Sailed many waters, saw many waters and colours, admired the beauty, respected sometimes dangerous power of the sea, lived by many winds, and still looking for more surprises nature can offer?
Sailing along distant Croatian islands will surely give a brand new dimension and the feel to whatever you might have experienced by now.
A nautical paradise, crystal clear and indigo blue waters, a world yet to be discovered, a mystery and the beauty to be seen and felt are waiting for you at the southern part of the Adriatic Sea.
Among so many of them of the country known as the “country of thousand islands”, seven pearls, proudly standing above the water, are waiting for you, waving to come closer and hear the whisper of the past times, discover the beauty, sometimes wild and merciless nature, sometimes a good example of the nature and human hand cooperation.
List of distant Croatian islands:
1. Sušac Island
You may wish to start with Sušac, (42° 45,0′ N / 016° 29,7′ E), an island located about 20 miles away from Vela Luka on Korčula island, about the same distance from the islands of Vis and Lastovo. Sailing to its southern side is safe for anchorage and protected from the strong northern winds. Decide yourself which way to go around the island, mistakes cannot be made even though the island leaves an optical impression of two islands.
You are on one…Sušac, the dry one! That’s what the name means, the dry island. Umbrellas you won’t need, only 14 litre of rain per year falls on its surface. There was life here in the past for sure, so say the remains of the two Churches from the 4th century.
Destination of the fishermen, tourist in the summer, once an important strategic point for the AU monarchy, with the lighthouse from 19th century witnessing the power of the empire, today a place with untouched nature, no cars, apartments and noise, a place where mice are not scared of people, a few goats and sheep are taking care of themselves alone, a place where only three male souls live, with a lighthouse keeper whom you will make happy by bringing the newspaper and probably be rewarded with a piece of good and tasty lamb.
[su_note note_color=”#f5f6f7″]Bring some fresh bread too, and then you might as well hear an amazing legend of two unhappy lovers after whom the islands carry the sad reputation as the island of lost love…[/su_note]
Diving lovers, those fit and trained for deeper waters can get into the island’s amazing water underworld and almost hidden habitat of the precious red corals…no matter how much you will maybe wish to see them around the neck of your loved one, leave them where they are. They are a nature wonder and the most beautiful around the neck of the underwater rocks.
2. Brusnik & Svetac
Take photos, memorise corals and sail to the west, to the island of Brusnik and Svetac. 43°00′ N i 15°48′ E. Carrying the official name, St.Andrew, simply called the Saint, that’s what the name of Svetac means.
Getting close, look at them, one to the left, and one to the right and just try to use the imaginary timeline trying to decide how long are they standing there, guarding each other. Do not panic with your compasses going wild – these islands rose above the water after an eruption, probably millenniums ago, with the main constitution of volcanic rocks, and where the iron ore is demonstrating its power.
The surface is covered with bowl shaped rocks and pebbles. Admire them, take a picture, but do not pick them up as souvenirs, the island is protected as the Nature Park since 1951. Before that year, some stones were collected and used for the production of the sharpeners – Brusnik, equaling sharpener, there you go, and the eruptive volcanic rocks are telling you about the origin of the name of the island.
With your own eyes, you will be able to witness the amazing cooperation of nature and a human hand. Besides that, the island is filled with a natural phenomenon of small pools, holes in rocks filled with the sea water, used by fishermen to keep alive every fisherman’s dream, his majesty, the lobster.
[su_note note_color=”#f5f6f7″]During the WWII, used as the training spot for long-range cannons of the British army, Brusnik today is uninhabited, except for birds only, and the only resident – endemic sort of a black –turquoise lizard. When facing a close encounter, don’t be scared of them, harmless as they are, they will probably just very lazy look at you wondering what are you doing at their house at all…some random visitors come during the summers months, guarded by the winds in the winter.[/su_note]
The neighboring Saint, sharing almost the same destiny will welcome you with a few souls over there, the Zanki family living on the island for generations, living a simple life with fishing and grooving grapes, yet, happy, relaxed and determined to convince you that such a way of living that they do is the true meaning of life on the water.
