Świętajno Lake (Narty)
A small lake near Warsaw located in the vicinity of the Nidzica-Szczytno road. Most of it is shallow and it is abundant in fish and flora. It is warm during summer, and last but not least, its water is clean and the visibility reaches 5-6 meters throughout most of the year.
It offers all you need to get out of Warsaw at least for one day, to have a nice dive and to free your mind of the daily strain. You have my word that the lake is perfectly suited for the purpose.
Now, a brief description for those interested. I assume you have never dived in the lake. I realize that Narty village seems to be more and more popular.
How do you get there? From Warsaw you need to head in the direction of Nidzica, choosing the Gdańsk route. In Nidzica turn to the Szczytno road. It will take you to Narty village from where you can see the southern part of the lake.
Another way of traveling from Warsaw is heading for Suwałki through Legionowo. When you pass Pułtusk, turn for Szczytno. You will travel past several larger towns such as Przasnysz or Wielbark. When you reach Jedwabno (do not confuse it with Jedwabne), turn for Szczytno. After about 10 minutes by car you should reach Narty.
Before giving you some tips about accommodation, I would like to describe the lake itself. After all, that's the interesting bit for divers.
It is possible to get to the western part of the lake, you just need to go behind the hotels situated on the shore. You should reach the beach, which looks like a good place for a swim. When you get into the water, you may be surprised, as it appears you cannot find a place where the depth goes beyond 3 to 4 meters. When you choose entering from the west, you need to swim for 300 meters, which is quite a lot, to reach a place, where the depth goes down to 5-6 meteres. That is why you shouldn't hope for a deep dive in that part of the lake. Still, the sunshine goes down through the water deeply, so the underwater flora can be seen in abundance. Picturesque underwater meadows with several species of fish cannot be seen in lakes where the bottom descends steeply, water becomes cold quickly and where you can see mostly mud. I recommend choosing this shore for a night dive. You are bound to see pikes, perches, roaches, bleaks and eels. There are also crayfish in the lake but you might find it difficult to see them because of the abundant flora.
The whole northern shore of the lake is not so easily accessible. You can, however, go along the shore from the west. The main road goes to a farm, which gives accommodation for tourists, but you need to turn east. You will reach a small beach with a jetty, where you can dive. The lake bottom is a bit different there. You need to walk about 50 meters with your equipment in waist-deep water. Suddenly the bottom goes down steeply to the depth of about 10-13 metres. It is difficult to find a deeper place, but it should be enough for all those wishing to reach the thermocline. As the northern part of the lake, when looking east, is not so easily accessible from the shore, the local fishermen cast their nets there, and stun the fish with electric current. Unfortunately, this is the sad reality in Poland.
On the southern shore of the lake you will find a good diving spot just behind the only two bars located on the Nidzica-Szczytno road. You get into the water behind "Norka" bar. Have a look at a pair of swans that decided to stay there for good. The male attacks everyone. If you do not believe, approach the shore with a dog. You will see the result similar to that visible in the photograph. What a brave bird it is.
The bottom is similar to that in the western part of Świętajno lake, but it becomes deep sooner. You can see picturesque underwater meadows. I don't know why some people find them repulsive, call them "waterweed" and turn away with disgust. They are so beautiful.
You will find there most of plants representative for Polish lakes. You can see fields of Canadian pondweed. When you swim for a while, you will see that the color of the plants becomes red. This is due to whorled leaf water milfoil - you can see a field of 5 square meters of this plant. There are also several species of pondweed. In my opinion, the most characteristic plant for this lake is water soldier. The overall look is dominated by a few species of stonewort. In some places they need to fight for sunshine and find their way through the thicket of pondweed, and sometimes they form magnificent green fluffy carpets, which are a pleasure to look at. You can swim for about 30 minutes straight north to find some places where the depth is 7 meters. It is a great place for a night dive. I will not go into details, in case some freak would come there with a crossbow. Suffice to say, it is worth taking a dive here.
The most interesting place to dive is located in the eastern part of the lake. There are several hotels with access to the beach. In summer, you need to pay to get there, but it is worth the money. The bottom goes there down steeply and you will easily find some places with the depth of 15 to 18 meters. The lake is 30 meters deep, but the deepest point is located too far away from the shore to be accessible for divers.
I've seen many small shoals of perches there preying at the depth of 7-10 meters. There are not so many other species there but the bottom shape is really well suited for leisure diving. I can recommend it.
Now a few words about places to stay. Well, I could give you several addresses but I will stick to two which are the best. This way I will be sure no one will complain and I will not be accused of talking rubbish.
You will find very convenient accommodation at Kijkos'. They own a bar located next to the "Norka" one. They built a house with rooms to rent near the shore. They have double rooms and rooms for three, four and six people. You can multiply this by two, as almost every room has a double sofa convertible into a bed. The double rooms have private bathrooms. The water is warm and the bathrooms are equipped with showers. Everything is clean and tidy. An important tip: there is a shop nearby and two bars serving pretty good food. I can recommend vendace. Yummy. If you want to cook on your own, it's not a problem. Two fully equipped kitchens are available for the guests.
You can find a comfortable place to stay also at a summer cottage owned by Ms. Magdaleńska from Szczytno. It is located at a nearby lake but it is only 3 minutes from Narty by car. In Narty, turn from the main road in the direction of Brajniki. You need to go past several hotels, as you do to get to the beach at the eastern shore of the lake. When you have passed the hotels and the road goes away from the lake, you need to turn into a dirt road. You will see a small white house.
This house is really exceptional. Upstairs, there are three double rooms. Downstairs, there is a kitchen, a fireplace and a terrace facing the lake. The house is furnished in a homely manner and equipped with a TV-set. Last but not least, the place is very quiet. You can order meals at Ms. Magdaleńska's house in Szczytno as well. She is an excellent cook and her dinners are not easily forgotten.
You can fill in your tanks at the fire department in Szczytno. They usually make no fuss about it. The cost is PLN 15 per tank. You need about 15 minutes to get to Szczytno by car.
All in all, if you haven't dived near Narty so far, it's high time you did!
And be careful when talking about Narty in Polish, as the word "narty" means "skiing". Pack your mask and flippers in the summer, say that you're going to "Narty" and watch the confused faces.
Author: Rudi Stankiewicz
Photos: Kasia Doliwa and Rudi Stankiewicz
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