The Sleepy Silba

Many wonderful islands are still “hidden” from the masses of sailing guests enjoying the central Dalmatian archipelago all the way to Dubrovnik. And that is absolutely fine. It is not like these islands don’t get anyone, but that is far from the crowded shores of Hvar, busy bays of Brac or the lines in front of Blue Cave of Biševo.

One of such, less visited pearls is definitely Silba. Beautiful island paradise North West of Zadar and just a short sailing distance from the southern shores of Lošinj.

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(image from TZ Silba web site)

Silba is an island where one can only think of peace and tranquility when mentioned. There are no cars on the island and there are only 290 inhabitants year round. Summer is, of course, more lively but that is a very short period.

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The main pier and ferry harbor

History of the island and its only settlement is quite simple as it was always owned by some of the local noble families from Zadar or Losinj with “independence” bought only in the 1852. The rise of captains and ship owners from Silba started all the way in the 1600s but Napoleon burned down the entire fleet in the early 1800s. The second rise of Silba merchant marine was in the mid 1800s with an impressive fleet of 98 sailing ships. Orebić and Lošinj are more famous as their fleets were larger but the same fate got them all as they did not see the advantages of steamers…

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Silba harbor in the 1970s

Another terrible disaster was the arrival of Phylloxera and the death of all of Silba’s vineyards. The vineyards were never replanted which is a pity as Silba was home to one very special type of vine that would ripe earlier than any other grape variety on the coast: as early as July.

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Typical view of Silba from turn of the century

Today, Silba is best known as an oasis of peace. I had a rare chance to visit this May and enjoyed immensely walking the silent streets, enjoying the genuine tranquility and calmness. Almost a meditation.

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Silba is also known for its best known monument – toreta.

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It was built by a local captain Marinić who built it so his loved one can watch for his ship when returning. In those days, one would sail for years so the young lady could not wait and married another man. When he returned, he realized the sad truth but he also saw a young daughter of his former love and waited for her to grow up and merry her. They lived a happy life and had nine children!

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Before forestation

Silba is also a popular stop for fishermen fishing in this part of the Adriatic for many centuries now.

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With tourism getting to all islands and parts of the coastline, Silba seems to be escaping the faith of southern islands and enjoying the more relaxed atmosphere even in the peak season.

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But spring is the best time to visit. Very different from anything one can see south of Šibenik, Silba should stay a secret!

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Beaches of Vis Island – Sandy Smokova beach

Vis is generally known as one of the most beautiful islands of Croatia. Culture, history, food, beaches…all that makes Vis  Island a very special destination. There are several very popular beaches on the island (Srebrna, Stončica, Grandovac, Stiniva…to name just a few) but some are only accessible by a boat as the coast of Vis is quite rugged and wild.

One of my favorites is Smokova for sure.

Smokova beach
Entering Smokova bay

This is not a small bay. It can hold dozens of boats of all sizes and and it is a perfect refuge from jugo (southern) wind or maestral (north western). It is a popular destination for all boaters but it was not crowded despite the fact it was August 1st which is usually the busiest month of the season.

Smokova
Smokova
In the bay
In the bay

The beautiful bay ends with a small sandy beach that is just perfect for families! Well…maybe not everyone likes it.

Great for families and (most) children
Great for families and (most) children

The beach itself is maybe a 100 meters long and it is made of a very fine, nearly white sand. The beach is open to northern winds and it is not the cleanest as some people have a custom of throwing stuff overboard… The Vis island tourist board should find some funds to clean these beaches and maintain it that way through the season (and after). Lots of driftwood as well but I like that and some folks built a nice shade.

White sands
White sands

It is also worth mentioning that, because of the high hills that envelope the Smokova bay, sun is lost fairly soon so, by 7 PM, it was already dark on the beach.

At the beach
At the beach

A curiosity of Smokova is that one can still see part of a WW2 bomber wing at the sea bottom. About 100 meters from the beach. It is part of a wing of an aircraft that did not make it to the Vis airport and crashed here. The airport for allied airplanes was created in the central part of the island as US and British airplanes were attacking Nazi targets during the last stages of the WW2.

Part of the wing
Part of the wing

And then it was time to head back.

Heading back to Vis town
Heading back to Vis town

Stončica lighthouse looked pretty as ever.

Stončica lighthouse
Stončica lighthouse

In general, nearly all beaches of Vis are quite special and very hard to pint one out as the nicest. Smokova is excellent for families as that sandy part makes it easily accessible and great for children. Smokova is part of our motor boat trip around Vis Island as one of the most popular stops.

 

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Kornati – winter cruise

December is usually nice. But rarely nice as this year. Sunny, no wind, temperatures almost reaching 18 degrees… Perfect for enjoying beautiful outdoors! So, yesterday, we wanted to test our speed boat and see what is going on on Kornati. I haven’t been there in years and really wanted to experience them in the winter time instead of waiting for summer crowds.

Entering Proversa
Entering Proversa

As always, Kornati are just spectacularly beautiful!

Kornati - Winter cruise
Kornati – Approaching Proversa

It is a group of nearly 100  islands (89)  that continues just south of Telašćica bay of Dugi Otok island. The entire archipelago is breathtaking and attracts quite a few sailing boats each summer. Unfortunately, most of guests visit in peak season but they are great experience year round. Exploring islands, walking the hills, relaxing in secluded bays… Kornati are peaceful retreat unlike any other in Croatia! Kornati have been a National Park since 1980. and majority of the land and islands belongs to people of Murter who bought the islands from nobility of Zadar as it traditionally belonged to them over the centuries. Today, they are still privately owned and some folks still keep their proof of ownership dating back from those days.

Katina Island
Katina Island

We got to Kornati in 30 minutes from Biograd and stopped at Katina Island to see if anybody was there. Family Šešelja from Zaglav on Dugi Otok owns a famous restaurant “Mare” and we know them for a long time. No one was home but their fury cats basking in December sun.

Katina Island
Katina Island
Katina Island
Katina Island

 

Katina Island
Katina Island

Behind the house, a trophy was hung on the wall.

Sword fish
Sword fish

After a brief stop we continued further down Kornat and back to Dugi Otok to see Tanjurić reef (or Taljurić)

Tanjurić
Tanjurić

And we saw some guys fishing just bellow the cliffs of Dugi Otok.

Fishing in December
Fishing in December

 

…and then back through Mala Proversa passage to Ždrelac and home. Next time we will go further south and hike some hills but we had some obligations and had to return soon… At 25 knots (not full speed of 45 knots), we reach Kornati in less than half hour.

Katina
Katina

Ždrelac. Boats are waiting for new season resting for the holidays.

Ždrelac
Ždrelac

It is always pretty to see Tustica as one of the last, untouched oasis of our coastline not devastated by hideous apartment buildings. Someone was planning a golf course here with hotels and stuff. Golf course on a hill? Another way to build apartments. Why not over the hill? Plenty of land and easy to build? Not something I wanted to think about on such a glorious day!

Tustica
Tustica

Back to Biograd watching the cormorants enjoying the sun on Babac Island…

Babac Island
Babac Island

The weather has been so beautiful that I have been outdoors almost every day. There are so many things to see and enjoy and winter is definitely a superb time to visit. Not for swimming in the sea but for culture, great hikes, historic discoveries…

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