Punta Cana

Punta Cuna


PUNTA CANA is the name of a town and tourist region at the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic,  The region, covering about 420,000 sq.m (approximately 1,100acres), is home to a coastline of sandy white beaches.

In the Province of LA ALTAGRACIA, with a population estimated at 100,000, the region borders the Atlantic Ocean to the east.  To the north, it borders BAVARO & EL CORTECITO Beaches.  It also borders CABEZA de TORO, CABO ENGANO and further west, JUANILLO.
Punta Cano has a tropical climate.  Although it is mildly windy, the ocean I the area is mainly shallow with several natural marine pools in which visitors can bathe.  The weather is fairly constant, with an average temperature of 26degrees C.  The hottest season lasts from April to November, and during the day the temperatures might reach 32degrees C.  From December to March, temperatures during the evening are around 20degrees C.  Very little rain falls around the area, mostly because of the flat landscape.  The summer months tend to be very warm and very humid.
Punta Cana was founded as a tourist resort and tourism still is 100% of the local economy.  Lots of resorts employ the tactics of scaring their visitors from venturing outside by propagating stories of robberies and murder.  These have to be taken with a pinch (or a pound) of salt.  People tend to be very friendly and helpful.  Still flashing jewellery, expensive gadgets or lots of money is not recommended.
There are quite a few interesting places to visit :

Altos de Chavon


(1)  ALTOS de CHAVON : A modern – day artist’s village, resembling a 16th century Mediterranean town.  It is set upon a spectacular hillside cliff overlooking the winding CHAVON RIVER.  It is home to a 5,000-seat amphitheatre, an archaeological museum, craft workshops, artists’ studios and an assortment of galleries and restaurants.


Juanillo beach

(2) JUANILLO :  It is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic.  Until a few years ago, it was a very small village of fishermen.  The entire village was purchased as a part of a very large project called CAP CANA.  In return, for giving up their rights to occupancy, the residents were offered alternative housing, money and jobs  While Juanillo was at one time inaccessible to the public, it is now accessible to people staying at one of the Cap Cana Hotels and to property owners within the Cap Cana Project and their guests.

Santa Domingo


(3) SANTA DOMINGO : This is the Europe of the Western Hemisphere.  It has preserved its Colonial Heritage for more than five centuries, and is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.


Saona Island


(4) SAONA ISLAND : It is set in the natural reserve of the PARQUE NACIONAL del ESTE.  You can relax on powder-white sans, where palm-studded beaches meet the soft surf of the Caribbean waters and sometimes even dolphins swim alongside your catamarans.


Dolphin Island


(5) DOLPHIN ISLAND :  A short boat ride takes you to a floating platform where visitors can swim with trained dolphins in the sea.  The package includes 15mins of free time with these unique creatures.


Punta Cuna

(6) DOMINICAN ALPS : (near the town of JARABACOA), where 18 waterfalls cascade between chasms of rock to water the rich, fertile earth below.  If you are a white-water fan, the RIO YASQUE is the longest river in the Caribbean and offers challenging kayak or rafting courses like the MIKE TYSON, which features a 12ft vertical drop.
(7) MARINARIUM :  In this water park, you can experience some of the best snorkelling in the area, complete with nurse sharks and sting rays.  Enjoy a COCOLOCO ( 100% pure coconut water) as you cruise along the coast to your final stop ——– a waist-deep natural pool in the sea.
(8) SEAQUARIUM :  You are provided with a diving helmet and allowed to walk the bottom of the clear waters with an unforgettable view of reef and coral life (no certification required)

Palmerston Island

Palmerston Island


PALMERSTON is an island paradise that will adopt you.  On this fascinating South Pacific island, all 62 residents are related, everyone shares the same surname ——– MARSTERS ——- and can trace their lineage to one British man ——— WILLIAM MARSTERS.

Located between the better-known South Pacific sailing ports of Bora Bora and Niue, Palmerston is the only Cook Island that the prolific explored actually set foot upon, although the clump of fifteen islands are named for him.  Cook dubbed the then-uninhabited atoll PALMERSTON.

