Dugi Otok and Sakarun Beach | Croatia

Dugi Otok is probably one of the most beautiful islands in Croatia, especially because of its gorgeous natural scenery and many idyllic beaches. For many travelers, however, this island is still an insider tip! As highlights you can expect on this still so quiet and tranquil island countless spectacular things to do, such visiting the Telascica Nature Park and the famous Sakarun beach. In addition, along the picturesque coast you will discover many small dreamy fishing villages and secluded bays that invite to linger and relax. All in all, Dugi Otok is the perfect island for a very romantic vacation off the typical tourist paths!

In this travel guide we give you all the important information about Dugi Otok in Croatia. In addition, we tell you the best attractions, the most amazing beaches on Dugi Otok and where to find lovely accommodations.

Good to know!

You can get to Dugi Otok by ferry 3-4 times a day from the mainland from Zadar. The travel time is 1 hour 40 minutes and the current departure times including prices can be found here.

On this island you will find mainly privately run apartments, but the popular Hotel Maxim is also a fantastic choice.  Since there are only a few accommodations on Dugi Otok, they are quickly booked out in season.

To explore all the wonderful beaches and attractions of the “Long Island” Dugi Otok, it is recommended to travel by car or rental car.

Moreover, Dugi Otok has become a popular destination for day trips from Zadar. Especially the Telascica Nature Park and the beautiful sandy beach Sakarun are often visited by boat tours.

General information about Dugi Otok

Dugi Otok is located in the Zadar archipelago in Croatia and is the largest island in Northern Dalmatia. With a proud length of 45 kilometers, it also has the nickname “the Long Island” in Croatia. It is famous for the dream beach Sakarun in the north, but also for the impressive Telascica Nature Park with the high cliffs in the south. In addition, Dugi Otok borders the breathtaking Kornati National Park, where you can take amazing boat trips. Thanks to the many magnificent beaches and the countless possibilities of activities such as hiking, cycling, climbing, kayaking, sailing and windsurfing, you are guaranteed not to get bored on this island.

On Dugi Otok there are 12 quiet villages with a total of about 1,500 inhabitants. Especially interesting and worth seeing is the coastal town of Sali on the southern side of the island, and Bozava and Veli Rat with the lighthouse in the north of Dugi Otok. In these places you will also find a wide range of accommodation for your visit.

 

Things to do in Dugi Otok

The island Dugi Otok is about 45 kilometers long and therefore it is also called “Long Island”. Bumpy hills rise up to a height of 338 meters and during a drive over the island you will always enjoy wonderful views down to the sea. Since the island is quite large and there are many beautiful things to do on Dugi Otok, it is best to arrive by you own car or to get there by rental car. So you can discover all the beautiful beaches and attractions of the island.

Punta Bjanca Lighthouse & Veli Rat Beach

The picturesque lighthouse Punta Bjanca in Veli Rat is one of the top places to see on the island. It was built in 1849 and with a height of 42 meters it is the highest lighthouse in all Croatia. During a visit you can also take your bathing suit with you, because to the left and right of Punta Bjanca are two really beautiful beaches for swimming. All the scenery there is really breath-taking and that’s why this is also a popular place for romantic weddings.

Near the lighthouse, surrounded by fragrant pine forests you will find the Veli Rat beach. This dream beach is not only perfect for swimming, but also gives a wonderful photo motif with the lighthouse in the background.

Sakarun Beach

The absolute highlight of the island and the ultimate best beach on Dugi Otok is the beautiful Sakarun Beach. Visitors are overwhelmed at first sight: With turquoise crystal-clear waters, the white sand and surrounded by Mediterranean pine trees, this sandy beach is like no other. It is definitely one of the most popular beaches in Croatia and therefore a popular spot for day trippers from the Zadar mainland. Many boats and yachts are anchored at this beach and enjoy the wonderful ambience of the bay. Especially families with small children love this gently sloping sandy beach.

Tip: There are no accommodations directly on Sakarun Beach. Highly recommended are the Apartments Sabina, which are just a 3-minute drive from Dugi Otok’s dream beach.

Telascica Nature Park

At the southern end of the island is the Telascica Nature Park, one of the absolute best attractions on Dugi Otok. The nature park is a real tourist magnet and many excursion boats head for this natural jewel. Gigantic cliffs, picturesque bays, olive trees, breathtaking Mediterranean ambience and an intact underwater world make the park a true natural treasure. If you prefer a quieter time, it is better to visit the park in the late afternoon. Then it is the best time for a visit to Telascica Nature Park and the atmosphere is the most beautiful.

The highlight of the nature park are its high cliffs, the “Stene” and the salt lake “Mir”. Both attractions can be reached by a short 30-minute hike from the parking lot. Especially the path along the cliffs is amazing, because there are many fantastic viewpoints here!

Veli Zal Beach

Veli Zal is one of the first-class beaches of Dugi Otok. With Caribbean blue and crystal-clear waters this tranquil beach is a secret escape at the island and we definitely recommend a visit.  Only a few tourists get lost in this gem and with a bit of luck you can enjoy the dreamlike atmosphere all by yourself. The sandy beach is relatively untouched, there are no crowds, no bars or restaurants. This heavenly place is not that easy to find; arriving by car you have to walk around 100 meters to the right before you reach the bay.

Fort Grpascak Viewpoint

Especially recommended and a real insider tip of the best things to do in Dugi Otok is a visit to Fort Grpascak. It is located in the Telascica Nature Park and offers the best view over the picturesque landscape of Dugi Otok, the imposing cliffs and into the distance to the beautiful Kornati Islands. You can reach this viewpoint either by car, or by hiking along a rocky path from the salt lakes.

