Dugi Otok is for sure one of the most beautiful islands in Croatia and although it is not directly in front of the mainland of Croatia, a day trip to this paradise is worthwhile. Read the blog and learn how to make the most out of a day on Dugi Otok and discover as many beauties as possible.
As is well known, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I'm pretty sure that most will agree that the Croatian island of Dugi Otok is one of the most beautiful islands in Croatia which stands out with its nature. If you decide to pay a visit to the island of Dugi Otok, as you are spending your vacation in the Zadar region, then this blog is for you.
I would like to take you on Dugi Otok to show you what a single day on the island can look like and what you can see and do, since the island offers so much nature, adventure and relaxation that you don't even know where to start. Therefore, here is my little help to what to see and do when it comes to this excursion destination that you can arbitrarily combine to see everything that makes your holidaymaker's heart beat faster.
General Information about the Island of Dugi Otok
Dugi Otok means “long island” and the island got its name because of its geographical shape. Dugi Otok is around 43 km long and only a few kilometers wide. A long road connects the small towns from north to south. Geographically, Dugi Otok is located off the coast of Zadar as the last island of the Zadar archipelago and forms the gateway to the open sea. The approximately 1600 inhabitants live in the 11 villages of Sali, Bozava, Brbinj, Dragove, Luka, Savar, Soline, Veli Rat, Verunic, Zaglav and Zman, with Sali being the largest and, therefore, the center of the municipality.
Arrival & Departure: by Ferry to Dugi Otok
The island of Dugi Otok can be easily reached by ferry from Zadar. You have the option of taking a passenger ferry to Bozava or Brbinj, although I would recommend arriving by car as you are more flexible and can explore the whole island. The car ferry leaves from the port of Gazenica in Zadar and goes to Brbinj on Dugi Otok. The ferry ride alone is a dream, as you drive between all the islands of the Zadar archipelago and see the mighty Velebit Mountains in the background.
After 1h 40 minutes you will arrive in Brbinj. I recommend that you buy your departure tickets for the ferry in advance, especially in the summer months, and be at the port in on time, since the ferry only sails a few times a day and the rush is high at certain times of the day. Tickets are also available online and the exact price can be found on the Jadrolinija website. Upon your departure, the ferry leaves from Brbinj and brings you, possibly accompanied by a sunset, back to the port of Zadar.
Incredible Beaches & Coves on Dugi Otok
Fortunately, Dugi Otok is still spared from mass tourism, so the beaches are not overcrowded and you can enjoy the tranquility and nature of the island. Dugi Otok is waiting for you with small, hidden bays that, with a little luck, you can have all to yourself, such as the Brbinjscica bay not far from Brbinj. There you will find crystal clear water, hear the sound of the open sea, enjoy the untouched island nature and be lulled by the characteristic sound of the crickets. Such bays are spread all over the island and if you visit Dugi Otok by boat, nothing stands in the way of a beach tour.
Dreamlike Beach Sakarun
The most famous beach of Dugi Otok is Sakarun beach in the north of the island. It is a quiet bay that casts a spell over all visitors with its turquoise sea water. White soft sand awaits you in the sea and the beach itself is covered with white stones broken up by the sand. Due to the shallow water, Sakarun Beach is perfect for families with children, but also for sailors looking to drop their anchor and enjoy the crystal clear sea. There is also a cozy café on the beach in the shade of the surrounding trees. Sakarun Beach is easy to get to by car and is signposted. There is a paid parking lot in the immediate vicinity of the beach.
Blue Paradise on Veli Zal Beach
We now come to my personal favorite beach on the island of Dugi Otok and that is the Veli Zal beach between the villages of Brbinj and Dragove. The exit is well signposted and the narrow road to the beach, which opens onto the open sea, presents you with an incredible view of the island's coast. There is a paid parking lot in front of the beach and after you have parked your car, you pass a beach bar and reach the beach, which is covered with white stones. White Caribbean sand awaits you in the sea and the sea glows in various shades of blue. The beach is still a hidden gem and not overcrowded, so you can really relax here and enjoy the Adriatic Sea from its most beautiful side.
Voyage of Discovery: Caves & Grottoes on Dugi Otok
Dugi Otok is an island shaped by stones, rocks and cliffs, so there are some caves and grottos to discover. These are spread all over the island and some can be explored on your own. For example, there are several former submarine bunkers in Dragove and Bozava. Some natural caves are either on the land and can be reached on foot, while others can be reached only from the water. Here, I will present you with the two most beautiful and interesting ones, in my humble opinion.
Spellbinding Golubinka Cave on Dugi Otok
This cave is a real natural treasure of Dugi Otok. It can only be reached from the sea and is located north of the aforementioned Brbinjscica bay, where you can park your car. The cave opens to the open sea and you can either get into the cave by kayak or just swim. You can start your kayak from the Brbinjscica bay and row into the cave, as these barely fit through the narrow entrance of the Golubinka cave.
Should you decide to swim, you can jump off a low cliff into the sea at a convenient spot. Please note that this is not suitable for beginners and children as the sea is deep and the current is strong. Also, climbing out of the cave can be a challenge if the waves are too high. A true natural spectacle awaits you in the cave with the sun shining through a hole and thus making the water sparkle in dreamlike colors. There are some bats in the cave, but they are not a threat and the experience from the entrance of the cave to the end is simply indescribable.
