Kaunissaari, The Beautiful Island – standing up to its name
There are several places with the same name, Kaunissaari, but the genuine one is in Pyhtää, in the waters of the Eastern Gulf of Finland, an easy boat journey from Sapokka in Kotka. Kaunissaari is, above all, a summer destination. If you want to spend your holiday enjoying leisurely times in a fantastic seascape amidst beautiful nature, absorbing the ambiance of a unique fishing village milieu, Kaunissaari is bound to take your breath away.
The experience starts before you get there
Kaunissaari is easy to reach even if you don't have a boat of your own. The Tuuri motor boats operate regular trips from Sapokka in Kotka. The sea journey to the island is an experience in itself.
You can hire a bicycle from the harbour office of the boat harbour to cycle all the way up to the old sector at the northernmost tip of the island, a ride of approximately 3 kilometres. You can also explore the island by foot just as well. The southern tip of Kaunissaari has a fishing village preserved in its original form with old idyllic fisherman's houses, courtyards and narrow alleyways. The harbour bay is lined with red shore houses and boat sheds. The island is covered with pine forests shaped by the winds and, on the northern and eastern sides, long sandy beaches. The highest peak of the island has an ice-age shore bank, also referred to as the Devil's Field. There is an outdoor site for camping on the eastern shore of the island, as well as good swimming areas on the eastern and northern shores. Kaunissaari Holiday Centre, situated next to the outdoor area, provides small log cabins for rent. There is other accommodation available as well. And those who wish can, naturally, take a sauna bath.
On the harbour bay shore there is an archipelago museum exhibiting an interesting collection of materials depicting life and the people on the island. Art lovers should visit Galleria Mari. A nature cottage in the guest boat harbour presents the Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park.
You can practise fishing and diving in the nearby waters. Kaunissaari and the neighbouring islands are also a good place to observe the migration of arctic birds.
Although busy, remember to eat too!
The guest boat harbour has a barbeque cabin where you can have your own barbeque and food. You can also buy food to go from the local island shop. Next to the shop, Coffeeshop Merituuli sells tasty stone-baked pizzas and other delicacies. Restaurant Kaunissaaren Maja offers great food: the island's special salmon soup is very popular. You can also buy smoked fish from the local fishermen.
Things happening in Kaunissaari
The island has a few year-round residents, but life becomes busier in the summer when holiday-makers arrive for a day or sometimes longer. The Kaunissaari Day in July provides plenty to see on the island. Kaunissaaren muinaistulet (The Ancient Fires of Kaunissaari) is also a popular event on the last day of August. On that day, fires are lit on the shore to commemorate ancient signalling fires and several events are organised to entertain visitors.