Pomeranian Coast

Welcome to Hel, an unusual beach holiday paradise – in sunny Poland

The weather was, well, more British than it’s been in Britain lately. I was told to expect a 3:1 sun to rain ratio and that’s what I got. In the evening there was already a hint of autumn. beneficial. I walked the wooden pier (the longest in Europe), past families in shorts and T-shirts, ignoring the drizzle. Windbreaks have been set up on the beach.

We continued north and took a detour away from the coast to the Kashubia region. Culturally, this region differs from the rest of Poland with its own dialect. Geographically, it’s Poland’s answer to the Lake District (there’s even a literary connection: German Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass is identified as Kashubian). It’s spectacular, a land of shimmering beeches, lush fields and pristine lakes. Dive in, hop off, have a beer on the jetty and repeat.

The way to Hel

But now Hel waved. The 22-mile sandbar only became a tourist destination in the 1990’s. Before that it was a military base. It continued to fight the Nazis after the rest of Poland was taken and remained fortified through the communist years. Observation towers jut out from the pine forests and there is still a maze of underground tunnels of use to party-goers. As I noted elsewhere during my journey, past and present have agreed on a way of coexisting peacefully.

There are many ways to get there, including by bus (the 666, of course) from Gdansk. But unless you’re lugging a lot of beach gear, I don’t recommend driving (like I did). Even on a Monday, the road to Hel was jammed with cars with roof racks. And once you’ve arrived, all you need is a bike. The peninsula is a paradise for cyclists of all kinds, from smiling families in Breton shirts to lycra-clad speed demons.