The beach less taken: 10 summer alternatives to Jurmala

  • 2004-08-12
  • By TBT staff
RIGA - After months of grumbling about the dreary Riga summer weather, we finally got what we asked for - and did we get it. The past week has seen a heat wave pushing the mercury up to a 30-degree-celsius hover. And if all goes as the old babushka (whose arthritic bones can feel a storm coming 100 kilometers away) that sits atop St. Peter's Church predicting the weather says, we haven't seen the end of it.

This means that almost every free man and woman in Riga, snapping on Speedos and thong bikinis as they stride out the door, is heading for one place - Jurmala.
Therefore, in a benevolent gesture to save you from wriggling your sweaty way into the human frying pan we like to call Majori beach, TBT has compiled a list of 10 alternative summer oasises in the Riga area.

l. Mezaparks (Kisezers): A small and family friendly beach, Mezapark's Aktivas Atputas Centrs (activity center) on the edge of Lake Kisezers offers sailboats, paddleboats, water slides, jet skis and more.
2. Saulkrasti: Approximately 50 kilometers north of Jurmala, this more natural beach on the Gulf of Riga, scaped with sandy cliffs, wind-twisted trees and rocky beaches, provides a more peaceful summer refuge.
3. Lielupe: Though there are several marinas and swimming spots dotting the river, for an active day try the Sturis Water Sports Center where you can ski, board, or even hydrofoil - the latest in aquasport technology.
4. Siemens Ledus Halle: Feel free to strip down to your Speedo and lay flat out on the ice for the ultimate cool-down. In addition to summer hokey games, the ice-arena in Pinki, Riga offers public ice-skating by the hour for only 1 lat (1.5 euros) and 20 sentimi for skate rentals.
5. Livu Aquaparks: Located on the Lielupe River, just off the Jurmala highway, it boasts some of northern Europe's biggest and fastest water slides, as well as a kiddie pool, wave pool and Jacuzzis for adults.
6. Lake Juglas: About a 20-minute drive out of Riga's center, Lake Juglas provides more than one fresh water oasis. And if swimming's not your thing, the lake is also known as a hot fishing spot.
7. The Daugava: Just about anywhere along the Daugava you can find a cluster of old Zhigulis pulled over, sun umbrellas up and kids splashing about in the rusty-hued water. Just hope you don't grow a sixth finger after your swim.
8. Riga park fountains: You know it's the peak of summer when naked kids and local teens throw off park rules and jump into Riga's beautiful fountains. As long as you do the finger pointing when the cops show, why not join in?
9. Stockmann frozen food aisle: Perhaps there is nothing more chilling than walking through the frozen food isle of a supermarket. And Stockmann, with their array of imported ice creams, is one of the best.
10. Cold shower: Sometimes there's just no better privacy than your own bathroom. If you're especially bothered by 80-year-olds in thongs, jump into the shower and blast the faucet knob to cold.