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Island Hopping Around Dubrovnik's Elafiti Islands, Part I

As if tasting oysters plucked straight from the sea wasn't already the most blissful experience of all time, the very next day we had a boat come pick us up for a private island-hopping tour around the Elafiti Islands - an archipelago of thirteen islands northwest of Dubrovnik (aaand thank you Google!).

I don't think I've ever had two dreamier days in a row!

Of the thirteen islands, Koločep, Lopud and Šipan are the ones that are permanently inhabited and always ready for visitors. You can easily access these three islands via public ferry from Dubrovnik orrrrr you can splurge and hire a private boat, if you're feeling particularly bougie like we evidently did (but trust me, we were living beyond our means at this time).

Cassandra and I rose extra early and parked ourselves on the beach we lived by the year before, with a cappuccino and bijela kava respectively. We savored the familiar surroundings and milky coffees peacefully, and then headed back to rouse the girls for another day of adventuring.
Essentials in hand - a GoPro, an inflatable donut float that I insisted on purchasing back in California and that took up quite a bit of precious luggage space, and not much else - and after a very long trek to our meeting point, we came upon our captain Loren from Dubrovnik Explore. He dove into a proposed itinerary for the day - he'd steer us towards each of the three main islands. We can skip the ones that don't peak our interest, extend our time in the ones that do, or just swim in the middle of the Adriatic Sea if that's what we really wanted.

Whatever goes! That's the beauty of having a boat all to ourselves!

With that knowledge, we set off.
Giggling, we enjoyed the wind whipping our hair every which way, the sea spraying gently onto our arms. There was no sun yet in sight, but the water was beautiful albeit on the rocky side.

Not too long after we first boarded, our boat ventured to the outskirts of Koločep, the smallest of the three islands. But because we felt that we hadn't yet spent enough time on the boat quite yet, we decided to pass on this particular island for now.

"So be it," Loren nodded. "We can swing by later for you guys to swim in the Blue Cave if the sun comes out."
And so, Loren slowed us to a leisurely pace and allowed us to lounge happily.

Our first real stop was the Sudjuradj village of the second and largest of the three islands, Šipan. Loren dropped us off at the docks and then waved us towards the main village square, telling us to take our time and fetch him when we were ready to leave the island.
To start, we were behaving a bit like four lost turkeys... stepping around in circles, directionless and confused. But then we perked up, spotting some prime photo spots: 
So we preened... 

And we preened...
... and then, we called it a wrap.
I can't imagine why.

Next, we spotted a small sign for wine-tasting pointing down a narrow pathway. Sold! 
We didn't ever end up finding the wine, but instead - something a little stronger caught our eye:


Home-made brandy, that is. A local couple had quite the spread on the side of the pathway, right in front of their home: liquers made in-house, with their own fruits - it was like a lemonade stand for adults. For samples, the woman hands you generous pours, babbling on in very broken English and very insistent Croatian.

It was some strong stuff, let me tell you. Too strong for us, but not for this hilarious Polish couple we ran into. The husband was a huge charmer, the woman was no-nonsense and together they made the best comedy roadshow. They had us laughing until our stomachs hurt from the second we met them. The Polish woman was also throwing back shots of brandy like nobody's business, much to our amusement.

We purchased a bottle of olive oil from the Croatian family, and then hurried back to find Loren. 
At this point, we were ravenous - having had nothing all day except coffee for Cassandra and me.

There weren't many restaurants in the small village - perhaps two actual restaurants, a cafe, and a corner store. We didn't want to spend a lot of time cooped up inside and really wanted to get back on the water, so we popped our heads in to the cafe and asked if they had any sandwiches or food "to go." But the concept of takeaway food is a strange one in Croatia - where the lifestyle dictates that food and drink is meant to be relished slowly and fully appreciated - never to be rushed through.

But the owners of the cafe took pity on these flustered, hungry Americans and dug around in their kitchen, emerging with a baguette for us to squirrel away for the rest of the journey.

And by "squirrel away," I mean tear apart immediately and dunk into our newly purchased olive oil the second we were back on the boat. It was delectable, so much so that I recall a certain someone drank the leftover oil after we ran out of bread.
Our next island was my personal favorite: Lopud.

Do you see why?! This place is heaven. 
Boats dock at Lopud Bay, which is where the main strip of town is located as well.


Waiting on the other end of the island? Which you can only access by a 10-minute buggy ride? (By buggy, I mean golf cart but doesn't buggy just sound so much more island-esque?)
Sunj Beach, quite possibly the most enchanting beach I've ever seen.

As the beach came within view when we were speeding down the rocky path on the buggy, it was like peeking into another world: ombre waters from the clearest of waters to the deepest of blues, green mountains rising from the periphery, sailboats swaying hypnotizingly off in the distance. The sand was devastatingly soft, though quite hot. We threw our things down, and scampered off to play in the water: 

After a luxurious dip in the sea, we retreated to the shore and did what we do best for the rest of the afternoon: 
Cake naps by the ocean, completely losing any concept of time. 
Enjoying paradise is quite hard work I'll have you know, but someone's gotta do it!

Once we felt the sun start to fade and the air turn cooler, we rose from our snooze with a jolt: we had to make it to the Blue Cave before the sun decides to peace out for real! With that, we found a buggy to shuttle us back to the other side of the island.
... did we make it to the Blue Cave in time?

... did I almost die?

... am I dead and talking to you from the beyond now?

Stay tuned for these answers and more in Part 2!

If you're planning a trip to Dubrovnik, I highly recommend... getting out of Dubrovnik. Let me explain. I love that town with a passion, but the crowds and heat are no joke. My advice is to explore Old Town for a day or two at the most, and then book excursions for the rest of your stay. We used Dubrovnik Explore for this treat of a day - this is 100% not sponsored - and they were by far the most cost-friendly choice! Please reach out to me if you have any questions about this!

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