Winter is on us in South Africa. And even as we hunker down, Europeans make their merry way to the Mediterranean to swim in the sun. If you’re thinking about catching some rays this winter, look no further than the Croatian islands.
More and more South Africans are starting to explore Croatia as an affordable destination. Even though the Croatian Kuna is twice as strong as our Rand, you will find many things are quite well priced. Expect to pay not more than R25 for your morning coffee and croissant. And depending on where you decide to eat, dining can be very affordable. Buses and many activities can also be inexpensive, which makes travelling around the country and sightseeing very easy.
With over 1000 islands and more than 4000kms of coastline, Croatia really is all about the islands. Here are 5 lesser-known Croatian islands to explore.
Susak is a gem. As one of the lesser-known Croatian islands, it’s perfect for exploration and adventures. Firstly, the island is small enough to walk a loop in a few hours. Discover the myriad coves and secret swimming spots by scooter or mountain bike. Best of all, it’s easy to imagine that you could be swimming in a spot where no other human has been for a long time.
Of these islands, wrote George Bernard Shaw: “On the last day of Creation God desired to crown His work, and thus created the Kornati islands out of tears, stars and breath.”
Piskera is one of 140 uninhabited and protected islands that make up the Kornati National Park. As a result, it’s often used as a favourite overnight stop over point for yachts travelling up and down the coast. Of all the Croatian islands, Piskera is definitely among the most unique; it feels like being on another planet. On the adjacent island is a family run Konoba (restaurant). The owner will pick you up for dinner in his dinghy, where you will probably enjoy your quietest dining experience ever.
Solta is situated alongside one of the most popular Croatian islands, Brac, and is very accessible from Split. However, the proximity to other more well known island hot-spots means that Solta doesn’t draw the same epic crowds as does Korcula and Hvar. The entirely pebbled beaches and translucent water are something unique to us South Africans. We could get used to this.
Those adventurous souls amongst us will find the call of nature is strong here. This Croatian island, situated right in the middle of the adriatic, looks like the spine of sea creature coming up for air. Get underwater amongst some of the best diving to be found in Croatia. Although scuba is only allowed with organised groups, snorkel to your heart’s content. On the top of the peak stands a lonely lighthouse. It houses two apartments that sleep four. You can arrange transport to the island from Korcula. So this is the minimalist side of the Croatian islands.
Sandy beaches are a rare commodity amongst the Croatian islands. Lopud has one, it’s called Sunj. It’s known as being the best beach in the Dubrovnik region, but most people only visit the beach for a few hours and then head back to the mainland. Therefore, Lopud has more to offer the discerning island hopper. Go and light a candle in any of the two monasteries, 30 churches and several noble palaces, all in various stages of quaint ruin.
Terrified of booking flights online? Booking a complicated trip? Travelling in a large group? Want a holiday package and a little lazy to plan? Never fear, Travelstart live is here.They’re just a call away
Where to stay
Virtually all the Croatian islands have at least small populations still living near the ports. As a result, there are usually apartments to rent. So check online ahead of time, especially in the peak summer months of July and August as this is a popular time to go.
There are ferries and catamarans that operate from the four major mainland hubs of Rijeka, Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik. Ferry companies like Jadrolinija are very convenient and well priced. For example: it will cost R440 to go from Dubrovnik to Split and that is considered a long ferry.
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