Dugi Otok and Sakarun beach
Dugi Otok, a 45 km long island near Zadar, is definitely one of Croatia’s best kept secret. The island with its immense beauty of nature belongs to Dalmatia and the Zadar archipelago. It’s truly tranquil and a wonderful place to spend your summer holiday in Croatia. Lots of lovely spots are waiting for you to be explored: On top you are going to find some of the best beaches in Croatia, like the breath-taking Sakarun beach. Dugi Otok is also famous for its nature spots like the Telascica National Park. You should definitely stay there at least a few days to explore all the fantastic and relatively untouched places and beaches, inhale the Mediterranean flair and chill out.
This island is surely one of our favorites in Croatia! Here are our top highlights and sights for visiting the beautiful “Long Island” Dugi Otok:
Dugi Otok – from Sakarun to Telascica NP
The Island is around 45 km long and at its narrowest point 4 km wide. Karstic hills rise up to 338 meters and while driving through the island you are going to have plenty of fantastic views down to the deep blue sea. Because of the length of the island, we recommend taking a car to explore all the fantastic places and the sleepy villages.
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 and cafes. The cute harbor with its colorful houses is really picturesque and a wonderful place for having dinner. Anchored in a marvelous landscapes, Sali is definitely the most beautiful town on Dugi Otok and because of the vicinity to the Nature Park Telascica and the Kornati Islands National Park it is the best place to stay.
Lighthouse at 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.
Savar, a tiny village, overwhelms its visitors at first sight: A small picturesque islet located in a quiet and crystal-clear bay. Savar with its small Pre-Romanesque church of St. Peregrine and the sailor cemetery on the small island is really worth a visit.
Bozava, a sleepy village on the north of the island attracts visitors because of a new hotel complex with 4 lovely hotels. During the peak-season, guests of Bozava have the possibility to visit the famous Sakarun beach by tourist train. Near the waterfront you are going to find 2 restaurants and a small market.
Other small villages
Cave Strašna Peć
The Strasna Pec near Savar on Dugi Otok 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.
Best Beaches 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:
For sure, the Sakarun beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Croatia. 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 and is definitely the most popular beach in Zadar region. Many boats and yachts are anchored at this beach and enjoy the wonderful ambience of the bay. Families with kids will also love this white sandy beach!
Tipp: Enjoy your coffee and the great view form the terrace of the Amarcord beach bar.
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. 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 300 meters to the right before you reach the bay.
Beach Brbiscica and the Blue Cave
The blue cave Brbiscica is one of the hidden jewels of Dugi Otok and not that easy to find. Located near the road between Brbinj and Savar, it can only be reached via a steep and narrow road down the hill.Walking down a small path near the parking place you are going to reach some awesome blue natural pools.
The entrance to the cave is on the right side. For entering you have to take a paddle boat, which can be rented in e.g. Sali. – Brave ones can also swim inside but we wouldn`t recommend that.
If you are there, don`t miss out on visiting the wonderful turquoise blue beach called Brbiscica, situated around 300 meters down the road. The beach is truly unknown and the best place to be on your own.
Just a few minutes from the harbor of Sali you are going to find this picturesque stony beach. 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 wonderful scenery. For the sporty ones, along the coast there is a small pathway for hiking and jogging.
Veli Rat Beaches
Around the huge Veli Rat Lighthouse are two tranquil pebble beaches. Surrounded by a wonderful ambience with the yellow lighthouse and the Mediterranean pine trees, this beautiful bay is really worth spending a relaxing afternoon.
Telascica Nature Park
The 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 first make 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.
The ultimate highlights of Telascica are the high cliffs called “Stene” and the salt lake “Mir” which can be reached by a 30 minutes walk from the last parking place. Tipp: Take the walking trail on the top of the cliffs, the scenery is unbeatable and the views are amazing.
Because of its immense beauty, we also recommend to visit the other part of the Nature Park near Sali. For entering the park you have to turn right on the road to Sali (there is no entrance fee) and then follow the street to Cuscica Beach and to Villa Rusticae.
Visiting the Kornati Islands is one of the best things you can do while you are traveling in Croatia. With 89 uninhabited islands, islets and reefs the National Park is the most widely-spreaded archipelago on the Mediterranean.
Amongst others, the Kornati Islands can be visited by day-excursions from Sali.
Where to stay – Dugi Otok accommodation
The Island offers a handful hotels to stay. However, it’s more common to rent an apartment. You are going to find plenty of them on booking.com. We were at the Sali modern seaview apartment, which was an excellent choice.
If you prefer camping, there are two campsites on the island of Dugi Otok:
- Camp Kargita – an auto camp situated near the lighthouse at Punta Bianca
- Camp Mandarino – dog friendly camp situated near Soline
Where to eat at 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. Enjoying the delicious food on the terrace next to the sea was just great.
Ferry to Dugi Otok – Zadar to Brbinj
The island Dugi Otok can be reached by ferry from Zadar. If you go by car you have to take the car ferry to Brbinj. The trip will take you about 1:45 minutes and you should be at the harbor 1 hour before departure. For the prices and the timetables you can check here
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