Today, it is a postcard -perfect paradise with no bank, store or road.  Islanders have to travel 800km south to the largest island, RAROTONGA,  to find these modern day conveniences.  The island has the largest number of freezers per capita in the southern hemisphere.

Marsters landed on Palmerston in 1883 to set up a COPRA (dried coconut) trade with other Polynesian Islands.  He brought two Polynesian wives from neighbouring PENRHYN, and later married a third lady from the same island, producing an impressive 23 children and 134 grandchildren.  Before he died in 1899, Marsters divided the 2 sq.km atoll into thirds to give each of the three wives and their descendants a share.  The residents still govern themselves based on these hypothetical lines, and cluster their families on their respective chunk of the atoll.  Marriage within a family branch is prohibited.


Palmerston Island beach


White sand  frames the island.  Wind, rain and waves have slowly eroded the atoll, leaving most of it just barely submerged.  The highest point on the entire island is only 6ft high ———- a man-made mound called REFUGE HILL, where the residents cluster during summer cyclones.  Boats are still the only mode of transport to and fro.  A cargo ship from RANGIROA, the largest city in the Cook islands, stops by just three times a year to drop off supplies, loading back up with crates full of flash-frozen parrotfish, Palmerston’s only export.

Palmerston’s residents sometimes hop aboard the cargo ship, squeezing in alongside the freezers, to visit neighbouring islands to catch a flight to New Zealand.  The only other option for leaving the island is to hitchhike on a passing sailboat.  But the window for thumbing a ride is narrow : Yachts only travel through this part of the South Pacific from May through September to avoid cyclones and maximize the trade winds.


Palmerston Island people


Palmerston Island has a tradition of welcoming cruising yachts . When you arrive, you are met by a member of your host family, who will show you where to anchor and give you a lift to the island.  They say they want to think you are part of the family, but it feels more like you are an honoured guest.

There are some shared facilities on Main Street that are for the community.  Then, there is the famous driftwood Church that was damaged in the last hurricane, and it has been replaced with an attractive modern Church.  Marsters’ driftwood house is still behind the church, and gives a feel of the early structures which were built from the timbers of early shipwrecks.  The water catchment is an open community area with two large tanks that collect rainwater from the roof  for the community during droughts.  Most homes have their own water catchments, but after several months they run dry and the community system is used.


Palmerston Island homes


Palmerston is surprisingly civilized for such a remote island.  All homes have electricity from 6 to 12 in the morning and evening, provided by a community generator supplied by the government.  The island pays maintenance and fuel through a charge based on electric meters on each house.  Many houses have TVs and VCRs and movies are a big hit with the locals.  Almost every house has a freezer, though few have refrigerators and some have automatic washing machines.

The freezers are important, because the cash crop of Palmerston  Island is the parrotfish, which is plentiful and safe to eat.  They sell the frozen parrotfish fillets to Rarotonga for $14 NZ a kilo, which is a little over $3US.  It is a lucrative catch, but they have a big problem getting the supply ships to call regularly, thus they have a hard time getting their product to market.

It is a good idea to bring things for the people on the island  ———- clothes, staple foods like rice and flour, VHS movies and educational tapes and toys for the children.  Do not bring alcohol, firearms or ammunition, bud DO BRING fishing tackle and line.

Palmerston is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled places on earth.

Bardsey Island

Bardsey Island


Bardsey Island (Welsh : ( YNYS ENLLI), the legendary ISLAND of 20,000 SAINTS, lies 3.1km off the Llyn Peninsula in the Welsh County of GWENEDD.  The Welsh name refers to the  Island of the Bards, or possibly the island of the Viking Chieftain  ——– Barda.


Bardsey Island


The island has been an important religious site since St. Cadfan built a monastery in 516.  In Medieval times, it was a major centre of pilgrimage and, by 1212, belonged to the Augustinian Canons Regular.  The monastery was dissolved and its buildings demolished by Henry — VIII in 1537, but the island remains an attraction for pilgrims to this day.


Bardsey Island


Bardsey Island is now as famous for its wildlife and rugged scenery.  A bird observatory was established in 1953, largely due to the island’s position of important migration routes.  It is cited as a nesting place for Manx shearwaters and choughs, its rare plants and habitats undisturbed by modern farming practices.  It is one of the best places to see grey seals and the waters around the island attract dolphins and porpoises.


