Georgia

Visiting Ureki, Georgia – Costa Rica of the Caucasus With Magnetic Sand

Last Updated September, 2021

Ureki in Georgia is a very small village on the Black Sea coast. It is very close to Shekvetili that a lot of people think is the same thing. But it is not. It takes around one hour to get there from Batumi and two hours from Kutaisi. And we finally got to visit on our mega road trip through the entire country.

To be honest, I didn’t expect much. After moving to Turkey and visiting dozens of its amazing turquoise beaches, I thought it would be hard to find a beach to enjoy on the Black Sea. But I truly appreciated a few days by the beach in Ureki. Mainly, if you know that, for its beneficial properties. 

Ureki is known for its black magnetic sand that has medicinal properties and cures diseases of the joints, nervous and cardiovascular systems, and is also good for those who suffer from infertility. Among all the healing beaches in Georgia, it is said that Ureki has the highest concentration of magnetic sand.

Ureki Georgia country

From the middle of the last century, by order of Joseph Stalin, Ureki turned into a construction site with the development of hotels and beach zones. At that time finding out about volcanic sand happened by chance. Having prisoners work on the territory and seeing many of them recover from a number of diseases became the impetus for the study of the healing properties of Ureki’s seaside. Soon after the discovery, the village started to attract visitors from many parts of the former USSR who were coming to treat various diseases. 

Today Ureki Beach is the only one of its kind in Georgia, completely covered with sand. Tourists from all over the country (and other countries) tend to come here every season for treatment or out of curiosity.

This is why we visited too. During the time when we lived in Georgia first time, we got to spend some time only in Batumi city and Ajara region. But this time we decided to come to see more places on the Black Sea coast of Georgia, including the miraculous magnetic sand in Ureki in the Guria region.

If you are thinking of visiting this tiny village too, it would not hurt to learn more about this destination. And if you don’t plan to visit for treatment, at least stop by for the sake of interest. It is undoubtedly worth it. 


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Quick History of Ureki, Georgia

black sand beach near Batumi
On a dark winter day

Like many resort towns in Georgia, Ureki does not have a rich history. The settlement appeared on drained swamps where mainly Georgians and Azerbaijanis lived. Only in the middle of the twentieth century, when the first large sanatoriums and boarding houses were built by order of Soviet authorities, Ureki became known to tourists. 

With the advent of independence in Georgia, all state sanatoriums fell into decay all over the country. The authorities stopped supporting them and at the turn of the century, there were much fewer tourists at the resort. Already in the mid-2000s, Ureki again became the tourist center of Guria, the neighboring region of Adjara. In 2014, scientists measured a magnetic anomaly in Ureki, which also contributed to the growth of the village’s popularity.

Ureki Sea & Beach

Black sands are not a particularly unique phenomenon. The dark color is found on the beaches of Hawaii, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Philippines. Also, Kamchatka and Bulgaria as well as some resorts in the south of Ukraine have black sand too. But the uniqueness of Ureki lies in the fact that the unusual black color of the sand is only here combined with proven healing properties. And it is unique not only for Georgia but for the whole world.

Magnetic sands in Ureki have a magnetization rate of up to 70%. The effect of its magnetic field changes some of the chemical and biological processes in the human body which makes the beach a real natural sanatorium.

Besides all properties mentioned above, the black sand also has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, stimulates the body’s regenerative functions, and improves immunity. It is also recommended to come to Ureki to recover from various injuries.

However, magnetic sand also has a number of contraindications. People with tuberculosis, asthma, blood diseases, and tumors should not lie on magnetic sands. In this case, magnetism will only make it worse – do not risk your health. Before starting long “procedures” you need to consult a doctor. 

magnetic sand beach
Shekvetili and Ureki beaches

The Quality of the Beach

The beach in Ureki is wide and 5 km long. However, in spite of its big size, at the height of the summer season, it gets full of people almost entirely. Probably another reason it is so popular is lower prices for hotels and guesthouses than in Kobuleti, Batumi or Kvariati.

In addition, a sandy beach is generally an infrequent phenomenon in Georgia. And with a comfortable, gentle entry into the water, it is a very popular place for families. Due to the shallowness, the sea here is usually a couple of degrees warmer than on the beaches of Batumi.

The entrance to the water is shallow almost along the entire length of the beach. For 20 meters from the shore, it is still quite shallow, waist-deep. If you do not know how to swim or visit with small children, then Ureki beach will be just right for you.

In the high season, the further south you go from the main street, the emptier it becomes. In summer, there are a few spots where to rent sun loungers with umbrellas and find water slides for children, scooters, and banana boats. There is a shower and toilet and a coniferous forest on the backside of the beach.

The sea is clean but because of the black sand, the water is not transparent. Also, natural debris is common. Since there is a pine forest near the beach, you can find all sorts of sticks and leaves clearly visible on the black sand as well as in the water.

beach in Ureki

neighborhood near magnetic sands
One of the quiet streets in Ureki with many guesthouses

If you are going to Ureki, then be prepared for several inconveniences. One of them is mosquitoes. The drained swamps have left a legacy of large numbers of mosquitoes that live in Ureki all summer and most of autumn. Although we were at the end of June and didn’t encounter any during the day.

Another one (which is pretty common all over Georgia) is about sick-looking stray dogs that roam the beach. If you decide to eat, they immediately run up to beg for food.

Another thing that may happen is the unstable performance of electronics on the beach. The magnetic field can interfere with smartphones and cameras, so do not place equipment directly on the sand.

