Swimming guide to the island of Wolin

Przewodnik pływacki

Poland’s largest island is often referred to as “the only true island in the country” because of the two straits of several hundred meters separating it from the mainland. To the south, Wolin opens onto the huge Szczecin Lagoon, whose name may confuse an inland resident. A lagoon in Poland is usually associated with a small dam lake, while here we are actually dealing with a large sea bay, which is bounded from the north by two islands: Wolin and Uznam. The correct term for this body of water is also the word lagoon.

Wolin Island, with its diverse landscape rich in lakes and beautiful coastline, can without exaggeration be called a paradise for swimmers and watermen. Actually, only the beaches in Miedzyzdroje, Miedzywodzie and Dziwnow are more widely known. The interior of the island is still terra incognita. The question arises whether, for the sake of nature’s welfare, it should remain that way. It should. On the other hand, a swimmer, SUP or kayak user does not have to contribute to overexploitation of the area. On the contrary, it can help protect its resources. It can constitute the “eyes of nature.”

Swimming guide – swimming bans, safety and water quality

The swimming guide to the island of Wolin that I have prepared is a brief compilation of the most interesting places for swimmers in the region. The study mentions places where swimming is not prohibited, but from day to day, on specific beaches, the ban may appear. A properly erected sign is circular, has a red border, shows a crossed-out silhouette of a swimmer and usually indicates the reason for the ban. There is also the possibility that we will see a ban in another form, placed illegally. We can always check if the place is indeed excluded from recreational use.

For safety, we use a standard inflatable buoy clipped to the belt and a brightly colored cap. It is better to swim in pairs than alone. Always assess the body of water first. It’s also a good idea to ask locals about possible risks. Water quality changes from day to day, even from hour to hour. We always evaluate water organoleptically. Its real quality may differ from the information posted on the information board or on the Internet. We are always responsible for our entry into the water. Guardians are responsible for the children.

Miedzyzdroje

Let’s start the review in a completely standard way. A good place to swim is the beach west of the pier. The sea here is shallow for a long time and we have good reference points for navigation. We sail to the “eastern hills” and back along the beach, towards the pier. The entire swim can take place in a guarded swimming area, but we can also extend the route. The site is especially recommended for novice open-water swimmers beginning their adventure with the sea. The day in the summer season in Miedzyzdroje is – for Polish conditions – record long, and the lights from around the pier illuminate the water surface in the evening. This gives the swimmer an added sense of security.

Gosan

Walking 3 to 4 kilometers along the beach to the east of Miedzyzdroje, we come to a beach decorated with boulders and find ourselves under the highest cliff in Poland. Swimming here brings to mind swimming in the Norwegian Sea or off the coast of Ireland. This is one of the most beautiful beaches in Poland. Usually the water quality here is very good. Boulders are also found in the water, close to the shore. We should also be vigilant for the sake of wading anglers.

Vistula and Swietouść

A swimming guide to Wolin can’t do without Wiselka and Swietouścia. These two settlements offer great sandy beaches for swimmers. They are never crowded, as in Wiselka you have to walk more than a kilometer through the forest to the sea, and in Swietoust 600 meters from a publicly accessible parking lot. There is no developed tourist infrastructure or organized bathing facilities, which discourages many. In addition, these are areas managed by the Wolin National Park, which imposes various restrictions on tourists. From the perspective of a nature-loving swimmer, these actions are as justified as possible. There are no clear navigational points visible from the water in Wiselka – we just stick close to shore.

In Swietouście, from the entrance to the beach, we can swim west to the two boulders visible on the beach. The length of the route one way is 450 meters. There are no breakwaters or other structures that are dangerous from a swimmer’s point of view in the sea.

Miedzywodzie and Dziwnow

Toward the east, swimming conditions deteriorate. The beaches are sometimes crowded, with tourists using scooters and fast boats, which reduce the comfort of the animals and disturb the people in the water. Swimming, of course, can be done, but it is not necessarily the most recommended by me. An interesting alternative is Lake Dead, which used to be the mouth of the Strait of Strange. The water quality is usually good in this picturesque body of water. There is a military training ground on the west side of the lake, so I advise against entering far into the lake for this very reason. It is easy to see the buoy marking the beginning of the military areas.

Warnowsko-Kolczewskie Lake District

There are several glacial lakes on the island. Some of them are protected by the Wolin National Park. To the north, they are surrounded by beautifully forested moraine hills. The character of the forest changes from north to south. On the moraines we see pines, Douglas firs, beeches and oaks, towards the south the forest starts to become wetter, riparian, transitioning to wetlands. In my opinion, the most beautiful lake in the area is Czajcze. It belongs to the Wolin National Park, so we don’t swim there, but it’s worth walking the hiking trail that runs along the accessible shores. The water quality is usually very good, and the views and un-trampled shoreline are indeed exceptional.

