Dugi Otok and Sakarun Beach | Croatia
Dugi Otok is due to its stunning natural scenery and idyllic beaches one of Croatia’s most beautiful islands. Among many Croatia travelers, this island is still considered a secret jewel. The island Dugi Otok is located in the Zadar archipelago and is easily accessible by ferry from the city Zadar. Therefore, this quiet and tranquil island with its unique attractions and incredibly beautiful beaches is perfect for a vacation in Croatia. There are many amazing things to do, and Sakarun Beach, the Telascica Natural Park with its high cliffs and the picturesque Kornati Islands are just some of the highlights on a holiday to Dugi Otok. To explore all the beautiful places, we recommend traveling to the island by car or by rental car
In this blog post we will show you what to see and what to do on Dugi Otok. Experience some of the most beautiful natural treasures Croatia has to offer on a holiday on the “Long Island”! Here are the best attractions and beaches on Dugi Otok:
Best Beaches at Dugi Otok
One of the most beautiful things to see on Dugi Otok are the awesome beaches. You can choose from a wide range of different breathtaking bays and beautiful beaches. Here are the top beaches of the island:
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.
A visit to Sakarun Beach is one of the best things to do in Dugi Otok and shouldn`t be missed on any trip to the island.
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.
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.
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. Brave ones can also swim inside but we wouldn`t recommend that.
Tip: Meanwhile, the Golubinka Sea Cave has become a popular destination from Zadar. These tours can also be booked online on Getyourguide.
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. Walk in the direction of Hotel Sali and then turn down the stairs. 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.
Veli Rat Beach
Near the lighthouse, framed by fragrant pine forests you will find another beautiful beach, which we would definitely recommend for a visit. The beach Veli Rat is not only perfect for swimming, but also gives a wonderful photo opportunity with the Dugi Otok Lighthouse in the background.
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.
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.
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.
Punta Bjanca Lighthouse – Veli Rat
The impressive lighthouse Punta Bjanca is located on the northern tip of the island, just 3 km from the village of Veli Rat. It was built 1849 and with a height of 42 meters it’s actually the highest lighthouse in Croatia. The picturesque Lighthouse of Veli Rat is located directly next to some beautiful beaches and because of its huge size, it’s a real eye-catcher. Inside the lovely courtyard, there is the chapel of St. Nicholas, a popular place for romantic weddings. Surely a very special place to see in Dugi Otok!
The fishing village Savar surprises its visitors with a picturesque little island and the crystal-clear deep blue bay at the small harbor. The pretty islet is connected to the village by a causeway and during a walk you can visit the small church of St. Peregrine and the Cemetery. Especially nice is the atmosphere in the morning, when the village Savar still sleeps and the sea shines in the morning sun.
Other Small Villages
At the island Dugi Otok are many other small villages, such as Bozava, Zman and Luca, to visit. The lovely town of Bozava, which is the perfect starting point for getting to the Sakarun beach, offers tourists many small restaurants and the only hotel complex on the island. We can also recommend a visit to Zman and Luca, two lovely villages next to the sea. At Zman we found one of the best restaurants on the island.
Telascica Nature Park
The Telascica Nature Park is located at the southern end of Dugi Otok and it is one of the top sights of the island and the Zadar region. Peaceful bays, high cliffs, olive trees, intact underwater world and a breath-taking Mediterranean vegetation making the Telascica NP a true nature jewel.
Definitely firstmake a stop at the Fort Grpascak, from there you are going to have the best view all over the Telascica National Park, the high cliffs, and the Kornati Islands.
Another highlight of the nature park are its high cliffs, the “Stene” and the salt lake “Mir”. Both can be reached via a short 30-minute hike from the parking lot. Especially beautiful is the path along the cliffs – there are many great viewpoints!
Only very few people know that there is also a second part of the Telascica nature park. You will find the second entrance just before Sali. A visit to this area is also very recommended, because here you are going to explore a wonderful nature ambience. A gravel road leads through the park through picturesque landscapes to the Cuscica Beach, a lovely beach at the southern part. Here you have a great view of the Kornati Islands. Another attraction is the Villa Rusticae.
Cave Strašna Peć
The Cave Strasna Pec near Savar is also an interesting tourist attraction on Dugi Otok. For the opening hours you have to get in touch with the tourist office in Sali or with Mr. Vladimir Sarunic, who organizes tours inside the cave.
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.
Tip: Popular tours to the unique Kornati islands can be found here.
Where to eat
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. Enjoying the delicious food on the terrace next to the sea was just great.
How to get there
Getting to Dugi Otok can be organized by ferry from Zadar. Take the car ferry from Zadar to Brbinje (the small ferry port of the island). The journey takes about 1:45 minutes and keep in mind that you should arrive at the ferry port at least one hour before departure. The ferry departs from Zadar several times a day.
Tip: Find cheap flights to Croatia or Zadar can be found online on Skyscanner.
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.
Find the best Accommodation at Dugi Otok: