Three days on Croatian island Dugi Otok

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After much search and planning, we had decided to spend 3 days of our motorcycle trip across South Eastern Europe in Croatia’s Dugi Otok (Croatian for ‘Long Island’) island this past summer. We desperately needed a few days of complete relaxation and Dugi Otok was our rest stop amidst the long motorcycle trip.

View from Telascica nature park in Dugi Otok

Dugi Otok is a large island located on the southwestern part of Croatia, some 2 hours ferry ride from a Croatian coastal city called Zadar. We were fully aware how touristy the Croatian coast can get during summer, so we carefully selected a lesser known island for our summer holiday. It wasn’t easy: Croatian islands and beaches on the mainland are all stunning, but we finally settled for Dugi Otok (thanks Google maps! 😉 ) as we wanted to stay somewhere close to Croatia-Slovenia border for making it easier when doing the very long return trip to Lodz, Poland.

Sali, Dugi Otok

We arrived in Zadar after spending a nice summer afternoon in the extremely pretty, red-roofed city of Dubrovnik, some 5 hours away (on motorbikes!) from Zadar. It was a nice journey and I very much enjoyed the inland views of Croatia from the motorbike. By the time we arrived in Zadar, we were eager to board the ship. It was about an hour wait at the terminal until our ship arrived. We loaded the motorbikes into the ship and took seats on upper sundeck. It was quite chilly by that point (8 in the evening or so..) but the colors on the wide sky above the sea after sunset were beautiful.

On our way to Dugi Otok island from Zadar

Our rented apartment was about 25 kms from the ferry port. I felt like we were the only ones on the deserted roads traveling on the island on that night. It was almost surreal but special; riding on the roads with sea on both sides (the island is long and narrow) and  not another soul in sight. After we reached the small village of Zman where we’d be staying, we went out for food. There must have been just 3 restaurants in the whole village, but we did find some pizza and beers. There were tourists however, as I noticed some Italian and Austrian number plates, among few other European ones.

Sakarun beach

We hadn’t had a proper beach day until we arrived on the island during the trip. We had some swimming chances during the trip, such as in Kravice waterfalls in Bosnia&Herzegovina (but the water was coooollld), in Kotor, Montenegro and near Dubrovnik. But they were just for a short while. So we were all really looking forward to lounging on the pristine beach of Sakarun the whole day. It is considered among the best beaches not just on the island but the whole region, and as soon as we arrived there, we could tell why.The clear sea has amazing shades and the green surroundings make it even more impressive . I will let the picture do the talking:IMG_20160817_160233.jpg
We spent the whole day on its shallow waters, sunbathing, snorkeling (a bit), playing ball games on the water, taking photos and videos and the most important of all: relaxing. The sun had come out later at around 11 that day, so we were in Sakarun after noon. It is a popular beach which is connected by tour buses from other parts of the island, although we went on motorbikes. I would recommend to not give this superb beach a miss if you’re somewhere in the area. After a fabulous time at the beach well into the evening, we did a short tour of the surroundings on motorbikes and enjoyed the extremely beautiful island scenery when returning to Zman. IMG_20160817_193914_HDR.jpg

Telascica Nature Park

Telascica is a stunning nature park full of wildlife and sea creatures located on the southeastern part of the island. The village we were staying at was just a few kilometers from the nature park. A quick google search convinced all of us of the beauty and variety of the park, so we started our second day at the park. The motorbike ride to the entrance of the park meant passing the lovely island scenery again. I would never get tired of it. Rugged landscapes, high cliffs overlooking the sea,  spectacular views of gleaming Adriatic sea , empty narrow roads: just magical.

Cliffs seen from the nature park

We started the hike in the park after paying for tickets and getting a map. It seemed like a big park with mesmerizing scenery and cool attractions. We crossed them off one by one as we followed the map and had a lot of fun doing so, despite the heat.

One of them was the salt lake called Mir, which was very warm and full of sea creatures. We enjoyed swimming there and getting free foot massage from the tiny shrimps on the shore!

