Lastovo island - made it there at last - and well worth going!
Day 1 - Lastovo has been on the bucket list for a while and is the last major island to visit from the Split port hub. So, with plenty of daylight in June we booked 3 nights to stay in Pasadur only 3 km from the ferry port at Ubli. We also had an unexpected heatwave the whole time we were there with daytime temperatures over 35 degrees.
There are only 600 people living on Lastovo now which, like Vis, was closed to foreigners until 1989. Getting there was a trip in itself. We took the ferry from Split at 10.15 am as the catamaran, though quicker, didn’t leave until mid-afternoon. We hadn’t realised that you had to change ship in Vela Luka on Korcula which added 45 minutes, but the tiny ferry we then took (only two vehicles drove on it) added that extra element of getting away from it all. About 8 people arrived with us at Ubli at 3.45 pm where we were met by our apartment owner’s father who took us the 3km to Pasadur.
There wasn’t much to attract us to stay in Ubli, and Pasadur was the only other place on the bus route between Ubli and Lastovo town. We had ruled out Lastovo town as it is in a valley built on the sides of a steep hill – at the top and down the other side of the hill is the sea but it’s a long hike up and down. This was the right decision as we shortly went into heatwave while there and Pasadur is effectively an island (Prezba) attached to the mainland with a lot of beautiful bays around it
We were told that Lastovo has 48 islands, 48 churches and 48 fields – we saw quite a lot of all of them – loads of tiny islands we passed on the way in, many of our walks took us past churches and the centre of the island is so green and fertile that our host’s friends come over from Bosnia just to help pull up potatoes and tend the vines! What happens if you wanted to dig another field I don’t know – do you have to put up a church and find a new island to keep the symmetry of the numbers perhaps?
Apartments Bruna in Pasadur were lovely – reviewed on Booking.com where I booked them. Bruna runs the apartments with her parents helping out – hence her father picking us up. Bruna’s mother is a school teacher on the island so we didn’t see her until Saturday morning when she made great omelettes.
Anyway, we arrived, dumped the bags, changed into swim-wear and set off for an exploration and much needed swim. Pasadur had lots of opportunities for swimming both on the mainland part and the island part so we soon had our beach shoes on and were in the water in what is called Mali Lago. Once in the sea we could see how Lastovo is stunningly green – we could see miles of pine forest, blue sea and islands and that was it – very restful. However, we heard the local story of how a disgruntled suitor had set fire to the island when rejected by his girlfriend and nearly half the trees had burnt down before it was contained. Bruna brought us up to date on the story – after serving his prison sentence (a firefighter had died in the blaze) the man had returned to Lastovo and had joined the fire service – because he could best be kept an eye on there! On the plus side the forests have largely grown back and you would be hard pressed to realise that there had been such devastation.
The evening we arrived we went for a drink at the only hotel on Lastovo as it had early evening sun – the Solitudo - where we sat with a Swedish couple who were staying there for a night and said that the hotel seemed great (we saw them the next morning and they confirmed that they had a had a good night). We then walked up the road to the restaurant Konoba Pasadur where we were unpleasantly surprised to have the most expensive meal in 7 years of visiting Croatia. Looking back I would assume that this must be partly due to the cost of getting food etc to Lastovo but at the time it felt like we were being ripped off. There was a menu but much of it wasn’t available – we assumed that the restaurant had recently opened for the season, but no, it had been open since mid-April. We were pushed to have fish but my partner doesn’t like fish bones so we moved onto other options. I love risotto and regularly have it in Croatia – when I mentioned the scampi risotto I was told that I would need 1 ½ portions to make a meal – making it stupidly expensive. We settled on grilled chicken and vegetables and some fries – everything was charged separately so we paid 55 kuna for half a grilled courgette and a few bell peppers and the same again for the fries. The waiter told us he had given us an extra piece of chicken as if we should be grateful but the portions were still only average. There was a service charge (15 kuna per person) and when we were brought extra bread (without asking) that also appeared on the bill. We had a half litre carafe of white wine for 50 kuna – it wasn’t very cold and was cloudy so that it resembled a sample more than anything. The waiter wasn’t even local (from Zagreb) but he still criticised other local businesses. At the end we received a bill for over 300 kuna for basically a one-course meal.
