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Introducing Hiiumaa

Hiiumaa, Estonia's second-biggest island, is a peaceful and sparsely populated place with some delightful stretches of coastline and a forest-covered interior. Though there's plenty to do on the island, most visitors come here to breathe in the fresh sea air and simply relax amid pastoral splendour.

Scattered about Hiiumaa you'll find picturesque lighthouses, eerie old Soviet bunkers, empty beaches and a nature reserve with over 100 different bird species. Those seeking a bit more activity can hike, horse ride or, on rare days, even surf - the only place in the Baltics with a bit of swell.

Given their relative isolation from mainland Estonia, it's not surprising that the islanders have a unique take on things, and a rich folklore full of legendary heroes, such as Leiger, who had nothing to do with Kalevipoeg (the hero over on the mainland). People who move onto the island must carry the name isehakanud hiidlane (would-be islanders) for 10 years before being considered true residents. Hiiumaa is also said to be a haven for fairies and elves, ancestors of those born on the island. Modern-day Hiiumites rarely discuss this unique aspect of their family tree, however, as this can anger their elusive relatives.

Hiiumaa (1000 sq km) is not quite visible from the mainland, 22km away.