Croatia: Exploring the Pakleni Islands

The idyllic Pakleni archipelago off the coast of Hvar in Croatia is made up of 11 rocky, low-lying islands. This very lovely group of islands boasts many a haven for swimming in the clear, clear waters of the Adriatic.

Exploring the Pakleni islands is a must-do if you are visiting Hvar. As well as the beaches the islands are covered with green pines and fragrant maquis, becoming more barren on the seaward side.

Sealife in the Pakleni Islands, Croatia

We hired a little motorboat from Hvar Town and spent a day messing about the coves and islands of the Pakleni. In summer there are water taxis that will take you out but in October self-drive was the only way.

Pakleni Islands in Croatia-001

First stop was the island of Marinkovac, where we tied up at U Stipanska for a swim. There is just one cafe and a couple of old farmhouses. Then I walked five minutes over to the lovely Zdrilca. I sat on the shoreline watching the glint of sunlight hitting a sardine’s belly only inches from the waterline.

Exploring the Pakleni archipelago, Croatia

Most of the beaches in Hvar are pebbly but the notable exception is Palmizana on the largest island of Sveti Klement – a tiny strip of sand in a deep cove but with a wide, smooth sandy seabed for swimming once you are in the water. To reach Palmizana you anchor on the northern side of the island – where the boating club and playground is – and walk five minutes across the neck of land to the beach.

Palmizana beach, Pakleni Islands

There are a number of accommodation and restaurant options on both sides, around Palmizana hidden in groves of prickly pear plant.

Prickly Pear flowers, Croatia

This place must be absolutely heaving in summer but we had it all to ourselves until a single yacht came in to anchor in the bay. The downside of being so late in the season is that all the restaurants are closed so bring your own refreshments.

Pakleni Islands vineyards and orchards, Croatia

Our final stop in the Pakleni was at Vlaka, an ancient settlement of stone houses where a friendly man with a dog and some chickens was tending the olive groves and vineyards that run down to the yellowing sea. People have lived in Vlaka since pre-historic times and there is a Romanic XIII century chapel. You can also walk to Vlaka from Palmizana.

Pakleni Islands vegetation, Croatia

Can anyone identify this plant for me? The fruit pustules burst at inopportune moments and spray you with water!  I saw it on the islands and on the Hvar coastline.

By Natasha von Geldern

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