Saturday, 12 September 2020

The Jewels of Hvar Town: A Guide to the Paklinski, Pakleni Islands

September 12, 2020 - Have you ever visited Paradise? Take a tour with a closer look at the Pakleni Islands which lie invitingly in front of Hvar Town. 

The debates start with the name. Is it Paklinski or can you call them the Pakleni Islands? 

Do they translate as Hellish Islands (in which case, I wonder what real Hell looks like...) or do they take their name from the archaic word 'paklina', which means 'tar' and refers to the pine resin which was used to coat ships?

And the biggest debate of them all - which is the best of the Pakleni Islands? 

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As if Hvar Town did not have enough of its own - a stunning Venetian town, the oldest public theatre in Europe, the birthplace of organised tourism in Europe, the imposing Spanish Fortress, and a whole host of treasures in its alleys and main square, Croatia's most famous island town is also blessed with 16 magical islands located in front of its impressive elite waterfront, waiting for visitors to discover. The Pakleni Islands are a natural extension of the town itself and an essential part of any Hvar visit. Several are easily accessible to regular and affordable water taxis. But while some of the 16 Pakleni Islands are bigger than others, they more or less look the same. Are they? Absolutely not!

Here's a closer look at one of the most idyllic parts of the Adriatic Sea - which island will be your first choice on your next visit?

Sveti Klement (Palmizana)

The combined area of the 16 islands is 7.16 km2, most of which (5.27 km2) is located on the biggest island of them all, Sveti Klement. Also known as Veli Otok (Big Island) and Palmizana by some, Sveti Klement is the most popular destination, with plenty of diverse - and unusual - attractions on offer. 

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It was here in a southern bay called Vinogradisce (but more commonly referred to as Palmizana) where tourism began back in 1906, when local landowner Eugen Meneghello opened his villa to tourists. More than 100 years later, the Meneghello name has become synonymous with high-quality Hvar tourism, a relaxed shelter from the paparazzi for many A-list celebrities, as well as one of the most interesting places to visit on the Adriatic. Today, Dagmar Meneghello continues the tourism tradition started by her grandfather-in-law, and she has dedicated more than half a century of life to build one of the Adriatic's most inspiring places. In addition to her Meneghellos restaurant and luxury accommodation, and nearby Toto's run by her son Djenko, the Meneghello complex is a place of high culture, which its own art gallery, rich cultural programme, even an arboretum. A natural paradise where turtles and peacocks room. 

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Vinogradisce is a spectacular bay and the best place to head to for restaurant choice. From fashionable Zori's in the centre - one of Hvar's top wedding locations - to more rustic fare among the impressive olive trees at Bacchus, to Laganini - cocktail bar turned top fish restaurant under the innovative culinary creations of Hrvoje Zirojevic. So good in fact, that U2's Bono shared his appreciation of a 10-course extravaganza on the official U2 page before returning the following year. 

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Tourism actually began on Sveti Klement almost 2,000 years before, as one can discover on a visit to Vlaka (Vloka, say the locals) on the island's northern shore, also accessible by regular water taxi in season. For here, in this tiny hamlet with the only full-time Pakleni resident, one can find the remains of a Roman villa rustica, as well as a bay which still has some of the healing mud which made it so attractive. It is also home to Dioniz,a slow-food rustic experience which many locals will tell you is the best in the area. Wine lover? Meet the lowest vineyard in Croatia, just 1m above sea level, which was until recently the grape source for the popular Andro Tomic Sveti Klement white wine. 

Sveti Klement is also a haven for sailors, being home to the main ACI marina for Hvar (there is another in Vrboska). The marina is the connecting point for the water taxis to the restaurants on the southern side, a very pleasant 200 metre walk through the pine trees until you are presented with your choice of paths to each of the five restaurants. 

