The Pakleni Islands, the emerald jewels opposite Hvar Town, are a major attraction for sailors, beach and nature lovers. Often mistakenly called Hell’s Islands, the name Pakleni is taking from a type of resin used in ship building. While they may all look fairly similar from the air, there is incredible diversity – a quick overview of the most interesting islands.
Sveti Klement (Palmizana)
The largest of the Pakleni Islands, and also one of its most interesting.
Looking for a sandy beach? Head for Perna, next to Palmizana, which is one of the most popular destinations on Hvar. It is also one of the most fascinating, and home to tourism since 1906, five years before the first hotel opened in Jelsa, for example.
Leading the way is the Meneghello estate, tourism pioneers, who continue with their innovative ways, housing an art gallery and arboretum, in addition to their quality accommodation and two restaurants – Toto’s and Meneghello.
Next door and one of Dalmatia’s premier restaurants is Zori, discreet destination for the rich and famous, and popular wedding reception destination, while the impressive olive trees at Bacchus offer ample shade and a more earthy dining experience. Making up the exclusive waterfront is Laganini, as chilled a cocktail bar on the Adriatic as you will find.
To reach Palmizana, either sail into the bay directly, or else moor up (or take water taxi) to the ACI marina on the northern shore, and make the short journey through the natural forest – there are plenty of signs.
Much less visited – but equally fascinating – is Vlaka, a small settlement on Sveti Klement’s northern shore. Here you will find the vineyards of Andro Tomic, just 1m above sea level, whose wines bear the name of the island, the excellent Dionis restaurant, and the remains of a Roman settlement and mud bath.
Marinkovac (Stipanska Bay)
Known better by the name of its most famous bay, Stipanska, Marinkovac is one of the Pakleni’s more visited islands.
Stipanska is the home to Carpe Diem Beach, the Full Moon party and some of the hottest nightlife on the Adriatic, but also one of the great chill out zones by day, with 5-star service. Interspersed between the two is Dinner Nights, a new exclusive 7-course dining experience from 21:30 on selected evenings.
Across Marinkovac, and a world away, are the delightful bays of Zdrilca and Mlini, both serviced by regular water taxi, and home to two excellent restaurants – Patak and Tri Grede.
Regular water taxis leave from the Hvar waterfront to all three destinations.
Named as CNN’s top naturist beach in the world in 2011, Jerolim is one of the most liberal islands in Dalmatia. The crowds head for Amo beach facing the town, where there is a bar, restaurant and sunbeds for hire, but walk 30m through the woods to the other side of the island to Kordovon bay and Mare’s place, one of the most chilled places in Dalmatia – a combination of FKK, gay and clothed sunbathers, where everything is organic, and almost anything goes.
The oldest building is on the nearest island, Galesnik, built originally as a quarantine station by the Franciscans, whose monastery is close by on the mainland. The Venetians built a jetty before the Austrians built an artillery fort.
There is a great eco-ethno restaurant with excellent food and astonishing views back to Hvar Town. Ask at the port authority on the riva for more info. And don’t forget to say hello to Galesnik’s only resident donkey, called Mercedes, and with a love of rakija…