Five Things You Would Not Expect on the Pakleni Islands
The emerald jewels that are the Pakleni Island which glisten in the Adriatic in front of Hvar Town are a magnet for tourists in season, with their excellent beaches, hidden coves and pristine nature. But there is MUCH more to discover than immediately meets the eye. Here are five things that you can find on the Pakleni Islands which most visitors do not know about.
1. Roman mud baths
There are so many stunning places away from the crowds that you may have the feeling that you are the first to discover them, but the Pakleni Islands have been popular since Roman times. Head to the small and divine settlement of Vlaka on the northern coast of the biggest island, Sveti Klement, and you will discover the remains of Roman habitation there in the form of a wall, as well as being able to enjoy a mud-bath in a nearby bay, just as the Romans did.
For the uninitiated, the Meneghello complex at Palmižana comes as something of a complete surprise. Here, where facilities on the islands are a little rustic, one can find an oasis of art, culture and nature, the only arboretum for miles around, an art gallery and regular classical concerts from well-known performers. And let's not forget the animals - did you really expect to meet peacocks on your trip to the Pakleni Islands?
3. An island which was almost renamed Facebook Island
A rather bizarre promise from a rather eccentric previous mayor of Hvar. Having conferred the title of honorary citizen on the daughter of Beyonce after it emerged she had been named after a plant on Hvar, the same mayor extended an invitation to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, offering to rename the Pakleni Island of Vodnjak to Facebook Island if the social media supremo visited Hvar. The original name of the island is safe... for now.
4. The number one nudist beach in the world, according to CNN
In such perfect nature, why not enjoy it as God intended? The Pakleni Islands are an important part of Croatia's naturist story, and the small island of Jerolim has been a major FKK attraction for years. Its continuing quality was confirmed in 2011 when CNN named it as its top naturist beach in the world. On arrival, simply walk through the woods for 50 metres to the beach at Kordovon to find out why.
5. An eco-island whose only inhabitant was a rakija-swilling donkey
RIP Mercedes, one of the most-loved attractions and one of the few full-time residents of the Pakleni Islands. For years, Mercedes patrolled the eco-ethno island of Galešnik, the closest one to Hvar, entertaining guests at the excellent eco-restaurant there, while accepting offers of the fine domestic rakija. Mercedes was even the inspiration for the title of a book about Hvar, Lavender, Dormice and a Donkey Named Mercedes - http://www.amazon.com/Lavender-Dormice-Donkey-Named-Mercedes-ebook/dp/B00GBHRGFI. Finally an English tourist bought a male donkey on Hvar and transferred it to Galesnik as company for Mercedes. And while this provided some happiness for a while, it would appear that the ensuing excitement was too much for poor Mercedes, and she is sadly no longer with us, although her aura and legacy live on on Galešnik.
*Author - Paul Bradbury
*Photo Credit - Stephan Lupino / Palmižana Peacocks