The next lake, to the northeast, is Wiselka. It is a body of water as if created for recreational swimming. It is 800 meters long, 300 meters wide, well, and has sandy beaches. The lake is unlikely to bloom, the water is very clear compared to surrounding lakes available for swimming. In summer, there may be aquatic plants in some places that make swimming difficult. Wiselka is the most popular spot among recreational swimmers.

Moving in the direction of Dziwnow along the provincial road from the village of Wiselka, we come to Kolczewo, which has two interesting lakes. Kolczewo is 1000 meters long and has good (and legal) access from the village with a beach and a pier. The water is not as clear as in Wiselka. Although the lake is swimmable and water tests show no hazards, blooms may occur. On the other hand, aquatic vegetation that makes swimming difficult is absent.

If one decides to cross the entire body of water, one will reach a completely wild part of the lake. Here we will see trees knocked down by beavers, but especially mighty oaks, beeches and… poplars, which in popular opinion are lanky trees. A tree with a circumference of 10 meters, which is located near the greenway, between Kolczewo and Domyslov, shatters this view.

Kolczewo’s second lake is the small, egg-shaped Recze. The 300-meter-long body of water is several meters deep and has steep banks. Because of this, there have been drownings here of people who do not know how to swim. The site was used in the past for diving training, such as by the military. It has also become encrusted with local legends. Supposed to be formed by a meteorite impact, it is said to have a “double bottom” or “draw in.” However, nothing of the sort is happening. The lake used to have crystal clear and cool water and was a real attraction in the area. However, a golf course has been built nearby, whose fertilization is likely to affect eutrophication. Swimming is not prohibited on Lake Recze. My swimming guide isn’t just about places with ideal conditions, it’s also about local trivia!

There is a lake in Domyslow, Zolwinskie Lake, which offers swimmers decent conditions for sports. The public beach, with a pier and canopy, is located in the center of the village, close to the store and village hall. The lake may be overgrown, but the swimming area should be swimmable. It is a little-known, quiet place, ideal for extended relaxation.

The largest lake on Wolin Island is Koprowo. It is located in the northeast of the island. It used to be a sea bay. It is shallow, muddy and has overgrown banks. For swimming in the swim, not very attractive, but it is a body of water liked by anglers.

Szczecin Lagoon and straits

It is difficult to swim in the Szczecin Lagoon from the Wolin Island side. Bathing bans are in effect in the town of Wolin itself. In addition, the reservoir is sometimes very shallow in many places. Sometimes you can move 100 meters away from the shore and the water will still reach your knees. The lagoon is becoming increasingly overgrown, but the special natural features and beautiful views encourage swimming or picnicking on the shore. Worth recommending is the beach in Karnocice, right at the entrance to the national park. It is an ideal place for a family picnic, away from noisy summer visitors, but with a sweeping panorama to the south. A place good for learning to swim, without surprising dodges, sheltered from the wind.

The second spot worth checking out is the beach in Wapnica. Here we can swim in Lake Wicko Wielkie, which is an integral part of the backwaters of the Szczecin Lagoon. Due to the shallow water and beach infrastructure, it is an ideal place for picnics, swimming and learning to swim. In addition, from here we can catch a glimpse of a very diverse panorama, specific to the Backwater Delta of the Swina River. The complicated estuary of the lagoon’s waters into the Baltic is unique at least in Poland.

On the waters surrounding the island of Wolin we can meet watermen who search for secluded coves for swimming or bathing. This is a very good idea for exploring the area. SUPs, kayaks and flat-bottomed boats are particularly useful. Standard draft yachts won’t get everywhere.

Summary

Once again, I would like to share my admiration for the island, which is my home, my place to live and swim. Thanks to the inspiration she is to me, this short swimming guide was created. I’m eager to talk to “old” residents, not only collecting interesting stories, but also to learn how the quality and use of the surrounding water has changed over the years. What is improving and what is of concern. For example, the emergence of sewage systems is causing the water quality of the Dziwna Strait and Lake Kolczewo to improve.

According to residents, water levels in the lakes are receding. On the other hand, we are threatened by rising sea levels. In March, after the late-winter storms, we watch the water inundate the lower meadows and ask ourselves: what next? We are also listening for news from the south. Will someone realistically take care of the protection of the Oder waters, or will it continue to be a sham? In the meantime, let’s swim and be happy that the opportunity exists. I believe that we have an impact on the future of Wolin Island and the Oder River basin.


Naziemiec L. (2023). Wild Child. How to support a child’s psychomotor development in harmony with nature

Naziemiec L. (2021). Wild swimming

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