Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dream Island

Thursday, May 14, 2009
Badija has always been my favorite excursion place. It is a small island next to Korčula with beautiful beaches and rich nature. And when I say small, I mean really small - only 1 sq km. The name Badija (pronounced as 'Badiya") originates from the Latin name "abbatial" which means "abbey".

The first thing you see when you approach the island is 14th century Franciscan monastery (founded in 13th century), built in Gothic style. I remember that during 70's and 80's this monastery was used as a hostel, mostly for Czecho-Slovakian tourists, but in 2003 the state returned it to its original owners, the Franciscan order.

The pier is between monastery, on the left side, and a beach with sports terrains in the background, on the right side. Sports terrains are surrounded with pine, cypresses and olive trees, so it is never too hot for sports enthusiasts to enjoy sports activities. Next to terrains is a mid-sized restaurant, modestly equipped, but with beautiful terrace, with astonishing sea view. Although the restaurant might not seem like an encouraging place for eating, the food is good and you can have a decent three-course meal.

If you follow the path from the restaurant, it will lead you to beautiful rocky beaches, which are emerging from woods and go straight into crystal clear water, which is slightly warmer than the sea in Korčula bay. If you walk further, you'll find white pebble beaches, surrounded with pine trees offering lots of shade, so there's no need to carry your sun umbrella. On the opposite side of the island is a nudists' camp (also called the F.K.K. - whatever that means), but naturists often spread to other beaches, too (remember that island is extremely small), so don't be surprised if you find a beach with "mixed" sunbathers. Since the water is very clear, you can watch lot of small sea animals that live in shallow water, without any special equipment. Maybe it sounds naïve to watch the sea life just by walking through the water, but if you're patient and you pay attention, you'll see that there's lot to explore - lots of different fishes, small crabs, shells etc. But be careful not to be carried away and step on sea urchins, as they often hide in the shade of rocks. The good news is that those sea urchins are the most "dangerous" animals that that can be found here. Jellyfishes are extremely rare in Badija and Korčula, as they prefere warmer water, so they appear only after sea storms, when they're brought by strong waves, but even then they leave very soon.

Sea animals are not the only animals that can be found here. Badija's woods are home to numerous does, which were brought here few decades ago, by former Yugoslav president Tito. It is not unusual to see does to come to the beach, very near people, to seek food. Since there are many people that want to feed them, they are very picky, and they'll approach you only if they like the food you're offering. As far as I know, apples are among their favorite food, so be sure to bring some apples with you if you go to Badija. They are used to people, but be aware of the fact that they are still wild animals and approach them with extra care. Try to calm your kids of becoming overexcited as too much noise will drive them away for sure. This is a most precious experience, a true magic, if you're an animal lover.

Badija is some 20 minutes away from Korčula town, by small taxi-boat. Taxi-boats are very frequent (every 15 minutes) and inexpensive, so it is not a problem to get to Badija. Returning from Badija might be a problem, because last taxi-boats leave around 6 P.M. and, which is expected, most people want to stay on the island as long as they can, so boats are very crowded. What you can do, to assure your return is to buy a return ticket, which does not oblige you to use the same taxi-boat if "yours" was full. And what was always amazing me is that taxi-boat captains remember all passengers in that day, and they know exactly which passengers did not return to Korčula. Once, when I was a teenager, 5 of us were late for the last taxi-boat, and the captain returned just to find us - but don't try to do that, as there is no lodging facilities, so you'll have to spend the night in the open (and you even might be prosecuted for that, as that is considered to be a minor felony).

You might consider to bring food and drink with you (and don't forget the apples!), as there is only one restaurant (other is in F.K.K. area - where you cannot enter from the ground), which is so crammed full during lunch time, that you might wait for a whole hour before they serve your lunch. And while you are in the restaurant, you'll loose your spot on the beach for sure, so you'll have to spend additional half hour looking for another one (and you might miss the opportunity to see does).

All photos by: merkat

This is my review posted on trivago


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