Petrov Island off the coast of Primorsky Krai

Petrov protected island in Primorsky Krai: yew grove, Bohai mysticism and beauty spring

Protected Petrov Island in Lazovsky district of Primorye is one of the most mystical and beautiful places of the region. A unique island yew grove grows here, there are only few of such in the world, and a quarter of all flora of the region is represented in a small area. There are “dying pines”, and the giant sultanas, and very tiny “yew trees”, which will grow into a big tree only in 500 years. About every corner of the island guide can tell a legend, and all thanks to the Bohai people, who thousands of years ago inhabited the island of Petrov. The number of tourists coming to the island is strictly limited to only a few thousand people a year, so those who have seen the reserve can be considered “blessed island. After all, as the guides say, this place does not let everyone in. IA PrimaMedia report about the ancient legends and life of the island.

Petrov Island was discovered and mapped in 1860 and named in honor of the naval officer Alexander Petrov. It is a natural botanical garden and a multi-layered archaeological monument. According to experts, there are almost no similar places on the mainland.

The journey to Petrov Island begins far from this place. Travelers who want to touch the legend, first need to get permission to visit the Lazovsky Reserve. You can do this in the village Lazo, in the administration of the reserve. Entry into the territory is paid, tourists are obliged to comply with the terms of stay and not to harm the nature.

After this procedure, you need to drive about 70 km and then you find yourself at the checkpoint. Entrance to the reserve – strictly at a certain time, tourists are allocated a whole area near the shoreline, where you can put up tents, or a cottage at the base. The first thing you see when you come out on the beach is the reserve Petrov Island. It seems to be very close to the island, you can even swim up to it yourself. However, as the experts say, the island may not “let” the tour group. The wind will change, the wave will rise, it will rain – and the boat won’t go there.

Petrova Bay, Lazovsky district. Photo: RIA PrimaMedia

Petrova Bay, Lazovsky district. Photo: RIA PrimaMedia

Petrova Bay, Lazovsky district. Photo: RIA PrimaMedia

Petrova Bay, Lazovsky district. Photo: RIA PrimaMedia

Boats for tourists. Photo: RIA PrimaMedia

It is worth noting that you need to book an excursion in addition. Usually the group does not exceed 12 people. When everyone gathers on the shore, an incredible journey of two hours begins.

First, we pass through a small clearing, overgrown with wormwood and rose hips. Later the guide will reveal the mystery of this seemingly ordinary clearing. At first, the group is “morally” prepared for the meeting with the unique yew grove. Everyone is encouraged to observe the tradition and enter the grove with their eyes closed, to be fully impressed with the beauty of this place.

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We walk along the path, as told, with our eyes closed, and we feel it gradually getting cooler and darker. When everyone is finally in place and the guide gives the okay, a resounding “ah” rolls through the grove. We stand in the grove. It feels like there is nothing around except the yews, they are intertwined, twisted, branches bent in different directions, but, as if on purpose for a man, formed a vault.

Petrova Bay, Lazovsky district. Photo: RIA PrimaMedia

Petrova Bay, Lazovsky district. Photo: RIA PrimaMedia

The first seconds in the grove. Photo: RIA PrimaMedia.

Yews. Photo: RIA PrimaMedia.

Yew trees grow practically in straight rows, as if the grove was planted by people. Photo: RIA PrimaMedia

When tourists open their eyes they can not contain their admiration. Photo: Sergey Lanin.

Yew grove. Photo: Sergey Lanin

Several thousand years ago, the Petrov Island was inhabited: Bohai people built houses, fortifications and sanctuaries here. The legend says that the yew grove was planted by the Bohai people and that is why the trees grow in such even rows. In fact, the grove is much younger. Another legend says that the grove, if you look at it from above, resembles a hieroglyph. The maps do not confirm it.

Synopsis: Yew is a relict plant, inherited from the Kingdom of Bohai. The grove on the Petrov island is included in the Red Book, there are only few of them in the world, because during the last centuries they were intensely “attacked” by the man. The yew itself has survived many generations. The tree appeared in the Cretaceous period, for which reason it is often called the “contemporary of the dinosaurs”. Yew is valued for its strong wood. Ancient Vikings made nails from it, which were used in ship building.

Yews on Petrov island are not like the mainland ones – they are thinner, lower and much more beautiful – because here they are blown by all the winds, meet all the storms, so you just cannot meet a straight yew on Petrov – all of them are bent and twisted. It takes almost half a millennium for this small tree to grow. An eight-year-old “yew” (this is the affectionate name of the young trees of the Lazovsky Reserve) is no more than 15 cm in height, and a hundred-year-old one looks like a young tree. Those plants that are growing on the island now, will reach “maturity” only in 500 years. Therefore, it is strictly forbidden to go off the tourist paths here – you can step on the “yew”.

