We stood on a deserted Croatian quayside, feeling increasingly anxious as we scoured the horizon in vain for the boat that would take us to our hotel on the Elaphiti island of Lopud. There were no facilities or shelters in this tiny cove where we had been abandoned by the minibus driver. Luckily, the violent thunderstorm that had accompanied our landing at Dubrovnik airport had abated. However, the autumn sun had brought out wasps that swarmed around us angrily. We had left home at 04.00 that morning and had expected to have been unpacked and on the beach by now.
The tiny car-free island of Lopud is a short boat ride from Dubrovnik, so I had been surprised when our minibus driver had sped past the ancient city and continued several miles past the harbour turn-off before eventually taking a difficult turn down a steep and winding track to a tiny fishing cove with a jetty and a handful of boats but not a human being in sight. We were already well past the allocated time for our boat pick-up, thanks to chaotic handling of arrivals at Dubrovnik airport by jet2holidays.com reps. However, I’d been assured the boat would wait.
We were eventually joined on the jetty by some German holidaymakers and at last a boat arrived. Our spirits lifted but rapidly fell as it was only able to transport the new arrivals to the neighbouring island of Sipan. Alone again, we were becoming thirsty as the sun’s heat increased. We both needed the toilet, but there were no convenient trees or bushes. As we embarked upon an undignified scramble over the harbour wall to find some privacy, a group of Thomson holidaymakers arrived. The Sipan boat duly arrived to carry them away. When the Sipan boat returned for the third time, we offered to pay the captain to take us to Lopud. He refused, but kindly made a few phone calls (we had no signal) that eventually resulted on the island’s slow boat being sent out to collect us.
As we chugged towards the island and past the 14th century monastery, I felt the stress of the day gradually beginning to lift. People were swimming in the Adriatic alongside a beautifully restored galleon and lazing on sun beds. At last we docked at the quayside of our hotel: the Lafodia. It is the main hotel on the island, though there are plenty of rooms, holiday apartments and a lovely seafront boutique hotel with a classy restaurant, called The Villa Vilina. We had a seventh floor room with a balcony that caught the sunshine in the afternoon and evening and gave us wonderful views across the sea. Read my review of Lafodia Sea Resort.
We had travelled to Lopud for an Autumn sunshine break. My partner hoped to spend time enjoying relaxing in the sunshine and reading whilst I hoped to explore the island and hop across the sea to visit the historic city of Dubrovnik. Lopud is criss-crossed with walking trails around the cliff tops and through the pine-scented, wooded vales, following signs to crumbling churches. The island’s only village, also called Lopud, sits around the bay where fishermen’s cottages mingle with sea captain’s villas and wealthy Dubrovnik ship-owners’ summer palaces. The seafront has a mixture of small pebbled beaches and stretches of fine sand. Sunj beach, considered by many to be the best beach on the whole of Croatia, is a 25-minute walk or short golf-buggy ride through the woods to the other side of the island. I found it rather noisy and commercialised with loud music booming from the beach bars and energetic eastern Europeans in Speedos leaping around playing ball games. Our hotel’s small pebbled beach was more peaceful, but we had to pay for “front row” sun loungers, which was slightly annoying. The charge was introduced to deter day trippers leaving their bags and towels on the loungers whilst they explored the island. I can’t help feeling this could have been managed more effectively by simply charging day trippers.
My favourite hike on the island took me up to the ruins of a Ragusan fortress with magnificent views across the island of SIpan to one side and Dubrovnik on the other. A shoulder injury prevented me visiting Dubrovnik, but it would have been an easy day-trip using the Dubrovnik ferry service. Alternatively, the hotel’s travel agency offered guided city tours with private boat crossings: essential if you wanted to spend the evening in the city, as the ferry service does not operate late at night.
We had booked breakfast only at the hotel, as we wanted to sample the various restaurants that lined Lopud seafront. However, my partner’s back problem combined with the lack of transport limited us to eating at the hotel and at the two closest restaurants along the seafront: The Restoran Konoba Dubrovnik and La Villa. The golf buggy taxi service mentioned on jet2holiday.com’s website only ran from the centre of island to Sunj beach and the hotel’s service was not allowed to operate along the seafront in the evenings. We found the Lafodia hotel’s main restaurant food was disappointingly bland. The smart a-la-carte restaurant offered a small, expensive menu, but unfortunately several items were “off” or “finished” when we visited. We enjoyed the hotel’s pizza restaurant, but there is a limit to how much sharp crispy pizza crust a mouth can handle! Fortunately, the village’s seafront restaurants were delightful. Konoba’s risottos were delicious – especially the shrimp and courgette – and we enjoyed choosing fresh fish such as turbot from the day’s catch. The friendly waiting staff welcomed us with a complimentary apéritif and kept us topped up with the local draught beers. On a warm night we ate at the outside table enjoying the sun setting to the gentle sounds of the lapping waves. La Villa’s menu included delicious seafood and pasta. It was a pleasure to sit outside beneath a vine-clad terrace overlooking the sea.
By the end of our stay we were both feeling fairly relaxed thanks to the slow pace of life on the island. However, we were naturally anxious about our return journey. Fortunately, the hotel provided a private speed boat service to the mainland, where our taxi collected us promptly. I’d certainly recommend the island and the hotel for a relaxing break away from it all, but would suggest it not suited to anyone with limited mobility.
I had booked the holiday as a package through jet2holidays.com. I prefer to travel independently, booking accommodation, transfers and flights separately. However, I couldn’t get last-minute flights to Dubrovnik from Manchester, Birmingham or East Midlands unless I purchased them as part of a package. Thomson also offers the Lafodia and the Villa Vilina hotel as part of a package. However, if you travel to the island independently, you can catch the ferry from Dubrovnik. Alternatively, you can book the Lafodia’s private transfer service from the airport if staying at the hotel. Just remember to visit the airport loos before leaving, pick up bottle of water and pack a waterproof if there’s any chance of rain.
Visit my website for more information on Lopud Island.