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Island of Manija

Manija is like a little brother to Kihnu Island and its inhabitants are part of the same ethnic group as the population of Kihnu. For centuries, this small and rocky island was used as a pasture by the manor owners on the mainland, and as a stopover by fishermen.

In 1933, when Kihnu Island was determined to be too small for its population, 22 families moved from Kihnu to Manija. As a result, there are very strong cultural connections between the two islands. Currently, the island has less than 40 inhabitants and several households are used as summer homes. A ridge of erratic rocks stretches across the entire island and the only road of the island runs on top of it.

The largest erratic boulder in all of Pärnu County, Manija Kokkõkivi, also stands next to the road in the middle of the island. At the south-western edge of the island, right on the shoreline, an eight-metre lighthouse built in 1933 defies the winds. 

You can walk from one end of the small, five-kilometre-long island to the other in just a few hours, which means that making such a trip should not take you more than a day. Since Manija is only half a kilometre wide at its widest spot, you can see the entire island from the road. However, Manija also offers quiet opportunities for resting in nature and visitors can stay at the cosy Riida agritourism farm.

Manija’s history and modern day

Manija, or Manilaid is located in the strait of Kihnu, two kilometres from Munalaid Harbour. Manija is like Kihnu’s little brother and the Manija people are like part of Kihnu’s people. This small rocky islet was for centuries the meadow and fishing stop of Pootsi Manor on the mainland. In 1933, when the island of Kihnu became too small for Kihnu’s people, 22 families moved to Manija. Consequently, the cultural links between the two islands are extremely close. Currently, Manija has a population of less than 40 people, and several households are used as holiday homes.

Island of Manija (Photo: Elen Juurma)

Attractions

Manija became a landscape protection area in 1991. The special charms of a small island exposed to the winds are the peace and quiet, the chirping of shorebirds, and the way it moves by itself. The island is a breeding and nesting area for rare plants and birds, and a habitat for endangered natterjack toads. The fields of wildflowers, goats and lambs munching on the grass, and blackberry blossoms ripening at the end of summer illustrate the tranquil island idyll.

All along the island runs a boulder-rich ridge formation and the only road on this island. In the middle of the island, by the road, is the largest boulder in Pärnu County – Manija Kokkõkivi or Kotkakivi. The artefacts found around it, as well as its name, refer to the fact that it was a nesting place for the white-tailed eagle and a resting place for fishermen.

On the south-western tip of the island, on the very edge of the sea, an eight-metre-high lighthouse built in 1933 defies the wind. Here you can enjoy the view from the seating area dedicated to graphic artist, painter, and theatre-maker Vello Tamm.

In the centre of Manija Island you will find a local museum and a ‘sheep shop’ selling sheep products from Kihnu.

Manija lighthouse (Photo: Elen Juurma)

Visiting

You can access the island by regular boats. The ferry Kihnu Virve sails there three times a week, and the smaller ferry Manija Mann on a daily basis. If you are travelling with a group, it is possible to book a private ride in a hovercraft. You can leave your car in the guarded car park at Munalaid Harbour at a low cost, i.e. € 2/24 hours. You can also access the harbour by bus from Pärnu.

For those interested in an authentic island experience, the hikers of Seikle Vabaks will be happy to take you kayaking or sailing on the island of Manija.

Kayaking (Photo: Seikle Vabaks)

The islet, which is about five kilometres long, can be hiked from one side to the other in a few hours and a day’s walk. As Manija is only half a kilometre wide at its widest point, you can see everything from the road.

Manija offers a quiet getaway close to nature, and guests are welcomed by the cosy Riida tourist farm. We recommend enjoying the hospitality of Riida’s hostess with an overnight stay, but it is also worth a day trip to taste her rare home-brewed beer and renowned roast lamb.

In the heart of the island of Manija, Ranna farm is also waiting for visitors. There is a small 4-person camping for the night. In addition, the farm has lovely animals on the beach meadow and its own sheep shop.

The island of Manija offers true relaxation, the feeling of countryside, the sea, and wonderful sunsets.

Riida farm (Photo: Elen Juurma)