I am embarrassed to admit that I just learned of Dzharylhach island this year. But as soon as I had seen some of the photos of this place my goal was to visit it and write an article in English so tourists would know about this uninhabited and beautiful place.
Dzharylhach is an island and national park that everyone can visit and camp. The island lays at the bottom of the Kherson region in the very south of Ukraine.
Dzharylhach island attracts people with very fine, soft white sand beaches, clear water and occasional guests that swim around the island… yes, that is right, dolphins!
Read more: How To Visit The Best Pink Lake In Ukraine
The easiest way to get to Dzharylhach island is first to get to Kherson (6 things to do in Kherson). Kherson is the capital of the region and has nice railway station and an airport. There are no direct flights from Kyiv to Kherson, but if you are coming from Lviv you are in luck (read below).
There are a few trains that go every day to Kherson from Kyiv (Kiev). My advice for those who choose the train: buy some water and snacks before you board the train since there are sometimes no restaurant-cars and you will have to starve the whole time.
If you haven’t had an experience with Ukrainian trains then prepare yourself, since it is going to be a mission for you. They are not as bad as some of the Indian trains, but also not as great as in Japan.
7660 leaves Kyiv central railway station at 7:14 AM, arrives in Kherson at 2:48 PM (travel time is 7 h, 34 min); Price: 1st class – 581 UAH ($21), 2nd class – 394 UAH (S14.2).
768K/7680 leaves Kyiv central railway station at 2:29 PM, arrives in Kherson at 10:21 PM (travel time is 7 h, 52 min); Price: Sleeping – 568 UAH ($20.5), 2nd class Sitting – 260 UAH ($9.4).
102K leaves Kyiv central railway station at 7:38 PM, arrives in Kherson at 5:33 AM (travel time is 9h, 55min); Price: Lux-class – 864 UAH ($31.2), Sleeping – 374 UAH ($13.5), 2nd class – 170 UAH ($6.1).
298K leaves Kyiv central railway station at 11:57 PM, arrives in Kherson at 12:10 AM (travel time is 12h, 13min); Price: Lux-class – 1157 UAH ($41.8), Sleeping – 487 UAH ($17.6), 2nd class – 208 UAH ($7.5).
As I already said there are no direct flights to Kherson from Kyiv, which is very weird. Although if you are going to go to Kherson from Lviv you can take a direct one and a half hour flight every Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 6 PM. You also can take a flight back to Lviv on the same days at 8:25 PM.
2021 Updates: direct flight “Lviv – Kherson” was suspended. Unfortunately, the situation with flights often change in Ukraine. However, you should always check this option, maybe it will change again.
To get to Dzharylhach island from Kherson you pretty much can go just by driving yourself or getting on a public bus to Skadovsk city and from there by ferry to Dzharylhach. Skadovsk is located on the coast of the Black Sea, about two hours away.
To go by bus from Kherson you will need to get to the main bus station (Polkovnyka Kedrovskoho St, 1, Kherson, Kherson Oblast, 73000). Everyday buses to Skadovsk leave at 6 AM, 6:30 AM, 7:30 AM, 8 AM, 8:30 AM, 9AM, 9:30AM, 10:20AM, 10:40AM, 11AM, 11:15AM, 11:55AM, 12:55PM, 1:10 PM, 1:45 PM, 4:45 PM, 5:30 PM, 6:15 PM, 7:20 PM. The bus ticket will cost you 110 UAH ($4,5) one way per person. You can buy tickets at the cashier inside the bus station or directly from the bus driver. You need to exit the bus in Skadovsk at the bus stop “Persha Shkola” (click here to see location). And from there just walk straight to the beach where you will see the pier.
In Ukraine people usually ask a driver where to stop, so follow the map and as soon as you are close to the right bus stop, literally shout these words – “Persha Shkola”.
