Odessa, or Odesa, is one of Ukraine’s top summer destinations in the Black Sea and the third biggest city in Ukraine. With over 1 million habitants, the city has the biggest nautical port in Ukraine, and has a French and Italian influence that has granted it the title of the “Pearl of the Black Sea”.
Besides its historical richness, Odessa has become an important surfing destination for those who love catchy waves. In 2021, Ukraine became the 109th member of the International Surfing Association (ISA), making its debut in the ISA World Surfing Games with three athletes competing in El Salvador. Dive into the wonders of the Ukrainian city of Odessa.
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Long ago, Empress Catherine II, known as Catherine the Great, decided to open a window to Europe to the south, therefore founding Odessa. The initiative came from the Naples-born Spaniard, Count José de Ribas, who directed the construction of the city and chose the name of the ancient Greek colony of Odessos. However, the Empress changed its gender to feminine, and the city soon became increasingly popular.
At the beginning of the 20th century Odessa became the fourth most important city of the Russian Empire (after Moscow, St. Petersburg and Warsaw), and considered one of the most comfortable cities in Europe. It had rail and sea communications, electricity, running water, sewage, the best paved streets in Europe, spas, luxury hotels and about a thousand cafes and restaurants. This lured in all the nobles from Europe to visit the city.
Surfers have been relatively new, but they have been increasing in the city. The surfing community challenges cold airs and water temperatures with their 6/5mm wetsuits, hoods, gloves and boots. There is a great variety of surfers: from experienced surfers to less advanced surfers, and a growing surf culture is growing in Ukraine. Not long ago the first federations opened up in the country and compete all over the globe for the biggest world class waves.
Odessa is home to two of Ukraine’s best surfing spots. On one hand we have Arcadia Beach, the most popular surf break in the country due to its famous stretch of sand. This is located in a south-east bay, and occasionally the beach becomes a point break due to the piers built in the area. This creates on average shoulder-high waves.
For the best surfing conditions in Arcadia Beach, SE-S swells and NW offshore winds are optimal. This is a great location for those who want to start surfing or have fun with their shortboard, longboard or bodyboard. Arcadia Beach is home to the Ukrainian National Surfing Championship, a competition that is run by the Ukrainian Surfing Federation (USF).
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The other known surfing spot is Chornomorsk, previously known as Illichivsk. Kometa is a reef break that provides locals with good waves, especially during winter as this is the best surfing season. This area is filled with good waves when there are S swells and NW offshore winds, but surfers who want to dive in should be careful of the rocky sea bottom.
Besides Odesa in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov is a popular surfing spot. This is the shallowest sea in the world, with a depth ranging between 0.9 meters and 14 meters. However, there are potential surfing areas as local winds produce frequent storms, with waves reaching up to six meters.
The Sea of Azov is home for windsurfers and kiteboarders, but there are wind swells that produce coastal waves, increasing the number of surfers in the area. If you are thinking about going to this area for surfing, then consider Taganrog Bay or the southern shores of the Sea.
In order to help the Ukrainian community in these hard times, we can all show our support in various ways. Besides initiatives taken across the nautical community, as soon as the war ends, we can go visit Ukraine to help rebuild tourism in the area.
If you liked this article and you love surfing, then you might want to learn how to duck dive or learn the perfect surf stance! Don’t forget to follow us on social media: we are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!