Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Pakleni Islands in Croatia: Emerald Jewels off Hvar Town

An island named Facebook, naturist resort, ACI marina, scuba diving, hip beach club, hidden beaches galore and some fine dining: the Pakleni Islands.
The Pakleni Islands in Croatia: Emerald Jewels off Hvar Town - Tomislav Tomic (
A cocktail at sunset on the waterfront in Hvar Town, overlooking the tiny Pakleni islands is one of the most beautiful sights in Croatia. The Pakleni, a collection of small emeralds, consisting of pine forests and hidden coves, in an azure Adriatic sea, are worthy of further investigation and are home to a number of gems.
Galesnik: From Quarantine Station to Artillery Fort
Largely uninhabited, the islands are a paradise of nature and offer plenty of opportunity to escape from the crowds in the height of summer, with regular boats making the short journey across from the town. The oldest building is on the nearest island, Galisnik, built originally as a quarantine station by the Franciscans, whose monastery is close by on the mainland. The Venetians built a jetty before the Austrians built an artillery fort.
Sveti Klement and the village of Palmizana
Known also as Veli Otok (Big Island), St. Clement is the largest and most popular island to visit, with many tourists heading to the idyllic beach at Palmizana. Palmizana has been a popular weekend retreat since a local professor built a house and inn there in the early 20th Century, and the excellent food, sandy coves and natural setting in pine trees with heather and rosemary in the air, make this a must-visit. An ACI marina on the island offers excellent mooring facilities for sailors.
Carpe Diem Beach Club at Stipanska
For one of the coolest places on the Adriatic, hop into a water taxi for the short ride to the Carpe Diem Beach Club at Stipanska. The cocktail bar of the same name in Hvar Town is the island's most famous watering hole, and the beach club is one of the best places to relax for the day. Set in 2,500m2 of pine forest, facilities include restaurant, several bars, spa, pool and beach volleyball court. Open from late May to the end of September.
Naturist Beaches on Jerolim
There is a long history of naturism in Croatia, dating back to the Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson bathing au naturel on Rab in the 1930s, and Hvar has several options for naturists, including the small island of Jerolim, which was exclusively given over to naturist bathing in the 1960s, the first island to do so in Croatia.
The Lighthouse at Pokojni Dol
One of the most photographed islands in Croatia is the tiny lighthouse island of Pokojni Dol, on the road from Milna to Hvar. The island, which only has a coast of 470 metres, comprises of the solitary lighthouse in isolation. Built in 1872 and perched on the peak of the island (11m), the lighthouse plays an important role, given its location as the first of the islands from the east.
Vodnjak: An Island Named Facebook
A great way to investigate the hidden nooks and crannies of the islands is by sea kayak, with various tours offered by local specialist Hvar Adventure, while there is also excellent scuba diving to investigate, including the furthest island - Vodnjak - which made the news recently after Hvar's mayor offered to rename it 'Facebook' as part of an invitation to Mark Zuckerberg to visit the island.
The islands, named after a type of resin (paklina) used to coat the bases of ships, offer a relaxing, accessible and diverse day away from the main island of Hvar, where tourists should still be able to find plenty of things to do on Croatia's premier island.

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