August 08, 2022
Did you know that are over 1400 islands waiting for you to explore during your Croatian summer? Any of these can be visited as a day trip but it’s recommended to spend a few days getting to know some of the bigger ones like Korčula and Mljet. Here is a short introduction to the islands around Dubrovnik so you can get to live the slow life and "La dolce vita" the Croatian way...
Lokrum-Just a short 10-minute ferry ride from the old port of Dubrovnik is the nature reserve of Lokrum Island. There is evidence of Lokrum being inhabited since prehistoric times, and was settled by the Benadictine monks around 915 A.D. One of the island’s charms is that it’s home to flocks of wild peacocks, who were originally brought from the Canary Islands in Spain by Maximillian. Several ruins of the monasteries and monastery complex can be walked through and remain in good condition. Near to the complex is a botanical garden, olive grove and walking paths spreading throughout the island. There is a dead sea to float in and plenty of opportunities for cliff jumping into the waters. While this is one of the best places in Dubrovnik to have a beach day or day trip, no one is allowed to spend the night. After being forced off the island by a French General, the monks spent their last night laying a curse on Lokrum. The rumor is that anyone who has tried to take the island for their own has suffered the effects of the curse, from murders to suicide, financial losses and more.
Elaphiti Islands-The Elaphiti are an archipelago just outside of Dubrovnik. There are several small isles and islets, but three main islands are easily accessible from Dubrovnik. Daily boat rides stopping at Lopud, Šipan and Koločep are offered in the tourist areas of Dubrovnik or online and most of them serve a lunch on the boat with meat, fish, or vegetarian options with homemade rakija and wine. There are also ferries running several times a day in the summer season if you prefer to spend more time exploring each stop.
Lopud is the most popular of the Elaphiti Islands and is known for its sandy beaches. The most popular beach is Šunj and like most Croatian beaches in the summer, umbrellas and chairs are offered and laid-back beach bars also serve food. In the main center of town is a Franciscan monastery open to the public and pre-medieval ruins and architecture are found all along the island. Also, in the center of town near the ferry port is a cluster of the tallest palm trees in all Europe.
Koločep is called Kalamota by locals. You can explore the island on foot since the walk between its two villages only takes about 30 minutes. The main beach is Donje Čelo, another sandy beach that is popular for families. There are plenty of hiking/cycling trails to follow while searching for a spot to swim away from the crowds. Kalamota is quiet, with only a few cafes found along the sea and no nightlife.
Šipan is less known for its beaches but like Koločep has many secluded swimming spots within walking distance of its villages. Some of the This island is much quieter than its neighbors but has several restaurants with fresh seafood, and a luxury experience at BOWA. Only accessible by boat or a bit of a hike, the location has cabanas and beach chairs for rent and high-quality seafood. Both villages also have excellent seafood-- Šipanska Luka has Konoba Tauris and on Sudurad is Konoba Stara Mlinica.
Mljet-Legend has it that King Odysseus from Homer’s Odyssey was shipwrecked on a cave in the island. Unknown to Odysseus, the island belonged to the nymph Calypso, who became enamored with the king and held him prisoner for years until Athena asked Zeus to release him. The island features a national park with two lakes in the middle. The closest ferry port to the National Park is at Polače. Stop at Konoba Antika for a traditional dalmatian style mussels buzara or call ahead for Peka (another Croatian specialty of octopus or meat slow cooked under a bell). From here you can rent bikes or walk through the most densely forested isle in Croatia to the national park. If you’re not staying on the island, booking a tour is best to ensure you have enough time to see the Odysseus Cave and take the boat to the Benedictine monastery on St. Mary Isle in the middle of the lake.
Korčula- About 2 hours by ferry from Dubrovnik, and across from Orebić on the neighboring peninsula of Pelješac, Korčula is said to be the birthplace of Marco Polo. Along the old town port, you can find “hop-on-hop-off” water taxis that will shuttle you to the close by islands of Badija, Vrnik and Stupe/Moro Beach. As a daytrip, you can wander the streets of the old city that are described as an open-air art gallery and has a unique variety of restaurant options that shouldn’t be missed.
For wine and Croatian style tapas visit Lole along the sea, Konoba Aterina is great for lunch and provides vegan and vegetarian options along with creative dishes hard to come by on the Adriatic coast. You’ll want to reserve a table for sunset drinks at Mossimo – the terrace is situated at the top of a medieval tower and is a must-do. For dinner, it’s also recommended to make a reservation for Konoba Adio Mare for traditional fare and adorable views of Polo’s birthplace next to the church of Sveti Petra. If you’re looking for a break from Croatian cuisine, Silk is an amazing Asian fusion restaurant that also has locations on Hvar and in Split. The rest of the island has beaches, and wine tasting excursions to enjoy and from the Vela Luka port the small islands of Proizd and Lastovo are reachable. Lastovo is a quiet fishing village and Proizd is so small it is essentially a beach with a restaurant.
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Written by Lottie Rose