The Elaphiti islands, or Elaphites, are several islands stretching out just northwest of Dubrovnik. The three main ones are Koločep, Šipan and Lopud, but there are many smaller ones as well. They are accessible by boat, and there are many tours that start in Dubrovnik and take you around them.
If you have some time to spare while in Dubrovnik and you already checked out Lokrum, the Elaphiti islands are definitely something you will not want to miss, whether you want to see just one island or check out many different ones. During our 3-day trip to Dubrovnik, we dedicated a whole day to a boat tour that took us to the main islands, and it was one of the best parts of our stay!
Our tour from Dubrovnik:
For our day of island-hopping, we chose a tour that would take us from Dubrovnik to the three main islands, dropping us off on each island to wander about freely and then come back to the boat. A lunch was also provided on board and I can safely say that the fish that I ate there was one of the best I’ve ever had!
So, on a beautiful morning, we hopped on the Regina Maris and started our trip. Our first stop was the beautiful island of Koločep, that we could discover for one hour and a half, then came Šipan, where we only had 45 minutes to have a quick dip in the sea, and we finished off with Lopud with a full three hours to wander about as we pleased.
First stop: Koločep
Koločep is the closest Elaphite island to Dubrovnik and also the smallest one on the tour, as it only has two small towns and absolutely no car! It is surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches and there are also many hiking trails that will take you from one part of the island to another through fragrant pine forests and breath-taking views of the cliffs. It is also possible to discover the island from the sea thanks to the many diving and snorkelling possibilities, which will also allow you to explore the fantastic Blue Cave.
I think Koločep was one of my favourite islands because we started off by following a hiking trail that lead us to stunning cliffs that overlooked the turquoise water. It is probably one of the best viewpoints that I have ever seen and we were only surrounded by the sound of cicadas and the scent of pine trees and salty water. Afterwards, we went back near the harbour and stopped to swim a bit in crystal-clear water to cool off from the hike.
Second stop: Šipan
After a fantastic meal on board, we headed towards the biggest of these Islands: Šipan. Sadly, we only had 45 minutes of free time to enjoy this other small portion of heaven. When we got off the boat, we stopped for an ice cream near the harbour and started walking around the seafront. We had the possibility to go up a tiny hill for some wine or olive oil tasting and also to visit a 16th-century church, but we decided we would enjoy the sea instead.
We found a beautiful nook surrounded by pine trees where we could sit on rocks in front of the water, but the descent to said water was harder than we thought, as we only had flip-flops and the rocks were a bit sharp, so we just enjoyed the peace and quiet of that place, slowly making our way back to the harbour when the time came.
Third stop: Lopud
Located between Šipan and Koločep, Lopud is the most developed of the Elaphiti islands, despite its small size and 200 inhabitants. It used to be a Roman settlement and then followed Dubrovnik’s rich history, so it also has many historical sights to visit. However, Lopud is mostly known for its sandy beaches, and particularly for the bay of Šunj with its crystal-clear and turquoise water, that is located on the other side of the island, a 25-minute hike away from the harbour.
When you arrive in Lopud, you can see a beautiful monastery overlooking the sea, and that is where we started our 3-hour stop, walking up to the monastery then swimming right in front of it. It was beautiful and very peaceful, as many tourists didn’t stop there. After that, we decided to check out the famous “golden sand” of Šunj beach and started the hike towards there, which proved to be quite difficult in the scorching sun and while wearing flip flops.
Once we reached the beach, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed: yes, the water was this beautiful turquoise colour, but the beach was quite crowded compared to all the other places that we saw before. Also, I’m not the biggest fan of sandy beaches… but well, it was still a gorgeous place!
When we got closer to departure time, we went back to the harbour, slowly walking past all the cute shops and restaurants on the seafront, then grabbed a nice ice cream and hopped back on the boat to go back to the mainland. We came back to Dubrovnik in the late afternoon, tired but happy from this refreshing tour where we felt like we were on a completely different world for a day.
Island-hopping through the Elaphiti islands truly is a unique way to spend a wonderful day around Dubrovnik, if you have some extra time on the area or if you want to discover another side of Croatia!