What to do on Elaphite Islands

Explore the Deer Islands

The finest Dubrovnik archipelago called Elaphite or Elaphiti islands is a group of 13 islands and islets on the western side of Dubrovnik. Some say their name is derived from Greek word “elaphos”, meaning the Deer Islands, because of the deer which used to inhabit them. Others claim it is because they are shaped in the form of the deer. Either way, there are lots of reasons to visit them.

Koločep (or Kalamota, as locals like to call it) is the closest island to Dubrovnik. Along with Lopud and Šipan, those are the only three inhabited islands,  probably because they are the biggest ones, and therefore offer their visitors a lot of things to do and to see.

Sandy Beaches & Hidden Caves

Koločep offers its visitor fine sandy beaches, restaurants offering tasty sea food, small cafe bars on the boardwalk, and leisurely walks on the paths that criss-cross the island through its pine forests. Beside pristine nature, there are also a number of interesting buildings on the island, such as old churches. Some of them date back even to the 9th century. Exploring the coves and sandy bays on the outer side of the island will delight keen swimmers, and you can also enjoy your day moored on the boat in the shade of the pine trees. Visit to the Blue cave is not to be missed, as it is a unique and fascinating experience. The azure color of the Adriatic Sea makes it look like an enchanted spot, impossible to forget once visited. It can only be reached by boat or swimming, so a certain level of exclusivity and intimacy is guaranteed.

Car Free & Carefree Island

At the time of Dubrovnik Republic, Lopud was a popular location amongst the patrician families to build a summer manors. And by looking at the cypress and pine parks and citrus gardens you will soon realize why. Even today, this car-free island is a highly desirable place for a summer residence. Arriving in the port, the center of the island, you will spot the Franciscan monastery from 1483 with a cloister and a defense tower with walls. There is also the church of Our Lady of Šunj, a cultural monument with many valuable paintings. East of the port you will see the ruins of Fort Spanjola dating from 1653, where fragments of pottery of the Illyrian people were found. The Šunj beach, located on the outer side of the island, is one of a kind on the Adriatic. Backed by lush green hills, the whole bay has knee-deep sea, reaching as far as 100 meters (300 feet) of the beach. Of course, there are restaurants and bars offering food and refreshments.

Island in the Guinness Book of Records

The island of Šipan is the largest of the Elaphiti islands. It abounds with quiet bays, beaches, green cypress groves, lemon, olive and orange trees, numerous old buildings, small churches and summer residences. It has been listed in the Guinness Book of Records due to the number of olive trees and inhabitants considering its total surface area. There are two main villages, Suđurađ at the east and Šipanska Luka on the west side. There are just a few cars on the island, so renting a bike and exploring it is a good choice.

If you take the road between Suđurađ and Šipanska Luka, you will pass by the late-Gothic Rector’s Palace and ruins of archbishop’s palaces. The 16th-century castle of the wealthy Stijepović-Skočibuha family is settled in Suđurađ, a small and quiet village. Next to the castle, there is a tall tower built in 1577 as a defense against pirates.

The fortified Church of the Holy Spirit dating from 1577 and the parish church which contains several 15th-century paintings are settled in Šipanska Luka, an active fishing village. Šipan may be a small island, but it has a few excellent restaurants, which just must visit and try the fresh fish caught by local fishermen.

Should you decide to visit and explore these small, but beautiful Adriatic gems at your own pace, avoiding regular boat lines which are usually too crowded during the summer days, a great option is to book our private Elaphiti Islands tour. We will take you to see all those noted places, some of which can only be visited by boat.