Day 2 – we started the day with breakfast on the upper balcony at the apartments. For some reason by using www.booking.com we had breakfast included in the rate. We sat at a great table with lovely views over the bay and beautiful geraniums in bright pots. Breakfast included a range of teas (but not black tea), instant coffee (but it was a good one) wonderfully fresh bread, cheese, salami, yogurt, fresh apricots and homemade jam. There was more than enough so we took some cheese triangles and bread for lunch along with our apricots.
We had planned to walk via country paths and small churches to Lastovo Town. These are known trails and we did do this to some extent but due to the fact it was early season and the paths had not been used much there were a lot of very large spiders on huge webs going between the foliage on either side of the more narrow paths. Despite me playing Indiana Jones and walking ahead with a big stick to move the webs, my partner’s arachnophobia could not be overcome. So, we reverted to using the road for about half the time. This was not too bad as the roads are very good and the cars are not plentiful. The roads also grip the coast far more so we had some stunning views of the coast and down to tiny settlements. However, if anyone does decide to brave the spiders (we’ve had this problem before in June on Brac) and take the narrow paths inland you do come across some lovely little churches (some of the 48!)
By the time we got to the turn-off for Zaklopatica – 2km all downhill (and more to the point, 2 km all uphill back) we were very hot and desperate for a swim. We then realised the sign for Lastovo Town was dead ahead anyway. A turn-off to the right would have taken us to the bottom of Lastovo Town but we stayed on the level to walk along the modern upper road (with incredibly ugly 1970s buildings) where the supermarket, bank and tourist information were found. There were also a couple of bars. We visited the very helpful tourist info place and bought an excellent map and the supermarket to stock up on drinks and some snacks. Then we took the left turn down to the beach at the bottom called Sveti Mihovil. The walk down was on tarmac (no spiders) and in the shade so we accomplished it quickly. It is lovely at the bottom – very old seafarer cottages which have been gradually done up – a few apartment signs were visible but nothing was open other than a house with some American tourists who were swimming in wetsuits. After a superb swim (it wasn’t cold) and lunch we walked round to the other beach which was much more abandoned with an old concrete building and some ruins then walked back up to the main town. We then went up to the old Napoleonic fort, now weather station, which gave us a great view over the sea and down into Lastovo. We had great views of the fumari – the traditional chimneys in Lastovo town and set off down into the little streets to view the town properly. It was amazing how much depth there was to it – we seemed to be constantly moving down. We stopped at the square where the school was – we’d read out graffiti on it from World War 2 - then continued down. Many of the buildings are ruined with plants growing through them in abundance. At the bottom we found a recommended restaurant in a dark alley – it looked closed and cold and we decided not to go in (of course having heard everyone rave about it afterwards we somewhat regretted it). It was amazing how cool it was at the bottom – we were later told that you need to wear several layers all year if you live there. We then worked our way back up to the top, with the plan of having a drink overlooking the sea, then eating a meal, then getting the bus back to Pasadur at 9.25 pm. Unfortunately the Amfora pizzeria was shut and there was nowhere else to eat – other than by going back down to the bottom of the town. With 3 hours to wait for the bus we paused for a drink and a consideration of what next. Finally, we decided to buy some pasta and veg in the supermarket (and a couple of beers) and get a taxi back to Pasadur. The taxi driver was lovely and a cousin to Bruna – he stopped on the way back so that we could get some great views and take photos and was an enthusiastic supporter of Lastovo. As he said, pretty much everyone is a cousin on Lastovo!
Despite the cost of the taxi (we only paid 100 kuna) even if we included that in the cost of buying the pasta etc our evening meal that night was still less than the evening before.
