Elafous means deer in Greek, and legend has it that the Elaphiti islands are named so because the cluster of thirty islands resembled a deer, or that it’s named after the deer on the island. Not far from Dubrovnik, it’s the perfect day trip destination. We booked a tour with Viator for a day trip with lunch in a small group – although Get Your Guide also have the same tour.
Only three of the islands are inhabited and they are Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan islands.
The island consists of two settlements: Gornje Celo and Donje Celo on the west and east side of the island connected by a 3 km road. It was a peaceful little town with only 163 inhabitants with amazingly clear water.
This island is car free and you can see little electric carts shuffling goods back and forth. If you are looking for a seaside relaxing holiday with island charm, the Kalamota Island Resort at Donje Celo has its own section of private beach.
The largest of the Elaphiti islands, there many things to do on the island that, unfortunately, I didn’t have time to. One of the main attractions is a flat terrace church about a 10-minute walk from the marina, along a road next to a fortress which is now a private property.
There are 77 steps up to the rooftop which offer an excellent view back to the bay the ship docked at.
If you are interested in exploring the island you will be better off renting a bike or scooter. The island is very well marked with brown tourist’s signs that you can follow to visit churches and trails.
The path there, though unmarked, is relatively straightforward. All you have to do is go up the road until you reach a roundabout – after which you turn right. There are 77 steps up to the rooftop which offer an excellent view back to the bay the ship docked at. If you are interested in exploring the island you will be better off renting a bike or scooter. The island is very well marked with brown tourist’s signs that you can follow to visit churches and trails.
The prettiest island in my opinion, Lopud is famous for the Sunj beach and the botanical garden. It is also sometimes referred to as the middle island as it is in-between Sipan and Kolocep. With only one settlement on the North West part of the island, you can immediately see the beautiful Church of St Mary of Spilica perched atop a small cliff when you enter the harbour.
Unfortunately, it was closed for restoration during our visit. Further along the coast away from the pier you will find the botanical garden, though not capital by any means, it features a beautiful raised balcony area that overlooks the sea flanked by lion statues leading to a shaded avenue that’s worth a stroll.
The Sunj beach is located on the opposite end of the island and involves a 1.6 km walk.
It does involve a bit of topography, however, the most troublesome part can be negotiated by a golf buggy for kn 10.
Once there, you can rent a sun lounger for kn 30 but the parasol costs a further kn40. There are a surprising amount of boats and yachts so swimming isn’t the most pleasant.
Elaphiti Islands tour from Dubrovnik
We booked a Viator tour with lunch included abroad a gullet, which is run by Elite tours with complimentary pick up at the hotel to Port Gruz, which is about 10 minutes’ drive from the Pile Gate, Old Town Dubrovnik. You will need to confirm your bookings a day prior to secure a seat on the bus, which we almost forgot to do! The closest hotel from the Old Town is at the Imperial Hilton Hotel not far from the Pile Gate, where we waited by the road leading to Old Port right by the parking entrance.
The bus was late picking us up and we were the last pick up to arrive at the port, meaning we didn’t have a lot of choices regarding seats. However, we do get off every island, therefore it wasn’t particularly annoying.
I didn’t do any research or reading before we head off so I didn’t know what to expect out of the trip. There were commentaries from the guides on the gullet, however, it comes in three languages: first in French, then German, then English. It was extremely long-winded and it grew annoying after a while.
Kolcep 9:45 – 10:30
The first island we stopped on is Kolocep. We had 45 minutes on this island, however, due to the sheer number of people it took 15 minutes for everyone to disembark. Given that we had only half an hour all everyone did was walk down the length of the beach and peeked at the private part fenced off by the hotel.
Sipan 10:30 – 11:10, lunch till 12:30
We were allocated an hour and twenty minutes to spend on Sipan with our guide going through some of its histories. The English tour guide very half-heartedly introduces the island and some of its histories to us, and we were left to venture to the flat terrace church on our own.
However, we did notice that the French tour guide led his group all the way to the church so the service varied greatly. Many people headed back to the boat early to grab a good seat as we were served lunch on our way to Lopud.
Each table serves up to six people with a bottle of white wine and water. The meal consisted of fish and salad, which wasn’t fantastic but nor was it bad. We were also given an apple each when we disembarked to Lopud.
Lopud 12:50 – 16:30
After receiving grossly false information from our tour guide that we could rent a golf buggy from the end of the town, we first set off to visit the church and the botanical garden. After wasting almost an hour trying to find the golf buggy we decided to walk to Sunj beach. The golf buggies are actually located 10-minute walk into the trail where it will go directly to the beach. We spent an hour or so at the beach and rented sun loungers like proper tourists.
Although the Elaphiti Islands were beautiful, if you are only in Dubrovnik for a few days you are better off visiting Lokrum as these islands are further away. Another beautiful island to visit is Mljet – which I will talk about in my next post!