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Dubrovnik Elafiti Islands Travel Guide| Know it All

The Elafiti Islands or Elaphite Islands (or the Elaphites) is a small archipelago consisting of several Dubrovnik islands stretching northwest of Dubrovnik, in the Adriatic Sea. Out of all the islands, only three are inhabited: Koločep (also called Kalamota), Lopud, and Šipan.

These islands are a favorite day trip for visitors to Dubrovnik. Even though they’re just a short boat ride away, they offer a completely different atmosphere. You won’t find many vacation rentals here, and there’s only one hotel on both Lopud and Koločep Island. Most of the liveliness comes from day trippers from Dubrovnik, but otherwise, the islands are peaceful and quiet.

Both, locals, and tourists love the Elaphites for their relaxed vibe, especially during the shoulder seasons. Lopud also boast Šunj Beach, a sandy paradise perfect for young children. Additionally, there are plenty of outdoor activities and a good variety of restaurants to enjoy.

We indeed explored all three of the main Elafiti Islands: Šipan, Lopud, and Koločep. It’s hard to pick a favorite because each one has its own charm. All three islands are quite small, with just one or two villages. They share stunning natural beauty, gorgeous beaches (both sandy and pebbly), and a slow pace of life. Visitors come to Dubrovnik islands to unwind, swim or kayak in the clear blue waters, and enjoy the simple things.

Kološep Island, Elafiti islands
Elaphites: Koločep Island

How to get to Elafiti Islands

There are three main Dubrovnik islands to explore: Koločep, Lopud, and Šipan. You can easily reach them by ferry, which runs four times a day – except Saturdays and Sundays, when there are only two departures. However, the schedule can change depending on the season, so it’s always a good idea to check the ferry company’s website for the latest timetable before you go.

Another option is to book a tour of the Elaphite Islands with a private company. This is a great choice unless you plan to stay overnight on one of the Dubrovnik islands, as exploring all three in a day is easier with a tour.

How much time should you spend exploring the Elaphite Islands?

It really depends on what you want to do there.

If you have the time and just want to unwind and escape the crowds, consider staying overnight on one of the islands. This will give you a chance to truly relax and soak up the peaceful atmosphere.

On the other hand, if you’re short on time, the beauty of the Elaphite Islands is that they’re perfect for a day trip. The islands are quite small, so you can likely spend an hour or so on each one and still see the highlights. Lopud might be the exception, where you might want a little extra time to explore.

Choosing the best Elaphite Islands tour

So, you’ve decided to explore the Elaphite Islands with a tour! Now comes the fun part – picking the perfect one. There are many options to choose from, including private tours for a more intimate experience or larger group tours with around 60 people. However, the best choice depends on what you’re looking for in your Dubrovnik islands adventure.

Some tours even offer exciting extras like speeding around on a jet boat or exploring the underwater world with a snorkel.

Let’s explore some of the exciting Elaphite Islands tours you can book!

When is the best time to book your Elafiti Islands Tour

When thinking about booking a tour of the Elaphite Islands, keep in mind that these tours aren’t available year-round. They typically start operating in April, but weather plays a big role. If the weather isn’t ideal, your tour to Dubrovnik islands might get cancelled, and you’ll likely be rebooked for the next available day.

Here’s the key takeaway: be sure to book well in advance, especially during peak season, and be flexible with your itinerary in case of weather changes.

What to expect on your Elaphite Islands visit

Elafiti Islands – Visiting Koločep

Koločep or kalamota island, Dubrovnik Islands, Elafiti Islands
Koločep or Kalamota Island – Elaphites Dubrovnik Islands

Koločep, also known as Kalamota by the locals, is a small island closest to Dubrovnik in the Elafiti Islands group. This car-free island is a haven for relaxation and pristine beauty, just a 20-minute boat ride away from Dubrovnik.

In fact, Koločep Island draws travelers looking for a peaceful and remote getaway. Imagine a place where lush greenery and the scent of pine trees mingle with the fresh sea air, creating a truly idyllic atmosphere. This is Koločep, a car-free haven with only around 160 friendly residents. The island feels like a peaceful oasis, far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Explore hidden coves and rocky beaches with crystal-clear water, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Furthermore, colorful fish dart among the rocks, offering a glimpse of the underwater world. Feeling adventurous? Keep an eye out for caves along the coastline!