Marinkovac (Stipanska)

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(Photo credit Romulic & Stojcic)

The second biggest island also suffers from something of an identity crisis, with perhaps the majority of its visitors not even knowing the island's name. That is because the island of Marinkovac is better known for some of the Adriatic's most high-profile nightlife, which takes place in the bay of Stipanska, home of Carpe Diem Beach. Carpe Diem, which has been one of the main brands of Hvar since its arrival 20 years ago, operates a bar on the Hvar riva, as well as a popular beach club by day and one of the Adriatic's hottest nightspots after dark. 

And yet... Head to the other side of the island by water taxi to idyllic bays such as Zdrilca and Mlini, and experience a tranquillity and slow-paced Dalmatian lifestyle and excellent local cuisine in top restaurants such as Tri Grede and Patak. 

Jerolim

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Much smaller, as well as one of the closest by water taxi, is the island of Jerolim, a naturist and chill paradise. Such a paradise, in fact, that it was named by CNN as the world's number one naturist beach back in 2011. The island is not just for naturists, however, but for those who just want to chill. It also has a reputation for being gay-friendly. One of the most relaxing spots on the Pakleni Islands is at Mare's Place, on the other side of the island. From the water taxi, head to the left of the restaurant there and walk through the woods for less than 100 metres - the thinnest point of the island. Here is magical Kordovon Bay, sometime photoshoot location for the likes of Vogue Magazine, but always overseen by wonderful hostess Mare. One of my personal favourite spots in Dalmatia. 

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Galesnik

The closest island to Hvar Town is Galesnik, a divine spot which also has a most romantic story about donkeys. As with all but  one of the Pakleni Islands, Galesnik is uninhabited by humans, but until a few years ago, it had rather a famous resident - a donkey named Mercedes. Although I never actually met Mercedes, she starred on the cover of my book, Lavender, Dormice and a Donkey Named Mercedes - An Expat Decade on Hvar. For years, Mercedes was the only permanent resident of Galesnik, and she was partial to the odd rakija from the local restaurant. But life was very solitary until one day about 6 years ago, an Englishman decided to answer his girlfriend's concern that donkeys are not meant to live alone by buying a male donkey companion and transporting it to Galesnik for a new life with Mercedes. All was well for a short while, but the new company seemed to wear out poor Mercedes, and she is sadly no more. 

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Donkeys aside, Galesnik has an excellent eco-ethno restaurant in the low-level stone building facing the town - one of the very best views, especially when combined with the excellent food. The building has previously been used as an arsenal and quarantine station, and its latest use is definitely an upgrade. To book the restaurant and arrange transport to Galesnik, ask at the Port Authority on the riva close to where the catamaran comes in. 

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Pokonii Dol

While most tourists head to the Pakleni Islands for their beach time, there is an exception - the easternmost island of them all, Pokonji Dol. One of the most photographed things on Hvar due to its picturesque lighthouse in the middle of the small islet, the island lies in front of one of Hvar Town's most popular beach spots, a bay of the same name. The lighthouse, built in 1872, has played an important role in guiding shipping through the islands since its construction, but it was powerless to stop a luxury yacht which ran aground a couple of metres from the beach a few years ago. Take a look

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(Photo credit Romulic & Stojcic)

There are 16 islands in all, and we have covered the five most important ones above. It would not be correct to reveal all the secrets, as then there would be nothing to discover. The Pakleni Islands are a sailing and kayaking paradise if the water-taxi or speedboat transfer option is not for you. Nice little tours such as the half-day sailing and kayaking sunset tours.

Some people call them the Hellish Islands. I can't think of many better versions of Paradise.  

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(Photo credit Romulic & Stojcic)

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Sunday, 2 June 2019

Pakleni Islands Explained: Art, Beach, FKK, Food and Party

June 2, 2019 - They may all look the same, but the Pakleni Islands in front of Hvar Town have an astonishing variety for tourists - taking a closer look.

Hvar Town is one of the most beautiful towns in all Europe, and yet one of its main attractions involves leaving this architectural gem by boat. 

Located in front of Hvar's idyllic harbour lie a collection of pine-covered islands, whose peace and tranquility have been attracting visitors since Roman times and a growing number of tourists since the first tourist business opened there back in 1906. 