Some people also may not like the fact that the resort actually dies out during the low season. If in summer there are many water activities, slides, open cafes on the beach, then in autumn and winter everything is closed. But this is common for all small coastal villages, not only in Georgia.

Ureki beach
magnetic beach near Batumi

Psammo Therapy in Ureki

The black sand on Ureki beach is also used as a physiotherapeutic agent in psammotherapy or in other words treatment with hot sand. It contains crystals of titanomagnetite, magnetite, ilmenite, and rocks that (when hot) help with diseases of the joints, nervous system, metabolism, diseases of the musculoskeletal system, trauma, and some female diseases. You can also lose weight in this way.

However, you should apply hot sand to the body carefully and know what you are doing. Psammotherapy includes the appliance of hot sand to certain parts of the body or burying in sand entirely.

If you would love to try to bury in the sand, make sure that the total layer on the stomach is no more than 2 cm and the heart area stays fully open. Put a towel under the head and a hat on the head covering the face. Do not stay in the sand for more than half an hour and after you are done, take a warm shower and rest in the shade. Do not jump in the cold sea as most people are doing.

The real effectiveness of the treatment comes only after 15 treatments that should be done every other day. But doing it even once brings some effect too. The most important thing is just to do it right. 

We personally loved rolling in the sand and feeling it on our skin. The feeling was really unique and amazing, not the same as anywhere on the beach with regular sand.

By the way, take a swimsuit that you do not mind ruining. The sand is difficult to wash off and it leaves marks.

NOTE: Do NOT lie on the sand in case of tuberculosis, asthma, blood problems, or tumors.

How to Visit Ureki Beach From Tbilisi, Batumi & Kutaisi

road from Shekhvetili to Ureki
Traveling by car from Shekhvetili to Ureki

If you don’t have a car, reaching Ureki is still very easy by public transportation. 

Since it is located right by the highway that connects Batumi with Kutaisi, Borjomi, Tbilisi, Poti, and Zugdidi, you can get there by any marshrutka or bus that goes in the direction of one of these cities. Just do not forget to ask the driver to drop you off because he won’t do it on his own. Ask him to drop you off at the turn from the highway to Magnetiti or near the Ureki railway station. There you will need to cross rails and, having reached any street perpendicular to them, go along it straight until you hit the sea.

From Batumi, buses leave from the main bus terminal located by the railway station. You will not find specific route numbers simply because almost every bus travels from the capital of Adjara to Guria. So feel free to come and look for minibuses and buses that go towards Kutaisi, Tbilisi, Poti or Borjomi. Each of them will be driving by Shekvetili and Ureki and can stop wherever you need. 

Another option is to take a direct minibus from Batumi to Ureki from the old bus station located at Mayakovsky St, 1. It goes directly to Ureki and stops near the sea. And of course, you can get off anywhere on the way there.

If you want to get to Ureki in comfort, then book a car on the local Gotrip website. There you can select a specific vehicle with the driver. Prices practically do not cost more than what you’d pay for a regular taxi ride.

From Tbilisi, the easier way to reach this village is by train. It makes a 4 minute stop at Ureki station, so make sure you don’t miss it. You need to register on the official website of the Georgian Railway road, select dates, and buy a ticket. You can pay with a card from any bank. Tickets and train schedules appear 40 days before departure.

However, if you have a car, visiting Ureki can be just one of the stops on a road trip between Batumi and Tbilisi or Batumi and Svaneti or on a self-guided tour through Adjara-Guria.

pine forest in Ureki
And there is a beautiful pine forest meeting the sea

Best Hotels in Ureki

When we first got to Ureki, we were amazed with the number of hotels and guest houses there. New hotels in the seaside village are popping up on each corner. And according to tourists’ reviews, accommodation prices in Ureki are much lower than in the resorts of Batumi. Plus Batumi beaches don’t have any healing properties.

Based on reviews, some really nice hotels in Ureki are:

Should You Choose to Stay in Ureki?

Ureki is a village. If you are choosing to spend part of your vacation there, you need to remember that you are going to the village. This is not a good or a bad thing, it’s just a fact. Apart from the beach and the sea, there is not much to do. Although it will be much quieter than in Batumi.

Ureki is suitable for families with small children and people who love beach holidays. Also, this is a great village to base yourself in if you have a car and want to be away from crowds of people.

With a car, you can go to another beach, Batumi, or explore Guria region. Mountains are only 1-1.5 hour drive and fantastic nearby attractions (that you shouldn’t miss) are Park of Musicians (this park is amazing! two photos from there are below) and Miniature Park in Shekvetili (10 km from Ureki).

Park of Musicians near Ureki
Park of musicians, Adjara

Conclusion: Active people without little children who want to see something else besides the sea, should better choose to stay in Batumi. And then go to Ureki for half a day or a full day. Those who are coming to Ureki for sand treatment should definitely base themselves in the village. Getting to/from Ureki on a daily basis will be exhausting unless you have a car. 

NOTE: If you read my other posts about Georgia, you know that for the car rental, I am using (and recommending everyone) Myrentacar aggregator. To help you understand if renting a car is for you, refer to my post about Georgia car hire – things to expect

Have a great time in Ureki, Georgia and if you visit, share what you think about this place! 

 

Anya is originally from Ukraine but in heart she is a citizen of the world. She is working online and that’s why has an opportunity to travel slowly and live in different countries around the world. At present time, she is living between Lviv, Ukraine and Istanbul, Turkey. On this blog, her main goal is to inspire others to travel to under-the-radar-places and discover the world while working remotely.

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