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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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: https://secretcroatia.blog/2010/12/23/the-pag-triangle-mystery/pagtriangle001

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.

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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!

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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.

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Following the road to Ručice
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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!

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The valley near the beach
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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”.

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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.

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

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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.

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And then the view opens…

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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.

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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.

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And the texture of the rocks looks almost artificial!

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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 .

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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)

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

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One evening in Unije

Unije is another one of the islands of Northern Adriatic that I have never been to before. Right after visiting Susak, we continued further and decided to stay overnight in Unije. It is a very pretty island with a lovely bay and a small island right in the bay. Unfortunately, the bay is open to western winds but well protected from most of others.

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Unije from the air (Photo by skokpadobranom.com)

Unije is one of the few small islands that has an actual landing strip for small airplanes (since 1996). It is located in the middle of Unije field, one of a very unique features of the island as it is quite rare to find such a flat ground by the sea. Basically 10% of the island is fertile which is very rare among all the islands of the Mediterranean.

We arrived late in the afternoon. Very few boats were at the pier and only two anchoring.

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In the bay
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Unije village

Unije is a tiny village. It has only 88 inhabitants according to the latest census (2011). The island has seen many better days and it was inhabited since the old Stone Age and, according to some reports, it had over 20 000 olive trees during the Roman times! Now, only a few locals are working in the fields…

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Unije is also known for numerous bays on the eastern side and great white cliffs just a bit norther of the village.

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And there is a lovely lighthouse just before entering the bay.

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Vnetak lighthouse (1873.)

This lighthouse is famous for big flocks of sardines (and other similar fish) grouping in the waters before the lighthouse. This is also attracting big tuna fish and, a local story goes, a while back one big tuna dragged a fisherman far away and he was never to be seen again.

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While there, I decided to take a walk through the village and take some photos. Just for keeping the records and memory how it was…

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Very wrong doors…

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Inside of the village is very quiet. I have not seen anyone. The silence was beautiful and sad at the same time.

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Sv. Andrija (St Andrew) – late 18th century

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It was time to have dinner and the offer was quite limited as there were only two restaurants open (out of three). The menu in the one closer to the pier was also limited but octopus salad is always a treat. The night was falling on the island and the sunset was beautiful!

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We were getting ready to go to rest while a flock of mallards was swimming around the boat.

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And a group of young Italians enjoying a glass of wine watching the Adriatic sunset in the distance.

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That’s a proper way to enjoy life!

Unije. A very special place at the very edge of Croatian Adriatic…

 

To learn more – and definitely worth it! – UNIJE is a wonderful site dedicated to this beautiful island: http://otok-unije.com/ Pity it is only in Croatian but offers a wealth of great stories and details about Unije.