Driving over the ice road to Hiiumaa, is a unique experience, because one actually drives across the sea! During winter in Estonia the sea between the islands and the mainland often freezes.
The ice road to Hiiumaa is the longest ice road in Estonia, with a total length of 26.5 kilometers across the sea. The ice roads are opened when the ice it at least 22 centimeters thick. Although the sea isn't very deep, less than 10 meters, it is still an odd thought that just 22 centimeters of ice separate you and your car from up to 10 meters of ice cold sea water. One also realizes the awesome strength of ice, for such a thin layer to be able to carry the weight of a car (though the weight of the car and the ice sheet is of course carried by the water underneath).
The ferries still run in a channel that is kept open for ferry traffic. In the distance it is sometimes possible to see a ferry.
As one drives over the ice one drives past islands, the closest island one drives past is the island of Heinlaid, seen below.
The freezing of the seas between the Estonian mainland and the islands has had historical significance, as during the middle ages these occurrences have been used by armies to invade the islands as they could simply walk across the sea.
See also: Hiiumaa-Saaremaa Ice Road.
Copyright Otto de Voogd 2010