Golden Sands is a resort town on the northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, adjacent to a national park of the same name in the municipality of Varna.
Located 17 km north of downtown Varna, it is virtually connected to the city by a continuous swath of resorts and villa communities. It is a popular tourist destination, drawing many visitors from Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, Scandinavia, France, Central and Eastern Europe, the Persian Gulf, Israel, and other countries, attracted by the favourable climate, scenic landscape, and reasonable prices. Golden Sands is served by the Varna International Airport and several regular bus lines of the Varna public transit system.
The old-growth forests between ancient Odessos and Dionysopolis were first mentioned by Pliny as the home of mythical dwarfs, visited by the Argonauts. Byzantine sources name the local fortress Gerania; there are 4-7 century AD remains of massive stone ramparts and a basilica along the edge of the Frangen plateau. The cave Aladzha Monastery, 3 km to the west, was a monastic centre from antiquity through the Second Bulgarian Empire. In the days of Ottoman Empire, Uzunkum (Turkish: long sands) was known as a hideaway for outlaws. It was largely uninhabited until the 1950s, although used for outings.
The resort construction started in 1957 and in about two decades, the place was transformed into a modern holiday complex with more than 80 hotels, numerous villas, casinos, apartment buildings, restaurants, clubs, spa centres, attractions, shopping centres, and sports facilities, including yacht marinas, equestrian base and the Aquapolis water park. Golden Sands attracted considerable investments in the 1990s and 2000s. A contemporary chapel of John the Baptist was recently added.
The area is labelled to have the purest quartz sand on the coast and abounds in old trees and landscaped parks. Hot mineral water springs and lush woodlands cascading from the Frangen Plateau, forming the Golden Sands Nature Park, turn the town into one of the most popular tourist spots in Eastern Europe. It also comprises the Holiday Club Riviera luxury resort, several villa communities including Chaika, Kabakum, and Alen Mak, and the historic grotto of Aladzha Monastery in the vicinity. Just north is perhaps the best known gay beach in the nation. Three 18-hole golf courses designed by Gary Player are currently (2007) being developed around Balchik and Kavarna to the north.