Bardsey Island

The spirituality and sacredness of the island, its relative remoteness and its legendary claim to be the burial site of King Arthur, has given it a special place in the- cultural life of Wales, attracting artists, writers and musicians to its shores.

Bardsey Island apple


BARDSEY APPLE :  A gnarled and twisted apple tree, discovered by Ian Sturrock, growing by the side of PLAS BACH, is believed to be the only survivor of an orchard, that was tended by monks who lived there a 1000 years ago.  In 1998, experts on the varieties of British apples at the National Fruit Collection in Brogdale, stated that they believed this tree was the only example of a previously unrecorded Cultivar :  the Bradsey Apple ( Welsh : AFAL ENLLI).  The Cultivar has since been propagated by grafting and is available commercially.  Since its discovery, it has led to a resurgence in many other Welsh apples being discovered and propagated.


Bardsey Island lighthouse


BARDSEY LIGHTHOUSE : stands on the southerly tip of the island and guides the vessels passing through St. George’s Channel and the Irish Sea.  It is the only square lighthouse maintained by Trinity House.  It is built of ashlar limestone and is not plastered inside and out, but painted in red and white bands on the outside.  The lighthouse tower is 98ft high and is unusual among Trinity House towers of this period in being square in plan  Unlike many other lighthouses, it retains its original gallery railings which are of iron and bellied i.e. curved out in width at their crowns towards the top.  The lighthouse is unusual in lacking any sort of harbour or quay facilities.  As it is on an established migratory route, the tower has many bird casualties and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Trinity House have tried to help the problem by providing perches on the lantern top and flood-lighting the tower, although this does not seem to have helped.


Bardsey Island birds


The island was declared a National Nature Reserve in 1986.  It is a favourite bird-watching location.  Thousands of birds pass through each year on their way to their breeding grounds.  Chiffchaffs, gold crests and wheatears are usually the first to pass through, followed by sedge warblers, willow warblers, whitethroats and spotted flycatchers.  About 30 species of birds regularly nest on the island, including ravens, owlets, oystercatchers and the rare chough.  Hundreds of sea birds, including razorbills, guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes, spend the summer nesting on the island eastern cliffs, the numbers reflecting the fact that there are no land predators such as rats or foxes to worry about.  The island is one of the best places to see grey seals.  In mid-summer, over two hundred can be seen sunbathing on the rocks and bobbing in the sea, and about fifteen pups are born each autumn.  Their sharp teeth and strong jaws are perfect for breaking the shells of lobsters and crabs which dwell in the waters.


Bardsey Island wildlife


The seas around the island are rich in marine life.  There are forests of strap seaweed.  In the rock pools are sea anemones, crabs and small fish, and in deeper waters, the rocks are covered by sponges and sea squirts.  The yellow star anemone, found offshore, is more common to the Mediterranean.

200 grey seals, 300 sheep and just 4-year-round humans, makes the island’s sheep-to-person ratio larger than even that of New Zealand.  Mobile reception, if you can get it, comes from Ireland, which lies 55 miles west across the Irish Sea.

Bardsey Island is today known as the “Island of 20,000 Saints”, as the island’s largest population resides underground (dead).  As late as the 19th century, long after the Monastery had gone, Bardsey Island bustled with 140 residents.
Bardsey Island is a place of simplicity, that is away from the 21st century.  It is an extraordinary place to visit  ——- one of such peace, silence and natural beauty, that even for those who are not believers, coming here feels like a pilgrimage.

Niihau

Niihau island


NIIHAU is the westernmost and seventh largest of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands in the US state of Hawaii.  The Island is about 4.9 million years old, making it, geologically, younger than the 5-million-year-old neighbouring island of KAUA’I.  NIIHAU consists of one extinct volcano that had a large landslide to the east.


Niihau


The Island is relatively arid and because it lies in the rain shadow of Kaua’i and lacks the elevation needed to catch significant amounts of trade wind rainfall, Niihau therefore, depends for its rain on winter KONA storms, when more northerly weather systems intrude into the region.  As such, the Island is subject to long periods of drought.  Historical droughts have been recorded several times, one in 1792 by Captain James Cook’s former junior officer George Vancouver, who had been told that the people of Niihau had abandoned the island because of a severe drought and had moved to Kaua’i to escape famine.


