ASTANA – The Caspian Sea may not be filled with beach resorts or be entirely suitable for recreational use, but entertainment, recreation and health facilities are available to provide essential amenities for a comfortable rest and leisure.
Located on the Caspian shores, Aktau (“a white mountain”) is among Kazakhstan’s popular resort spots for water-oriented vacations.
Summers can be hot, with the average temperature in July reaching 27 degrees Celsius. The holiday season starts at the end of May and lasts until the end of August, when the average water temperature is 18 degrees, according to a review on prazdniki-na-nosu.com. The temperature can reach 24-26 degrees and in some places even 32 degrees.
Most people fly to Aktau Airport. Direct domestic flights include Atyrau and Almaty with SCAT (the cheapest) and Air Astana. Ground transportation to the city should be planned in advance.
All trains arrive and depart from Mangystau station, about 12 kilometres from town. A regular daily train to and from Atyrau and two and three-day train trips from Astana and Almaty are other available options.
What to See and Do
Aktau is the capital of Mangystau Region, despite the city being young and lacking sufficient history. The region is home to Sufi pilgrimage sites such as Beket-Ata, Masat-Ata, Shakpak-Ata and Shopan-Ata, minor but beautiful natural attractions like Otpantau (Fire Mountain), Saura and Tamshaly oases, radon hot springs and mud baths.
The city is renowned for its unique underground constructions and mosques with ancient ornamental patterns and Sufi poems on the walls.
Pool and bowling on good-quality alleys are quite popular in modern Aktau. Theatres, cinemas, many cafes, restaurants and nightclubs are at one’s service, too.
Beach volleyball is available in the summer. Manila, Nur Plaza and one of the largest Dostar beaches are located in the central part of the city.
Many embankments and beaches were recently developed, however not all of them may actually be suitable for recreational activities and services may not always be top level. Most hotels and recreation facilities try to create convenient arrangements for vacationers, noted prazdniki-na-nosu.com.
Grand Hotel Victory, Holiday Inn Aktau and Renaissance Aktau are among the city’s fine hotels with a price range of 24,795-49,392 tenge (about US$73.30-$146) per night.
The five-star Grand Hotel Victory, about 500 metres from the Caspian seacoast, offers a spa centre with pool and gym and a bar with panoramic views, according to booking.com.
About a five-minute walk from a bus stop and one kilometre from the Aktau Lighthouse, the downtown Holiday Inn hotel has international dining, a lounge and a 24/7 gym.
The downtown Renaissance, a seven-minute walk from the beach and 10 minute stroll from the Mangystau Regional Museum of Local History, features indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness room and international dining, notes the website.
Recreation Facilities and Health Resorts
Vacationers can settle at a post-Soviet Stigl recreational complex on the seaside about 18 kilometres from Aktau. The complex is a cheaper option compared to a hotel and offers a swimming pool, gym, bathhouse, billiard hall, restaurants and spa centre.
A two-storey bungalow with deluxe/semi-deluxe rooms overlooking the sea, a semi-deluxe hotel complex and Teremki economy class hotel are also available within the complex.
The Kendirli resort beaches are in a gulf of the Caspian Sea. The climate of the region is quite congenial for treating and preventing a wide array of medical conditions, according to votpusk.ru.
“A warm current, clean sandy beach, long summer with clear dry weather, clean sea air, swimming pool, sports, recreation facilities and comfortable hotel rooms create exceptional conditions for a full and comfortable rest,” notes touring.kz.
Vacationers can stay in cozy one- and two-storey cottages for youth or a hotel. A sun deck, winter garden, sauna, indoor/outdoor swimming pools, gym, video hall, football, volleyball, tennis courts, yachts and water bicycles are available, it adds.