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Yew Grove

Yew grove. Photo: Sergey Lanin

The journey through the grove continues near other unique plants. For example, on the way you may meet a giant sultanas. It is as tall as a large tree, its trunk twisted like a liana. You will also learn about dimorphant tree, which flowers make very healing honey, you will also meet more familiar to Primorians velvet, birch, and pine.

A place that especially attracts the fair sex is an ancient spring. It has been flowing here for several thousand years and was sacred to the Bohai people. It is said that its water has a rejuvenating effect and gives beauty. However, to make it work, one must follow a condition: drink the water not from the palms of one’s hands but with one’s lips against the surface of the water. It is not easy to do because the spring is fenced with stones, but rare tourist refuses such an opportunity. Women, men and children drink it. And the beautiful ladies wash their faces and stock the wonderful water and collect it in bottles. But according to the staff of the reserve its healing properties are lost because of contact with plastic.

You can touch the water of the beauty spring only with your lips

You can touch the water of the beauty spring only with your lips. Photo: RIA PrimaMedia

The next step is a steep ascent to the highest point of the island. It’s worth the climb for the view alone: the azure sea, high cliffs and green slopes. There’s another Shakespearean Romeo and Juliet legend connected to this place, but with a good ending. Lovers from two warring tribes escaped the wrath of their parents and hid on Petrov Island. When they were found and the boats of the relatives were approaching the shore, the lad took his beloved in his arms and climbed up the almost steep cliff to the top. Then the tribesmen realized that such love could not be resisted, and they let the young ones go in peace. And the lovers, in turn, remained to live on the island.

Another legend is related to the Bohai shaman. On one of the yews formed an uncharacteristic for these trees growth. If you step farther away, you can see a human face in this outgrowth: narrow eyes and mouth. Once upon a time, they say, there was also a nose, but someone from the tourists “took” it as a memory.

According to legend, when the Bohai people left the island, they left here a shaman, who promised to keep this place and wait for their return. And so the shaman lived in the forest. The first expedition came to Petrov Island – in the 1930s – and did not notice the shaman. Then people cut down yews near the coast – where the glade is now. Here they built a house for scientists. Since then, even after 80 years, nothing good grows here – grass and shrubs, from the “living” turned into “dead” one more healing spring.

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Petrov Island in detail through the eyes of a tourist

Petrov Island is a protected area of Primorsky Krai with unique flora and fauna, in the summer you can live for several days, with the permission of the administration of the reserve.

Petrova Island is a real “pearl” of Primorsky Krai. It is located in South Primorye, namely in the northern part of the Sea of Japan, which belongs to the Pacific basin. The island is part of the Lazovsky Reserve and is a unique recreation area with peculiar natural conditions.

The island was named after Aleksandr Petrov – the Rear Admiral and the famous explorer of the Pacific coast. His contribution to the Primorye’s development is considered invaluable.

How to get to Petrov Island

To get to the reserve, you need to drive to the bay of the same name. You can buy tickets for the regular bus in the nearest large city Vladivostok, approximately 300 km away from the coast of the Sea of Japan. Tourists must get off at the village of Kievka (tickets cost 850-1025 rubles). Here you will be offered to take a minibus which will take you to Lazovskii Reserve and the pier. Then the tourists are transferred directly to the island by boat (only if the sea remains calm).

You can also get to Petrov island by own or rented car. To do this, take the A188 highway that goes via Vladivostok. You are to go in Nakhodka direction via Shkotov, Partizanka, Lazo, Frolovo, Sergeyevka and Kishenevka. Once you pass Kievka, turn left twice, and you will find yourself at the barrier Lazovsky Reserve. You will have to pay 100-200 RUR to enter the territory of the reserve. Then go along the road inside the nature reserve and turn left after the large stand describing the nature reserve. For visitors is intended parking lot 10, where you usually leave your car before transferring to the island.

Geographical features and climate

The island stretches for almost 1000 m in length, and its area reaches 40 hectares. Opposite it is a large bay “Singing Sands”. The original name can be explained by the specific properties of the shoreline. Just walk along it along the sea – and the sand begins to produce unusual melodious sounds, reminiscent of the voices of mythical sirens.

The western part of the island is flat. But to land on the eastern side will be too problematic: right on the shore here is a group of rock formations in the height of several tens of meters. They are virtually impregnable, but it is here that rare black cormorants raise their nestlings.

Two separate peaks resemble human figures, which is why they are popularly nicknamed Grandfather and Baba.

