Explore St Anastasia Island near Burgas, Bulgaria
Travel is an incredible thing to do. We know that this seems like an obvious thing to write down. In fact, we are sure that almost everyone will support what we have just mentioned right now, however, there were times when the baby boomers saved their hard-earned money for buying a house or for retirement. The world is changing dynamically and today’s young people, the millennials, are all about spending their last penny on travelling around the world and to be honest, we think that this is wonderful! So we always strive to set our sights on new horizons, to see and experience the world and we invite you to do this together! To travel is to take a new state of mind, to go out of your comfort zone, to be out of your element and collide with all the incredible mix of cultures, history and views waiting around the corner. Adjusting and understanding something new and exciting is a great part of travelling and in turn put your own life, ideas and philosophies in perspective.
Do you believe in wonders? Do you believe in them with all your heart, just like a little child? If yes, we guess that you are up to some magical adventure, an adventure with pirates, mermaids and all the beautiful wonders the great big sea has to offer! Since the today’s world is lacking everyday magic and wonders, today we decided to present to you the little-enchanted island St Anastasia that is located in the Black Sea, a few kilometres next to one of the main Bulgarian coastal cities – Burgas. St Anastasia island is the one and only populated and functioning Bulgarian island and you can be sure that there you can meet mermaids and even popular pirates like Captain Hook from Neverland.
Reaching the little island is recommended only in summertime, although you can plan a quick sail on a sunny late spring and early autumn day. Typically, you need to take one of the official service boats sailing from the main Burgas’ seaport to the island’s little port. The price per person is really not that high and there are some discounts for group visits. While the normal boat service will give you up to 25-30 minutes of a sunny ride in peaceful waters, you can consider something more adventurous and unique and spend a couple of hours on an attractive pirate boat on a bit higher, but still affordable price. Attraction pirate boats and ships are sailing from almost all of the nearby cities’ little ports, including Pomorie, Nessebar and Sozopol. Of course, you can find some services offered in Burgas too. We especially recommend you the pirate ship option if you are going to visit the island with your children because they will have a lot of fun! It is also important to mention here that visiting St Anastasia island is completely children-friendly and enjoyable experience for the whole family.
Visiting the little island is like diving into one of the most magical and enchanted Burgas’ fairy tales. A story that generations of seagulls tell to their little ones as a lullaby to make them sleep at night and dream sweet dreams of adventure and wonders. Somewhere there, in the middle of the old, wise and white-haired Black Sea, caressed by sparkling drops of salty water and fluffy sea foam, the big naval ships of the neighbouring Atia island, and probably mermaids, there you can find nestled this piece of cooled volcanic lava that is a home to hundreds of stories and fairytales, so you even start to wonder, how on Earth the weight of so many legends and myths is not sinking the picturesque land.
If you are concerned that sailing to St Anastasia island in the summertime is going to be way too hot and inconvenient experience, don’t worry, because the sea breeze is definitely going to help you feel great and very refreshed. However, make sure you are not going to miss putting your sunscreen on, especially if you are planning to enjoy some sunshine laying on the small island beach. Another convenience includes that kids under 7 years are travelling free. There are no additional fees and charges for entering and visiting the island.
Reaching out the island, you will see still from far away from the upside down anchor that will greet you first. Although the upside down anchor is not a good symbol and it often means that the sea Gods are angry, do not worry at all, because the island is protected by St Anastasia, who manages to tame all sea moods, even the angriest and sour mood swings, and to maintain this piece of earth as picturesque, heavenly and caressed by sunlight. Then you will hop out the boat on the small pontoon, and in front of you, the most beautiful view in the world will uncover. You will most surely enjoy this cosy and neat piece of paradise that is anchored in the middle of the sea under the weight of dozens of legends and stories, carved out by the sea waves for thousands of years and later shaped by the man to look and feel the amazing way it does.
To be honest, wandering around the island and seeing everything you can find on it, it does not take you too long. Of course, the island’s charm is not hiding into walking long distances and enjoying monumental cityscapes. Make sure you are planning at least a couple of hours to enjoy the little island fully. It is easy to do so because there are many boats and little ships leaving the island to Burgas and nearby coastal towns at least every hour. This marine tour is offering the ever so wanted (and needed) getaway from the hectic and dynamic big city. Although not the typical exotic island escape, St Anastasia is offering an unbeatable charm and atmosphere. However, if you are up to some more activities and less laziness under the thick shadow of the plum and fig trees, there is enough to keep you occupied on the island.
