The Pakleni islands are the product of a rich history of ancient explorers and their desire to create an exotic escape from the rest of industrial Europe. The place is therefore a hive of elegant estates, huge colourful gardens and beautifully unspoilt rocky coastlines.
After uncovering the beaches and coastal walks of mainland Hvar take the opportunity to explore further afield and dock onto one of the hundreds of beautiful bays at Pakleni. With so many to choose from it’s hard to know where to start and whilst we recommend trying to see them all, we’ve created this guide to uncover the island perfect for you and your trip.
The name of the islands ‘Pakleni Otoci’ is often mistranslated as ‘Hell’s Islands’ when in fact the name derives from the noun ‘paklina’ that is the melted down pine resin used to coat the hulls of the ships that sailed these islands.
Don’t hesitate to venture further into the lush, island forest of pine trees and reach other smaller bays dotted around the island. Kodovan bay is home to rustic, wooden sculptures created by local artists and offers a more traditional vibe compared to the glamour of many of Hvar’s other beaches. The island was recommended by CNN in 2012 as one of the top naturist beaches on the planet, so one not to be missed. The taxi boat journey is the shortest and cheapest at just 40HRK.
Sveti Klement is one of the largest and most popular islands, but for very good reasons. If you want to opt for something a bit more luxurious then choosing the Palmizana bay found on Sveti Klement is your best bet. The island is a result of the work of explorer Matteo Meneghello who after enjoying the pleasures of Hvar’s mainland decided to purchase a huge estate on the once bare island. From this point onwards in around 1820 he began work on large-scale and elaborate gardens as well as building the stunning guesthouse Palmizana Palace. He aimed to create a world of exoticism through plants and forests. Tourists have been heading to the island throughout the year ever since.
Today, Palmizana stands as the most popular and the largest bay within the Pakleni islands allowing you to enjoy a combination of natural, unspoilt beaches and beautifully designed restaurants and bars. These beachside hideouts let you enjoy the freshest seafood possible alongside cocktails and wines – a great pick-me-up for when you’re feeling exhausted from travelling. There are endless restaurants and even an art gallery so Palmizana is well-equipped to look after you on your trip out from the main town.
However, it’s not all hustle and bustle as you can take one of the many trails around the island to find some peace and quiet and uncover some of the awesome exotic plants and trees growing there – the perfect alternative to the buzzing bars and beaches around Palmizana bay. Again, you can get yourself here by taxi boat for around 60HRK with these leaving throughout the morning and returning late afternoon.
If its action, life and great music you’re looking for then Marinkovac Island is the perfect piece of paradise for you. Head to Stipanska Bay where you’ll find the famous Carpe Diem Beach bar and with its reputation as one of the hottest nightlife spots in Europe, by day the up-beat atmosphere continues. There’s a pool with a bar, beach volleyball and soccer facilities and music playing all day, so if you’re not a fan of lying on the beach for hours Stipanska bay is ideal to have a more active day out on the Pakleni islands.
If you’re worn out from the day’s activities and the scorching Croatian sunshine, there’s no better way to cool off and wind down than diving into the Adriatic off one of the rocky coastlines and having a leisurely swim in the gorgeous blue waters. Hop on a ferry in the morning and they’ll bring you back later in the afternoon for around 60HRK.
But Carpe Diem is not all that Marinkovac has to offer, there’s also a lesser-known paradise situated just 200m from the centre of all the action. Mlini beach is well-loved but only by the few people that know of it –it’s a hidden gem on an otherwise busy Pakleni island. Follow the signs through the island (like a true explorer), and you’ll reach a bay of extremely clear water, a traditional stone-built restaurant and a beautiful pebble coast line shaded by the pine forest that dominates the island.
If you’re still struggling to make up your mind about which island you want to venture out to during your stay in Hvar, your best option is to become a captain for the day by renting your own boat. This may sound overwhelming and far too difficult but here in Hvar, it’s one of the most popular and easiest ways to uncover the Pakleni Islands. It will cost you just 500HRK (around 65 euros) for the whole day (8am-6:30pm) and you can fit up to 6 people in – perfect for large groups or pairing up with other travellers to share the cost. No licence is required and the simplicity of the boat means that after a quick 10 minute introduction, you’ll be sailing away with Hvar in the distance and the gorgeous Pakleni Islands ahead of you just waiting to be explored.
WRITTEN BY: Faye Hudson
BOKO d.o.o. za ugostiteljstvo i turizam
Lucije Rudan 7, Hvar 21450
Trgovački Sud u Splitu, MBS: 060327248,
član uprave: Ivan Boko,
upisani temeljni kapital uplaćen u cijelosti: 20 000,00HRK
Račun otvoren u Privredna Banka Zagreb d.d.
IBAN: HR 16 2340 0091 1107 1541 6