Niihau island


As an arid island, Niihau was barren of trees for centuries  ——– Captain James Cook reported it ‘treeless’ in 1778.  Aubrey Robinson, grandfather of current owners Bruce and Keith Robinson, planted 10,000 trees per year during much of his ownership of the island.  Robinson’s afforestation efforts increased rainfall in the dry climate.  Island co-owner, Keith Robinson, a noted conservationist, preserved and documented many of Niihau’s natural plant resources.  The Island is designated as a critical habitat for the OLULU, an endemic and endangered species of Hawaiian LOBELIOID.  AYLMER ROBINSON, a Pritchard palm tree, named for Keith’s uncle Aylmer Robinson, is an endangered  species native to Niihau.


niihau-island


Several bird species thrive on Niihau.  Intermittent PLAYA lakes on the Island provide the KOLOA MAOLI (Hawaiian duck).  The critically endangered MONACHUS SCHAUINSLANDI (Hawaiian monk seal) is found in high numbers on Niihau’s shores.  Niihau’s secluded shoreline offers them a safe haven from habitat encroachments.  “Conditions here are better than the Government refuges of the North western Hawaiian Islands,” according to Robinson.  When the Robinsons originally purchased Niihau, no monk seals were present, because they lived in the north-western part of the Hawaiian Island Chain (NECKER & MIDWAY Islands).  They have been relocated to the main Hawaiian Island Chain by NOAA Fisheries over the past 30 years, and some have found homes on Niihau.

Big game herds, imported from stock on MOLOKA’I RANCH in recent years, roam Niihau’s forests and flatlands.  Eland and Aoudad are abundant, along with Oryxes, wild boars and feral sheep.  These big game herds provide income from Hunting Safari Tourism.

Niihau island Hawaiian seal


Approximately 80% of Niihau’s income comes from a small Navy Installation atop 1,300ft-high cliffs.  Remote-controlled tracking devices are used for testing and training with Kaua’i’s Pacific missile Range Facility.  Modern missile defence tests are conducted at the site for the US and its Allies.  The Installation brings in millions of dollars a year and provides the Island with a stable economic base, without the complexity of tourism or industrial development.  The sale of shells and shell jewellery is an additional source of income.  Niihau’s beaches are known for their PUPU (tiny shells) that wash onto shore during winter months.


Niihau island ranch sheep


Species used for shell leis include Momi, Laiki or rice shells and Kahelelani.  The shells and jewellery are so popular that Governor linda Lingle signed a Bill in 2004, to protect Lei POPO O NIIHAU from counterfeiting.  A single intricate Niihau shell lei can sell for 1000s of dollars.

Many residents of Niihau were once employees of Niihau Ranch, farming cattle and sheep until the Robinsons shut down the operation in 1999.  It had not been profitable for most of the 20th century.  Honey cultivation was also no longer viable by 1999.  KIAWE Charcoal was once a large-scale export, but aggressive Mexican price competition ended that as well.  Mullet Farming has been popular in Niihau, with ponds and lakes stocked with baby mullet which reach 9 to 10 pound apiece before being harvested and sold on Kaua’i and O’ahu.
Niihau’s owners have offered half-day helicopter and beach tours of the Island since 1987, although contact with residents is avoided and no accommodations exist.  Since 1992, Hunting Safaris provide income via tourists who pay to visit the Island to hunt eland, aoudad and oryx, as well as wild sheep and boars.  Any meat the hunters do not take with them is given to the village.

Cirque de Mafate

Cirque de Mafate


CIRQUE de MAFATE is a caldera on Reunion Island.  The Reunion Island sits in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mauritius.  It was formed from the collapse of the large shield volcano ——- the PITON des NEIGES.

The very remote and inaccessible CIRQUE was settled in the 18th century by “maroon slaves” ( i.e. slaves who had escaped from their masters), then later by poor white labourers.  It owes its name to one “maroon” leader.

