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Sailing off the Elafiti islands

Sailing off the Elafiti islands

The 13 islands that make up the Elafiti archipelago - Elafiti comes from the Greek word ‘elafos’ or deer - are perfect for a summer afternoon of sailing. Whether you choose to travel on a historically reconstructed galleon complete with costumed crew and snacks, or jump on one of the party boats during the Summer Festival, spending the day with the warm breeze in your hair and the sparkling sea below must be one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Only three of the islands are inhabited - Šipan, Lopud, Koločep - and their beautiful shorelines are rich in maritime and natural variety. The ten remaining islets - Crkvina, Daksa, Golec, Jakljan, Cosmic, Misnjak, Olipa, Sveti Andrija, Ruda and Tajan. The islands are filled with pine forests, cliffs, caves, reefs and beaches. Even the populated islands have less than 200 inhabitants each, preserving their beauty. Residents live in stone houses surrounded by tall palm trees, parks, gardens and flowers. A great trip for those with a boat license would be to moor not far off one of the idyllic beaches, swim ashore and explore the land by foot perhaps stopping for a spot of snorkeling in the clear blue water. Give the sailing specialists Korkyra a call to help with everything boat, transfer and car related; this experienced travel and rental agency offer visitors anything from a small motor launch to fully equipped luxury yachts.The gentle currents of the Adriatic ensure that most areas are safe to swim in, but if you are sailing or swimming, ensure that you or your hosts take a map and are aware of upcoming bad weather. Ships and boats alike sail daily from Dubrovnik’s busy port; further information and up to date timetables can be found at Aegean Sails and Dubrovnik Daily Sailing.

Lopud’s lush Mediterranean and subtropical vegetation, beautiful gardens, parks and beaches are a wonder to behold. Lopud is one of the most developed islands for touristic pleasure in the South Dalmatian Region. Many sea captains have lived here and trained men to be sailors for the old Republic. Still standing on Lopud are the ruins of medieval churches; a Franciscan Monastery from 1483 complete with its intact cloisters, defensive towers and frescoed walls. The Church of Our Lady of Sunjaiz from the 15th century is a famed cultural monument and holds paintings and works of art by Palma the Elder, Mateja Juncic and many others. Finally on the South side of the bay is a beautiful sandy beach called Sunj, one of the cleanest on the Adriatic. A perfect way to unwind after the boat trip from the harbour at Dubrovnik.

Koločep is a verdant isle covered with gorgeous old woods of pine and carob, quiet olive groves and peaceful gardens with orange and lemon trees; beautiful beaches and a natural park ensure the island is one of the most popular excursion destinations from Dubrovnik harbour. Many remnants of architecture have been carefully preserved and dotted throughout the island lies an old pre-Romantic chapel, ruins of a once grand basilica, ancient summer homes and a guard tower, crumbly with age but oh so picturesque. In the Chapel of St. Anthony of Padua hangs the polyptych of Ivan Ugrinovic from the 15th century, one of the best known works from the historical Dubrovnik school of painters. There is also a spectacular ‘blue cave’ similar to those found in the Bay of Naples, perfect for swimming. Two villages, Donje Celo and Gornje Celo, one on the Eastern side of the island and the other on the West coast, are haphazardly connected by windy roads through olive groves and gardens, surely a paradise on earth in the golden summer, surrounded by the deep blue sea.