When one thinks of Kazakhstan, beach holidays aren’t exactly the first thing that springs to mind. Yet the country’s Caspian coast offers numerous opportunities to relax on the sand and swim in clear warm waters.
The Caspian Sea is a remnant of the ancient Tethys Ocean. The ocean evolved into the closed Sarmatian Sea, which was then divided into the Caspian, Aral, and Black Seas about 5.5 million years ago.
According to historical documents, people have been living on the Caspian coast since time immemorial. New tribes constantly came and settled there. The most powerful of them conquered and destroyed the weak, founded their settlements, and built fortresses. Each time, a new tribe gave the sea a new name. The sea has changed over seventy names: the Hyrcanian Ocean, the Khazar Sea, the Khvalyn Sea, the Abbacuch Sea, and others. The Caspian Sea received its current name after the ancient tribes – the Caspians, who lived on the northwestern coast in the 1st century BC.
Ancient travelers used to say that traveling around the Caspian Sea felt like traveling around the world. And it probably did. The variety of landscapes, flora, and fauna strikes the imagination. The Caspian Sea is home to 728 plant species and 1809 animal species. Over 100 fish species live in the sea, among which are sturgeon, beluga, salmon, sterlet, carp, and mullet. The endemic Caspian seal also thrives there.
The Caspian Sea contains deposits of oil, salt, sand, gas, and limestone. Abundant natural resources allowed for the development of the oil and gas industry, pharmaceutical and chemical industries, engineering, and commercial shipping.
Five states are located along the Caspian coastline: Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Azerbaijan. However, Kazakhstan has the longest coastline.
Aktau and Atyrau are Kazakhstan’s largest cities sitting on the Caspian coast. Aktau is the one where tourism is actively being developed. The city’s coastline is dotted with hotels and resorts. However, new ones appear every year, including hotels of well-known international chains such as Rixos. Aktau is home to Kazakhstan’s only all-inclusive resort – Rixos Water World Aktau.
In Aktau, part of the coast is rocky, but there are also sandy beaches. The swimming season starts in May and lasts until the end of September. The water reaches the most comfortable temperature in June when it warms up to 23oC (73.4 oF). From July to August, the average daytime temperature is 31oC (88 oF). Aktau is a perfect destination for sun seekers as it almost never rains there.
Fort Shevchenko is another town on the Caspian Sea that also attracts tourists, although to a lesser extent. Not far from the town, there are several wild beaches where you can enjoy almost pristine conditions and a truly serene environment. For instance, Blue Bay features a picture-perfect golden sand beach. The beach is wild: there are no hotels or any infrastructure. However, it is very popular with locals and gets crowded on weekends. Unlike many beaches in the Mangystau Region, the sand there is fine and, as the name suggests, the water is clean and blue.
Besides laying on a beach, you can book tours to historical and natural attractions. The Mangistau Region is known for its unique underground mosques, surreal geological wonders, and otherworldly wilderness. Not far from the coast are Sultan Epe and Shakpak Ata Underground Mosques, the Kapamsay Canyon, Cape Tokmak, and the Zhygylgan Hollow.
Kogez Ethnic Village
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