After many years of playing second fiddle to the more pretentiously marketed Mediterranean tourist destinations on the Italian and French Riviera, Croatia is finally rising from the shadows and claiming its rightful spot as a place of wonder, enchanting culture and pristine beauty. Spurred on by eye catching commercials, thrill seekers from all round the world flock to the Balkan country in droves each summer to explore the glorious spread of Dalmatian Islands which bedeck the Adriatic coastline of Croatia.
The raving popularity of such Croatian islands as Hvar, Vis, Mljet, Kokular, and Brac is such that in recent years, it is no surprise to hear them being mentioned in the same breath as Monaco, Ibiza, Genoa and Saint Tropez. But are these all Croatia has to offer? Most certainly not! There are well over a thousand islands and islets along the Dalmatian coast, most of them virtually unknown but no less intriguing for the avid explorer. Here is a glimpse of three such hidden gems of the Croatian coast to whet your appetite.
- Lopud, Elaphiti Islands
In medieval times, legend has it that the Dubrovnik aristocracy made Lopud their weekend playground. This culture endured well into late seventeenth century when Lopud slowly slipped off the limelight. Today it is a laidback, serene place where everything and everyone moves at a carefree, leisurely pace. The island is comparatively tiny (only 5 kilometers square) and has a total human population of less than 200.
With no cars and just the barest modicum of modern infrastructure and conveniences, there is no better place to play Robinson Crusoe for a few days but still be within a stone throw away from every luxury and creature comfort you could conceive of. As you embark off on the ‘vilagey’ harbor with gently rocking fishermen’s boats, you will feel as if you have just taken a trip back in time. Take to one of the dusty paths and you will need to pinch yourself to believe that the bustling city of Dubrovnik is half an hour away by ferry.
- Pag, North Dalmatian Islands
Pag is the antithesis of everything you have been led to believe about the Dalmatian coastal region. Rocky and almost bereft of all signs of vegetation or habitation, the landscape is eerily more reminiscent of Martian wastelands than Mediterranean opulence.
You might be wondering by now why the island is worth a visit after such a stark description. The biggest attraction of Pag is the Zrce beach; a pristine sandy beach which requires firsthand experience to appreciate just how wonderful it is. Many of those who have been there say Zrce is the next Ibiza and for all intents and purposes, it is hard to contradict them.
- Galesnjak, the Island of Love
Located in the Pasman Channel just a short distance from the mainland town of Turanj, Galesnjak is arguably the crown jewel among all the verdant islands on the Adriatic coastline. The island is reputed to be the most heart shaped of any natural land formation in the world. A privately owned island, Galesnjak is gaining runaway reputation as the most sought after wedding location in the world.
- The Best Way to Explore the Hidden Gems of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast
With dozens upon dozens of islands and islets dotted along its rugged coastline, Croatia has a complex network of ferries and taxi boats which provide means to across the major islands and coastal cities. While these might suffice for someone just looking for a random sampling of the Dalmatian delights, those looking to experience specific Croatian gems need more personalized means of travel. For such people, the best option is to rent a boat or gulet from the dozens of charters which operate in the region. A chartered boat offers you all the time and convenience you need to explore these hidden gems of the Dalmatian coast at your leisure.
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