Saltwater lake Mir

The park spans to an area of 70 sq. km so we had quite a hike that day! It was evident that the bays in the park were famous with many boaters for anchorage.IMG_20160818_120042.jpgSome of the highlights of the nature park were a donkey sanctuary, saltwater lake Mir, impressive cliffs overlooking the blue sea and beautiful coves with calm water. We had a great time there admiring the views, jumping from some of the cliffs into the water, snorkeling, hiking on wild paths and relaxing on its bays. It was an adventure-filled, great day.

One of the little bays in the nature park


We also did some exploring while we were on Dugi Otok. We went to see the capital of the island, Sali, which was buzzing with tourists and locals on the warm summer evening. We rode on the island’s windy roads and enjoyed spectacular views. We idly roamed around the village we were staying at, Zman.

In Zman

We enjoyed good food and the salty air everyday. On the last day, we checked google maps and found what looked like a little beach not very far from Zman. We followed the map which led us to empty wild dirt road finally leading to the little beach. The hike itself was lovely too and I stopped to take about 5000 pictures of the views as usual 😉IMG_20160819_133556.jpg

The small beach was pebbly but we had it just for ourselves! There was a small ship anchored nearby and people were jumping off to the blue water. We snorkeled, swam and spent many hours there.

We lounged on the rocks near the tree

We had good, slow-paced 3 days full of fun in Dugi Otok island. The island was so pretty and we got exactly what we expected from the holiday.

25 thoughts on “Three days on Croatian island Dugi Otok

    1. The small sanctuary in the nature park is for abandoned donkeys. Donkeys used to be a very important part of Dalmatian culture, but are not so useful anymore. So the sanctuary was made for few donkeys that remain. We only saw a few inside a fenced area, but I’ve read that you can see them roam around freely in the area, including the beaches! 🙂

    1. You should really travel to Croatia if you get the opportunity! 🙂 Yes, the beach was so pretty and the views were amazing. But there were many sea urchins so we had to be careful when stepping into the water! 🙂 What I liked about Croatian beaches was how they’re surrounded by greenery.

    1. Oh yes, Amanda. I could spend weeks there. Most of the beaches were rocky, we had to use water shoes while going for a swim. But rocky beaches means good snorkeling opportunities so I didn’t mind! We missed out on quite a few things like mountaineering, visiting caves, biking etc which are renowned in the area. Maybe one day if I return 🙂

  1. Sakarun beach looks so stunning! We also found a beach by walking along a dirt path for about half an hour in a Croatian island. It was on one of the Pakleni islands but it was lovely to reach such a quiet, peaceful beach at the end. Gorgeous sunset you saw en route to Dugi Otok!

  2. Fantastic place for family vacation. I truly enjoyed reading this post. I am planning a trip this Christmas. This place also be a great option for me & my family. But how would be if I take my kid along with us? Just confused, as she is so small & unaware about the Croatian island whether in December. Please guide me. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Sagar.
      I am afraid that December might not be a good time to visit an island, unless you don’t care about water activities. It is quite cold at that time of the year, with Google showing me the average day temperature as 11 degrees. The water was cold-ish when we were there in August, so I think if you’re thinking of having a beach holiday then you should try late spring, summer or September. The island is easily accessible by a ferry ride (about 2 hours) from Croatian city of Zadar. It is recommended that you rent a car because the public transportation on the island is not very frequent, and since it is not very small, places can be quite far apart. I saw many kids there, especially on Sakarun beach. I am sure there are some other sandy beaches on the island too. However, there are many rocky beaches, cliffs, the nature park I wrote about – which might not be suitable for toddlers. We found the prices to be quite high on Croatian seaside, but the country is still cheaper than Western Europe. It is all relative to where you live/earn. Croatia offers many beach/island options and some really pretty cities/villages, so even if you won’t go to this island, there are plenty to choose from! Some more easily accessible, some more kids-friendly. I know many people who have vacationed in Croatia with little kids – not particularly this island but in other parts of the country. Good luck with planning and deciding!

    1. They are, aren’t they Tanja! The clarity of sea is spectacular in southern Europe. It’s actually the Adriatic sea. I can’t wait to return to Croatia! The only downside was that it was much more expensive than we thought.. much more than Greece and Spain. I think it’s the sudden popularity of it that has made the prices soar..

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