And while they may look very similar when viewed from Hvar's vantage points such as the Spanish Fortress, the Pakleni Islands offer as diverse an experience as Hvar itself. 

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(Photo by Romulic and Stojcic)

In season, the daily water taxis ply their trade between several of the islands, but which one is right for you?

Often mistranslated as Hell Islands (if the Pakleni Islands are a vision of hell, then I wonder what heaven looks like), the islands' collective name is thought to derive from the Croatian word for the resin of the ubiquitous pine trees, which dominate the nature on the islands. Tourism has played its part in the development of the islands, several of which have developed in very different ways. 

The tourism story dates back to 1906 when the local Meneghello family opened the first tourism facility in the bay of Vinogradisce on the largest of the Pakleni Islands, Sveti Klement. Often referred to as Palmizana and sporting an ACI marina of the same name, this continues to be the most popular destination for day-trippers. 

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Tourism at Palmizana is well-developed these days, but Dagmar Meneghello, who has given more than 50 years of her life to developing the island of her late husband, gave a fascinating interview of life on Palmizana over the last half-century. You can read the TCN interview here.

Today Palmizana is known for its luxury cuisine, and a destination where many A-list celebrities visit to avoid the cameras. Others, who are not so camera-shy, have not only visited but returned, and Bono was a particular fan of the cooking of chef Hrvoje Zirojevic on at least two occasions. 

Palmizana is also a very popular wedding destination, and its five waterfront restaurants have something for everyone. The Meneghellos have also developed tourism in different ways, and at Palmizana, you will find an arboretum, art gallery, roaming peacocks and a rich cultural performance of concerts throughout the summer. 

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As this is the most popular destination on the Pakleni Islands, there are regular taxi boats from the Hvar waterfront, which cost around 70 kuna return, and the ride takes about 15-20 minutes. The water taxi drops you off at the ACI marina on the northern side of the island, from where there is a lovely walk through the forest for about 200 metres to the south. Here you are confronted with signs and paths to the different restaurants - Meneghello, Toto's, Zori, Bacchus and Laganini

Sveti Klement also offers a totally different experience, also available by water taxi from Hvar Town - Vlaka.

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Located on the northern shore some distance past the marina, Vlaka is one of the region's most fascinating destinations. Here you can find the remains of a Roman Villa Rustica, evidence of the island's popularity throughout the ages, as well as the remains of a Roman mud bath - locals still come here to bath in the mud and swear by its natural healing powers. There is also the lowest vineyard in Croatia, just one metre above sea level, which until recent times produced the grapes for Andro Tomic's popular Sveti Klement white wine. And many locals will tell you that the best and most authentic restaurant experience on Hvar can be had in Vlaka - Dionis. 

Great food is a constant theme on the Pakleni Islands, and for an altogether different experience, check out Galesnik, the closest island to the town. The low one-story stone building you see from Hvar also functions these days as a great eco-ethno restaurant (you can book by the harbour master on the Hvar riva).

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The island was also one the home of a donkey called Mercedes, who had a liking of rakija and was in fact the only full-time resident of Galesnik. A British visitor took pity on the lonely Mercedes and arranged for a male companion to be winched onto a boat and transferred to Galesnik to keep her company. 

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After some happy times together, the couple were moved to the Pelegrin forest north of Hvar Town, where food and space were more abundant. Mercedes went missing one day and her male admirer died of a broken heart. Although we never met, Mercedes lives on, providing the inspiration and cover photo for my last book, Lavender, Dormice and a Donkey Named Mercedes.

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The Pakleni Islands are also a great destination for FKK naturists. The island for you is Jerolim, which back in 2011 was named by CNN as the top naturist beach in the world. While many get as far as the restaurant opposite Hvar Town, take the path to the left and walk about 100 metres through the woods to the other side and discover what for me is the best place on the Pakleni Islands - Mare's Place. Perfect chillin'.

And if it is nightlife you are looking for... 