Dubrovnik islands, Elafiti islands, Elaphite Islands, Koločep
Koločep shoreline Elaphites
Things to do on Koločep:
  • Hike or walk the pleasant 3-kilometer trail that connects Koločep two villages, Donje Čelo and Gornje Čelo. Donje Čelo is in fact the larger village, with a few restaurants, bars, and the island’s only hotel, the Kalamota Resort (an all-inclusive couples-only property).
  • Rent a kayak or motorboat to explore the island’s coastline at your own pace.
  • Relax on the beach, soak up the sun, and enjoy the peacefulness of the island.
  • Finally, treat yourself to a delicious meal at Restaurant and Lounge Bar Villa Ruža, known for its wonderful seafront terrace – a popular spot even for visitors who aren’t staying on the island.

Insider Tip: Keep an eye out for fruit trees such as figs and olives – a tasty snack if you happen to be exploring a hidden trail!

Koločep Island cliffs
Koločep Cliffs – Elafiti Islands
Perfect for:
  • Travelers seeking a car-free getaway with a relaxed atmosphere
  • Couples on a romantic escape
  • Anyone looking to unwind in beautiful natural surroundings
Where to stay:

If you’re looking for an Elaphites escape that combines comfort and breathtaking beauty, look no further than Kalamota Beach House Hotel!

Located just a stone’s throw from the sea in Gornje Čelo, Kalamota Beach House was undoubtedly designed with relaxation in mind. Imagine waking up to the gentle sounds of waves and gazing out at panoramic views of the Mediterranean – all from your private terrace!

This Dubrovnik islands paradise offers all the comforts and amenities of a luxurious hotel. Nestled amidst olive and pine trees, Kalamota Beach House puts you just steps away from a sandy beach. Additionally, each spacious suite is designed to feel like a home away from home, complete with its own private kitchen and bathroom.

So, if you’re seeking an upscale escape surrounded by nature, Kalamota Beach House is the perfect choice!

Elafiti Islands – Visiting Lopud

Lopud Island, Elafiti Islands
Lopud Island – Elaphites

Lopud Island, shaped like a butterfly and the most popular island in the Elaphite Islands, is undoubtedly a nature lover’s paradise. Lush greenery covers the island, and the air is filled with the refreshing scent of citrus and cypress trees. Here, nature reigns supreme, offering a peaceful haven surrounded by crystal-clear waters.

The star attraction of Lopud is in fact the incredible Šunj Beach. While stretching for over a kilometer, this sandy beach boasts shallow waters, perfect for families and those seeking a relaxing swim. Imagine renting a beach chair and umbrella for a picture-perfect day soaking up the sun. In between dips in the cool water, cool off with a refreshing drink from a beach bar or try your hand at kayaking or snorkeling for an underwater adventure.

But Lopud offers more than just this showstopping beach. Additionally, if you’re looking for a secluded spot to unwind, hidden coves are scattered around the island, waiting to be discovered. Find your own little piece of paradise and truly escape the everyday hustle and bustle.

Lopud Island
Lopud Island – Elaphites Dubrovnik Islands
Things to do on Lopud:
  • Explore the island’s intriguing history – it was once a haven for sea captains! You’ll find remnants of its glorious past scattered around, like ancient forts and charming medieval churches.
  • Additionally, you can step back in time at the impressive 15th-century monastery. Here, you can admire the beautiful Gothic-Renaissance cloister and the Santa Maria Spilica church, filled with amazing Croatian and international art.
  • Take a relaxing stroll through the peaceful Đorđic-Mayner Park located near the monastery. Additionally, don’t miss the nearby museum for a deeper look into the island’s story.
  • Feeling adventurous? Hike to Lopud’s highest point and be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views from the Lopud fortress. Imagine the history that unfolded here as you take in the stunning scenery!
  • Discover the beautiful Church of Our Lady of Šunj, known for its paintings.
  • Similarly, you can delve deeper by visiting the early Romanesque church of San Elia or any of the other historic churches scattered across the island. Some offer evocative ruins, whispering tales of times gone by. Active monasteries in fact even hold religious services, offering a glimpse into the island’s spiritual heart.
  • Meanwhile, as the sun sets, grab a delicious drink at the “Belle Vue” beach bar on the island’s northwest side. Watch the sun dip below the horizon, painting the sky with vibrant colors. On clear days, you might even spot the neighboring island of Mljet in the distance!

