"TIKHY" NUDIST BEACH
(Description and author's personal impressions of his visit to Odessa on August 16–19, 2000)
Odessa1995_01a.JPG (15432 bytes)The nudist beach "Tikhy" ("Quiet", in Russian) is situated at the Black Sea coast in the recreation zone of the city of Odessa, approximately half way between the well-known city recreation areas "Dolphin" and "Arcadia", immediately adjoining the official beach of "Chkalov" Health Resort. (We speak of a nudist beach, since the word naturism appears to be virtually unknown in Odessa.)
The simplest way to get to the beach: take a tram No 5 (the route is: Bus Station – Railway Station – Arcadia) heading for Arcadia and get off at the stop Chkalov Health Resort in Frantsuzky Bulvar (French Boulevard). Then walk through the Chkalov Resort park (the entry is free) over its central ride, leave it through the back gate, come downslope to a seaside asphalted road, get around the fence of the Chkalov Resort beach from the right (entry to this beach is chargeable for non-patrons of the resort), and then walk further down to the sea by a path descending the coastal cliff to the nudist beach. The whole way from Railway Station to the beach takes 30–35 minutes.
There is an optional way of transportation: one can reach the beach with trolleybuses No 5, 7 or 9, as well as by buses or "route-taxi" minibuses, with getting off at the "Sport Palace" stop at Prospect Shevchenko (Shevchenko Avenue) and walking from there through the University Botanical Garden to the French Boulevard (a 5 minutes' walk). The entry from the Shevchenko Avenue to Botanical Garden is through a gap in a concrete fence just opposite the middle of the Sport Palace's right flank; a lot of people is using this path, so you'll find your way at once. The most convenient route to the beach from the city center (Grecheskaya Ploshchad – Greek Square, by side of Deribasovskaya Ulitsa – de Ribas St.) is by trolleybuses No 5 and 9, and a convenient route from the new residential areas in Southern Odessa is by trolleybuses No 7 and 9.
Odessa downtown occupies a flat plateau elevated at a few tens of meters over the sea level; the plateau is abruptly coming down to the sea with cliffs at the North and East. Odessa's main recreation area is located along the Eastern plateau fringe, taking up some 6 km of the sea coast length. Resort hotels and sanatoriums are usually located right at the precipice edge, with steep slopes partly refined with a gardening layout coming down to the sea beneath; placed below, right at the sea coast, are the four most prominent beach and recreation areas: "Langeron", "Otrada" ("Delight", in Ukrainian and Russian), "Dolphin" and "Arcadia", adorned with numerous entertainment and game establishments, with trade and catering. The intervals between them are less developed, but are also employed as beaches.
Built along the whole coastal line are transverse breakwater piers to prevent the infrastructure erosion; they are distanced by 400–500 m from one another and are jutting a few tens of meters into the sea to divide the coastal zone into separate sections. The beaches usually would consist of either rather coarse pebble or from stone slates, making up in most places a relatively narrow stripe with small, some 10 m-high, cliffs overhanging . The equipped beaches would be usually covered with sand, either purposely brought or obtained on place with a special technology of crushing of the relatively soft limestone rock.
Conditions at the "Tikhy" nudist beach
Odessa1995_03a.JPG (23632 bytes)Officially, the beach occupies about 200 m of the waterfront line, i.e., about half a distance between two breakwaters, immediately adjoining the Chkalov Resort beach from the South (to the right of the latter, if looking from the coast onto the sea). In fact, the nudists are settling themselves over the entire 400 m-long beach section, but the majority is concentrated at the more convenient official section. The beach is a 20–30 m-wide stripe mostly covered with pebble (of a pigeon's egg size, not very smooth), but there is a sand "island" in the center (of about 10x50 m in dimensions) – the place preferred by many. One walks over the pebbles when coming into the water, but there is quite a lot of medium-sized and big rocks under water (limestone, sometimes with rather roughly rugged surface), so one must be very cautious both at stepping into the water and at swimming not to hurt oneself over the rocks. Distanced about 40 meters from the coastal line into the sea, a breakwater parallel to the coast is passing beneath the water surface; one can stand on it knee-deep, which many like to do. Dominating at the second, "unofficial", part of the beach are big rocks preferred by those who like sunbathing on stone slates. As a cliff overhangs the beach from the West, the cliff shadow starts covering the beach in late afternoon (after about 5 p.m.) to make the people migrate with the speed of shadow onto the parts of the beach that remain illuminated longer.