The ferries leave form Skadovsk (Pier #380) to Dzharylhach every day at 8 AM, 9 AM, 10:30 AM and 2 PM. To buy the ferry ticket you need to come at least 30 minutes before the departure time and be at the pier to line up 15 minutes before to board.
You can also buy tickets for the ferry here.
The ferry ticket costs 200 UAH ($7.2) round trip per person and it takes about an hour and thirty minutes to get to the island.
If you are wondering exactly how Cody and I did this trip here it is. First of all we went to Kherson city for a week as our base to explore the oblast (state). So, naturally we rent an AirBnB for a week since we planned to stay most of the nights in Kherson. For Dzharylhach trip we took a bus at 11 AM from Kherson and got to Skadovsk around 1 PM, walked straight to the beach where we then bought the ferry tickets for 2 PM and got lunch at a nearby beach café. At 1:45 we got in line to board the ferry and at 3:30 PM we already were on Dzharylhach island.
There are two types of tourists that come to Dzharylhach island. The first group are day trippers and the second group are those who plan to stay overnight or even longer. The first ones usually take a morning ferry to the island and leave with the last one (6:30 PM) back to Skadovsk. And the second ones, the overnight campers, will come at all times of the day and leave the next day or in a few days at 9 AM or 10 AM.
For those who travel heavy with big backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags you can camp pretty much wherever you want. Closer to the pier is more crowded of course, but further away, little by little, people disappear and you can be really isolated if you wish. However, next to the pier is a restaurant and toilets and some prefer to stay closer to “civilization”.
For people like me and Cody who don’t like to carry too many things there is a nice way to spend a night or two at Dzharylhach island. At the restaurant you can just tell one of the workers that you want to rent a tent. Although, it is better of course to call them and book a tent in advance.
The tent costs 150 UAH ($5.4) per person per night. So, for both of us, we paid 300 UAH ($10.8) and got a three-person tent with a mattress and two pillows, and a hammock (a nice addition to our evening).
The whole afternoon we, of course, spent on the white sand sunbathing. Around 5 PM we got lucky and saw a few dolphins swim very close to the beach. That is not something unusual and I was hoping to see them. After all the day trippers left, the beach became quiet and almost empty…very relaxing I must say.
For the sunset we went to the lighthouse. There are actually two lighthouses: the old metal one and the new one made of bricks. There is also a fresh water well where you can take water for cooking and washing, although I would not recommend drinking it (you can buy fresh water at the restaurant).
For dinner Cody and I went back to the restaurant by the pier. You should understand that it is not a proper restaurant I am talking about, but more like a cafeteria. There you can buy different cold drinks, including sodas, water, beer, and hard alcohol. Hot coffee and tea are also available.
The island’s specialty are dishes with stingray. We had to try it. I got myself a grilled stingray and Cody got stingray soup and plov (rice pilaf). And I must say that the grilled stingray was extremely tasty, Cody’s soup and plov were delicious as well.
The prices at this place are not high; for example, we paid 150 UAH ($5.4) for a big slice of grilled stingray, 60 UAH ($2.2) for a bowl of soup and 70 UAH ($2.5) for a plate of plov. For cold beer you will have to pay between 30 and 50 UAH for half a litter of beer.
To those who are planning on staying overnight I do recommend bringing with you these items:
Depending on the month, the nights on Dzharylhach island can be windy and cold so you would need some warm clothes as well as sunscreen.
To get to the mainland you need to take the ferry back (use the same ticket that you used to get to the island).
Next to the beach area in Skadovsk you will find taxis, just say the word “Avtovokzal” and show them a bill of UAH 50. The taxi will take you to the bus station where you can buy a ticket for the next bus to Kherson. Note: the buses can come 5 to 10 minutes earlier and they will leave after picking up the people waiting, so even though we showed up “on time” we still had to wait about 25 minutes for the next bus. No matter, there is some seating and a little café at the station.
The buses from Skadovsk to Kherson leave almost every half hour (every day), so you won’t have to wait too long.