Bulgarian Black Sea coast by kayak – Day 1

The Black Sea coastline in Bulgaria is a very wild region with around 80-90% of it completely undeveloped. The coastline is generally rugged, there are only narrow strips of sandy beaches and long sections of cliff faces where you cannot get off the water. In the summer of 2017 three friends: Pali, Barni and Tiha set off to explore as much of it as possible by kayak.

Two of us were in our late thirties, and we had quite fast inflatable hybrid kayaks with an aluminum keel (Air Fusion by Advances Elements). Barni has never kayaked before, I was at my third sea-trip. Pali is a 67-year old retired adventurer with a 20-year-old 3-meter long whitewater kayak with a rudder fitted to it.  It was a mixed team, but we got along extremely well. We went by car to Krapets, the first village right next to the sea; left the car there at a restaurant 10 m from the water and set off by kayak.

Pali hauling his kayak to the shore.

Barni with his banana right before their maiden voyage.

We were incredibly lucky. The sea was flat and motionless. There was just some very light wind. It helped us a lot because the other two were at their first sea trip so they badly needed a generous accommodation period. But we were cruising in a big motionless pool. Confidence levels rose.

The large-scale meteo wind pattern was from west to east (from the shore), so it effectively canceled out the sea breeze from sea to land (from east to west). I am still a beginner in sea weather, but it seems that meteo wind opposite to the direction of sea breeze can result in calm air and sea. Please comment below if you are more knowledgeable about these issues.

For the first few kilometers the shore was rather flat and dull. We cruised by Shabla, the first village along our journey.

Shabla seen from the water.

The terrain started to get higher after Shabla. First there was a 10-20 m high clay wall, then there was an 2 km section north of Tyulenovo with a 10-20 m high vertical limestone wall facing the sea. This section was full of caves cut by the sea into the limestone face. Some were narrower, that you could not turn around with the boat in them and went as deep as 15 meters in the cliff, some were much wider, up to 10 meters high and wide.

The big caves were full of cormorants and pigeons nesting in them and plunging and diving deep or shooting out in the open when we arrived. They had obviously very few visitors before us. The caves were the best natural shelters because they were completely inaccessible from land and only accessible by kayak or canoe when the sea is calm. We were extremely lucky to have reached there exactly when conditions were perfect.

It was the most beautiful experience I’ve had on the water. Check out Pinocchio above on the third picture from behind. The caves were located in a pretty small section of the shore, 2 km north and 500 m south of Tyulenovo harbor. Tyulenovo harbor is squeezed into a small (approx. 50 m wide) crevasse in the rocks without any sandy beach, just a steep drop to the water with slides for the boats of local fishermen. There is a hotel, restaurant, and terrace overlooking this small bay. Great place for snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, but definitely not a place for a family vacation.

My track around Tyulenovo. There are caves where the tracks gets close to the shore and there is a sharp turn.

Tyulenovo harbor

There are still some 500 m of rock formations south of Tyulenovo even with an arc or bridge you cross under by kayak.

Next to Tyulenovo in the south.

From there on the cliff face got higher up to 50 m, but without the spectacular rock formations. The composition of the rock changes too. There is still some limestone but mixed with sedimentary rock and maybe travertine. It is very scenic but no place to get out of the water for around 8 km.

By the end of Day 1 we reached the first sandy beach to finish the day and set up camp near Rusalka. We covered 27.2 km in almost 5 hours with an average speed of 5.6 kmh. Not bad for the first day.

Our overnight camping place near Rusalka.

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