A trip to Dubrovnik isn’t complete without a day trip to the Elafiti islands (Elaphite Islands)!
The name comes from the old Greek legend, claiming that they used to hunt deer on the islands. Nowadays, there are no longer deers on the islands but you can enjoy exploring untouched nature of these picturesque islands.
Take a dip in the crystal clear sea, stroll across the promenade and meet the locals who will discover you local stories and legends about sailors and sea captains, soak up the sun or just relax under the shade of the old pines listening to crickets.
Elafiti islands are car-free. Can you imagine how quiet and peaceful they are?
Great if you need a relaxing break away from it all.
The Elaphite archipelago consists of 13 islands and islets, of which only three are inhabited: Koločep, Šipan, and Lopud. Each island is surprisingly different and unique.
Elafiti Islands used to be a favorite destination for Dubrovnik aristocrats during the time of the Dubrovnik Republic. You can still find numerous summer residences and villas of the nobility of the Dubrovnik Republic as well as the ruins of early medieval churches, and fortresses.
The island of Koločep (Kalamota)
With its picturesque port with colorful fishing boats, Koločep is the smallest of the three settled Elaphite Islands and is like a nearby dream. It is closest to Dubrovnik and one of the favorite excursion spots of locals. Photo opportunities abound.
It is green island covered with hundred years old thick pine tree forest. Among dense forests, there are olive groves, vineyards and citrus trees.
It is a very quiet and peaceful island since it’s car-free with no traffic at all, perfect for people who want a quiet, getaway from it all type holiday.
There are two small villages on the island – Gornje Čelo and Donje Čelo.
As there is so much greenery, it’s ideal to go walking and explore the picturesque bays. During exploring the island, you can visit ruins of several pre-romanesque little churches (the church of St. Nicholas, the church of St. Anthony of Padua, the church the Assumption of Mary) as well as many summer manors.
The first sight of the island will leave you breathless, as it fills you with peace, the smell of Mediterranean plants and relaxing smell of the clear Adriatic sea, which is crystal clear and full of fish and seashells.
On the southern shore of the Koločep Island is situated fascinating Modra šilja (Blue Cave) a unique natural site.
You swim into the cave and the whole place turns blue due to the light and the positioning of the cave itself. A great place to swim, snorkel and to take awesome photos.
Fun fact: Koločep was an important shipbuilding site. Two members of Christopher Columbus’ crew on the Santa Maria were sailors from the island.
The island of Lopud
Lopud is the second largest island of the Elaphiti islands, between Koločep and Šipan.
It is characterized by subtropical Mediterranean vegetation, sandy and pebble beaches, gardens with orange and lemon trees, beautiful promenades and landscapes.
The island of Lopud is the most visited island in the Elaphite archipelago, mainly for its amazing Šunj beach. Šunj beach is the ONLY sandy beach in Dubrovnik region and it is listed by many guides as one of the best beaches in Croatia. It is a 20-minute walk to this beach from the port.
The water is very shallow, so it is perfect for children and the popular local game picigin, a traditional amateur sport played in the shallow water in which players try to keep a small ball from touching the water.
Fun fact: According to a local legend, if you bathe with your loved one at Šunj, you’ll never apart…
Be careful who are you swimming with! Just saying…
Lopud is car-free, therefore nothing interrupts the tranquility of this peaceful oasis.
The island of Lopud was a favorite place for the summer residence of the local aristocracy. In addition to the summer villas, the island also abounds with forts, little churches, and monasteries housing valuable works of art. Lopud had 24 churches, Franciscan and Dominican monastery. Some churches were ruined but there are plenty of them to visit on the island. St. Mary Church within the Franciscan monastery, Lady of Šunj Church, St. Nicholas Church within the Dominican monastery and many others.
Despite the tourism expansion, Lopud has kept its authenticity and traditional atmosphere.
The island of Šipan
Šipan Island is the largest of the Elaphite islands and the only one with roads and traffic. It is an island of quiet bays, beaches, cypress trees and groves of oranges, fig trees and vineyards, with a long history full of stories and legends. You will be charmed by little traditional houses, old, and small churches.
Šipan is famous for its wine and olive oil, which is a must-try when you are there.
Fun fact: Šipan entered the Guinness Book of Records as the island with the largest number of olive trees relative to its size.
There are two villages on the island: Suđurađ at the east and Šipanska Luka, an active fishing village, at the west side of the island.
In Suđurađ, the main beach is just opposite the harbor pier.
It is a nice pebble beach with crystal clear water. It doesn’t have any available services like deck chairs or parasols, but you can easily find your place in the shade under one of the trees or beside the old stone houses.
Of the thirty medieval churches as there were on this island, there are only fifteen left. St. Michaels Church, St. Mary Church, St. Savior Church, and many others.
Make sure you visit the Skočibuha palace (situated in Suđurađ village), the only completely restored summer residence in Croatia.
This island is perfect for nature lovers who are looking for tranquility in a beautiful oasis of peace and calmness.
How to get to Elaphite Islands:
The best way to see all three major Elaphiti Islands in one day is to take a day trip. You can check out Elaphite Islands Boat Tour here. It’s a memorable way to spend the day.
If you decide to go on your own, Lopud is easily reached from Port of Dubrovnik. Jadrolinija has daily ferries to the island (one of which stops in Koločep along the way and continues on to Šipan), which takes 55 minutes.
Ferry tickets for the Elaphiti Islands are bought at the main office of Jadrolinija in Gruž harbor. Although there are usually seats left, in high season we recommend that you arrive at least 30-40 minutes before departure. You can check ferry timetable and prices here or here.
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