Lopud island, Elafiti islands, Dubrovnik islands
Lopud Island landscape – Elaphites
Perfect for:
  • Beach lovers and families who want to relax on Šunj Beach.
  • History buffs who want to explore the island’s past.
  • Nature lovers seeking a car-free island escape.
  • Anyone looking to unwind and escape the crowds.
Where to stay:

Dreaming of a beach vacation on Dubrovnik islands where everything is within reach? Look no further than Lafodia Resort on the island! This resort offers everything you need for a relaxing and fun-filled getaway.

Imagine this: you can ditch the car and walk straight to the beach from your hotel room! Lafodia Resort in fact offers a gorgeous beach right next door, equipped with beach umbrellas and sun loungers. And the best part? All hotel guests have free access to the beach with guaranteed seating (just remember to reserve your spot in advance). Additionally, some suites even offer exclusive access to private gazebos on the beach, perfect for an extra touch of luxury.

After a day soaking up the sun, head to La Baja, the resort’s beach bar, for refreshing drinks and delicious snacks. Feeling energetic? The resort also features a well-equipped outdoor gym with modern TecnoGym equipment, allowing you to stay active during your vacation.

Lafodia Resort undoubtedly caters to water enthusiasts too! The surrounding area offers opportunities for various water sports, including kayaking, jet skiing, and stand-up paddleboarding.

Furthermore, Lafodia Resort offers a variety of accommodation options to suit your needs and preferences. Whether you’re looking for a cozy hotel room, a spacious suite, a luxurious villa, or a comfortable apartment.

So, if you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation in Lopud, Lafodia Resort in Lopud is the perfect choice!

Elafiti Islands – Visiting Šipan

Elafiti islands, Elaphites, Elaphiti islands, Dubrovnik islands, Šipan Island
Elaphites Šipan Island

Šipan, the biggest in the Elafiti Islands, offers a relaxing getaway with charming villages, stunning scenery, and a rich history. Covering in fact only 16 square kilometers, Šipan is perfect for exploring by foot, bike, or even a leisurely stroll.

Šipan’s history is fascinating! While the island was once home to just four families in the 15th century, it flourished during the Dubrovnik Republic era. Shipbuilding, wine and olive production, and fishing were the main industries. Today, Šipan has a smaller population of around 450 residents, but the island’s historical monuments and natural beauty are still remarkably preserved.

Šipan boasts specifically two main villages: Suđurađ, the smaller and quieter one, and Šipanska Luka, the larger village. Both villages sit at opposite ends of the island, connected by a convenient local bus that runs in sync with ferry schedules. Feeling energetic? The 5-kilometer distance between the villages makes for a pleasant and mostly flat walk.

Whichever village you choose, you’ll find friendly restaurants and bars, beautiful beaches, and even a hotel for a comfortable stay. These villages exude a small-town charm that will make you feel right at home.

In Šipanska Luka, you can discover a beautiful 16th-century fortress. This historic building was once the summer residence of a local sea merchant, offering a window into the island’s past.

And for a truly unique experience, head to BOWA restaurant, located in Vrbova Bay. Accessible only by boat, BOWA offers a secluded “Robinson Crusoe” getaway. Surrounded by crystal-clear waters, rocks, carob trees, and olive groves, BOWA lets you reconnect with nature while enjoying delicious food. Additionally, their menu changes daily, featuring the freshest catch and seasonal ingredients.

Bowa restaurant on Šipan Island
BOWA Restaurant on Šipan Island – Elaphites
Things to do on Šipan:
  • Hike to the village of Pakljena at the island’s peak and be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of Šipan, Dubrovnik’s mountain range, and neighboring islands such as Jakljan and Mljet.
  • Šipan is undoubtedly famous for its olive trees! Their exceptional quality, taste, and aroma leave tourists speechless. The island even holds a Guinness World Record for having the most olive trees relative to its size!
  • Take a relaxing bike ride through the vast fields in the island’s center. You’ll encounter very few cars as you enjoy the peaceful scenery connecting the two villages.
  • Furthermore, both villages offer excellent seafood restaurants featuring fresh catches perfectly complemented by Šipan’s renowned olive oil. There are also a few bars in each village, perfect for enjoying the local atmosphere and the relaxed pace of life.

Šipan harbor
Šipan Harbor – Elaphites Dubrovnik Islands
Perfect for:
  • Beach lovers and families who want to relax on beaches.
  • History buffs who want to explore the island’s past.
  • Nature lovers seeking a car-free island escape.
  • Anyone looking to unwind and escape the crowds.
  • Foodies
Where to stay:

Šipan also offers a variety of accommodation options to suit your needs. While there are a dozen apartments available for rent, Hotel Božica provides a luxurious 4-star experience in Suđurađ. This charming, modestly sized hotel offers an exceptional experience on so many levels.

