Fossils and Lost Lake of Pag Island

Needles to say, Pag is my everlasting fascination. I am still scratching the surface and always learning of new places, historic details, unusual spots… Only recently I took more time to research  Crnike beach. This particular beach is a site of great importance for its 20 milion years old layers from Miocene and it is a location where several fossils have been found.

How old is this? Let’s put it this way: the Dinaric alps and Velebit mountain did not exist at that time!


So, one October afternoon, we went for a drive. Pag is a miracle from crossing the bridge and especially driving along this quite poor road to Crnike. The location got its name after Crnika oak (Evergreen oak) which are abundant in the nearby protected crnika forest. This is a typical oak of the Mediterranean region of Croatia but very few true forests are left to this day.


Crnike is not the easiest beach to reach and it consists of several smaller beaches. The coastline is steep but there are several carved trails and steps. But every effort is rewarded by the spectacular shapes!


The beach was first explored in the 1900s as the Austrian (Croatia was a part of Austro -Hungarian empire at the time) paleontologists and scientists discovered layers of coal that they thought may be worth exploiting. The layers were not abundant but the scientists discovered  lots of various fossils of snails, seashells, plants, leaves… There is enough evidence to prove that this part of Pag was part of a large lake and that there was once a big forest at this very location. The very location that is now quite barren like the rest of the island. According to the scientists, this part of Croatia looked pretty much like Florida today with lots of lush vegetation and marshes.


The beach is quite pretty when there are no people. The rock formations and various layers are quite visible and, in many parts, spectacular.


From the nearby hills, numerous streams of fresh water flow to the sea and 23609802498_ec01e5402c_k

I was more interested in real life than past.


New researches are being conducted at this region and numerous evidences of past life are coming to the sunlight. The remains of ancient boar, elephants, rhinoceros, … are all present at this location and, in 2001, a Chinese paleontologist – as part of a research group – even found a tooth of a crocodile! There are also layers of volcanic ash proving that Adriatic was a region of volcanic activity.

In general, coal remains of ancient forest can still be seen but, the entire location is truly fascinating. A very different beach destination!



Secret Beach of Beritnica

Pag island never ceases to surprise me. Its stunning, moon-like landscape, its food, its secrets and mysteries dating back to the dawn of the civilization… The geology of Pag is quite unique and the island is full of unique spots. A while back, there was a talk about a mysterious UFO landing spot, too:

But, while that can only be one of the curiosities, the landscape of Pag offers much more! To me, Beretnica beach is one of the most special places not only on Pag Island but also on the entire coast. Best of all, it is off the beaten path of hordes flocking to see the “holy trinity” of Croatian destinations: Plitvice, Hvar, Dubrovnik.

Pag Island is also a popular destination with best known party beach (Zrče) in the region and generations of loyal visitors from countries like Slovenia, Czech and Slovak republics… Still, many parts of the island are remain untouched.

Historic Pag Town

Metajna is the closest village to Beritnica beach. It is easy to reach following the main road to Novalja and then following the signs for another 12 kilometers. Metajna is a typical village with most buildings these days just housing apartments for their short tourist season. But this part of the island is simply stunning!

Metajna in the distance

There are several lovely beaches surrounding Metajna most famous being pebbly Ručice beach which can be easily accessed by a narrow road. There is a spacious parking next to the beach.

Following the road to Ručice
Ručice beach in October sun

The parking near Ručice is the perfect spot to start the easy hike to Beritnica. The trail is not really marked but it is still easy to follow and one cannot really get lost. Just follow the path starting from the parking and up a small hill overlooking the Ručice beach. From there, it gets quite interesting with landscape getting crazier and crazier  – no matter what direction you look at!

The valley near the beach
Rock formations along the path to Beritnica

This is actually one of the marked climbing directions on the island. It is called Stogaj and it is easy to spot thanks to a very unique “tower”.




Probably the biggest surprise was the fast that there is so much water here. No one would guess just by seeing the barren landscape that there are several streams flowing all the way to the sea.


And once one gets deep in the canyon, it gets prettier.


The canyon is a special place with all sorts of formations and shapes. There is a large colony of wild pigeons in the canon living in the holes and resting on the rocks.


And then the view opens…



This part of the trail is not as easy as the first part and some effort is required. That is why most people come here by a boat during summer months.




The beach is pebbly and great for families with children. The main “attraction” of this beach are three giant rocks that separated from the hill very long time ago.





And the texture of the rocks looks almost artificial!


Beritnica is a true wonder and everything about it is unique, unexpected. The trail is an easy hike of some 20 minutes filled with surprises and there is much more of the coast ahead. Looks quite interesting for a boat trip although I think sea kayak is the best way to explore this coast .


