Dugi Otok

Jadrolinija Ferry arriving at Zadar © Ricky Yates

Jadrolinija Ferry for Dugi Otok arriving at Zadar © Ricky Yates

Having arrived in Zadar on the afternoon of Tuesday 7th July, we decided that now was the time to head for an offshore island for the time of relaxation that we had promised ourselves. We found the booking office of Jadrolinija Ferries on the Zadar quayside and enquired about booking a ferry crossing for ourselves and the car for the following day to the island of Dugi Otok.

There are more than a thousand islands along the Croatian coast of which more than one hundred are inhabited. Some are so close to the mainland that they are connected by a bridge, whilst others are so small and isolated you would have to take everything needed for your stay with you. We opted for the island of Dugi Otok because it fell into neither of these categories. It takes a one and a half hour ferry journey to reach the island from Zadar but has a resident population of 1800 people and therefore has most basic shops and facilities.

The name ‘Dugi Otok’ means ‘Long Island’, which is most appropriate as it is around 43km long but only 4km wide. When driving along the one main road that links Veli Rat and Bozava in the north to Sali in the south, there are places where you can view the sea on both sides at the same time. On the west coast is the full expanse of the Adriatic Sea stretching all the way to Italy. From the east coast, the Croatian mainland is visible, with several parallel smaller islands in between.

Just before midday on Wednesday 8th, we joined the line of cars on the designated section of the quayside, ready to board the ferry. We waited for and then watched its arrival as the bow section rose and the access ramp was lowered. Once the cars and passengers travelling from the island to the mainland had disembarked, we were then summoned forward to carefully drive onto the car deck. Then the ramp was raised, the bow lowered and we headed off out of the harbour, bound for Dugi Otok.

Ferry Port at Brbinj, Dugi Otok © Ricky Yates

Ferry Port at Brbinj, Dugi Otok © Ricky Yates

The ferry port on Dugi Otok is at Brbinj, just over halfway up the east coast of the island. From there it took us about thirty minutes to drive south to Sali, the administrative centre and by far the largest settlement on Dugi Otok. We parked on the quayside of the picturesque harbour and walked along to find the tourist office to see if they could help find a one bedroomed apartment for us to rent for the next ten days. The young lady in the tourist office assured us that she could and, after a brief phone conversation in Croatian, told us that an owner would be with us in less than ten minutes to show us one. It was within my price range, had the basic requirements we were after, as well as a splendid view from the balcony across the harbour. We took it!

The harbour at Sali from our balcony © Ricky Yates

The harbour at Sali from our balcony © Ricky Yates

One of the reasons we took the risk of setting out on holiday with no accommodation booked in advance, was because we expected the current economic downturn would reduce the number of tourists meaning that, even in July, places would hopefully, not be fully booked. And so it has proved to be. Our apartment is in a building consisting of four separate apartments. When we arrived, none of the other three were let. Likewise, the ferry car deck was only two thirds occupied. Whilst Sali is busy, especially in the evenings, clearly the tourist industry here in Croatia has also been affected by economic events elsewhere in the world.

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