The legendary Strasna Pec Cave
The Strasna Pec Cave is located near the village of Savar, in the direction of the Telascica Nature Park, at an altitude of 70 m. The entrance is marked by a natural vault of 10x7 m. Then it goes deeper and steeper into the interior of the cave, which is reminiscent of the Gothic architectural style with stalactites. In the second part of the cave it becomes mystical, since the daylight barely penetrates this part of the cave and, therefore, creates a very special atmosphere. The cave has a charming legend behind it. Fairies once wanted to separate the island into two parts at its narrowest point near the cave. They dug, but daylight got ahead of them preventing them from finishing it which resulted in the creation of the cave.
Nature at its Upmost Beauty on Dugi Otok
Due to the small number of tourists and inhabitants, nature still has the upper hand on the island of Dugi Otok, as there are no large hotels or hotel complexes on the island. If you drive across the island, you will be amazed by a new view around every single corner and since the island is relatively narrow, the sea will be on your left one moment and on your right the next. One side of the coast is characterized by many small islands and quiet bays, while the other side extends to the open sea with the horizon of Croatia seeming endless.
Pompous Cliffs in the Telascica Natural Park
In the south of the island, not far from the town of Sali, there is the Telascica Nature Park, which should definitely be on your list. Entry to the nature park costs 40 kn and some of it can be explored by car. From the main road you drive directly into the park and then you can first drive to the viewpoint Grpascak and enjoy the view of the open sea of Croatia and the cliffs of Dugi Otok. Continue to the parking lot and after a 2 km walk you will come to Uvala Mir bay.
There you can cool off, since swimming is allowed in the entire nature park. Directly in the bay there is a café where you can strengthen yourself and after a 5-minute-walk you will come to the salt lake of the nature park, where you can also swim. The temperature of the lake can reach up to 30 ° C in summer making it more of a whirlpool. There is a small path near the aforementioned café that will take you to the well-known cliffs of Telascica. From there you will have an incredible view of the cliffs and the deep blue sea of Croatia. I recommend visiting the Telacsica Nature Park in the morning to avoid the midday heat and not encounter the numerous excursion boats that moor there.
Magical Sunsets on Dugi Otok
It is well known that in Zadar you can enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets on the modern installation Greeting to the Sun, but the sunset on the island of Dugi Otok can easily keep up. The perfect place to enjoy it is the Veli Rat lighthouse in the north of the island. There you have enough space on the benches and rocks to watch the dance of the sunbeams and the falling night and also to bathe during the sunset, because the small beach next to the lighthouse is just fantastic. If you are lucky and ask very kindly, you can also climb the lighthouse and enjoy the view of the northern tip of Dugi Otok.
Food & Drinks on the Island of Dugi Otok
As you can already guess, the gastronomic offer of Dugi Otok is not too big and there are a few other things you should consider in this regard. For a day trip, but also for a longer stay, it is advisable to take some food with you, because there are only a few grocery stores on the island, whose offer is limited and which are usually only open for a few hours in the morning and in the evening. In addition, the prices are higher than on the mainland of Croatia. You won't find the same number of cafés and restaurants as is common in Croatia, so here are a few tips:
Gastronomic offer in Sali
Sali is the largest village on the island of Dugi Otok so there is a slightly larger gastronomic offer, a small shop and a bakery right at the port. There is also the Konoba Trapula restaurant with typical Dalmatian and Mediterranean cuisine and the view of the picturesque port of Sali makes dinner a special experience. You can then have a little night fun in the Bar Maritimo. This bar has an almost endless range of soft drinks and is also located directly at the port of Sali.
Gastronomic offer in Bozava
In the village of Bozava you can also fortify yourself directly at the small marina, because the Propela bistro is located there. There you can try delicious fresh burgers or seafood and the prices and quality of the food speak for themselves. In addition, the ambience in Bozava is fantastic, as there are not many tourists which offers you the chance to experience the authentic lifestyle of the islanders. Nearby are the restaurants Veli Kamik Gostionica and Boxavia, which will also amaze you with their Mediterranean cuisine.
The Perfect Accommodation for a Longer Stay: Villa Lapis on Dugi Otok
Perhaps after all these tips you suddenly feel the itch for a longer stay. In this case, you wil need suitable accommodation. After numerous eventful excursions and experiences on Dugi Otok, a luxurious holiday home with a pool may be the right thing for you. In Veli Rat in the north of the island there is the dreamlike Villa Lapis for 8 people. It is located directly on the beach and offers you an incredible sea view of the bay of Veli Rat. The villa was perfectly adapted to the Mediterranean ambience and offers all possible amenities. Furthermore, the villa is pet-friendly.
We are now at the end of our blog with suggestions for what you can and should do on the island of Dugi Otok. I assure you that a visit is really worthwhile and that the island will cast its spell on you. From the suggested destinations you can organize your perfect day on Dugi Otok the way you like it best. I hope that you too will rave about this island after your trip.
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You have further questions? The Adriatic Luxury Villas team is always at your disposal, so do not hesitate to contact us.
Thank you for reading & have fun on Dugi Otok! 😊