And there are all sorts of fossils in these rocks. On a beach opposite Beretnica, an ancient crocodile tooth has been found and Crnike beach is also known for finds of carbonated ancient wood from Miocene period (23 mil – 5 mil years ago). The fossils of a lake snail Valvata indicate that this was part of a lake in the distant past. Even the remains of Sequoia trees have been confirmed to have been growing around this ancient lake (read more here – in Croatian)


Full of mysteries and unique places, a trip to Pag is always a marvelous discovery.


On birds and history of Pag

The forecast for last weekend was almost summer like and it was no time to stay at home. I had some places  to see on Pag Island for business so we decided to go there for a day trip. Our friends joined us and the first stop was the interesting and picturesque fortica tower on the very tip of Pag island: just across from Pag bridge.

Fortica - Pag island
Fortica – Pag island

I wrote about it a while back: This time we visited as my friend, who is an architect, is in charge of the current restoration works. He gave us a brief overview of what is being done but also of some curiosities they encountered. The fortress will not be restored in full, of course, but it will be quite  presentable once done. We took some aerial shots and then it was time to move on.

To Veliko Blato ornithological reserve.

Some basic details: where to buy a ticket
Some basic details: where to buy a ticket

Not sure why buying a ticket for something like this but I do expect a service when I pay for something. Not a guide or ranger in sight, cafe, parking… So we just took a walk on our own.

Velebit in the distance
Velebit in the distance

And it is a great place to test my new telephoto lens: Canons 70-200 mm f4 IS USM – all the goodies for taking some great photos of wildlife! We did not get  there in the best time for bird-watching. And it was fairly hot in the sun. But, the place was still quite alive from the moment we got there.

Egret in flight
Egret in flight

We also got to see a very rare black winged stilt (vlastelica in Croatian). There are only 50 pairs nesting in Croatia so it is important no to disturb.

Black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
Grey heron (Ardea cinerea) – Siva čaplja

We also saw a lovely flock of Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) or Mala prutka in Croatian. This is quite common bird in our marshes.

Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)

Overall, a pleasant surprise and quite impressive number of birds. I am planning a separate trip one early morning to get the most of it. It was time to continue and we decided to visit tiny Povljana nearby.

On the road to Povljana. Typical motives of Pag island
On the road to Povljana. Typical motives of Pag island

Povljana is tiny. Actually, it was before the 90s when it got completely overrun by apartment buildings. I skip that part of the visit as it is usually either making me sad or completely angry. Or both. Croatians don’t need enemies. We will ruin our coast better than anyone. What better evidence for that then this:


Are there words to describe what kind of a loser you have to be to build something like this??? What kind of a special idiot you have to be to actually give permit for something like this to be built??  What about the “architect” who planned these atrocities? Is he/she f*** blind??? I will stop here as these low lives don’t deserve any other words…

There is also a church of St Nikola right on the beach. It was built from 9-11th century and later restored in the 15th century. The church is built on the earlier Roman villa rustica.

Sv Nikola - Povljana
Sv Nikola – Povljana

There is a beautiful sandy beach in front of the church!

Sandy beach of Povljana
Sandy beach of Povljana

Then it was time to continue to Pag town – the best example how TO build a town.
Medieval Pag was erected near the salt plantations where the abandoned Old Town used to be. According to historical documents, the name Pag was mentioned for the first time in the 10th century. In 1443 the new town was built according to new principles of town-planning. The plans were developed in Venice which ruled the region at the time. The longitudinal and the transversal streets, intersect at a right angle. Something Croatians have not been able to replicate even in 2015…

Street of Pag
Street of Pag

On the main square, Church of the Assumption of Mary is located. It is quite impressive and it is still the heart and soul of this quite lovely town.

Church of the Assumption of Mary
Church of the Assumption of Mary

Pag town is known for the great tradition of lace making and that has been implemented in the very rosette on the main church.

The lace of Pag
The lace of Pag

The whole town is filled with nice historic details and especially impressive was Skrivanat Tower. The only existing of nine towers that defended the town back in the day. It was built in the 15th century and has been preserved in its original form.

Skrivanat Tower
Skrivanat Tower

Pag town offers quite a few interesting details:

—and few strange travelers 🙂

Holding tight!
Holding tight!

Pag is a great little town! Very charming. Lots to offer to a traveler looking for culture and history but also surrounded by very memorable landscapes fro those interested in outdoors activities. The island is famous for its cheese, salt and lamb but we decided to move back to the mainland to have something special for lunch. In our next post…

Croatia Travel