Cirque de Mafate_2


The Cirque is entirely enclosed by mountains, especially tall cliffs, known as REMPARTS, save for the sole river exiting, the RIVIERE des GALETS (river of the pebbles).  Inside the Cirque, there are considerable DECLIVITIES.  The ILETS are pieces of more-or-less flat lands, on which the hamlets are located.  The name MAFATE comes from the MALAGASY word MAHAFATY, which means LETHAL, an allusion to the difficulty for accessing the Cirque.

The Cirque has one village, LA NOUVELLE, and several hamlets :  Marla, Roche-Plate, ILET-aux-ORANGERS.  The cirque is entirely public property managed by the Forestry Service, from which the inhabitants rent inexpensive concessions.  There is no main electrical supply.  Inhabitants thus produce their own electricity using solar panels (with battery storage), and occasionally, diesel generators.  However, fuel for the latter must be brought by helicopter at high cost.  Because of the reduced available power supply, inhabitants systematically use low-consumption (fluorescent) light bulbs.  Similarly, all inhabitants use solar water heaters.  These can be supplemented by gas-powered heaters  ——- but gas canisters must also be brought by helicopter.


Cirque de Mafate


LA NOUVELLE and the hamlets have grocery stores where staples can be bought from.  Typically, these stores also provide some limited bar and restaurant services (hot coffee and local fast food, such as samosas).  Many inhabitants have opened GITES (dormitories, WC and showers) where hikers can stay for the night and often dine, for a fee.  La Nouvelle and several of the hamlets have elementary schools.  In 2005, the school at Marla reopened with 6 students, after being closed for an insufficient number of school children.  There are no secondary nor higher education facilities.
There are several dispensaries between which a few nurses rotate, as well as scheduled visits of a physician, but no permanent health care facilities.  All emergencies have to be evacuated by helicopter.  There is no GENDARMERIE (police station).
One originality of MAFATE is that there are no roads.  Because of this, it is a major attraction for hikers willing to experience some unspoiled nature, while still benefiting from grocery stores and other amenities.  For this reason, with the impending creation of a national park on the heights of Reunion, it seems very unlikely that roads would be ever built.  All access, including for supplies, is by foot or helicopter.

Cirque de Mafate


There are a number of footpaths for accessing the Cirque, among which :

** By the COL des BOEUFS (pass of the oxen), from the CIRQUE de SALAZIE, leading to La Nouvelle.  This way is the easiest, since there is a forestry road leading to parking lots at the pass.
** By the COL du TAIBIT from the CIRQUE de CILAOS.
** By the CANALISATION des ORANGERS on the heights of Saint Paul (Reunion).
Christopher F. Schuetze (10th of February, 2016) wrote : Today, Mafate’s roughly 800 inhabitants, known as MAFATAIS, live in tiny villages called ILETS ( a local word that evokes the French word for ‘tiny islands’ (ILOTS).
In 2010, MAFATE was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, a move that has brought in a recent influx of travellers.  For now, those who visit this “lost Garden of Eden”, are treated to breath-taking vistas, deep lush forests, wide plains, wild rivers and a rich local culture  ——- but that might not always be the case.
The reunion is home to a number of endemic birds, insects and plants, not found anywhere else in the world.  Mafate is one of the few places left in the world to see an eco-system that has developed over millions of years in “relative isolation”.
The valley is home to the Reunion Stonechat, the Reunion Marsh Harrier, the Mascarene Paradise fly-catcher and the Olive white-eye, all birds found only in this region.  Several of the plants on view ——- most impressively the large highland TAMARIND Tree that populates the  TAMARIN PLAINS just below the COL des BOEUFS Mountain Pass   ————- grow nowhere else but MAFATE.

Cirque de Mafate


The epicentre of Mafate’s growing tourist trade is La Nouvelle, which has scores of well-maintained tin-roof houses, a Church, a single-room school, a dispensary and a cemetery.  Historically, MAFATE is synonymous with “isolation”, “loneliness” and “inaccessibility”.


Kornati

National-Park-Koarnati-1.jpg


The KORNATI Archipelago of Croatia, also known as the STOMORSKI Islands, is located in the northern part of DALMATIA, south from ZADAR, and west from SIBENIK, in the SIBENIK – KNIN county.  With 35km length and 140 islands —– some large, some small —– in a sea area of about 320sq.km, the KORNATI are the densest archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea.  The Archipelago is the plural form of the name of the largest island called KORNAT.


