Visiting Croatia’s remote Lastovo Islands Nature Park
Lastovo Island Nature Park is the best destination for those in search of the exotic in Croatia. It is a distant microcosmos with extraordinary cultural, ecological, and recreational value.
The Lastovo archipelago consists of several islands. Though the entire nature park is called Lastovo, the island of Lastovo is just one of the islands in this archipelago, which is the largest and only one that is populated.
The island of Lastovo is a remarkable tourist destination for individuals who appreciate minimalism and wilderness. If you want to be active, you can swim, dive, hike, cycle, fish, or kayak. Given its remote location and small population, it’s the perfect place to stargaze.
Lastovo is far from the Croatian mainland, which preserves its chill vibes and peaceful atmosphere. The infrastructure on the island is limited, but it has everything crucial. It’s up to you to surrender to the island and enjoy everything it offers.
In this post, we cover:
- Where is Lastovo
- What the nature park covers
- When Lastovo became a nature park
- Why Lastovo is special
- How to get to Lastovo
- Amazing spots on Lastovo
- When to visit this nature park
- Events on the island
The facts are these…
Croatia’s wild park of nature – Lastovo Islands
Park prirode Lastovsko otočje (Lastovo Islands Nature Park) is located in the southern part of Croatia in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, far from the mainland. Lastovo Islands is approximately 32 kilometers to the west of the island of Mljet and 14 kilometers to the south of the island of Korčula.
View an interactive map of Lastovo here.
Lastovo Islands includes 46 islands, islets, and rocks, including the island of Lastovo, Lastovnjaci islets, Vrhovnjaci islets, and the island of Sušac. The park of nature covers an area of 196 square kilometers, including 53 square meters of continental surface and 143 square kilometers of sea surface.
The biggest islands of the archipelago are Lastovo and Sušac. The island of Lastovo is the most distant inhabited Croatian island from the mainland. It is the only inhabited island in the Lastovo Islands nature park.
Sušac island is an isolated island with wild nature southwest of Lastovo. Sušac is one of the most exotic locations for sailing in south Croatia. Although it is not inhabited, you can rent a svjetionik (lighthouse) at the highest peak of the southern part of the island. Sušac is not easily accessible, and it is usually quite windy.
Lastovnjaci Islets are located in the northern part of the nature park. These islets are home to rare and endemic plant and animal species. Lastovnjaci is also an important nesting site for seabirds.
Lastovo Islands was officially established as a park of nature by the Croatian Parliament in 2006.
Lastovo was protected due to its mystical beauty, landscapes, dense forests, fertile fields, high coastal cliffs, terrestrial and underwater caves, as well as a number of rare species. In addition, Lastovo has some important cultural and historical heritage sites.
The nature park is suitable for sustainable tourism and various scientific research.
Lastovo is one of the sunniest Croatian islands with a mild Mediterranean climate. What makes it special is the rich flora and fauna of its mainland, sea, and undersea. It also has an enviable cultural heritage, including archaeological sites, churches, and fortresses.
Let’s check out just a few of the thousand reasons why Lastovo is so special.
Beaches and bays
Lush nature, crystal clear sea, and wild beaches make Lastovo a perfect destination for anyone who prefers the most hidden spots. Most of the beaches on Lastovo are natural – made of stone and rocks. Find the beach that suits you best on this list. The park also has many hidden bays ideal for escaping civilization.
The nature park has 703 plant species, including 53 endangered ones. Out of 141 recorded vertebrates in the park, 71 are endangered. The endemic lizard species jadranska primorska gušterica (Podarcis sicula adriatica) and lastovska gušterica (Podarcis melisellensis) live there and are of great importance.
Even though Lastovo’s nature is quite wild, there are no poisonous snakes on the islands. The only snake that lives there is stepski puž or smičalina (Caspian whipsnake; Dolichophis caspius).
Migratory birds find Lastovo Islands nature park a perfect spot for their resting. Islets of Lastovnjaci and Vrhovnjaci are home to approximately 70% of endangered sredozemni galeb (Mediterranean seagull) in Croatia.
Some rare bird species live on Lastovo Islands, including gregula (yelkouan shearwater, Puffinus yelkouan), veliki zovoj (Scopoli’s shearwater, Calonectris diomedea), and eleonorin sokol (Eleonora’s falcon, Falco eleonorae).
Together with the island of Mljet, Lastovo Islands is the most wooded Croatian island. Approximately 70% of Lastovo Island is covered with forest, mostly makija (maccia). The most common trees are hrast crnika (holm oak, Quercus ilex), planika or maginja (strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo), and alepski bor (Aleppo pine, Pinus halepensis).
Mediterranean plants and herbs
Lastovo’s soil is suitable for growing lemons, oranges, palms, carob, almonds, olives, and wines.
Lastovo is rich with herbs such as lavender, rosemary, sage, mint, fennel, yarrow, and chamomile. I picked the most fragrant oregano in my life while exploring the Lastovo hills.
The biggest island in Lastovo Islands nature park is called Lastovo. It is the only inhabited island in the archipelago and has only 6 small settlements: Lastovo, Lučica, Pasadur, Skrivena Luka, Ubli, and Zaklopatica.
Lastovo is a tourist destination, and public transportation is available only to this island. When someone says they are visiting Lastovo, they refer to this island.
If you have your own boat, you can sail to Lastovo and explore the park of nature more freely.
