I usually spend my summers in Croatia, at least most of the summertime. For a Croatian-born travel addict like myself, this may seem a bit strange at first, when there is still so much world to explore. However, I leave this for other seasons – not sure if you will believe me, and I might be here just a tiny bit subjective, but Croatia really has the most beautiful coast or at least one of the most gorgeous ones you can imagine – not to forget there are over 1000 islands spread across the turquoise-transparent incredible sea so there is always something to explore. This time I will tell you a bit about the island that made it very easily in my top 5 of the Croatian islands – Dugi otok.
Located just across famous historical city Zadar, strangely enough, Dugi otok is still a jewel to be discovered by many. And though there are tourists visiting its gorgeous beaches, the crowds are not as close to crowds on some other islands, and you can always find a small beach to yourself. With villages spread across this long island (which is actually a literal translation of the Croatian name of the island – Dugi otok), you will enjoy the authentic Mediterranean. Driving across the island most beautiful views will open in front of you – it is almost surreal. Don’t miss to visit the Veli Rat lighthouse at one end of the island, you will enjoy the scenery and relax, soaking in sun, breeze, salty air and all the soothing sounds of the island.
There are many gorgeous beaches across the island, and, while a lot of people enjoy Saharun for its fine, white sand, and you actually can’t miss wherever you go for swimming on this beautiful island, the absolute winner is for sure Dragon’s Eye. Though not technically a beach but rather a sea cave, kind of a secluded pool naturally built by rocks the Dragon’s Eye is one of the most unique places you’ll see. And the feeling of swimming in a calm sea pool while the waves are crashing against the rocks is incredible, being in such a setting is something you will never forget.
The pristine nature of Dugi otok will just blow you away – the clear, blue sea, mighty cliffs and Mediterranean greenery are the perfect combination for relaxation and reenergizing. And though the nature is beautiful all over the island, the special nature haven to visit is certainly Nature Park Telašćica that, besides incredible cliffs that rise over 200 m tall and picturesque Telašćica bay also holds salt lake ‘Mir’. The Nature Park spreads not only on Dugi otok but also encompasses thirteen little islands around so, if you are lucky and with a boat, be sure to visit at least some of them.
One of my favourite things in Telašćica is for sure the Donkey sanctuary, a shelter for abandoned donkeys where they found their sanctuary. The noble animal is one of the symbols of the Adriatic coast as they have been helping people with their hard work throughout history. However, with the industry and technology evolving, the need for donkeys diminished and so did unfortunately their numbers. It is truly a special experience seeing so many of them together, enjoying their well-deserved rest.
Everything on Dugi otok is in line with nature, even the architecture. Besides the charming Dalmatian stone houses, one of the best examples is the recently opened, luxurious Villa Nai 3.3. The villa itself is integrated in the landscape with the eight guestrooms built into the natural hill. Surrounded by olive groves and with a magnificent view at the islands and the sea, this extraordinary architectural piece is perfectly incorporated in surroundings and offers only the best – from the accommodation and design to spa experience and delicious, traditional, local food served in their highly regarded restaurants Grotta and 11 000.
So no matter if you like camping and Robinson tourism or you are up for a high level, luxurious vacation, as long as you enjoy and love nature, Dugi otok has everything you need and will charm you completely – I can only say that I am completely in love with the island and I can’t wait to go again this summer!