Kornati


There are no permanent settlements in KORNATI.  Simple houses in well-protected coves such as VRULJE, KRAVJACICA, LAVSA and others are used by mainland landowners as temporary shelters.  Most of the landowners are from the island of MURTER & DUGI OTOK.  Geographically, the KORNATI islands can be divided into main groups : the GORNJI KORNATI or UPPER KORNATI, closer to the mainland, and the DONJI KORNATI or LOWER KORNATI, which are mostly facing the open sea in the southwest.  The islands known as GORNJI KORNATI include the northernmost island of SIT and the surrounding islets, divided by a channel from ZUT and its surrounding islets to the south.  ZUT is the largest and most indented of these islands.


Kornati


In 1980, the 89 northernmost of the 140-odd islands, islets and reefs of the KORNATI Archipelago were declared a National Park (NACIONALNI PARK KORNATI), protecting the islands and their marine surroundings.  The area covered by the National Park mostly coincides with the DONJI KRONATI, which includes the island of KORNAT and the surrounding islets, separated with a channel from the island of PISKERA and the surrounding islets.

The National Park includes 109 islands, of which 76 are less than 1hectare in size of the total land surface area of KORNATI (62 sq.kms), 85% is stony and only 5% has been cultivated.
The most important places on the KORNATI islands are : the shallow channel MALA PROVERSA, the oval-shape TALJURIC island, SPINUTA bay, STIVINA bay, the 4th largest island LEVRNAKA, the 2nd largest KRAST rock area TARAC SVRSATA VELA island, MANA island, PISKERA island, PANITULA VELA island, the picturesque LAVSA bay, the resort island RAVNI ZAKAN, SMOKVICA VELA island, the OPAT Peninsula, SAMOGRAD island, the PURARA Reserve for marine life, VRGADA & GANGAROL islands.

Kornati park


Most of the terrain in the KORNATI islands is KARST- limestone which, in the distant geological past, arose from sediment from the sea.  In the stone on the islands, there are numerous fossils of crustaceans and fish.  In the area, there are examples of all typical forms of KARST : bizarre shapes formed by the atmosphere, unexplored caves, areas of flat rock and, above all, cliffs.  KARST rock is porous, rapidly draining and dry, and so therefore are the KORNATI islands.  Numerous cisterns supply water for people and animals.


Kornati islands


Human presence on the KORNATI islands appear to extend back to the Neolithic Age.  The presence of wealthy Romans is attested by the mosaic floors of Roman Villas and the KORNATI island has a small TORETA (tower), that was probably built in the 6th century AD.  The island of PISKERA was also inhabited during the Middle Ages and served as a storage point for fish.  Archaeological sites in STRAZISCE & TARAC and on LEVRNAKA & LAVSA provide evidence that, during the Roman Era, life on KORNATI was very active.  There are many buildings and it is known that there were also stone quarries.

Deforestation and subsequent erosion and overgrazing by sheep and goats, for whose benefit the scrub was periodically burnt, impoverished the fauna and depopulated the islands, which were purchased by citizens of MURTER during the late 19th century.

Kornati islands panorama


Apart from seagulls, which are the most numerous animals, there are some lizards and ring-snakes, and 69 varieties of butterfly, some amphibians and rodents.  As regards marine life, the KORNATI islands are typical of the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, but, due to the underwater relief, streams and special characteristics of the sea in this labyrinth, there are also some peculiarities : algae, coral and sponges.  At one time, the sea was the richest, in the Adriatic, for sponge hunters.  The rare mollusc PINNA NOBILIS, lives in the KORNATI and is protected by law.

Not only the land, but also the sea, is within the protection of the National Park.  Fishing is limited in order to allow the regeneration of fish shoals that had been severely over-fished.

Kornati national park_


Vegetation on the islands is very sparse.  There have been 200 known varieties of Mediterranean plants, but they have degenerated.  The most common plant is a tough variety of grass, but there are many scented and medicinal herbs : sage, feather grass and XERANTHEMUM, and these provide the best forage for bees.  Olive trees account for about 80% of the land under cultivation, followed by vineyards, figs, orchards and vegetable gardens.  It is thought that the KORNATI islands were once covered with forests of Mediterranean Holm oaks, QUERCUS ILEX, but as open fires demanded a great deal of wood, the forests were slowly destroyed.

