Koločep Island, also known as Kalamata, is the smallest of the three inhabited Elaphiti Islands in Croatia. You can hop aboard the Jadrolinija ferry from Gruz Harbour in Dubrovnik and be on Kolocep beach within 40 minutes, making it the perfect day trip from Dubrovnik. Kolocep is car-free, so the ferry is the only way in or out unless you fancy a long swim!
This beautiful Croatian island is extremely quiet, especially out of season when you can almost feel like you have the island to yourself. There are only two small villages, Gornje Čelo on the southeast side and Donje Čelo on the north side of the island (by the ferry terminal), where the 200 inhabitants live. By the ferry terminal, you will find a couple of independent restaurants/bars serving local dishes and wine.
Accommodation on Kolocep, apart from the main TUI Blue Kalamota Island Resort, is comprised of a few private beachside properties to rent. A good idea, if your Croatia travel itinerary permits, is so you can spend one night on Kolocep and return to Dubrovnik the following morning, or continue to Lopud island, bigger than Kolocep with a busier holiday vibe and incredible sandy beaches.
And with that in mind, on a trip to Kolocep, you need to make sure that you have a ferry timetable to hand for the return journey; otherwise, you may end up stranded.
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Hiking on Kolocep Island
We arrived on the early morning ferry from Dubrovnik, ready to hike Kolocep and enjoy a day with nature. Bring provisions with you as there are only a couple of small shops in the harbour, and make sure you have plenty of water for the hike as there are no shops on route.
The 8km hike takes you through the pine forest, around cliffs and coves and past traditional Croatian villages. The views constantly change from dense forest to open views of the azure Adriatic waters surrounding the island.
We headed up the steep track from the pebble beach at the start of our hike, which passed traditional Croatian houses scattered around olive groves and a small church. Our reward was a beautiful panoramic view across the Bay of Kolocep.
Further along the track, there were two options to take. One path leads to a shingle beach, and the continuing path is the hiking route around the island. We took the hiking route and were rewarded with the pre-Romanesque Chapel of St Nicholas standing beneath the pine trees.
The chapel dates back to the 12th century and was a peaceful place to rest before continuing our journey through citrus and olive groves.
Enjoy the natural beauty of Kolocep
The scenery was changing all the time, from dense woodland to open views of the ocean but be aware that the walk is on unmade paths and fallen pine needles, so you need to have decent footwear on to tackle it; flip-flops won’t be suitable!
We arrived at an open picnic area where we finally saw some locals and checked with them that we were heading in the right direction as our navigational skills left a lot to be desired.
Steps at this rocky outlet take you down to one of the numerous hidden coves scattered around the island, and it is here that you can swim to the “Blue Cave”, but we chose to sit and enjoy the view before continuing to the lighthouse. The pine aroma as you criss-cross the paths through the forest is fantastic.
As we moved on, the sky started changing from bright blue to overcast, and we hoped it wouldn’t rain. When we reached the lighthouse, the sea was crashing against the rocks, and the sky had turned grey.
Sitting at the end of steep steps without protection from the elements felt quite dangerous. I thought it was a little too precarious to try and reach the lighthouse with huge waves crashing all around the rocks, so I admired it from afar on this occasion!
Changing weather on Kolocep
As we walked, the skies turned darker, and the rain clouds came in; it is incredible how quickly the weather changes. The rain came down hard, and we waited for it to ease before continuing our hike.
As we continued through the forest, we passed a village consisting of a few houses, some chickens and a cat who seemed to be taunting us. Deja vu kicked in, and I’m sure we had doubled back on ourselves without realising it! The trail is quite tricky to navigate, so if you can download a map, it may be a good idea.
We passed another small bay before arriving back at our starting point, which looked so pretty with fishing boats bobbing on the turquoise waters.
Back on Donje Celo Beach, we abandoned our walking boots, cooled our toes in the water and enjoyed a crisp Croatian wine while watching the sunset and waiting for our return ferry to Dubrovnik – the perfect end to our hike in Croatia.
My honest opinion of Kolocep
What month did I travel? September
How was the weather? It was a mixture of sun, clouds and rain.
Would I recommend hiking in Kolocep? Yes, it is a pretty island, and a hike around it will immerse you in all nature has to offer. We only saw a few people during our walk, so it feels like you have the island all to yourself. It is a complete contrast to Dubrovnik and is worth the time to explore.
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