When in Sibenik, do not miss a chance to visit Zlarin, one of the most alluring islands in Croatia! This beautiful island, one of the biggest in Sibenik archipelago (third after Murter and Žirje), is the closest one to the mainland with only 2 km distance from the nearest point.

Zlarin bay open on the west and overlooking the mainland

Actually, it has a strategically impotrant location overlooking the entrance to the Sibenik Channel of St Anthony. Due to its port safely secluded from southern winds and springs of drinkable water, Zlarin was inhabited from the prehistoric times.

It is one of the sunniest islands in the Adriatic sea with over 2560 hours of sunshine per year. With its mild mediterranean climate it had numerous plantations of almonds, olives, cherries and grapevine. Olive oil and wine were main agricultural products of the island since Roman times until the beginning of the 20th century.

An interesting fact is that Zlarin was one of the first tourist destinations on Croatian coast, along with Hvar and Opatija.

A clock-tower built in 1840, well-known as Leroj, working today and regulary maintained

Today the most distinguished feature of this island is its preserved architectural heritage that attracts turist and visitors from all over the world. The secret of Zlarin appeal and good preservation of its urban look is partly owed to the fact that it is one of the rare islands in Croatia that are traffic free. Well, not entirely car free because small electric veichles have become very popular among the islanders. But still, there is no classic traffic, no traffic lights or roads.

Plus, it is also one of the rare villages in Croatia promoted as a plastic free zone. You can find it listed on Guardian green-list of crowd-free places in Croatia.

Tradition of coral harvesting

Woman from Zlarin wearing a traditional clothes with coral jewellry
Woman from Zlarin wearing traditional costume with coral jewellry with a traditional tool for coral harvesting above her

Coral harvseting is the most recognizable cultural heritage of Zlarin. They did this since the 14th century and were so good at it that they had special licence to harvest the corals from from the Kvarner Gulf to the Bay of Kotor.

The folklore goes that on the day of the coral dive the whole village assumed a festive mood. Fishermen were getting ready for a precarious and dangerous quest. Looking for protection from God, they all went to confession and received communion on that day. After the procession, which included waving of flags, and in which the whole village took part, the priest would bless vessels gathered in the port. Fishermen in their boats would, in deep silence, kneel bareheaded and humbly receive the blessing. Following this solemn act, no one was allowed on the shore so as not to compromise the blessing and good fortune of the harvest.

The most important tool was called inženj and it was actually a wooden cross. The wooden trunks were tied with a heavy rock in the middle which dragged them to the bottom of the sea. Four ends of trunks had nets tied to them and the corals were harvested by pulling this cross over the surface of underwater cliffs and rocks.

That was an extremely hard work since the cross itself was heavy, and the process of dropping and lifting the cross all the way from the bottom of the sea got repeated many times.

If you want to know more about Zlarin, please take a look at official website of Zlarin Tourist Board. More about other islands in Sibenik archipelago in our blog stories under tag Islands at your fingertips.