Island excursion to Sipan
Šipan is possibly the quietest and most unspoiled island in the Elaphite archipelago, with its secret and beautiful beaches, fragrant winds (the island is famous for its herbs) magnificent sunsets and ancient ruins. Fishermen still drag their boats from the sea at dawn, selling the catch from their picturesque boats on the beach. One feels as though Gabriel Garcia Marqueuz may have had Šipan in mind when he wrote, ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’, another mythical island filled with legends, strange winds and zephyrs, a long history and timeless beauty. ‘The island of eagles’ as it is known, stems from the Latin word ‘gypana’ and in the 16th and 17th centuries, many members of the Dubrovnik aristocracy built their summer homes here. Vineyards abound, mixing in with the vast expanse of cool pine trees and figs, lemons, olives, almonds and tomatoes grow in abundance. Only 17 km from Dubrovnik and perhaps an hour and a half by boat, an excursion here is not to be missed. Follow the link here for up to date ferry times. Be aware that ferries may run less regularly in the winter time and there are strict last ferry times.
The 11th century church of St Peter stands proud over the island but this is not the only relic of a building that you can see. The former summer homes of Dubrovnik’s bishops are perfect for an impromptu picnic among the ruins in the style of a Victorian traveller. The island is still sparsely populated, perhaps some 150 folk still live and work here; expect the island to be busier during the summer months - July to September - but there’s still plenty of room to become lost in its beauty without ever meeting a soul deep in the countryside. Sketchers and bird watchers would also find plenty to see as the island is known for its pretty tropical birds and unsurprisingly, is a walkers’ paradise, with almost every path following the sea.
The island has two main villages which are also the island’s ports, Sudurad towards the East and Šipanska Luka in the West. Both are still working fishing villages and its possible to see a taste of the real Croatia here, traditional and self-sufficient. The waters of the Adriatic provide some wonderful fish here and it’s worthwhile staying overnight and experiencing the catch yourself. Another idea if you are staying the night would be to hire a bike and ride across the island yourself. If you choose to stopover in paradise, book the modern and elegant Hotel Šipan, situated at the head of a picturesque bay with lovely views of the sea from most rooms. Once an olive oil factory, the hotel also has a pretty terrace restaurant offering healthy Mediterranean cuisine and the adjacent sunset lounge Bar Ka offers an extensive list of Croatian wines by the glass and bottle.
Of all the Elaphite Islands, Šipan is by far the most idyllic and redolent of beauty and mystery. It’s no wonder that since Roman times, Šipan has been the ideal place to relax and unwind in the most wonderful of surroundings.