Imagine a peaceful retreat run by a friendly family who truly care about your experience. Hotel Božica prioritizes both comfort and convenience, making it the perfect choice for a relaxing getaway. The hotel in fact boasts a fantastic location, offering stunning views that will leave you breathless. Additionally, with easy access to the crystal-clear sea, you can spend your days soaking up the sun and swimming in beautiful waters.

After a day of exploring the island or swimming in the sea, cool off by the hotel’s refreshing pool. In the mood for pampering? The hotel’s wellness corner offers a variety of treatments to help you unwind and rejuvenate.

When the hunger strikes, head to the hotel’s restaurant, known for its delicious meals. In the evenings, enjoy refreshing drinks and good company at the bar.

The hotel can also help you arrange excursions, allowing you to discover the hidden gems of Šipan Island and beyond.

Whether you’re traveling with family or looking for a romantic getaway, Hotel Božica caters to all types of travelers. The friendly atmosphere and range of amenities make it a perfect choice for everyone.

So, if you’re seeking a comfortable and relaxing stay on Šipan Island with stunning views and exceptional service, Hotel Božica is the ideal place for you!

Elafiti Islands: A practical guide for your trip

Here’s some helpful information to plan your visit to Elafiti islands.

  • Elaphite Islands are charming, but keep in mind their size. Outside the peak season (summer), there might be fewer shops and restaurants open. So, if you’re looking for a lively atmosphere, consider this when planning your trip. However, for those seeking a peaceful escape, even the shoulder seasons offer a tranquil experience. Rainy days might also limit your options for outdoor activities.

Getting there:

There are three ways to reach the Elafiti Islands:

  • Ferry: This is the most budget-friendly option for visiting Dubrovnik islands. Ferries depart daily from Dubrovnik and take you island hopping. The journey time varies depending on the island:
    • Koločep (30 minutes)
    • Lopud (50 minutes)
    • Šipan (1 hour 10 minutes)
  • Private Taxi Boat: If you prefer a more personalized experience, consider hiring a private taxi boat. This can be in fact a good option for larger groups or families.
  • Island Cruise: Many organized island cruises depart from Dubrovnik daily. These cruises often include stops at several islands, meals, and sometimes even guided tours.

Costs to Consider:

  • Ferry Tickets:
    • Adults: €4.91 one-way
    • Children (3-12 years old): €2.26 one-way

Packing Essentials:

No matter which island you visit, here are some essentials to pack:

  • Sun protection: Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses are undoubtedly a must for Croatia’s sunny weather.
  • Beach essentials: Pack your swimsuit and towel for refreshing dips in the crystal-clear waters.
  • Comfortable footwear: Opt for sandals or comfortable shoes for exploring the islands’ charming villages and walking paths.

Bonus Tip: While most restaurants accept credit cards, it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand for smaller purchases or unexpected situations.

Why you should visit the Elafiti Islands: A Croatian Paradise

Here are some reasons why you should consider adding the Elafiti Islands to your Dubrovnik islands itinerary:

A Foodie’s Paradise:

  • Get ready to tantalize your taste buds! The Elaphite Islands undoubtedly boast incredible food, with fresh seafood taking center stage. Many restaurants serve authentic dishes featuring the day’s catch, ensuring a truly delicious experience.

Wine and Olive Oil Delights:

  • Immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring the many quirky wine shops scattered across the Dubrovnik islands. Sample delicious local wines, a delightful addition to your Elafiti Island experience. Don’t forget to explore the islands’ renowned olive oil, a true taste of Croatia.

Timeless Beauty:

  • Step back in time as you wander through the Dubrovnik islands’ charming villages. Imagine vibrant, colorful buildings with a backdrop of crystal-clear turquoise waters. Several stunning churches and historic neighborhoods await you, inviting you to explore their unique character.

Nature’s Playground:

  • The Elafiti Islands are undoubtedly a haven for nature lovers. The crystal-clear waters surrounding the islands are simply breathtaking. While some spots might get busy during peak season, there’s always the chance to discover coves where you can relax and soak up the scenery in peace.

