CNN’s Top Nudist Beach and a Donkey called Mercedes: The Pakleni Islands Explained

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CNN’s Top Nudist Beach and a Donkey called Mercedes: The Pakleni Islands Explained

Where else in the world could you bathe in CNN’s top naturist beach, moor up in a stunning marina, before scuba diving off an island which could be renamed Facebook, before sharing a romantic dinner on an islet inhabited by a donkey named Mercedes? Welcome to the Pakleni Islands.

There is no denying the fact that Hvar Town is a gorgeous place to visit. From its rich architectural heritage and vibrant nightlife, to its numerous traditions and excellent food. As if all this were not enough, the town is also blessed with a great climate and one of the most picturesque views imaginable: The Pakleni Islands.

Sometimes translated as Hell’s Islands, the most popular theory about the origin of the name is that it is derived from the word for resin which was used to coat ships. Whatever the origin of the name, one thing is for sure: The Pakleni Islands are stunning, and a favourite destination on the numerous water taxis departing from in front of the Arsenal on Hvar’s waterfront.

But what exactly is out there on those luscious emeralds opposite Hvar Town? Do you know your Jerolims from your Galesniks? A brief overview of the rich and varied delights to be found in and around the pine groves of this delightful collection of islands.

CNN’s Top Nudist Beach and a Donkey called Mercedes: The Pakleni Islands Explained

Galesnik: From Quarantine Station to Artillery Fort

The oldest building is on the nearest island, Galesnik, built originally as a quarantine station by the Franciscans, whose monastery is close by on the mainland. The Venetians built a jetty before the Austrians built an artillery fort. These days, Galesnik is an eco-island whose best-known resident is Mercedes the Donkey, and where one can dine by arrangement in one of Hvar’s most romantic locations overlooking the town.

Sveti Klement and the village of Palmizana

Known also as Veli Otok (Big Island), or Veli Škoj in local dialect, St. Klement is the largest and most popular island to visit, with many tourists heading to the idyllic beach at Palmizana. Palmizana has been a popular weekend retreat since a local professor built a house and inn there in the early 20th Century, and the excellent food, sandy coves and natural setting in pine trees with heather and rosemary in the air, make this a must-visit. 

Sailing buffs will head to its northern shores, and the protection of its deep bay at Palmizana at the fully-equipped ACI marina, one of two ACI marinas on Hvar, the other being on the northern coast at Vrboska.

Those looking for the elusive sandy beach should head for Perna, the bay next to the village of Palmizana, while the most popular destination is the southern bay of Vinogradisce (commonly referred to as Palmizana), with its small pebble beaches, and some of the best restaurants in Dalmatia. 

On the northern shores of St. Klement is the small village of Vlaka, opposite a small island ofthe same name, which has the remains of an old Roman villa rustica and a divine restaurant called Dionis.

With thanks to Jaksa Kuzmicic for the photo

Carpe Diem Beach Club at Stipanska

For one of the coolest places on the Adriatic, hop into a water taxi for the short ride to the Carpe Diem Beach Club at Stipanska. The cocktail bar of the same name in Hvar Town is the island’s most famous watering hole, and the beach club is one of the best places to relax for the day. Set in 2,500m2 of pine forest, facilities include restaurant, several bars, spa, pool and beach volleyball court. Open from late May to the end of September.

It is testament to the popularity of the beach club in Stipanska bay, that the island is more commonly referred to by the name of the bay, rather than the name of the island, Marinkovac. It is not the only attraction on the island, however, with the beaches of Zdrilca and Mlini on the other side are also popular destinations for the water taxis. There are some excellent restaurants, including Patak and Tri Grede.

Naturist Beaches on Jerolim

There is a long history of naturism in Croatia, dating back to the Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson bathing au naturel on Rab in the 1930s, and Hvar has several options for naturists, including the small island of Jerolim, which was exclusively given over to naturist bathing in the 1960s, the first island to do so in Croatia. CNN named Jerolim its top naturist beach in the world for 2011. There is a restaurant on the island.

The Lighthouse at Pokojni Dol

One of the most photographed islands in Croatia is the tiny lighthouse island of Pokojni Dol, on the road from Milna to Hvar. The island, which only has a coast of 470 metres, comprises of the solitary lighthouse in isolation. Built in 1872 and perched on the peak of the island (11m), the lighthouse plays an important role, given its location as the first of the islands from the east.

With thanks to Jaksa Kuzmicic for the photo

Vodnjak: An Island Named Facebook

A great way to investigate the hidden nooks and crannies of the islands is by sea kayak, with various tours offered by local specialist Hvar Adventure, while there is also excellent scuba diving to investigate, including the furthest island – Vodnjak – which made the news recently after Hvar’s mayor offered to rename it ‘Facebook’ as part of an invitation to Mark Zuckerberg to visit the island.

Getting to and around the islands is a matter of personal choice. The energetic can kayak with Hvar Adventure, an excellent way to discover the numerous hidden coves, or else take advantage of various sailing options with the Hvar Adventure team. Water taxis have regular departures to Jerolim, Stipanska, Zdrilca, Mlini, Palmizana and Vlaka, while other destinations are accessible by agreement, or simply hire your own boat and discover at your own pace.


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