If you're arriving by ferry from Hiiumaa, the first settlement you'll hit is Leisi, a pretty village of old wooden houses, 3.5km from the harbour of Triigi. There are some interesting sights scattered around this section of the north coast, along with plenty of others on either side of the main road heading south to Kuressaare.
The long stretch of pine-lined sand from Mändjala to Järve, west of Kuressaare, is Saaremaa's main beach resort. The shallow beach curves languidly towards the south, where the 32km Sõrve Peninsula takes over. This beautiful but sparsely populated finger of land comes to a dramatic end at Sääre, with a lighthouse and a narrow sand spit extending out to sea.
Vilsandi, west of Kihelkonna, is the largest of 161 islands and islets off Saaremaa’s western coast protected as Vilsandi National Park (which also includes parts of Saaremaa itself, including the Harilaid Peninsula). The park covers 238 sq km (163 sq km of sea, 75 sq km of land) and is an area of extensive ecological study.