A Perfect Day Trip:

  • The Elaphite Islands are the perfect destination for a relaxing day trip from Dubrovnik. Easily accessible by ferry, you can spend the day exploring the islands’ beauty, indulging in delicious food, and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Elaphite Islands FAQ

Are the Elafiti Islands worth visiting?

Absolutely! The Elafiti Islands offer a charming escape on Dubrovnik Islands, Croatia. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or a foodie, these islands have something for everyone. Here’s a taste of what awaits you:

  • Relaxing Beaches and Crystal-Clear Waters: Find your own hidden cove or soak up the sun on a beautiful sandy beach.
  • Delicious Food: Savor fresh seafood dishes and explore local wines and olive oil.
  • Rich History and Culture: Explore historic villages, charming churches, and even a 16th-century fortress.
  • Peaceful Atmosphere: Escape the crowds and enjoy a slower pace of life.

What is there to do in the Elafiti Islands?

The Elafiti Islands offer a variety of activities, depending on your interests:

  • Explore Charming Villages: Wander through narrow streets lined with traditional stone houses and soak up the local atmosphere.
  • Relax on the Beach: Find your perfect spot on a sandy beach or discover a hidden cove for a secluded swim.
  • Go Hiking or Biking: Explore the islands’ natural beauty on scenic hiking trails or peaceful bike rides.
  • Take a Boat Tour: Discover hidden coves and enjoy stunning views from the water.
  • Visit a Local Winery or Olive Grove: Sample delicious local wines and olive oil, a true taste of Croatia.

How do I get to the Elaphite Islands?

Reaching the Elaphite Islands is easy! Here are your options:

  • Ferry: This is the most budget-friendly option. Ferries depart daily from Dubrovnik and take you island hopping. Travel time varies depending on the island you visit (Koločep: 30 minutes, Lopud: 50 minutes, Šipan: 1 hour 10 minutes).
  • Private Taxi Boat: For a more personalized experience, consider hiring a private taxi boat. This is a good option for larger groups or families.
  • Island Cruise: Many organized island cruises depart from Dubrovnik daily. These cruises often include stops at several islands, meals, and sometimes even guided tours.

Can you stay on the Elafiti Islands?

Yes! All three Dubrovnik islands (Koločep, Lopud, and Šipan) offer various accommodation options, from charming apartments and hotels to luxurious villas.

What are the 3 Elaphite Islands?

The Elafiti Islands archipelago consists of three main Dubrovnik islands:

  • Koločep: The smallest one and a car-free island, known for its peaceful atmosphere, hidden coves, and lush greenery.
  • Lopud: A car-free island famous for its stunning Šunj Beach, perfect for families and relaxation.
  • Šipan: The largest island, offering a mix of historical sites, beautiful beaches, nature trails, and a peaceful atmosphere.

Which island to visit in the Elafiti Islands?

The best island for you depends on your preferences, however no matter which one you choose, the Elaphite Islands promise an unforgettable Croatian experience!

Must-see Dubrovnik Attractions

Discover More of Dubrovnik

For further exploration of Dubrovnik, check out Dubrovnik comprehensive travel guide, filled with itineraries, activities, and all you need to plan your visit to this historic city.

Enjoy Your Visit!

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Greetings, fellow wanderers! I am the AdriaticExplorer, born and raised amidst the stunning landscapes and rich cultural tapestry of Croatia. Nestled between the majestic mountains and the azure Adriatic Sea, I have spent a lifetime immersing myself in the beauty and wonders that Croatia has to offer. Growing up in this enchanting land, I cultivated a deep connection with its diverse regions – from the historic streets of Dubrovnik to the picturesque landscapes of Istria and the sun-kissed shores of Dalmatia. My roots run deep, and my soul is intertwined with the very essence of Croatia. As the AdriaticExplorer, I have made it my mission to know every nook and cranny of this breathtaking country. From hidden gems tucked away in ancient cities to the serene beauty of the Adriatic coastline, my journeys have taken me far and wide, uncovering the secrets that make Croatia truly special. Whether it's the vibrant festivals that echo through the cobbled streets or the tranquil walks along pristine beaches, I am your guide to the heart and soul of Croatia. Join me on this virtual walkabout through the wonders of my homeland, and let's explore the beauty, history, and culture that define Croatia together. So, lace up your virtual hiking boots and embark on a journey with me, the AdriaticExplorer, as we discover the magic of WalkaboutCroatia – your gateway to the soul-stirring experiences that Croatia has to offer. Let the adventure begin! 🇭🇷✨

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