Marinkovic is another very popular island, but one whose name you will rarely see. For it is mostly referred to by three of its bays, all of which are accessible by those all-important water taxis. Locals swear by both Mlini and Zdrilca, both of which have great beaches and food, but undoubtedly the biggest draw - both day and night - is in the bay of Stipanska, home to Carpe Diem Beach. By day, a very popular beach club, by night, the biggest party on the nearby islands. 

While these are the main islands connected by water taxi, there are several others which you are free to explore independently. One of the best ways to do this is by sea kayak, a sport which is growing in popularity each year. Local adrenaline experts such as Hvar Sea Kayak rave a range of great tours to explore the hidden coves close up, and the sunset tour of the Pakleni Islands is magical. 

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Sea kayaking is just one way to explore. Sailing tours, including half-day trips to get a taste of what the islands offer, is also popular, and scuba divers will head to another of the islands, Vodnjak, which is home to some of the region's most popular dive sites. 

A fabulous collection of islands, and once enjoyed by day, the delights of Hvar Town await in the evening - the perfect combination!

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Looking for the best beaches on the Pakleni Islands? Your TCN guide.

 

 

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Top 5 Hvar: Best Beaches on the Pakleni Islands

March 25, 2018 - TCN continues looking at the best beaches in Croatia. This time here is Top 5 Hvar, the best beaches on the Pakleni Islands.

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© Romulic & Stojcic

Today we're exploring the beaches of the Pakleni Islands, a place many of you who have visited Hvar know well. The Pakleni Islands are located just off the southeast coast of Hvar island, and if you’ve ever stood on Hvar’s famous Riva promenade or climbed to the top of the fortress in Hvar Town, then you’ve undoubtedly made eyes with this chain of isles. 

Though popularly translated to “Hell’s Islands”, the Pakleni Islands actually get their name from the word ‘paklina’, referring to the pine resin once used for shipbuilding. The largest island in the Pakleni group is Sveti Klement, while Marinkovac (famous for Stipanska Bay) and Jerolim see the footprints of Hvar tourists steadily throughout the peak season.

At approximately 10 kilometers in length, the Pakleni Islands are a jewel of Dalmatia that attracts many sailors, sun-seekers, swimmers, nudists, and nature lovers throughout the busy summer. While they are anything but undiscovered today, Pakleni does boast some of the best swimming spots in the region - and with the scorching days quickly approaching, we’re confident you’ll be adding these sunny sanctuaries to your Hvar to-do list. 

Without further ado, here’s a look at the best beaches to visit on your Hvar Town holiday. 

Vlaka 

We’ll start with a beach on Sveti Klement I have frequented for years and easily consider my favorite in the area - Vlaka. Located on Sveti Klement’s northern shore, Vlaka is the go-to for those looking to escape the busy crowds and blistering heat of Hvar town to instead relax in the quiet of a glistening bay. Home to vineyards, the remains of a Roman spa, and magical mud used by locals to heal their skin, Vlaka boasts very few amenities. In fact, the nearest restaurant, Dionis, is a good hike up the hill - but surrounded by olive trees, citrus, lavender, the smells of freshly caught fish on the grill, and a limited menu including only what the family-run establishment could find that day makes the trip well worth the effort. Their aubergine pie, local wine, and zucchini fritters have tourists returning to this rustic restaurant on each visit back to the island - and this, I promise, is something I can confirm. If you’re hoping to see Vlaka with a bit more life, an excellent time to visit is on the last Sunday in July where the inhabitants of the island celebrate their patron saint, Sv. Klement. Flagging down a taxi boat from Hvar's Riva makes Vlaka accessible in no time, and remember, it's smart to prepare your beach mats, snacks, drinking water, and anything else you might need for a day at the beach - you won't find anything to buy on these rocky shores.