Lastovo

Lastovo island


Historically a PIRATE VILLAGE ——- a slew of conquerors and invaders  ——-The ILLYRIANS, ROMANS, AVARS & VENETIANS, all ruled here at one point, as did Austria, Italy & Yugoslavia.

The town of LASTOVO is spread over a steep bank of a  natural amphitheatre, overlooking a fertile field, facing away from the sea.  This is unusual, compared to other Adriatic islands, which are normally harbour-side.

Lastovo


LASTOVO has a dynamic landscape consisting of 46 hills and 46 KARSTIC fields that often contain layers of red soil and quartz sand.  The highest point is HUM at 1,368ft and there are another 3 hills higher than 1,300ft —— PLESEVO BRDO, GUMANCE & MALI HUM, and another 13 hills higher than 650ft.  Its “dolomitic” valleys are between “limy” hills and mild “calcareous” slopes rich in caves.  There are 5 caves on the island —– RACA (the largest), PUZAVICA, POZALICA, GRAPCEVA & MEDVIDINA.


Lastovo view


Despite major fires in 1971, 1998 and 2003, about 60% of LASTOVO is covered with forest, mostly HOLM OAKS & ALEPPO PINES & Mediterranean underbrush.  There are rich communities of falcon and hawk nests.  These used to be exploited by the DUBROVNIC REPUBLIC for falconry and traded to other kingdoms, especially to the Kingdom of Naples in the Middle Ages.  The underwater life is the richest in the entire Adriatic, featuring lobsters, crayfish, octopus and many high-prized fish such as JOHN DORY & GROUPERS  There are no venomous snakes on the island.


Lastovo night


LASTOVO possesses all the basic characteristics of the Mediterranean climate  ——- mild, moist winters and warm, long and dry summers.  The island receives around 2,700 sun-hours per year, ranking it among one of the sunniest in the Adriatic and it is also pleasant for tourists.  Since there are no “surface streams”, residents rely on bores, dams and wells.


Lastovo houses


This tiny “paradise” is bereft of tourists most of the year and attracts only a sprinkling of them in the summer.  Why ?  Fortunately for the traditional way of life that still reigns here.  It has few beaches, 1 hotel and a healthy 5-hour ferry ride from SPLIT.  But if you do brave the ferry ride, you will be rewarded with thick forests and a dramatically craggy coast and the chance to take long, solitary walks accompanied only by birds and the sound of the splashing sea.  On LASTOVO Island, you can admire the Bay of UBLI when you arrive, and then go on to LASTOVO Village where sleeping cats stretch out on the ancient stone stairs that wind up the hilly streets.  The ancient stone houses ———– Renaissance-Era houses ——- with distinctive high terraces and cylindrical chimneys (known locally as FUMARI) that look like miniature minarets.  These houses are appealingly dilapidated and there is a lovely little Renaissance Church.  Take the stairs in front of the Church and climb up the hill to the meteorological station where you can an unforgettable over the islets scattered in the nearby sea.


Lastovo lighthouse


There is one hotel ———- HOTEL SOLITUDO —– in the village of PASADUR —— that is a new hotel with all comforts and it is right on the beach.  For private accommodation try Apartments BRUNA.  You can also stay in a STRUGA LIGHTHOUSE, situated on the southern side of the island.  It was built in 1839 and contains 4 apartments suitable for 2 — 5 people.  The Lighthouse is at a height of 70metres, at the very edge of a steep cliff that offers a magnificent view  of the open sea.  Easy access to the sea through the pine woods on the northern side of the Lighthouse make the STRUGA LIGHTHOUSE a very popular tourist destination.

LASTOVO is a sparsely inhabited island and due to its distance from the mainland, it seems as though it emerges from the blue sea.  There is a regular JADROLINIJA car-ferry that runs from SPLIT to UBLI stopping at VELA LUKA on KORCULA and there is also a fast catamaran in the summer that makes the trip in less than three hours.     .