Jadrolinja ferry company seems to have the monopoly on transfers from mainland Croatia to the islands and getting to Zlarin is part of their route from Šibenik to Vodice. The ferry is packed and could really do with more seating space since both times I asked whether I could sit where the shopping bag was, I got a ‘who-the-hell-are-you’ look.
First thing I notice upon arrival, after taking in the palatial homes with their immaculate gardens, are the signs for “Garbage”. You really have no excuse, unlike on Jadrija where it’s really hard to find a bin to throw it in. Next observation – no cars, only golf carts and bicycles. Good choice, Zlarin, keep it clean. Why do you need a car on an island stretching 8 square kilometres?
There seems to be a competition on how beautiful your garden can possibly be. There are colourful bougainvilleas, roses and various other shrubs and flowers to prettify even the more downmarket properties. And then I notice the sign, there is a tour that takes you around the gardens of Zlarin, probably time well spent.
My choice however, is swimming in the turquoise waters that are so distinctive of this archipelago. I don my goggles and cut through the blue to see very little underneath except karst (or that’s what it looks like), plenty of sea slugs and sea urchins, a few tiny fish here and there but not a lot. Still, it’s quite a sensation just being in such crystal water.
It’s the coral that brought wealth to this island as early as the 15thC and still continues today as an industry besides tourism. In the winter the number of inhabitants count up to 284 but in the summer months, their doors are open wide to incoming tourists and holiday makers pushing the population up to around 1500. Taking a quick look at property prices, they are fairly inexpensive by European standards but I would imagine, Croatians might think differently. See below.
The whole package of cleanliness, tidiness and snazzy buildings compared with the other islands I have been to, makes me think that this is upmarket but happily still unspoilt. Everyone knows everyone, waves, smiles, pops in for a chat and takes things at island pace. And if that gets too slow, you can take a 30 minute ferry ride to the mainland.
Jadrolinja – ferries depart from Šibenik and take 30 minutes, click on the link for the timetable.