The golden island
Wandering around the world in pursuit of a sanctuary on a well indented rocky shore surrounded by a crystal clear sea, Beauty stopped and remained forever on the Elafiti Islands. This picturesque string of islands in the vicinity of Dubrovnik scattered within the Deer Archipelago consists of 13 evergreen islands, islets and rocks. Situated between Dubrovnik, the Island of Mljet and Pelješac Peninsula, and surrounded by the waters of the Koločep and Mljet Channel, they were first mentioned as the Elafite Islands by Gaius Plinius Secundus Maior in his work Naturalis historia in the 1st century A.D.
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Nature endowed these charming Mediterranean islands with lush subtropical vegetation, a mild climate, easily accessible coast and characteristic landscapes, whereas bygone centuries provided them with an architectural heritage. A rarely preserved Mediterranean oasis, the islands used to be the favorable out-of-town residence and place of leisure of the Dubrovnik aristocracy, but they are also visited in the present time by those who wish to discover the primeval beauty of luxuriant nature, as well as hidden and forgotten history. Covered by Mediterranean vegetation including the fragrant myrtle, laurel, thyme and rosemary and in the shadow of tall cypresses and thick pine trees that embrace their rocky shores, they plunge down into the sea, which foams and sweeps over the countless rocks carved by the waves, turning crimson at dusk and gold in the moonlight, and mirroring the beauty of hundreds of sparkling stars.
The largest and most densely populated among the Elafites is the Island of Šipan, called the golden island. It is also the most fertile island in the archipelago. Protect by the terraced hill slopes covered with dense Mediterranean scrub, the fruitful dolomite hill stretches along the entire island connecting two major settlements, Suđurađ in the southeast and Sipanska Luka in the southwest.
The narrow sea channel Harpoti, connecting Luka with the open sea, was the site of the fierce battle between the armies of Caesar and Pompey in 47 B. C.
The secluded coves and groves hide many examples of the Dalmatian architecture: from fortress and Early Christian chapels to the most representative summer residences of maritime, merchant and aristocrat families of Dubrovnik; mysterious structures preserved from time immemorial.
The two most representative renaissance palaces of the famous ship-owning family Skočibuha are situated on the site of the former shipyard in Suđurađ, where many skips of the powerful Dubrovnik fleet were launched.
The island of Šipan is abole all a promised land for lovers of unspoiled nature, who enjoy listening to the sounds of silence and the sea. It is an attractive oasis of peace and serenity, where, unlike anywhere else, the setting sun colors of the sky fire-red, waiting for the golden glow of the moon to rise behind the hills. There are few such virgin places left in this world.
Publication: Elafiti Islands
Author: Aida Cvjetković
Good to know facts
There are regular boat connections to Šipan from Dubrovnik, the ferry stops in Suđurađ and then continues to Luka Šipanska. However the return, especially during low season is sometimes not from Luka Šipanska, but from Suđurađ. Check the timetable: Ferry line from Dubrovnik to Elaphite Islands, connects islands Koločep, Lopud and Šipan.
The ferry departure in Dubrovnik is from Gruž Port, tickets can be bought at the Jadrolinija Office.
Whilst there are no sandy beaches on the island, there are some lovely bays to stop for swimming, as well as some excellent coastal paths to explore. All three islands have their fair share of day-visitors, but once they have returned to Dubrovnik with the last ferry in late afternoon, the islands become quieter and more relaxing for their local inhabitants and longer-stay guests.
Visiting Island Šipan with children
Šipan Island is children friendly, not only because of the low traffic, but also due to the fact that there are large areas on the island to explore together with your small ones.
There are no sand beaches on Šipan Island, but both Suđurađ and Luka Šipanska have beaches suitable for children.