It is possible to visit Lastovo island and the park of nature during the entire year. You can get to the island by Jadrolinija’s catamaran or ferry from Split, Hvar, Korčula, Dubrovnik, Šipan, and Mljet. There is no official entrance to the park. You will arrive at a ferry port in Ubli. From there, you can reach other parts of the island.
[Read: Ferry and boat travel in Croatia]
Ubli is proud of the remains of the Bazilika sv. Petra (Basilica of St. Peter) from the 6th century. According to legend,12 golden statues of the apostles were buried under the remains of this site.
The city of Lastovo is a medieval place surrounded by hills. With around 700 inhabitants, it is the biggest settlement on the island and the only one not built on the coast. Traditional Croatian stone houses from the 15th and 16th centuries decorated with fumari (chimneys) and sulari (terraces), Mediterranean plants growing out of rocks, and a starry sky make it peculiarly romantic.
Other settlements are much smaller but still accessible. The island is small, and you can make a circle around it by car in approximately one hour.
Lastovski fumari (Lastovo chimneys)
Traditional stone homes on Lastovo are known for their unique chimneys called lastovski fumari. Each chimney is different and has an original design.
Lastovo residents seek to build the most unusual chimneys on their rooves in unofficial competition. This is why each looks so unusual, and some are even decorated. Animal horns were used as decorations for defense against spells or to mock neighbors.
Traditional Croatian stone houses
If you would like to learn more about old stone houses of Croatia, view our article on why you should restore your traditional Croatian stone house properly here, how to properly restore and renovate old stone houses here, and how to choose a building team and materials when renovating a stone house here.
You can explore the nature park by renting a scooter, a car, or a motor boat. A scooter is an ideal vehicle for hot summer days. If you want to be active, visit some of Lastovo’s hiking, walking, or cycling routes. Lastovo is also the place to be for divers and fishermen.
Although it is a transcendental experience to get lost in Lastovo nature park and spontaneously find some of the most gorgeous spots you have ever seen, there are some spots that are super special.
#1 Hum viewpoint of the archipelago
Hum is the highest peak on the island of Lastovo, located at 417 meters above sea level. Hum is a natural vista with a view of the entire Lastovo archipelago, including hills, fields, bays, and endless open sea.
#2 Rača cave archeological site
The karst structure of Lastovo was suitable for the formation of caves. The most significant cave on Lastovo is called Rača špilja, situated in the southeastern part of the island. This cave is a protected geomorphological monument of nature. You can visit the cave and explore its 70-meter-long interior decorated with stalagmites and stalactites.
Rača špilja is also an archeological site with findings from the younger Stone Age to the Roman period. Some examples are a unique circular double-edged razor with a carved cross in the middle and a Gnathia-type pot from the Greek era.
Another significant cave on Lastovo is Medjedina, which was once home to a Mediterranean monk seal.
#3 Galičine viewpoint for stargazing
Lastovo’s sky is one of the darkest in Europe. Light pollution is low since the Lastovo Islands due to its distance from the mainland. If you adore stargazing, Lastovo is the place to go. Any spot will do, but the Galičine viewpoint is unique. You can find other viewpoints here.
# 4 Kašćel fortress above Lastovo city
Right above the city of Lastovo is a Kašćel fortress. This former fortress with dwellings, a well, and a chapel was ruined during Lastovska buna (Lastovo rebellion) in the 17th century. In the 18th century, a new fortress was built, and it is now used as a meteorological station.
Hike to the Kašćel fortress to see a view of Lastovo city and the nearby Lučica settlement and Mihajla beach. From there, you can observe them like an eagle.
Lastovo Islands national park is open during the entire year, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences. Autumn on Lastovo is much warmer than spring because of the mild summer Mediterranean temperature.
If your priorities are swimming and water activities, visit Lastovo in the summer, from June to September. The sea temperature is warmest in summer, and the weather is sunny and dry.
If you prefer hiking, cycling, and exploring natural and cultural heritage, visit Lastovo in spring or autumn. The weather will be more convenient for outdoor activities than in the hot summer.
Bird lovers can enjoy birdwatching in spring and early summer when birds are most active and nesting or in autumn.
The ones who want to feel like locals and learn about the culture can visit some of the Lastovo festivals we are going to present in the next section.
Outdoor lovers will surely enjoy accommodation in camps on Lastovo. However, camping is not allowed outside the permitted area.
Lastovo carnival, called Lastovski poklad, is an annual festival unique in the world due to local customes. Lastovski poklad is protected as an intangible cultural asset of Croatia since 2008.
LAstovo.OTOKGLAZBE. (Lastovo – the island of music) is a music festival held in August at the Mihajla bay near the city of Lastovo. After a few days of music at the beach performed by talented local artists and the good vibes of the wilderness, you will feel reborn.
View other articles on protected areas
- Brijuni National Park
- Croatia’s tradition of dry-stone walls
- Kornati National Park
- Krka National Park
- Mljet National Park
- National parks in Croatia PLUS detailed visitor guides
- Northern Velebit National Park
- Paklenica National Park
- Plitvice National Park
- Risnjak National Park
- Sinjska alka – Croatia’s annual knightly competition in Sinj
- Strict nature reserves: Hajdučki i Rožanski kukovi and Bijele i Samarske stijene
- UNESCO monuments of culture and nature in Croatia
Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.