Avacha Bay

Avacha Bay

The image of Kamchatka and its capital Petropavlovsk would be incomplete without a bout trip offering an opportunity to observe the panoramic view of the city from Avacha Bay.

The bay is one of the most beautiful and convenient sea ports. It is rated as the second largest harbor after Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro and is capable of holding the world’s merchant fleet!

The area of the bay, which cuts deep inland for 20 km, exceeds 200 km2. While the waters of the southern shore reflect Viluchinsky Volcano, three domestic volcanoes Koryaksky, Avacha, and Aag tower over the city in the North.

The bay was discovered in 1703, several months prior to the foundation of St. Petersburg. Many famous navigators, the participants of round-the-world- expeditions of the early 19th century, praised the location of this marine aquatory. 

The etymology of this place-name is still unknown, resulting in arguments between linguists and historians. Some scientists think the word, which gave name to the bay, the river flowing into it, and the volcano to the southeast of Petropavlovsk, originates from the Itelmen “apach” meaning “father”. Others believe it was derived from “avachkh” for “fiery”. That’s how the natives called Avacha Volcano and the red-haired Russian Cossacks who established the settlement on the bay’s shore.

Mishennaya and Petrovskaya Hill in the downtown are great sites to overlook the bay, its capes, and coves at once. They give a clear image of the bay as a giant bowl. 

To feel good vibes radiated by this place, one should pick up a bout trip, offered by several bout tour operators in Petropavlovsk. Trip timing varies from 5 to 6 hours.

A boat will take you past Nikolskaya Hill, Tikhaya Cove, Babushkin Rock Island, Cape Stanitskogo and Three Brothers Rock Pinnacles, located at the entrance to the bay, reputed as a symbol of Kamchatka. The legend says these rock pinnacles used to be handsome young men in ancient times. They belonged to a tribe living on a shore of Avacha Bay. The tribe suffered from tsunami and the brothers decided to protect their people from giant waves. They stood at the entrance to the bay blocking the way with their bodies to great surges. They have been standing there since that time…

Not far from Three Brothers a small piece of land rises above the water. It is Starichkov Island. Its area is about 100 km2. This treeless rocky atoll is a seabird rookery. Every year over 50,000 tufted puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes, cormorants, and seagulls hatch there. This island also provides a nesting ground for a pair of unique Steller’s sea eagles – rare birds listed in the Red Book of Russia. Reefs around are popular among seals and sea otters. In 2003 Starichkov Island became a natural monument.

Two capes Bezymianny and Mayachny make the gates to the bay. Several large and small convenient coves are scattered along the coastline. During storms they provide protection for ships which call at bay to survive bad weather. 

Two big rivers Avacha and Paratunka flow into the bay from the Northwest, forming a large floodplain with numerous arms and islets at the juncture.

Avacha Bay is 3 km wide at its entrance and up to 26 meters deep. It is inhabited by 32 species of fish. The fauna and flora of the bay is diverse and colorful. There are several species of starfish, urchins, anemones, colonial hydroids, sponges, holothurians, and numerous species of fish. Divers can enjoy both photography and underwater hunting.

Almost 20 km of the bay’s northern coast is occupied by Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. No doubt, the bay is not only a place to delight the eye but it’s also a great underwater sport.