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Koločep

Kolocep Island, called by locals ‘Kalamota’ belongs to Elafiti Archipelago, the group of Dubrovnik’s islands. The nearest to Dubrovnik, the island is located just 5 km away from Gruz, the Dubrovnik’s main ferry port. This is also the smallest of the three inhabited islands in the archipelago with an area of just 2.6 sq km (1.1 sq miles) and just under 160 permanent inhabitants. Two small villages, Gornje Čelo on the southeast side and Donje Čelo on the north side of the island are the only settlements.

Kolocep is one of the few, if not the only, Croatian island with two names. The locals almost exclusively call it ‘Kalamota‘ and talk about themselves as ‘Kalamotezi‘. Note, the island’s name is pronounced ‘ko-lo-chep‘ as č in Croatia is pronounced “ch” (as in ‘church‘).

Conveniently connected with daily ferry boat line with Dubrovnik, the island is ideal for a day trip from Dubrovnik.

Koločep Island, Donje Celo village with seafront restaurant
Koločep Island, Donje Celo village with seafront restaurant

When to Go

The best time of the year to visit Kolocep is from May to October. July and August are very busy with families with kids while the rest of the months are less crowded. For outdoor enthusiasts, the best time is May and October, when temperatures are milder and suitable for walking or kayaking. Open water swimming season is May to October when sea temperatures are above 20 C.

Weather in Kolocep

Weather is similar to other neighbouring islands – spring and autumns temperatures are up to 20 C while July and August are very hot when the temperature reaches 40 C. Winter can get cold with frequent Bura wind although both villages are sheltered. Gornje Celo, due to its location, often suffers from Siloko wind in cooler periods of the year.

Views over Kolocep island from the Croatian mainland
Views over Kolocep island from the mainland

How Long Should You Visit

Most of the people visit Kolocep for a day. The island is 30 minutes ferry ride from Dubrovnik so you can visit the island just for a day. Although, if you can, try to spend two whole days including one night, meaning getting from Dubrovnik in the early morning, spend the whole day on the island, overnight here, spend following day here and getting the last ferry back to town.

If you do this, you will have enough time to visit both villages that are located on the opposite sides of the island, walk or kayak around with a couple of hours for swimming, sunbathing or snorkelling and the evening to try local food and wines. If you love nature and peace, come here out of season. You will feel as the whole island belongs to you exclusively.

Best Things to do

  • Spend a day on the beach (kayaking, sunbathing, snorkeling)
  • Walk from one village to another
  • Visit some sacral buildings: pre-Romanesque St Anthony and St Nicholas church and Parish church (from 15th century)
  • go for a swim in the Blue Cave
  • check which guided tours are available and what are the current prices – check here

Blue Cave is a popular spot to visit and swim & snorkel around – see the video:

History

Historically, the island was part of Ragusa, the Dubrovnik Republic so, since the 1500s, the island was a summer retreat for its citizens. At the time, more than 2,000 inhabitants lived on the island being engaged in the shipping industry. At one stage they owned 65 larger ships that sailed around Adriatic and the Ionian Sea. There was a large shipyard on the islands too. The population decreased after the collapse of the maritime sector of the times. Coral farming was also popular at the times. In 1571, the Ottomans attacked the island forcing the Ragusa to pay a large ransom to free their inhabitants.

In the oldest files of the Parish Archives from 1497, the island is named Calamotta. The name is of Greek origin – the Greek word Kalamos means fishing rod. Nowadays, people from Kolocep fishing rod still call ‘kalamuča‘.

Kolocep for Families with Kids

The island is ideal for families with kids. Kolocep is a car-free zone, with just a few lanes leading along the bays and beach. The sandy beach in Donje Celo is popular among families with kids while other swimming spots are all on an easy walking distance from both villages. Walking consists of pleasant easy and safe strolls. Evenings and nights are quiet with no nightlife except a couple of seafront cafes. This is one of the best islands to be with kids in the near vicinity of Dubrovnik.

Koločep (Kalamota) island, Donje Celo

Beaches

A great curving sandy beach in Donje Čelo is the most popular beach on the island. There is more tiny, secluded & isolated swimming spots ideal for bathing along the island’s north coast and more steep rocks and cliffs on the north side. Check the map below.

Best hikes/walks and cycling routes

You can cover the distance between the two villages in about half an hour on foot, uphill from both villages waterfront, from where you can overlook both small bays. There are also several tiny paths along the olive groves and pine trees and low bushes where you can cross the island.

The highest peaks are Kameno Brdo (97 m) and Kriz (125m) so all hiking/walking/cycling trails are very easy to follow. For more adventurous, try some hiking along the coast on the cliff part of the island which is on the South coast. (below video)

Kolocep island map

Here is a nice video of hiking around the island – good to see to know what to expect:

Where to Stay – Kolocep island hotels

Accommodation here is limited to some private rooms and apartments available in both villages. If you succeed to get a place on the island, any location should be good as from most of the houses you will have a sea-views from at least one room. See what is available and check current prices here. The alternative is Hotel Kolocep resort (see here)

When to Make Your Reservations

If you are after booking the best places with the best views, make your booking as soon as you can. July and August are pretty busy but the rest of the year is easier but still, you should book your accommodation in advance as there are not a lot of rooms available.

Where to Eat

In both villages, there are a couple of waterfront cafe/tapas/restaurants that offer simple meat grills, fresh seafood and tasty pizza and pasta dishes. Prices are moderate.

Getting to Kolocep

By Ferry from Dubrovnik

Just thirty minutes from Dubrovnik by ferry, Kolocep is served by fairly frequent ferries from Dubrovnik all year round – click on the map below. For detailed timetables, schedules and ferry ticket prices consult croatiaferries.com

Ferry Map

Kolocep ferry map

Here is some info about getting here from other places in Croatia:

By ferry from Lastovo, Split, Brac, Hvar, Korcula or Mljet

From April to October, there is a fast ferry from Split, Brac, Hvar, Korcula or Mljet to Dubrovnik. Change there for a ferry to Donje Celo. If you are visiting Croatia for the first time see info about how to get to Croatia and about getting around Croatia.

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Map of Kolocep island

On the above map, you can see the location of Dubrovnik ferry port from where you can take a 30 minutes ferry crossing to get you to the island. The map also includes some points of interest such as Blue Cave and Donje Celo sandy beach.. See also hiking map of the island and map of all Croatian islands that also includes Kolocep.

Find Out More:

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