Dubrovnik is often referred to as to as the Jewel of the Adriatic, with secrets of the exquisite stretch of coast slowly being unlocked by the discerning traveller. It’s fair to see why this sun-soaked destination gets a flurry of international tourists every year, especially with crystalline waters that allow you to see every detail of what’s lurking below the waters. But, for those who like to explore further beyond the bejewelled capital, there’s the secluded archipelago of untouched gems, often referred to as The Elaphiti Islands or ‘The Elaphites’. The origins of its name come from the Greek word, deer. Locals will share different stories as to why it was named in such a way, some say they were inhabited by deer back in the day, others say it’s because the islands are shaped to be quite deer-like.
Getting To The Elaphiti Islands
From Dubrovnik, there are a number of different cruises and private boat tours that will take you on a half day or day tour of the Elaphiti Islands, but were kindly provided a wonderful private experience by our friends at Original Travel who offer a whole host of private tours and package holidays to Croatia, which include a trip to the Elaphiti Islands.
I would highly recommend a private tour, as the who experience was bespoke to our desires, it also meant we managed to cover a lot more in a shorter space of time. The experience was so seamless, the guides shared in depth history about each of the islands, jumped the waves with the boat and made sure we were well hydrated throughout the trip. Our guides definitely made the whole experience so much more fun, despite the early 8:30am start. However, it did allow us to return back to Dubrovnik just after 1pm, which meant we also managed to explore the islands before the peak afternoon heat kicked in.
Koločep is one of the main islands to visit out of three and is the nearest to mainland Dubrovnik, with only 300 inhabitants on the island. As one of the smallest islands, it’s truly a place of peace and tranquility. It’s the perfect place to spend an hour grabbing a drink, sitting on the edge of the water banks, listening to the waters and basking in the balmy sun. For the explorers, there is many walking trails to explore through the forestry before retiring on the beach. Catherine and I enjoyed a nice long walk across the island and managed to dip our legs in the cooling salty water, adding to the tranquil experience.
The island continues to possess the crystalline clear waters, which makes visiting the likes of the Blue Cave an experience in itself as it can only be accessed if you swim to it and through it. We didn’t personally visit the Blue Cave as we had planned to have a pit stop to swim with the fishes along the way.
The second famous island is Lopud Bay which is known to be one of the more well developed islands. Its name stems from the Greek name for the island, Delaphodia. The island is home to just over 200 residents, but visitors often come here for a few days to escape the hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik. Think of it as your Croatian ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ moment.
We jumped out of boat straight into the clear waters to have our moment, swimming amongst the electric blue fishes that were inhabitants of the waters before making our way to the shore of Sunj Bay to dry off on the sun loungers. There wasn’t a peep from anyone, just birds chirping, the sound of fishes jumping in out of the water and the gentle caressing from the soft winds. I can see why locals even take the opportunity to indulge in this slice on heaven.
We later made our way around into the Lopud Bay, which is home to stunning Franciscan Monastery with extensive gardens with fragrant florals in bloom. It has since been restored and is now rented out as luxury residence. It would certainly be like living in a castle on your very own island – a once in a lifetime stay!
There were a series of fresh fruit stalls and other smaller shops selling beachwear and locally hand-made accessories. We picked up a punnet of fresh, ruby red strawberries, perched on the rocks and savoured every sweet moment with sun-riped fruits, the cooling waters and being perfectly sun-kissed. The best way to spend a morning!
All in all, we absolutely loved our experience visiting The Elaphiti Islands and would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s visiting the capital, or looking for tranquil stay off the beaten path.
Until next time…