At the western tip of the island, Vela Luka is a must-visit!
1) We’ve written about Proizd. Most other media outlets that have written about Croatia and its islands have written about Proizd. Only a brief boat ride from the centre of Vela Luka, Proizd is an islet that seems to have been made with the sole purpose of providing pleasure to people who step on it. (Ošjak is another islet you shouldn’t miss when in Vela Luka, much closer to the town itself and gives you somewhat of a different islet experience)
2) Just off Vela Luka, in the fields of olive trees that don’t really appear to be hiding anything interesting, is where Vela Spila is located. It’s a cave, approx. 40 meters wide, 15 meters high, it provided shelter to the earliest of people around, and in it, archeological findings in layers dating back to 20000 years ago were recovered. It’s one of the richest archeological sites in Croatia, and probably one with the best view in the world, as it is facing the Vela Luka cove, islets around it and open sea. You can drive to Vela Spila, or just take the foot path (it’s well marked), up the Pinski Rat hill through the olive trees.
3) Vela Luka has in the past been a town of fishermen, shipbuilders and olivegrowers. They are, of course, still fishing, and the shipyard is still working (as well as it can, under the circumstances), but the olive growing industry has grown significantly in the past decades. Vela Luka has always been synonimous with excellent olive oil, and it’s still the case today, with numerous producers of it working their olives around the town. Many of them would be worth a visit, but one of them, Zlokić mill, while being a fully operational plant for the processing of olive oil has also created a small olive oil museum. There you can see how olive oil was made in the past, how much effort it took and how valuable olive oil is to the people of Vela Luka, who have preserved the tools from the old mills.
4) Vela Luka is also a town of music. Sometimes it seems as if anyone born in Vela Luka can sing. There are numerous “klapa” bands in Vela Luka (Ošjak, Vela Luka, Hum, Greben and others), and the tradition of klapa song is still very strong in the town. Also, don’t be surprised if you hear what seems to be a random group of senior citizens standing at a corner somewhere and singing like they’re pros – they’re just doing it because that’s what people of Vela Luka do! They’re also very proud of their famous popular singers, such as late Oliver Dragojević and Jasna Zlokić. All through the summer a rich cultural program is organized in Vela Luka, which includes music of all kinds and performances by the local folclore group, Kumpanija, which performs traditional local dances.
5) Cultural centre of Vela Luka, located in the town centre consists of a museum, a gallery and a library, and is most certainly worth a visit. In it, the very rich archaeological collection of the findings from Vela spila is kept, so if you decide to go to Vela Spila, you should also come to the museum and see the wealth of the artefacts that were found there. In addition to that, there is an international collection of artwork, all donated to the museum after the town was tragically hit by a tidal wave in 1978. Two sculptures by the renowned English artist Henry Moore are a part of that collection, as well as an amazing set of wooden model ships, carved in wood by a self-taught local artist Nedjeljko Gugić Kotarac.