Tip: The sunset is also more than spectacular to watch from Fort Grpaska Viewpoint.

Sali

Sali is the village with the largest population and located on the southern tip of the island. It’s the only one which offers everything to its guests: Medical clinic, ATM, supermarket, post office, tourist information, lovely restaurants, cafes, a lovely beach and a wide range of accommodations. The cute harbor with its colorful houses is really picturesque and a wonderful place for having dinner. Anchored in a marvelous landscape, Sali is definitely the most beautiful town on Dugi Otok and because of the vicinity to the Nature Park Telascica and the Kornati Islands it is one of the best places to stay for holiday.

The beach area of ​​Sali is just a few minutes from the port. The picturesque flagstone beach is a wonderful place for sunbathing and swimming. It’s a marvelous tranquil place, perfect for spending a few hours in the shadow of the pinewoods and enjoying the lovely scenery. On the small promenade along the coast you can take long walks and enjoy the beach-idyll.

Tip: A really lovely accommodation with a view to the harbor and a great starting point for island explorations is the Sali Modern Seaview Apartment.

Beach Brbiscica & Blue Cave

Another awesome attraction on Dugi Otok are the Blue Cave, the Golubinka Sea Cave, and the secluded Brbiscica Beach. The natural beauties are located on the west coast between Brbinj and Savar, where a step narrow road leads down to the coast. From the first parking, the road continues towards the beach, which is a really highlight. On the right you can take a small footpath through the bushes down to the sea, where you first reach the natural pool – the Dragons Eye Sea cave. The entrance to the cave is at the right of the pool, just a bit along the cliffs. From up there you have a great view to the entrance of the cave. The blue grotto is best to be visited by kayak or a small boat.

Tip: Meanwhile, the Golubinka Sea Cave has become a popular destination from Zadar. These tours can also be booked online on Getyourguide.

Fishing Village Savar

The fishing village Savar enchants its visitors with a picturesque little island and the crystal clear deep blue sea bay at the little harbor. The pretty islet is connected to the village by a causeway, and during a walk there you can visit the small church of St. Peregrine and the shipwrights’ cemetery. The atmosphere is especially beautiful in the morning, when the village of Savar is still asleep and the island shines in the morning sun.

Tip: For those who love peace and quiet, we can recommend Apartman Lapis in Savar with a terrace and an enchanting sea view.

Cuscica Beach & Villa Rusticae

One of the best things to do on Dugi Otok is a visit to Cuscica Beach and Villa Rusticae. These attractions are hidden in the second entrance of the Telascica Nature Park near the village Sali and only a few travelers find these dreamlike natural attractions. A gravel road leads through the park, along picturesque landscapes, down to the Cuscica beach. Here you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Kornati Islands and also snorkeling can be done in this beach area. Another must see is Villa Rusticae, a Roman ruin separated from the Kornati Islands only by a tiny channel.

Villages Bozava, Zman and Luca

On Dugi Otok there are several other small, pretty villages to discover, such as Bozava, Zman and Luca. The small town Bozava, which is the ideal starting point for visiting the Sakarun beach, offers tourists many small restaurants and nice cafes. And, you can also find the only hotel on the island in Bozava. We also recommend a visit to the enchanting fishing village Zman, where the Konoba Regula serves delicious and inexpensive food in a wonderful atmosphere.

Kornati Islands Excursion

If you are planning a holiday to Dugi Otok, a tour to the Kornati islands is highly recommended. The National Park comprises a whopping 89 islands and reefs, stretching from Dugi Otok to the island of Zirje. A fabulously beautiful island world, which can be explored with a boat trip from Sali or Zadar. Popular tours to the unique Kornati islands can be found here.

Where to eat on Dugi Otok

Because Dugi Otok is not that touristy, there is just a small range of restaurants and also the prices are higher than in other parts of the country. The best selections of restaurants and bars you are definitely going to find in the town of Sali.  For some nice Pizza you should try out the Pizzaria Bruc located next to the beautiful waterfront. The Marinov Magazin with it awesome view down to the harbor, serves delicious food but in a higher price class.

Our favorite restaurant choice is the Konoba Regula in Zman and in fact we went there several times for dinner. All the food was really fresh and tasty and also the salads were served in generous sizes.

Day trips from Zadar

Also, a day trip from Zadar to Dugi Otok is definitely recommended. Especially popular are kayak tours, where you can paddle off the most beautiful spots of the island and visit the famous Blue Cave and the Sakarun Beach. But also trips to the Kornati Islands and the Telascica National Park are offered!

 

Where to stay at Dugi Otok

There are only a handful of hotels to stay on the island. It is more common to book an apartment or holiday home for your holiday on Dugi Otok. The most popular resorts are Sali, Bozava, Soline and Zman. Here some tips for the best places to stay on Dugi Otok island:

  • Sali Modern Seaview Apartment: On our last visit we stayed at the Sali Modern Seaview Apartment, which we really liked. From the large terrace you will have a great view to port of Sali and the apartments are perfectly clean and comfortable.
  • Hotel Maxim: Hotel Maxim is currently the best hotel on Dugi Otok. The hotel is located in Bozava, near the famous Sakarun Beach. Beautiful and very quiet location. Also from the pool you have a beautiful view of the sea and the quiet harbor.
  • The House Aunt Regina: This beautiful holiday home in Dragove is an absolute insider tip for Dugi Otok. Especially for families will love this new and spacious house, which actually dates back to the 19th century and has now been renovated.

 

Conclusion: Dugi Otok is one of our absolute favorite islands in Croatia. The gentle tourism, the beautiful nature, the many attractions and the beautiful beaches have completely convinced us and so we can recommend it to anyone, who wants to visit a very special place in Croatia.


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