Day 3 – another great breakfast, completely different to yesterday with the exception of the fresh bread, home-made jams and hot drinks. Today we had fresh orange juice, different yogurts and cheeses etc which set us up for a day of cycling. The day before Bruna had told us that 2 new bicycles had arrived for the apartments and she and her father were putting them together so that we could use them. How could we refuse? So, with 4 people watching we wobbled up and down the road for a while whilst seats and brakes were adjusted before setting off. This was to be the longest that I’ve ever spent on a bike with a cross-bar so I was glad that traffic was very light. We had decided to go to the highest point on the island Mount Hum (417 m) and possibly Skrivena Luka and as it seemed likely that we would need to leave the bikes for the main uphill section and if we went swimming later we enquired about a lock for them. This was dismissed as ridiculous – everyone on the island would know that they were Bruna’s bikes so no-one would steal them! This of course turned out to be true – we realised that all the other bikes we saw were just left outside homes, shops etc completely unlocked so we spent the day doing the same – very refreshing. We set off to Ubli then turned off up the very good mountain road (used by the Fire Service and the military and to access the Helipad). We were off and on the bikes for a while before we decided to abandon them at the side of the road and go on foot. We stayed on the road but there were footpath signs as well. Toiling up the mountain (it is in fact only 1,368 feet so more of a hill but we did start at sea level) we had fantastic views all over the island. By the time we were at the top we had great views of Lastovo Town and Skrivena Luka and all the little islands around Lastovo. Having got very hot on the way up (we had lots of water with us) there was a pretty fierce wind to cool us down. We could see the track down to Skrivena Luka but as we’d left the bikes behind we decided that we wouldn’t go down (today at least) as we’d just have to come back. We visited the tiny chapel at the top and the abandoned military barracks. In front of these is the footpath taking you back down towards Pasadur.
We gradually worked our way downhill. At one point a fire-truck went by and the firefighters waved – they’d obviously noticed the bikes on their way up! At the bottom we came out in Ubli and couldn’t wait to get in the sea. We ended up swimming and lunching in a lovely cove just the other side of the Ubli ferry port, cycling past the gas station and onto a track. We later watched one of the ferries arrive – more people than we arrived as it included a coach party. A couple of hours later we were off again, back to Pasadur to explore the Prezba islet/isthmus (and swim again in Veliki Lago). This was very interesting as it included a lot of tunnel entrances, shelters, tracks etc which we think were left from World War 2. We spent quite a lot of time looking around, imagining what had been there in the past, before taking another walking track which had been recommended by our taxi driver. Unfortunately the spiders won the day again so I went on alone for some great views. After a final swim we returned to the apartments, giving back the bikes which had been well and truly used.
That evening we had taken up Bruna’s offer to have a meal cooked at the apartments for us – we could choose a fish or meat menu. As I promised to help with the bones we went for fish. The meal was excellent – fish pate, spaghetti with tuna then two huge orada (I think) with lots of salad. Dessert was baklava brought over from Sarajevo by the friends that had arrived that day. We also had a 2 litre bottle of white wine and were offered the same or red – all home-made (and no, we didn’t drink 2 litres!) and chilled water. We sat outside as the sunset and it was all fantastic. As I recollect we were charged 150 kuna each for this which still made it cheaper (and more than twice the amount) in comparison to the first night’s meal.
Day 4 – omelettes for breakfast – so yellow and yummy. After we’d finished Bruna presented us with 2 jars of the homemade jam to take home with us – they were actually small enough that we even managed to bring them home to England in our hand luggage. We had to catch the ferry not long after 11 am but before we went Bruna offered to drive us over to Skrivena Luka (it means hidden harbour) as she knew we hadn’t go there then drop us off at the ferry. We took up the offer which meant that we were driven on roads we hadn’t yet seen so saw even more of the island. Ultimately we didn’t feel that we had particularly missed out by not spending more time in Skrivena Luka which was incredibly quiet. Unfortunately we then slightly mistimed our return journey resulting in Bruna screeching down the road to the port where the ferry was waiting to leave. Bruna’s father was there with his friends who were going home to Sarajevo and couldn’t believe it as we made it on board with at least one minute in hand (OK it may have been 30 seconds). We waved to Bruna and her father and our tiny ferry was away, returning to Vela Luka and then onto Split. We had a lovely afternoon sitting in the sunshine on the two ferries – much more preferable to catamarans – before we were then stuck in Split waiting for a very late bus back to Trogir. Lastovo was already fading into the distance both physically and mentally but we were really glad that we had finally made it there.
REVIEW: I’m not sure what I’d do differently – perhaps go in September when there are fewer spiders although this is a popular sailing time of year so it can be quite busy apparently. Taking a car on the ferries is expensive but you are limited by public transport – hiring scooters would be another option and they are available. Self-catering is expensive and there are only 2 supermarkets on the island but eating out is even more so; I think that many of the apartments/guest houses offer meals and that was great for one night but would be too much every night. For us Pasadur was definitely the right location - if you don't have at last a scooter everywhere else is too far from the ferry port. Bottom line – if you love Vis then do visit Lastovo!