Wishing to see and feel the wild, unpredictable nature, still with a several souls who would tell how and why the time stands still on the island…then the island of Lastovo (42°44′N 16°50′E) is your next sailing destination. Only 14 km away from Korčula Island, one of the 44 islands of the archipelago, Lastovo is a peaceful pearl of the Adriatic sea.
Sharing its history with the island of Vis, opened for foreigners only after 1992 when the Yugoslavian army finally left, easy to reach, with the length of only 10 km and width of 8.5 km, the paradise of stunning beauty from both the water side and its green side. Green, due to the fact Lastovo is the second runner-up among Croatian islands with the preserved forests, covering almost 70% of the islands’ surface, in 2007 proclaimed a Nature Park.
[su_note note_color=”#f5f6f7″]No concrete, apartments, noise, just endless wine yards, olive groves, fish, the largest habitat of the carob in the whole country, endemic flora and fauna, Mediterranean scent in the air, water and your food will serve you an extraordinary experience.[/su_note]
If when sailing in trough the area you managed to learn some Croatian words, on Lastovo quit further learning. When they speak, it is hard to understand them…the locals on the island are still using a unique dialect, used on the island only and understandable among them only. Exactly 792 souls are living in five small settlements across the island, and all of them will delight you with their free spirit, modesty and their so much positive isolation from the rest of the world.
The island of Biševo, 42°58′N 16°0′E, a small jewel of the Adriatic of only 6 square km surface, located only about 5 NM southwest from Komiža on the island of Vis, was profiled as a favorite sailing destination soon after the amazing Modra špilja (the Blue Cave), today a natural trademark of the island was discovered and opened for visitors.
With its history going way back to prehistorically times, medieval times when people did live there and cherished the mother nature giving them excellent wines and olives, possibility to get high quality fish for a meal, hard times after the WWII when about 700 people lived on the island, today, only about 10 souls are still there keeping their little piece of paradise trying to protect it from a rough tourism industry.
[su_note note_color=”#f5f6f7″]Silent witnesses of better times are standing in remains of a church of St. Silvester from 11th century, and even a school closed in 1961. Back then, you could hear the laughter of the children over the island, yes. Not the case today anymore.[/su_note]
The modern life has forced majority of the inhabitants to move to nearby Komiža, however, Biševo, with its vineyards and olive groves remain in the hearts of the people, having them to return to the island, if not more frequently, then to take care of the wine and olives, and spend several peaceful summer months over there.
Sailing to Biševo will reveal for you the unimaginable beauty of the sea, little bays and charming pebble beaches, two of them considered as the most beautiful ones on the Adriatic.
The famous Blue cave is a must to see when reaching the island. Once home to the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus ), a cheerful and very rare species of seal, almost entirely exterminated by fishermen for damages they cased to the nets, the discovery of the blue cave also had a humanitarian purpose since the monks found their new and safe home there.
Sail to nearby Mezoporat bay for anchoring, since it is the best and the easiest way to reach the cave, where the tenders will bring you to the entrance. Recommended and the best time to visit the cave is daily between 9 am to 1 pm, for a spectacular light show of the sun beams and turquoise water working together.
For those wishing to take a hike around the island, Mezoporat bay is also the best recommendation. Enjoy the path and a glass of famous Biševski Plavac, red wine produced by Zaberlin family and available for tastings, just to finish your day with this elixir of Gods.
When planning a journey to Palagruža (42°23′28″N 16°15′47″E), the remotest Croatian territory, keep in mind that the closest Croatian land is the island of Sušac, 23 NM away. The island of Lastovo and the town of Komiža (Vis Island) are 32 NM and 40 NM away, and Split, on the Adriatic coast, 68 NM away.
