The White Sea is a great destination for nature lovers and excursionists.

The White Sea is located in the northwest of Russia. It washes the coast of Karelia, Murmansk and Arkhangelsk regions. The total area of the sea is about 95,000 sq. km, the coastline is about 3000 km. The average depth is 67 meters; the maximum depth is 340 meters. Salinity is 24-31 ppm.

In summer, the temperature of the upper layer of water in coastal zones can rise above 20 degrees Celsius. In winter, most of the sea is covered with ice. The sea does not freeze completely due to strong currents and tides.

Tourist attractions of the White Sea

The Solovetsky Archipelago is the main tourist destination of the White Sea. The famous Solovetsky Monastery is located on one of the islands.

Kandalaksha Bay is located in the north-western part of the White Sea. It is notable for archeological sites - ancient labyrinths, also called by the locals “babylons”. A significant part of the territory of the bay is occupied by Kandalaksha Nature Reserve.

The Kuzova Islands near the town of Kem certainly deserve more popularity. The main islands of the archipelago are the Russian Kuzov and the German Kuzov. The islands have fascinating rocky and tundra landscapes, plenty of birds and archeological monuments - sacred Saami stones, or “Seids”, labyrinths and remains of ancient encampments. Tourist groups land on the German Kuzov and hike to the top of the island which is 117.8 meters above the sea level.

Ecotourism opportunities in the White Sea

White Sea beluga whale watching

Beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) are frequent in the White Sea. The most popular place for beluga whale watching in the wild is the Big Solovetsky Island. A group of white whales can be seen there every year from the second half of June to the beginning of August. Whales gather near the Cape of Belugas located in the northwest of the island. Sometimes curious individuals approach regular passenger ferries on their route from or to Kem.

One can get to the Beluga Cape on foot by hiking the ecological trail (as of 2021 this trail is in a poor condition) and by motorboat.

White Sea seal watching

The White Sea is the habitat of the bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus), the harp seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus) and the Arctic ringed seal (Phoca hispida).

Good observation opportunities are available in the Kandalaksha Bay area. In May, harp seals can be seen directly on the coast near the city of Kandalaksha, where they are fed by local residents (scientists do not recommend doing this).

Ringed seals and bearded seals are clearly visible when they lie and rest on the ice. At the beginning of May, the diving center in the Karelian village of Nilmoguba organizes ecological tours by high-speed “Zodiac” boats, and tourists can observe and photograph seals and sea birds.

Harp seal or Greenland seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus). In early March seal pups have just been born and have a beautiful white fur (then it darkens). Helicopter excursions to observe seals and their pups on the ice are sometimes arranged from Arkhangelsk or nearby settlements.

White Sea bird watching

On the islands of the White Sea and on the coast, one can see many birds, including the white-tailed eagle, eiders, oystercatcher, Arctic tern, great skua, silver gull and other gulls, various species of geese and ducks, and other birds.

Getting here

Travelling to the White Sea

1.       By plane to the airports of Arkhangelsk and Solovetsky Islands.

2.       By train. The main railway stations near the White Sea are the stations of Arkhangelsk, Kem, Kandalaksha and Belomorsk.

3.       By car.