Dugi otok ("Long Island") is the largest of the islands of the Zadar archipelago, 52krn long, though nowhere more than 5km wide. Only 1500 people live here, and parts of the island are very remote - some settlements are accessible only by sea. It's a wilder and more dramatic landscape than either Ugljan or Pašman, with sheer cliffs on its western side and a rugged, indented coastline that is justifiably popular with the yachting fraternity. Dugi otok's main attraction is Telašćica Bay, which is best approached from the island's main settlement, Sali, although the quiet villages and headlands of the northern part of the island are also worth a visit. It's also a possible base from which to visit the Kornati archipelago, with boat captains in Sali offering trips, although the archipelago is more usually approached from Murter.

There are only a couple of ferries daily during summer, making it impossible to visit without staying overnight, while outside summer it's difficult to get to the island at all. Sali and Brbinj are the main entry points, but there are no buses linking one to the other, so you'll need a car if you want to explore the island's single north-south road, with its spectacular views of the rest of the Zadar archipelago to the east. In addition to the regular Zadar-Sali and Zadar-Brbinj services, there are weekly Ancona-Brbinj ferries in summer, plus weekly Rijeka-Brbinj and Ancona-Brbinj hydrofoils and a weekly Zadar-Bozava-Ancona catamaran. There are no campsites on the island, but private rooms aplenty. If you're driving, note that the island's only petrol station is just north of Sali in Zaglav.

 

Northern Dugi otok

Despite BRBINJ's importance as a ferry port there's nothing much here, and it's a good idea to catch one of the buses which head north to BOZAVA, a small fishing village with an attractive harbour and a path leading round the headland to the east to a rocky coast overlooked by swooning trees. Rooms are available from the tourist office at the northern end of the harbour, while the Bozava hotel complex, set among pines on the west side of the harbour, offers tastefully refurbished rooms with TV and en-suite facilities.

Driving northwest out of Božava on the road to the village of Soline, you get a good view of the north of the island as it finishes in a flourish of bays and peninsulas. Follow the road up the westernmost of these peninsulas,Veli rat, then take a left turn onto an unmarked gravel track about 3km out of Božava and proceed about lkm through fragrant forest (drivers will to park about halfway down) until you reach one of the island's best beaches, Sakarun, a 500-metre-long bar of pebbles commanding a shallow bay. Carrying on upVeli rat, the road terminates beside a stumpy, ochre lighthouse, built by the Austrians and now a popular spot for bathing, with an attractively rocky coastline stretching away on both sides.

 

Southern Dugi otok

The island's largest village and the centre of a prosperous fishing industry, SALT is a quiet place, with nothing really to see or do, though the smattering of cafes round the harbour provide the requisite air of Mediterranean vivacity on warm summer nights. The tourist office, on the western side of the harbour over the hill from the harbour in the next bay to the north, Sašćica. The best time to be in Sali is the first weekend in August, when the Saljske uiance festival takes place, with outdoor concerts, drinking and feasting, and performances of tovareca muzika ("donkey music" - so called because it's a tuneless racket that sounds like braying), which features the locals raucously blowing horns. It's about 3km from Sali to the northern edge of Telašćica Bay, a seven-kilometre channel overlooked by smooth hills interspersed with numerous smaller bays which run down to the tangle of islands at the northern end of the Kornati archipelago. The flora along the shoreline marks the transition from the green vegetation of the Zadar archipelago to the bare wilderness of the Kornati – banks of deep forest slope down towards the western shore of the bay, where maquis-covered offshore islands rise like grey-brown cones from the water – and the whole place has been designated a nature park.

Telašćica can't quite compete with the Kornati in terms of stark beauty, but it's much more accessible. To get there, take the signposted minor road which heads west from the Sali–Boiava route about 1500m out of town.The road terminates at one of Telašćica's numerous small bays, from where a path leads southwards to the appropriately named Uvala mir ("Bay of Peace") about 4km beyond and a short distance from the park's main attractions. There's a bar and restaurant here, and a path which leads, after five minutes' walk up a wooded hillside, to a stretch of ruddy clifftop looking out towards the open sea. Five minutes south of the restaurant lies Jezero mir, a saltwater lake cut off from the sea by a narrow barrier of rock at the lake's southernmost end. The rock is a favourite with naturists, while the lake itself is popular swimming territory, although it's full of shrimps which nibble your legs if you stand still long enough – not as unpleasant an experience as it sounds.


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