The climate of the protected area is of the moderate monsoon type. A warm current, flowing near the shores, has a great influence on it. Thanks to it, during the cold season it is significantly warmer than on the mainland, but you don’t have to fear the summer heat. The highest temperatures are between July and September. Mostly clear skies in winter and often cloudy in summer. Spring lasts long and is quite cool, but autumn arrives more slowly than on the mainland.

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The nature of the island

Today the island is a natural botanic garden, with more than 300 species of native flora. The most valuable are considered unique plants, helping to cope with many serious diseases. These include:

  • aralia;
  • lemongrass;
  • eleutherococcus;
  • ginseng.

Despite the fact that the reserve is located in the north of Russia, the diversity of plant life here is simply impressive. In a rather cold climate, various species of orchids and wild grapes, linden and hornbeam trees, juniper, as well as Korean cedar have well established themselves on the island.

However, the real attraction of the reserve is considered to be the ancient yew grove. According to the legend, it was planted 200-300 years ago by sea pirates of the Ilou people. So they called the Chinese, who fled or expelled from their country and settled on the island.

The yew grove was an element of the Ilou religious cult, as sacrifices, including human sacrifices, were regularly performed there. The islanders valued yew timber immensely: literally for 2 such planks you could buy a wife or a slave.

Walking through the grove is recommended with extreme caution because of the poisonous properties of the yew. The leaves of the trees are so thickly intertwined here that the sun’s rays hardly penetrate to the ground. For this reason, it is impossible for young growths to appear (the exception is the few lindens and Amur velvets). There are also birches, pines, dimorphanum and giant sagebrush.

The world of fauna on Petrov Island is no less diverse. It is mainly inhabited by birds and insects. Cormorants (their Ussuri species), gulls, white-throated swifts mainly nest in the southern part. The majestic white-tailed eagle can also be seen in the reserve from time to time.

Seals rookeries are often found on the shores of the island, and in the fall whales, migrating in the cold season, come to the local waters. Due to the isolation from the mainland, the protected zone is home to few mammals, among which squirrels and small rodents prevail. Sometimes bears and deer make their way here by water.

But the underwater world in the waters of the reserve is very diverse. In addition to traditional fish, its local representatives include:

  • sea stars and urchins;
  • octopus;
  • mollusks;
  • coral formations.

Attractions of Petrov Island

Since the island has been separated from civilization on the mainland for centuries, unique archaeological monuments are well preserved here, mostly related to the Ilow culture. The most interesting of these are:

  • An artificial spit about 700 m long, separated from the land by almost 40 m (to protect the inhabitants of the island from enemy arrows);
  • Stone ovens of island’s ancient inhabitants;
  • the ruins of defensive constructions;
  • remnants of a foundry where ilou melted products from iron ore;
  • an ancient spring in a yew grove, which, according to legend, has healing powers and restores youth and health to those who taste its water from the palms of their hands.
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In summer, guests of the island can settle on the territory of the tent camping. There are also summer houses with conveniences – showers and toilets – “in the street”. Fishing and other water activities are organized for tourists. You can also ride a horse or go on a boat trip along the coast. For an additional fee, you can get your phone or laptop charged and get drinking water and firewood.

Tours of the protected area are only available from mid-July through September. Access is also limited by the number of people: each year, in order to preserve the unique ecosystem, permission to visit no more than 3.5 thousand people.

Exploring the island without a guide is forbidden, because there are quite dangerous places, such as the well with “dead” water. The official cost of the tour accompanied by an employee of the reserve is from 1000 rubles to 5000 rubles. To rent a barbecue and skewers for picnics costs 350 RUR. It’s possible to take photos on Petrov Island, but this pleasure will cost 1000RUB. You should take comfortable sport clothes, comfortable shoes to explore the cross-country terrain, sun lotion, headgear and insect repellent.

Petrov island legends

There are many beautiful legends connected with the reserve. As one of them says, once the seaside Romeo and Juliet – a boy and a girl from the tribes, actively feuding with each other – escaped here. The relatives immediately set off in pursuit, but the young man, seeing the pursuers very close, with his beloved in his arms, climbed to the highest peak of the island almost on a steep cliff. Shocked by the strength of their love, the tribal elders left the young couple in peace, who quietly lived out the rest of their days here.

A legend about a Bohai shaman is associated with the yew grove. Allegedly, when the tribe was leaving the island, the local sorcerer stayed there as a guard. When scientists and tourists started actively visiting the protected area, the shaman got scared and hid inside the yew. That is why you can see a growth on one of the trees, completely copying a human face.

The Petrovsky Island is a wonderful chance to learn more about the nature of Primorye and to rest from the city fuss.

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