Voyaging: Šipanska Luka, Croatia
An Adriatic Escape
The growling bass of the ferry’s diesel engines were rumbling so heavily it was felt in the chest. As the Croatian coastal city of Dubrovnik was slowly becoming smaller and smaller after our departure, the sun was beginning to set which cast a low, warm glow upon the mountainous mainland. The horizon of the Adriatic Sea included views of the tree-dense Elaphiti Islands (Deer Islands), a small archipelago. One of the islands, Sipan, included the town of Sudurad—our port for disembarking. If it weren’t for the ferry’s slow speed, it would’ve been almost impossible to process the surrounding beauty.
A transport van waited and although it was difficult to leave Sudurad, what awaited us at our final stop in Šipanska Luka was calling. In sharp contrast to the ferry’s slowness, our van driver was wasting no time making sure we made it to our hotel quickly. Along our short route we passed a classic ’60s Renault 4—possessing imperfections in the best way possible—as well as fields of olive and fig trees. We descended into Šipanska Luka and once we exited the van, it was quiet, peaceful and an idyllic spot to call home for a week. It was perfect.
Šipanska Luka, population: 150-200, is a small fishing village located on the Adriatic Sea—it was not uncommon, throughout or explorations on the Elaphiti Islands, to see men and women mending fishing nets. When we opened our hotel shutter to the right, all we heard was silence in the village. When we opened the other shutter, the Sea was in view; we could’ve thrown a rock in it, we were so close. As far as noise—even calling it noise seems too strong a word—every once in a while a scooter would cruise by. In the mornings one could hear a rooster in the distance.
In the mornings, fisherman would return with their catch and the village cats would congregate in order to receive their share. Their appeasement was reached through one small fish tossed to each cat. The cats—each seeming to have their own territory, somewhat—weren’t so numerous or rude as to be obnoxious; in fact, quite the opposite. They’d approach with a confidence and nobility that made you feel lucky to be in their presence—true cats.
The beaches were rugged and rocky but not completely inhospitable. To enter the water, water shoes are a must in order to protect the feet from sea urchins and rocks. The Adriatic is extremely salty so floating is effortless, which is a treat. There’s an outdoor outfitter on the island so if bicycling, kayaking and snorkeling are your jam, then check out Huck Finn Adventures. Koločep and Lopud are two other islands among the Elaphiti Islands. They are also worth checking out as their scenery and culinary offerings are varied and extremely breath-taking.
Fresh, perfectly-prepared seafood was suggested and rightfully so. At one establishment we were dining at, with a black and white cat doing leg figure-eights of course, a fisherman brought a still-dripping bag of lobster to the chef. There are of course a variety of other food offerings. Almost every restaurant has a water view which can spoil a person real fast. One of our favorite places to eat was Konoba U Balda. We had the chance to speak with the owner multiple times who’d mentioned he was in a branch of the military before deciding to open a restaurant so he could spend more time with his family. We’d see him riding his bike around the village, sometimes with his son on the handlebars for extra fun.
Šipanska Luka cast its spell successfully on us. Locals would say there isn’t much to do, with one individual commenting, “It’s either the bar or bocce ball,” as far as nightlife. That sounds perfect to us.
Tech Notes: My camera for this voyage was my Canonet QL17 GIII. I chose film for this trip more for the camera than for the film characteristics. This camera is small, unobtrusive and very sharp. If a quick turnaround on the photos isn’t required, I can’t recommend this camera enough and I’ll write more about it in the future.