The island of Šipan – the prince of the Elaphites

The island of Šipan – the prince of the Elaphites

Šipan is the largest island in the Elaphite group and plays an important role for nautical routes. This is the nearest island oasis to Dubrovnik where you can spend the night, enjoying the quiet atmosphere of a small island that civilisation hasn’t changed much, while still remaining close to the city.


Šipan and the nearby Jakljan represent the so-called Boka falsa, a deep bay surrounded by the mainland, the eastern portion of the Pelješac Peninsula and the two islands. Many have sought a good berthing spot in this lake-like environment.


Šipan itself has held on to the spirit of the past – time seems to stand still here, and only the reconstruction of a few old summer palaces suggests that you haven’t, in fact, gone back in time. There are two main anchoring spots on the island – Suđurađ in the east and Šipanska Luka in the west, while a third one is located in the Harpoti strait, although big sailboats need to be careful of the electrical cable stretching above it. When you sail into Šipanska Luka, you will find a small berth for yachts on the north side, and a few buoys opposite it.


Guinness world record holder and a safe harbour where time stands still

You can enjoy a good meal made from traditional local specialities that have made Šipanska Luka famous even beyond European borders. If you head inland, you will see a large fertile field and about a million olive trees. Šipan has been entered in the book of Guinness World Records thanks to the largest number of olive trees per square metre, which is partly a result of tradition, and partly a result of the fact that there are sources of drinking water on the island. This made Šipan perfect for use as a “spare” field for the Republic of Ragusa (or Dubrovnik Republic) in the past, although the fertile plain in the centre of the island is nowadays only a faint copy of the original.


Šipan also has a rich religious tradition; it has as many as 43 churches that once served as shelter from pirate attacks for the locals. The memory of days gone by is kept alive by the old palaces on the island that are slowly being given a modern makeover, such as the summer palace of Vice Stjepović-Skočibuha in the village of Suđurađ, the most famous one among them. The village has a small berth for boaters at the breakwater near the ferry dock, and the entire bay is suitable for anchoring during westerly winds.

The southern shores of the island are steep and inaccessible, while its northern shores are tamer, but at the same time only suitable for anchoring during fine weather, as they are exposed to wind most of the time.

To really take in the spirit of this small island, you need to spend some time there to get in synch with its distinct pace of life, which is bound to lead you back to its shores sooner or later, like many others.