Lessons Learned From Traveling To A Remote Island
David and I spent two weeks hopping the Dalmatian Islands back in June. Your first question might be, "Wait, where are the Dalmatian Islands?" They are in Croatia, off the southwest part of the country. "Oh, that's cool. Wait, where is Croatia?" Glad you asked. It's right here, on the other side of the Adriatic Sea from Italy.
Croatia had been on both of our bucket lists for some time, and I must say it did not disappoint. It is one of my top three favorite countries I have visited (along with Iceland and Scotland). The scenery and landscape is so breath taking, and every corner looks like a perfect postcard. Our trip to the Dalmatian Islands was capping off a six week trip through the Netherlands, France, and Italy with my family, and we were glad to be heading somewhere we could just sit back and relax. What better way to unwind than three remote islands in the middle of the sea?
We quickly found that remote islands are completely different than most other places (spoiler: we loved it). From public transportation to grocery shopping to just finding something to do, the more remote you get, the bigger the difference. Of the three islands we visited - Mljet, Korcula, and Lastovo - each had its own adventures, and all were a blast to visit.
Our first stop was Sobra, a tiny town on Mljet. We had read that the island of Mljet was remote, which both intrigued and scared us. We had never been to a place that was considered remote before. What challenges would that bring? Would there be Airbnbs, hotels, restaurants, etc? We were pretty clueless of what to expect.
I will say we learned a lot after staying on Mljet for just three days. Living on the island provided us a perspective of what it was truly like to stay somewhere “remote.” Here is a quick recap of lessons learned from visiting Mljet.
Some areas are more remote than others. The east side of the island near Sobra was populated by locals only, while the west side, Pomena, was almost all tourists. It was nice to have an area where we could buy something if needed (souvenirs, alcohol, etc.), but in general we enjoy traveling to areas where there aren't many tourists. Sobra consisted of one road that horseshoed around the most beautiful blue water I have ever seen. There was a small market on the street, three restaurants, and that was about it. On the other hand, Pomena had several nice restaurants, markets, resorts, and people. We spent most of our trip either in the National Park or close to Sobra, but it was nice to go to Pomena for an evening and enjoy a small dose of a more populated area.
There are grocery stores, Airbnbs, and restaurants—but not a lot. There are 3 small restaurants in Sobra (a pizza place, a seafood restaurant, and an English pub). We tried two of the three. Overall, decent quality and a higher price than you would expect for Croatia. Making your own food is a much cheaper, higher-quality option when choices are limited. However, the closest "fresh" produce was about a 15 minute drive, and there weren't any other options.
Nude beaches—If you have ever wanted to go nude on a beach, a remote island would be the place to try it. I’ll just leave that there.
We visited Korcula between Mljet and Lastovo. There isn’t much to say about Korcula because 1) it isn’t remote and 2) we mostly just drank local wine (try Pošip, it's fantastic) and admired the view from our Airbnb while there. We stayed just outside of Korcula Town - the cultural center of Korcula, full of delicious food and plenty to do - so if we needed anything we had to walk 20 minutes into town to get it, then walk back. We definitely did not drink a bottle of wine, put on jogging clothes, jog into town, buy another bottle of wine from a weirded-out bartender, and then jog home. Ok, we did do that. Korcula was beautiful, and parts of it are very remote, but Mljet and Lastovo were much more secluded.
If you're looking for a remote place to stay that's also fun, I highly recommend Korcula. Korcula Town is full of people, restaurants, bars, clubs, wine shops, stores, and has a great night life. Just outside of Korcula town you can stay in the more populated suburbs, or head out a little further to get a more remote experience.
Lastovo was our final stop, and by far the most remote place I have ever been and may ever go. The ferry ride from Korcula was roughly three hours and we were among only a handful of tourists on the ferry. Upon arriving, our Airbnb host had advised us to take the (only) taxi from the ferry port to the town of Lastovo. Note: The island is Lastovo and there is a town named Lastovo. Lastovo, Lastovo, yep. Our kind Airbnb host picked us up from Lastovo (the town), and took us to the her house in the next village over, about 1.5 miles or so. The village was quaint and charming, another one-road town. The road was a mile long with scattered houses and mom-and-pop restaurants. Our host explained to us boats frequently dock in their port so the restaurants see more business than you would expect.
Our stay in Lastovo was lovely. We came to love the small size, limited choices, and friendly locals. That is not to stay we didn't have any adventurous moments...
If you see a dirt road with a broken sign, it probably doesn't lead anywhere. I am ashamed to say we fell for this more than once. We were searching for a beautiful pebble beach and followed what we thought were the correct signs. We did notice they were on the ground instead of hanging on the post, but it didn't click until we were at the end of a 10 mile dirt path that maybe the signs were on the ground for a reason. Lesson learned. Sidenote: The island has very few roads, and almost no signage which makes getting lost very easy (and fun).
Remote places have less rules on renting property (scooters, boats, etc.). So we rented a scooter. We had never driven a scooter before. I was convinced it was a crucial part of the island experience. David was pretty adamant that we would kill ourselves if we rented one. I would say I was half right, half wrong. We were able to rent a scooter no problem with a verbal agreement between the owner that we would return the scooter in three days. Most European cities and towns have some regulation on who can rent and drive a scooter (experience is required). However, this was not the case in Lastovo. I will say driving a scooter across the beautiful island of Lastovo was one of the highlights of our entire trip to Europe. I can’t quite describe the terror, adrenaline, and pure joy the experience brought us, but it was incredible, and by the second day we were zipping along a deserted highway that spanned the entire island. Full disclosure, we did crash into a brick wall once but came away with only minor bruises.
Untouched nature, is just...wow. Spending close to 10 days in pure, untouched nature was stunningly peaceful. Our Airbnb overlooked a beautiful bay with lush green trees. We did not hear sirens, loud music, or street traffic for days. We didn't notice the peace the quiet nature brought us until we were back on the mainland. I strongly suggest getting out in nature--touched or untouched--and just enjoying the peace.
To be honest, these remote islands had more to explore and do than I anticipated. The beautiful landscapes, sandy beaches, and local restaurants kept us busy for ten straight days. There are so many rocks unturned, and paths unexplored, and at times it feels like you have the whole island to yourself. Remote travel isn't for everyone though. I would recommend it for people looking for an adventure, who don't mind eating in a lot, and spending a lot of time on your own. You can almost always find spots where people congregate, even in remote places. But more likely than not it will just be you, your scooter, and the island.
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