Dugi otok: A marvellous Nature’s harmony!
Sail into Telašćica bay – the biggest, the safest and the most beautiful natural harbour on the Adriatic!
Telašćica bay is situated in the south-eastern part of the island of Dugi otok. The exceptional beauty, very valuable sea and land flora and fauna, geological and geomorphological phenomena and curious archaeological heritage were the reason why this area, together with 13 islands and islets surrounding it, was proclaimed a Nature Park in 1988. There are 6 more islets inside the bay that give it a special charm. The name Telašćica (or Tilagus in Middle Ages) came from the shape of the bay that from air looks like three connected lakes (lat. tre lagus).
The area of Telašćica Nature Park is rich in opposites: quiet and tranquil beaches and low littoral on one side to the wild steep cliffs on the other side, the area of woods of Aleppo pine and Holm oak on one side and bare rocky ground on the other side, an area of cultivated land with vineyards and olive trees, but also the area of scarce vegetation over dry rocky habitats.
Three basic phenomena represent essential landmarks of this area:
- Unique Telašćica bay as the safest, most beautiful and biggest natural harbour on the Adriatic, with its 25 small beaches.
- Cliffs, or so called “Stene”, which rise up to 161 metre above the sea level and go 90 metres deep under the sea.
- Salt Lake “Mir” with curative characteristics.
The most picturesque of the islands is Katina while the most unusual one is surely Taljurić. The Nature Park covers the area of 70.50 km2 of which 25.95 km2 is on Dugi otok and surrounding islets and 44.55 km2 belong to the sea. The area is covered with beautiful cultivated meadows, and the hills with rich Mediterranean vegetation with over 500 plant species and equally rich fauna. Submarine life counts over 300 plant and 300 animal species.
Telašćica has been inhabited since ancient times, as can be seen from Roman remains in Mala Proversa. There are several pre-Romanesque small churches in the area, with important Church of St. John in field Stivanje, but here we can also find the first document about fishing dating from the 10th century which testifies that fishing done by the Croats started from these shores. Diving inside Nature Park is possible on several attractive locations near the cliffs. The Park is a perfect hiking destination, and the visitors will surely enjoy the view from Grpašćak – a belvedere you should not miss.
Salt Lake Mir- unique on Croatian coast!
Lake Mir is situated on the south-west part of Nature Park Telašćica in the narrow part of land between Telašćica bay and open sea. After the last ice age the sea level rose for about 120 metres which filled the karst depression with sea water which then continued to penetrate it through many subterraneous micro-fissures, especially numerous on the north side. The sea springs are clearly visible during high tides. The lake is about 900 m long, and the widest point is about 300 m wide. The deepest part of the lake is 6 m deep. The lake is salty because it is connected to the sea with underground channels. Its salinity is mainly higher than the salinity of the surrounding sea due to evaporation and the lake being closed. Only small changes of water level can be noticed because the fissures connecting the lake to the sea have rather small porosity. The coast is mainly low and rocky, with numerous cracks in limestone, and small accumulations of sand can only been seen in the far south-west. Temperature amplitudes are rather extreme (33 ºC during summer period and it goes down to 5ºC in winter) so the lake gets much warmer than the sea in summer and much colder than the sea in winter as the result of its shallow water. The lake has curative characteristics as the high temperature that its water reaches during summer has been proven to have very beneficial health effects on people suffering from rheumatism.
On the south side of Telašćica bay vertical rocks rising from the sea become the most prominent cliffs on the Adriatic, known as the “Stene” of Dugi otok. They reach the height of 161 metres and they offer a splendid view to the surrounding area. The deepest cliffs go down to the depth of 90 metres. The area has rich fauna and flora and you can observe dolphins as they come very close to the cliffs. The cliffs are a habitat for many different types of corals, including the, today very rare, red corals. The rocks are also home to many endemic plant species.
Is it a floating kitchen cutting board or an islet???
This unusual islet is actually a small rock plate with a diameter of about 60 metres and the height of only 3 metres. It is made of horizontal stratified limestone whose upper layers have been ruined by the force of waves. From a distance it looks like a flat surface, and since it is only 3 metres high, it resembles a round, flat cutting board usually used in kitchens or on vessels, so the seamen used a Venetian dialect to give it the name “tagliero”, which was later changed into Taljurić. During storms, the entire rock is covered in foam so there is no vegetation on it. The geological curiosity on the island is a cave without a vault which is the result of dissolving or caving in some time in its geological past.
100 000 eggs for the highest lighthouse on the Adriatic!
A grandiose lighthouse is situated on the north-western cape of Dugi otok, close to Veli Rat. It was built in 1849 and with its 42-metres-high tower it is today the highest lighthouse on the Adriatic with the range of 18 NM in fair weather. It owns its impressiveness to the yellow facade which, the legend has it, was made with 100 000 egg yolks while the egg whites provide protection from the rough winds and sea salt. In the lighthouse yard, there is St Nicholas chapel, which is becoming a very popular destination for romantic weddings and the lighthouse building also provides tourist accommodation all year round.
Sakarun beach – the island beauty
The beach Sakarun is one of the best-known beaches not only on Dugi otok, but also in the whole Zadar area. It gained its reputation with the whiteness of the sand and the purity of the sea. It is surrounded by a pine wood which provides a perfect shade during summer. The beach is 800 metres long while the depth, 250 meters from the shore, is only 3.5 metres. This makes the swimming area extremely big and shallow and suitable even for small children.
In company of dolphins and donkeys
Nature Park Telašćica is a sanctuary for abandoned island donkeys and you can see them wandering around freely. A donkey is a very important part of Dalmatian tradition and customs – people used to use it as a pack animal, especially on hardly-accessible terrain and it was considered a real treasure in every household. It was actually more valued than cars are nowadays. Modern technology changed the way of life and made it easier in many ways so donkeys today are rarely used in everyday life. This caused the problem of abandonment and need to find an appropriate habitat for them. In Telašćica the situation is different and the donkeys are well cared for and you can find them walking around and interacting freely with the visitors hoping to get a carrot or a salad.
Telašćica is not only a home for the donkeys, but for a lot of dolphins as well, more specific Common Bottlenose Dolphins. It is estimated that around 200 individuals of this species live in the Adriatic. They are a protected species in Croatia. The visitors often have this unique opportunity to enjoy their company. In company of donkeys or dolphins, in Nature Park Telašćica, you will never be alone!
About Dugi otok
Dugi otok is the island of distinct features and contrasts, the biggest island in the group of North-Dalmatian islands. It is 45 km long, and 1 to 4 km wide with a very indented coast on both sides. The coast towards the open sea varies a lot, from the very high and steep west side to the quiet and tranquil bays on the south-eastern side with a lot of islets and a big sandy beach. The south-eastern side of the island is proclaimed to be a Nature Park, and the north-western side, as one of the very attractive an appealing areas, is proclaimed an Important Croatian Landscape. There are 12 settlements on the island (Sali being the biggest one), with the population of 1500. All island villages have very good road connections, and the island has very good ferry connections to mainland. The people from Dugi otok are well-know through history as good fishermen, vine and olive growers so the Field of Sali, with the cultivated olive groove of 240ha also became Protected Croatian Landscape. In the recent years, the inhabitants have turned to tourism and they offer their visitors a great variety of attractive activities.