Here, on the island, there is a museum that is dedicated not only to St Anastasia’s history but also a large and diverse exposition divided among six themed rooms. All of the six themed rooms are inspired by the island in different time periods and its different inhabitants, from wise monks of hermits to political prisoners. Here you can also see a little church (the only church on the island in Bulgaria). The spiritual complex Uspenie Bogorodichno is built in the time period between 15-16 century and there you can find original remains from this time still present in the church today, like an altar, iconostasis and frescoes. Once upon a time, this one and the only island church used to be inhabited by monks that worshipped St Anastasia and her medical skills and kindness. The monks have also not just once made prayers to St Anastasia to help them against sea storms and raiding pirates.
In case you are up to some more special and unique experience, on the little island you can also find a special guesthouse to enjoy for a couple of nights. Besides being tempting because of its unique design, hospitality, the many stories it holds and the extremely affordable price for such an experience, this guesthouse is also rumoured to be chosen by Robbie Williams for resting in quiet and peace after his concert in Burgas in 2015. The atmosphere in this guesthouse is truly romantic and hermitage and, hands down, what a city break and island escape really look like. We highly recommend you consider a short digital detox if you are staying in for a few days, although here you can use WiFi and cable TV. The rooms of the guesthouse are situated in two different buildings and the most interesting part is that some of the rooms are actually authentically restored monk cells, but come with all the comfort of modern time. The view you can enjoy through the rooms’ windows, however, is the best thing of all!
In case you are wondering where on Earth you are about to eat, do not worry, because you won’t be left hungry when visiting the island. Here you can enjoy the amazing Bulgarian cuisine in restaurant “100 years back in time”, offering an amazing selection of seafood and other fresh and delicious dishes that are cooked according to the best kept as a secret by the fishermen local receipts. The atmosphere is unbeatable too because you can enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner accompanied by amazing local wine under the thick shadows and mesmerizing aroma of the fig trees while hanging over the seashore, nestled in a small balcony.
The coffee shop on the island is known as “lekarna”, which means a place you can be healed at and this is not at random at all! Here you can taste and enjoy the most amazing and healthy herbal tea that is made out of herbs growing on the island and delicious forest honey. If the summer heat is too much to handle, you can always enjoy ice coffee, the most popular version served in Bulgaria is known as Frappuccino. Add to this at least one of the delicious and always fresh home-cooked cookies or salty snacks, or take as a souvenir a jar of fig jam produced from the figs growing on the island. You will find this island figs especially delicious and unique, soaked with sunlight and salty air that adds to them an extra specific flavour.
One of the other things that are surely going to impress you is the way that sea is coloured in many different shades of blue when you look at it from different angles and different spots on the island. Besides all these sparkling blue shades, the island is surrounded by a dozen of legends and myths. As everything related to the sea, here there are lurking many legends, myths and some completely real stories. Believe us, it is really easy to start believing in all these fairy tales, especially when surrounded by the magical atmosphere of this little island that is almost like fallen from in between the pages of a sea adventures book.
It might be only 9 acres large in size, but the island is surrounded by many natural stone forms and each of them is linked to a certain myth. The most popular stone forms are The Dragon, The Fossilized Ship, The Sun Gate and The Mushroom. The Sun Gate is the first spot of the island, where the morning sunlight is hitting – the first kiss between the hot sphere in the sky and its beloved salty and aromatic island, followed by thousands of caresses during the day to when the sun starts settling down. The story tells that many centuries ago this place used to be an ancient Thracian sanctuary. The opposite side of the island is where you can see the distinctive forms of The Mushroom. To this day people still tell the story of this old and wise monk, who is buried in the stone form and to this date greets with a smile all the visitors.
The Fossilized Ship is probably the most interesting myth surrounding the island. There is a scary and enigmatic legend that continues inhabiting as a ghost the crushed by the sea waves ship remains. According to the ancient history of the island, St Anastasia is a place, where pirate ships have had dock many times during the centuries, and scary pirates have searched for a legendary treasure that is protected by the spirit of a fierce sea robber. During one of the attacks, the monks living on the island have asked for help St Anastasia and she has responded to their request and sent a sea storm that lifted the ship high and sent it away with a devastating force at the seashore. The remains of the ship got fossilized and you can see them today in the place destined by the powerful sea.
Years later, the organizers of one of the most popular terrorist attacks in Bulgaria, the one at the St Nedelya church in Sofia, were sentenced to spend the rest of their lives on the island as political prisoners. This is when the island got the name Bolshevik and reminded a lot of the Alcatraz island, however, the prisoners managed to escape the island and hide in Strandzha Mountain. Whether the 43 prisoners have planned their breakaway with the help of the legendary fossilized pirates and their ship, or not, there is not a human being alive that can confirm for sure, but this is definitely one of the most interesting stories you can hear shared on the island among many others.
Despite its pretty dark past, today St Anastasia island is greeting free people with a friendly smile and a lot of hospitality and unique charm.