Sailing this far away will require advanced skills, a bit of courage and a love for nature wonders. The crystal Adriatic will then surely reward you with the amazing view of Palagruža archipelago, looking just like the necklace of precious pearls, just here lined on the water.
This line of about ten smaller islands, or better cliffs standing out in the middle of the Adriatic, allows you to have a clear view of the both coasts, Croatian and Italian.
The biggest, the proud King standing among them is the island of Palagruža Vela (Great Palagruža), also known as the “the Island of Diomedes”, an ancient Greek hero from the Trojan War. Archaeological artefacts found on the island show that there was a temple dedicated to Diomedes dating back to the 5th century BC, while historical data confirms the presence of life on the island from prehistorically times. During the Middle Ages, the island was a home to priests, with traces of a medieval monastery still standing on the island.
The largest lighthouse on the Adriatic Sea found its home on the island, built on a 92 meters rock, today turned into an apartment reserved for those searching for a truly peaceful vacation in the company of endemic birds and plants, and occasionally a lighthouse keeper himself.
Prior to the arrival, establish the communication via channel 16, where you will get detailed instructions on safe anchoring. However, the overnight stay is not recommended due to unstable weather conditions and rocky sea floor on Palagruža’s northern and southern beaches. Just as note, one of the pearls of this “water necklace”, called Galijula and a part of this archipelago is officially the most southern point of the territory of Croatia, fighting the strongest winds ever recorded and waves up to 9 meters.
[su_note note_color=”#f5f6f7″]If still staying overnight, simply stretch a friendly hand to the nature demonstrating its power here. Uninhabited, quiet place, visited by brave and experienced fishermen only, especially those searching for lobsters. If you are an early bird willing to be on your feet way before the dawn, you might just get lucky and have a personalised tutorial on dragging the nets out of the water, filled with the richness of the sea.[/su_note]
Reaching Palagruža during summer months requires even more courage and sailing skills, but the journey can be extremely pleasant if you plan a detailed route and pay attention to the weather forecast.
Back to the open sea, with more desire to explore and discover, there is one more. Scary. And frightening. One word, Jabuka (N43°05΄30.8˝ / E15°27΄35.6˝), 26 nautical miles away from the island of Vis.
The Apple translated. Just like the poisonous fruit from the fairytale of Snow-white, an island of a stunning beauty from the outside, dangerous, dangerous when you try to even stretch your hand towards it.
Jabuka is a 97 meters high cliff, surrounded with even deeper, 260 m deep waters, whose depth still reveals an amazing dark blue colour, so rarely visited, extremely rich in fish, created by powerful and merciless nature, for some considered the smallest, yet the strongest island of the world. Just like the little volcanic pearl, nearby Brusnik, Jabuka’s constitution is also in the great majority of erupted lava turned into rocks; back in 1958 protected as the Nature Park and proclaimed an IPA area.
Even though far away from the navigation routes, the island once served as the orientation point due to its amazing and high pyramidal shape.
Standing so lonely in the middle of the open sea, impossible to anchor and set a foot on it, except for a tiny southwestern point, possible to reach only in very peaceful times with no wind, which is rarely the case on Jabuka.
[su_note note_color=”#f5f6f7″]Except for endemic birds, lonely inhabitants in shape of seagulls and falcons, the brave ones able to fly and reach it, one strong and long living old lady in a shape of the endemic olive tree, fighting the strong winds around the island, nobody else will manage to do so. And that’s the way it should be.[/su_note]
Still, do sail, and at the point when your compass starts going wild, it is a sign to stop and admire this amazing beauty of nature – from distance.
If what you are reading is appealing, charter a yacht in Croatia and discover the beauty of these pearls for yourself. Plan your trip carefully, check the weather forecast from minute to minute, and once you conquer them all, the return to your charter base will surely grant you bravery recognition and respect!
Wishing you fine and friendly winds and a calm sea!