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© Visit Hvar

Perna 

Located in the bay next to Palmižana, beachgoers looking to steer clear of the typically rocky and pebbled beaches will find their safe haven at Perna, one of the only sandy beaches the Pakleni Islands' offer. Perna is a sandy-bottomed beach which welcomes those looking to break away from the loud music, beach bars, in-your-face-advertising and busy crowds - and yes, this is another beach where visitors should prepare their beach-day essentials, from snacks and water to mats and activities for the kids. Perna beach brings in tourists by taxi boat and even kayakers row their way to this bay for a visit. Perna bay is also one of the most interesting in the Pakleni chain as it has been home to tourism since 1906. To give you an idea, this is five years before the first hotel opened in Jelsa. 

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© Romulic & Stojcic

Ždrilca

While the island of Marinkovac in the Pakleni chain is most famous for Stipanska, one of my favorite bays here is Ždrilca. Located on the opposite side of Marinkovac island, Ždrilca is easily connected from Hvar Town by water taxi and accessible in minutes (and a round-trip ride here will cost you just 40 kuna). A good place to visit if you’re looking for a beach day with all the bells and whistles, Ždrilca not only offers wonderful dining options (Tre Grede being exceptionally good), but it also supplies all of the amenities including lounge chair rentals, umbrellas, bean bags, massages, and even mats covering the pebbled-beach for easy access to the water. A shallow beach that is inviting for both young children and grandparents, the more adventurous swimmers at Ždrilca can hop over the hill for a clothesless dip on the rocky coastline opposite the main part of the beach.

Though the video below shows Ždrilca and konoba Tre Grede in 1991, you'll be pleased to know that it doesn't look so different today. 

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© Romulic & Stojcic

 

Stipanska 

A beach most of you may know well is Stipanska, also located on the island of Marinkovac. Home to Carpe Diem beach, Stipanska is not only a paradise for those looking to enjoy a top-class beach club by day, but at night, Carpe Diem beach hosts a full moon party which sees Hvar nightlife at its peak. If you’re not looking to party at this beach until the early morning hours, Carpe Diem is a stunning island oasis for 20-somethings where all of the amenities can be found for the perfect beach day, from lounge chair rentals, cabanas, and umbrellas to chill music, a swanky restaurant, and hip cocktail bar. Perhaps best of all, for those looking to strip their swimsuits, Carpe Diem also claims to be nudist friendly. Carpe Diem beach at Stipanska is one of the closest beaches to Hvar town, and easily accessible by water taxi during the day and night. 

Jerolim

Last but not least, we bring you CNN’s top FKK beach in the world in 2011, Kordovon on Jerolim island. Though most people know Jerolim for ‘Amo Beach’, precisely where the taxi boat arrives, if you walk just 40 meters through the woods, quirky artwork, and nap hammocks, you’ll find a utopia that not only brings out the best in nude beach culture, but is one of the most relaxing ways to spend your day. Though lounge chairs and umbrellas are available for rent (and at one of the more reasonable prices in the area), Kordovon doesn’t offer much else for beachgoers. Mare’s Place, however, does offer cold drinks and some light snacks, and if beachgoers need to escape the scorching sun, they can chill under the pines and admire the driftwood-crafted art made by local artists. Jerolim's Kordovon beach is the perfect pebbled paradise and is located less than 10 minutes away from Hvar Town. 

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Learn more about Hvar on our TC page.

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Saturday, 20 January 2018

Hvar, the Croatian Island Which Has It All: 4 - Pakleni Islands

Continuing our daily focus on European Best Destination 2018 nominee, the island of Hvar on January 20, 2018, today we look at one of its most popular attractions - the fabulous Pakleni Islands. 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

How to Coordinate a Miniature Family Reunion at the Bay of Ždrilca

From California and New York to Croatia, my big, fat Croatian-American family gathers for a mini family reunion at the bay of Ždrilca. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Incredible Video Footage of Sailing the Croatian Coastline

These drone-captured images by Air Vuz and Jus Medic showcase the beauty of the Croatian coastline. Total Croatia News will be live next month, bringing you up-to-date news and insider information on pleasure sailing and competitive sailing in Croatia.

 

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