Conditions for outdoors games at the beach are rather poor – in the first place, for the lack of space, but also because of a coarse pebble at the coast and big rocks in the water. A small stream confined into a tube flows into the sea at the "unofficial" part of the beach; one of the common amusements is going there to swill oneself with a colder sweet water. Besides, this water is assumed suitable for drinking. Many people find a pleasure in collecting mussels among the rocks in the sea.
The "official" part of the beach boasts a buffet with a counter, several tables and chairs. The buffet personnel is supposed to collect garbage at the buffet and around it. Hawkers trading in pies, fish, ice creams and other snacks are constantly passing through the beach.
With regard to the comfort and development, the nudist beach sharply contrasts the adjoining Chkalov Resort beach: the latter presents a wide stripe of soft sand (both at the coast and underwater), a shadowy verdure area, sports grounds, rentals of sports equipment, trade establishments, toilets, etc. One who wants to bathe snugger or, e.g., to play volleyball, has to put on briefs and pass onto this beach (one can easily do it by crossing a purely symbolic fencing). The presence of topless females at the Chkalov beach is quite a common affair not attracting anyone's attention.
Habits and manners at the "Tikhy" nudist beach
Odessa1995_02a.JPG (13248 bytes)Up to 600–700 people assemble at the nudist beach on hot summer days. The majority of them are odessites, the rest are patrons of nearby resort hotels coming from other cities, regions or countries. The beach area is obviously insufficient for such a number of people, particularly, as regards the most preferred places: the sand isle in the middle and the stripe of a finer pebble right along the waterfront. Thus the central part of the beach is always overcrowded, with people setting up themselves side by side in the literal sense of the word. There is virtually no difference in the beach populace on week and weekend days at a hot weather; the males to females ratio is, as everywhere, approximately 2:1, but the number of children is relatively small.
One peculiarity about the nudist beach "Tikhy" is that the proportion of "clothed" sunbathers may reach up to 25–30% at times; notably, these people are coming to the beach purposely: one possibly cannot get there by chance, as there are only two paths over which one can get down to the beach without using of mountain climbing elements (and one should know these paths too). Still the local nudists seem to be taking such a phenomenon very easy, with the general mood at the beach keeping quite natural and friendly?! (Our comment: for one, we only can envy such a degree of tolerance by the odessites; but we rather would wish them that the proportion of "textiles" at the nudist beach do not grow further – otherwise one might be impelled to conduct a poll one day among the sunbathers: "Who knows (or can recall) what is nudism?").
The problem under discussion with the city administration now is an official allocation to the nudists of the whole 400 m-long space between the two breakwaters, with a further development of the area to follow, including the construction of toilets, crushing of big rocks, delivery of sand, etc. (true, I did not quite catch where the local activists are going to get the money from for these purposes?).
An overall resume of personal impressions
The city of Odessa has produced an immense impact on me – one who never was to Odessa before. I spent 4 days there, but I could not manage to look at all I wanted to, so I would come to Odessa again with pleasure. Odessa can boast a very remarkable urban milieu and an architecture of the XIX and early XX century (remember: Odessa used to be the 4th city in the Russian Empire by its size and importance, to follow St. Petersburg, Moscow and Warsaw). Odessa is visibly well cared for nowadays, the city is well heeded and a good money is invested into improvements. The public transport operates pretty good, and there is no problem for a city guest with purchasing consumer goods and with catering.
As for the "Tikhy" Nudist Beach, it certainly is inferior to Koktebel both by natural conditions and by opportunities of the human communication. In the first place, both bathing and resting at the shore is less comfortable here, the beach is poorly ventilated by winds at a hot weather, bathing at a stormy weather is simply dangerous because of the underwater rocks, and, finally, the bathing season duration is shorter in Odessa than in the not so far distanced Crimea. In addition, renting of a suitable housing is both more difficult and more expensive for a visitor in Odessa than at the Crimean resorts, everything being adapted to receive guests at the latter. In short, Odessa is a "Pearl at the Sea" for those who want to combine the sea resort leisure with a life in a megalopolis.
On the whole, I rather would not recommend going to Odessa for the sake of sea beach and bathing alone, but I would recommend in every way visiting the "Tikhy" Nudist Beach to those coming to Odessa by just a chance or as tourists.
Author of the text on this page: Andrei Samartsev