1–5 h) you can enjoy the seaside bird paradise of Käina Gulf – Kassari Landscape Reserve, hike on the trails of the pirate Unger Sternberg or get acquainted with the ancient Vikings’ war port. Longer hikes (2–5 days) will take you to Tahkuna Peninsula on the northern coast of Hiiumaa, to Vohilaid on the western coast of Hiiumaa and to many other beautiful places.
It is also possible to hike in the marsh and ride through the sea.
It is possible to rent bicycles from the reception of the Kassari Resort hotel. We have 20 bikes for men and women. Some bikes can be used with a child seat. When riding a bicycle, please follow traffic regulations and treat the bike with care. Further information about cycle trails in Hiiumaa is available in the reception or at www.bicycle.ee or www.eurovelo.org.
The study bed provides an excellent possibility for examining domestic orchids within a short period of time and without any guides. There are 10 species of orchids growing naturally on the study bed. The best time to see blooming species of orchids is around Midsummer’s Day. However, some species bloom also in July and August.
The study bed is located next to the car park. Boardwalk, time of completion 15 minutes. There are colourful information boards on the study bed.
Luidja alder forest may seem like an average black alder forest to everyday passers-by as you can find these trees elsewhere in Hiiumaa marshes and stream banks. But in fact this is an area which has more than a hundred year history in experimenting with fixating unique dunes. The alder forest was first established due to the need to protect the beach road of Luidja and the nearby fields and meadows from blowing sands. The alder forest was established by Karl Friedrich Vilhelm Ahrens (1855-1938) who was born in Germany in Meclenburg-Schwerin. He studied forestry in Rostock and Greifsvald. Ahrens established the alder forest in order to fixate the sand dunes in 1901-1903.
The Vanajõe valley study trail forms part of the Tihu landscape reserve and winds along the banks of the prettiest river on the island of Hiiumaa and the tops of its valley, which are up to six metres high in places. It does not take long to get from one end of the trail to the other, but it has many ups and downs, providing physical exercise as well as an interesting learning experience. The trail is 1 km long and fully marked with wooden arrows. It does not cross through wet areas.
Orjaku study trail runs mainly on the shore of the Gulf of Käina. The avifauna of the Gulf of Käina, which consists of 192 species, is interesting and biodiverse. In the autumn, 10–15 thousand water and coastal birds stop on the Gulf.
The trail consists of a longer, Orjaku (2 km), and a shorter, Roostiku, trail (0.7 km). The trail also has a birdwatching tower, three observation platforms, a mud bridge, a recreation site with a shelter, and a boardwalk of approximately 0.4 km in the reed field.
The study trail is perfect for families with children – the shorter trail is manageable even for the very young. Watching the water birds from the observation platform is an interesting experience for both the young and the old.
The trail is marked with arrows and can be completed without getting one’s feet wet.
Neljateeristi nature trail runs along the northern coast of Kõpu Peninsula. It is possible to examine the communities characteristic to Kõpu there. Möirasoo is a little coastal spring fen, where it is possible to see the yew tree that is under protection. Mägipe boulder and Süllasoo Jaanikivi stone on the beach date back to the Ice Age.
There is a unique fishing hut on the beach.
It takes approximately 1 hour to complete the trail and in dry season, it can be completed without wellies. The trail has been equipped with signposts and information boards. Near the trail, you will find the Kalurikoda forest hut, which has a fireplace, benches, and a table. There is a camping area and a campfire site next to the hut.
The Paluküla Health Trail in Hiiumaa invites you to enjoy the fresh air of the island and admire the local nature.
There is a 1.8 km illuminated trail, where you can walk, run, cycle, or ski depending on the weather. Naturally, there is a sled hill. There is also a 2.7 km trail (not illuminated), a 9 km hiking trail (for more experienced hikers), and a disc golf park with 18 baskets.
Take the cycle and pedestrian track from Kärdla to Paluküla health trail.
The trails have sign posts.
After a visit to Soera Farm Museum it is interesting to look around in old farm lands. The trail runs in the forest close to the farm on former hayfields and grasslands and enters the marsh here and there.
So you will get to know which landscapes were once in use of the farm. The trail is approx. 1 km in length and the time of completion thereof is 30 minutes. There are also information boards on the trail. You may need your rubber boots while on the trail.
Orjaku Tower is one of the largest birdwatching towers in Estonia. In spring and autumn, thousands of migratory birds can be watched from the tower while they stay in the Käina Bay. Since 1962, Käina Bay has been a protected area and has been a part of wetlands of international importance (Ramsar sites) since 1997.
There is also a 1.5 km nature trail at the birdwatching tower.