Hvar, the Croatian Island Which Has It All: 4 – Pakleni Islands

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Continuing our daily focus on European Best Destination 2018 nominee, the island of Hvar on January 20, 2018, today we look at one of its most popular attractions – the fabulous Pakleni Islands. 

Notice something wrong with the photo above?

Hvar Town, one of Croatia’s very top tourist destinations, without one of its main attractions – the divine Pakleni Islands which guard the entrance to the historic town. 

As if Hvar Town didn’t have enough – oldest public theatre in Europe, birthplace of organised tourism in Europe and the sunniest island in Europe to go with its rich history and fantastic architecture, the town is also blessed with easy escapes to one of the most heavenly places on the planet – the Pakleni Islands. 

Heaven or Hell though? According to some, the origin of the word Pakleni comes from ‘pakao’, or ‘hell’, while others say it owns its etymology to the resin used in boatbuilding. Whatever the truth, if this is someone’s hell, I can’t imagine what it must be like to find heaven. 


Now add the Pakleni Islands back in, courtesy of the expert lens of Romulic and Stojcic, and a perfect destination is in place. The Pakleni Islands is the icing on the cake for Croatia’s premier island, and the peace, tranquility, beaches and excellent dining options they offer make a trip to Pakleni one of the top things to do on a visit to Hvar Town.  


Gorgeous by day or night. And while they may well look very similar, the Pakleni Islands are VERY different in character, with a surprising range of activities to choose from. 


The closest one to Hvar is Galesnik, a small eco-ethno island which is home to a fantastic restaurant with views to match, which can be booked via the harbourmaster’s office near Carpe Diem. There are few finer views back to Hvar Town. 

Galesnik has no inhabitants, although it did until recently, when a rakija-swilling donkey called Mercedes was the lone resident. A visiting Brit took pity on the lonely donkey and he bought a male companion from Hvar in order to give her some company. You can see the transport process in the video above, as well as their first meeting. Things went well for a while, but it appears that the energetic male donkey exhausted poor Mercedes, and she passed away a few years ago.  


Her legacy is upheld in the title and cover photo of a book by another Brit. 


Close by is Jerolim, named in 2011 as the best naturist beach in the world by CNN. It is indeed a very popular FKK destination, and while most people go to Amo Beach which faces Hvar Town, those in the know walk the 100m through the woods to the other side of the island, where the chilled atmosphere of Mare’s Place is one of the most welcoming and laid-back places on the coast. 


For many, of course, Carpe Diem Beach is the top Pakleni destination, especially for those looking to party. A world away from the tranquillity surrounding it, some of the world’s top DJs have performed here, and their Full Moon Parties were once one of the party highlights of the season.  

The days are a little more chilled, with Carpe Diem Beach, which is located in Stipanksa Bay on the island of Marinkovac, and if offers a more upmarket (and appropriately priced) service than many other places, while on the other side of the island, Zdrilca and Mlini are idyllic bays with great food which are popular with locals and accessible by water taxi.


The biggest island of all, Sveti Klement, is the most popular for day trippers, and the only one to offer quality accommodation. It was back in 1906 that the Meneghello family started tourism on the island, in a stunning bay on the southern shores of Sveti Klement called Vinogadisce, often referred to as Palmizana. 

John Malkovich described is as the most relaxing place he has visited, just one of a number of celebrities which have visited, but few hear about. It was here too where Bono had THAT lunch which he raved about on Facebook two years ago, at nearby Laganini. The Meneghello family have built a very impressive business from those humble beginnings over a century ago, and their portfolio now includes two restaurants, luxury accommodation, an arboretum, art gallery and full cultural programme in the summer. 


Palmizana can be accessed directly by sailboat, but most day-trippers take the water taxis to the ACI Marina of the same name, then walk through the beautiful pine tree forest, beofre choosing from one of the five restaurants in the bay. While Palmizana is the most popular destination, a firm local favourite is Vlaka, a tiny settlement on the northern side of Sveti Klement, which still has the remnants of a Roman villa rustica, as well as the healthy mud in the bay which made it popular as a Roman mud bath. It is also home to the lowest vineyard in Croatia, at just one metre above sea level. And if you can find the lady selling the local rock salt, it is an investment worth making. Learn more about Vlaka here


There are several other, smaller islands including Vodnjak, a tiny island with a lighthouse, which a previous Hvar Mayor offered to rename Facebook if Mark Zuckerberg came to visit, and the Pakleni Islands are also a very popular destination for sailing and for the increasing numbers of adventure tourists who are exploring Hvar by kayak.  


As diverse as they are stunning, by day or night, the Pakleni Islands are the perfect chilled daytime experience to accompany Hvar’s fine dining and lively nightlife. 

Hvar you voted for Hvar yet as the European Best Destination 2018? You can do so here


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