Cruising Around the Elafiti Islands

Entrance to a semi-hidden botanical garden on Lopud island
Entrance to a semi-hidden botanical garden on Lopud island

Since we had seen most of Old Town Dubrovnik yesterday, we opted to explore the islands around Dubrovnik with a tour of the Elafiti islands.  These were a series of small islands, some inhabited and some not, that were scattered off the coast of Dubrovnik.  It was fairly easy selecting and booking a tour from the main tourism office outside of Pile Gate, although I’d advise arriving early since most tours take off first thing in the morning.  Ours departed from the main harbor inside Old Town at 10:45am, after picking up other tourists from outside Old Town, although it was certainly a challenge figuring out which boat was ours, and almost missed it on its way out.  Our first stop of the 3 inhabited islands was a small island of Kolocep – I believe the smallest of the Elafiti islands with only 150 inhabitants.  With 45 minutes to explore, we went inland first up a few hills, stopped at a little roadside stand outside someone’s house that sold homemade olive oils (it tasted absolutely amazing) and fortified brandies, so we picked up a few flavors to take home as gifts.  Since Kolocep was so small, the town’s landmarks also reflected this, with a hospital the size of a small house and what seemed like the world’s smallest church and cemetery.

Hospital on Kolocep - nicer than most houses, I wouldn't mind getting sick here!
Hospital on Kolocep – nicer than most houses, I wouldn’t mind getting sick here!
After a short but somewhat steep climb inland on Kolocep, we were treated to some spectacular views
After a short but somewhat steep climb inland on Kolocep, we were treated to some spectacular views
An island of 150 only needs a cemetery this big...
An island of 150 only needs a cemetery this big…
...although I'm not sure how one could squeeze more than 2 people inside this church
…although I’m not sure how one could squeeze more than 2 people inside this church
We walked by this charming little homemade olive oil and brandy stand on Kolocep island
We walked by this charming little homemade olive oil and brandy stand on Kolocep island
The water off the coast of these islands was unbelievably clear and warm.  Ahhhhhh.
The water off the coast of these islands was unbelievably clear and warm. Ahhhhhh.

Another half hour on the water, and then we alighted at Sipan, the second and largest island.  Sipan didn’t exactly have the same small town charm as Kolocep, as there really wasn’t too much to see aside from people’s homes, but it was interesting to get a glimpse of everyday life on the island, with lime trees, pomegranate trees, grapevines, and some beautiful gardens.  Lunch was served on the boat after, and was surprisingly delicious, with freshly caught and grilled mackeral, some homemade bread, and wine.  Doug freaks out at fish heads and since most fish is served whole in Croatia, he opted for the curry chicken which was quite good as well.

Freshly grilled mackeral served on board our boat
Freshly grilled mackeral served on board our boat
Our captain took the leftover bits of fish and fed his seagull friends by mouth.  Kinda cool and kinda gross.
Our captain took the leftover bits of fish and fed his seagull friends by mouth. Kinda cool and kinda gross.
And boy were there a lot of them!
And boy were there a lot of them!

We arrived at the last island, Lopud, in the late afternoon.  Known for its beaches, Lopud was the island where we had the most time to wander and chill out.  We wandered along the waterfront for a bit, stopping at a few shops and a hidden botanical garden with wild turkeys.  To get to the beach, we actually had to wander inland and get to the opposite side of the island, which was a 25 minute walk filled with hills through beautiful gardens of tomatoes, grapes, limes, figs, and more.  We took a little time to just relax on the beach which immediately led to a complete zonk-out, although thankfully we woke up just in the nick of time to walk back, pick up a beer, and board our boat.

A hidden paradise inside Lopud island
A hidden paradise inside Lopud island
Lime trees
Lime trees
Olive trees
Olive trees
The most perfect looking tomatoes...so tempted to pick one but didn't want to get kicked off the island
The most perfect looking tomatoes…so tempted to pick one but didn’t want to get kicked off the island
The secluded beach at Lopud during the few minutes we stayed awake
The secluded beach at Lopud during the few minutes we stayed awake

Upon returning to Dubrovnik, it was still a bit early for dinner even though the sun had already set, so we stopped by Buza Bar as mentally noted yesterday.  Even though the sun had set and the cliff jumpers were long gone, we were able to enjoy being 2 of the only 4 people there, enjoying a drink while watching the sea at moonlight, which was very relaxing.  By this time, our hunger had set in, so we headed back into town and found an outdoor seat at Oliva Gourmet for dinner.  Dinner was far better tonight, starting with bruschetta and a Dalmatian smoked ham dish (similar to smoked prosciutto, not as good as prosciutto).  For our entrees, Doug ordered a traditional Dalmatian macaroni dish, with long macaroni noodles and a beefy broth, while I had a delicious spaghetti with lemon sauce and pine nuts.  Even though we may have had a pre-dinner snack of gelato, we still satiated our sweet tooth with a panna cotta served with forest fruits before heading back to our hotel for the night.

Spaghetti in lemon sauce with pine nuts @ Oliva Gourmet
Spaghetti in lemon sauce with pine nuts @ Oliva Gourmet
Traditional Dalmatian macaroni and beef dish @ Oliva Gourmet
Dalmatian macaroni and beef dish @ Oliva Gourmet
Panna cotta with forest fruits.  No idea what forest fruits are, but they sure were tasty!
Panna cotta with forest fruits. No idea what forest fruits are, but they sure were tasty!

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