Just along from Bi-Village holiday resort in Croatia, where we were staying in an Al Fresco Holidays mobile home, is Fazana. A lively little town which is home to the Brijuni Islands National Park Office and the place to catch the boat across to the Brijuni Islands.
Fazana is only 1km along the shore from Bi-Village campsite, so it’s not far to get to from the campsite. Our boys are 4 and 6 years old and managed to walk there (via a park on the shore) and back again no problem (although a fair bit of moaning on the way back!).
The Brijuni Islands are located a mile off shore from the Istrian peninsula of Croatia, in the Adriatic Sea. There are a total of 14 islands and most people visit the largest island, Veli Brijun, on day trips or for a short stay in the hotels.
Visiting Veli Brijun
To visit the largest island you need to contact the national park office a few days before to book the trip. Once booked you can pick up and pay for the tickets on arrival at the office in Fazana. The tickets give you admission to the national park, the boat trip and a guided tour of the island.
The boat trip is fun in itself and it’s great to see Fazana from the sea. But it’s the island that’s the main attraction and we weren’t disappointed!
When you arrive on the island there will be more than one road train waiting with guides holding different language signs. We can only speak English, so headed over to that guide. Two of the trains there had open sides and one had closed sides with windows, which of course was the one we told to head to! It was roasting inside and the windows didn’t let in that much of a breeze to cool us down. So if you can speak more than one language pick the one beside an open sided road train!
The road trains take you around the island, visiting the safari park, going past various important buildings, roman ruins and an ancient Olive tree, before returning to the pier area. A lot of the tour talks about the previous owners of the island, originally it was owned by Venice and used as a quarry for stone for the city of Venice.
After World War II the islands became under ownership of the Yugoslavian president Tito, who used it as his personal summer residence. He had many famous celebrities and heads of state visit when he owned the islands. Three years after Tito died (in 1980) the islands were declared a National Park of Yugoslavia. When Croatia gained independence in 1994 the islands became part of an International Conference Centre with 4 hotels being reopened and the safari park was opened with animals that had been given to Tito.
The tour was interesting and we certainly didn’t know much about the history until we were told about the use of the island by our guide. I felt a bit sorry for the elephant, Lanka, at the safari park as her mate had died a few years ago and she was now alone in her enclosure.
There was also a rather active sea turtle in a large enclosure that was recovering from an injury and due to be released back into the ocean soon.
We went past the ruins of Roman villas and back toward the pier where the cafe was situated. The guide informed everyone that they had a snack break and then from there it was a walking tour to see the museum about Tito. We weren’t particularly interested in this and didn’t think it would hold the children’s interest. But I had heard there were some dinosaur prints on the island and chose to visit them instead.
You can hire bikes or golf buggy’s from behind one of the hotels at the pier. It’s 250 Kuna per hour for a golf buggy, which we thought would be more fun (for the kids of course… ha ha!) than the bikes. With only limited time we were soon racing along the islands narrow roads at a top speed of 25mph. Not exactly fast, but that was my foot flat to the floor!
The dinosaur footprints are located on the right hand side of the safari park, push a button at the side of the road to open the gate and drive in to the safari park. Turn right at the sign for dinosaur prints and park up outside the small gate.
It’s a 30 second walk through a woodland to the rocky shore where you’ll find a large dinosaur protecting a nest of eggs. We wandered down to the shore and soon found lots of dinosaur prints in the rock. Some are full prints and others are just impressions of the toes or rounded off holes where they have been eroded. It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip, although I can completely understand they don’t want to take train loads of people to see them and damage the footprints.
The dinosaur prints are in one small area and it took about half and hour to get there and look at them, so we hopped back onto the golf buggy and ‘whizzed’ over to the other end of the island to have a quick look at the roman ruins and the Olive tree.
We didn’t have enough time to get to the ruins, perhaps we should have gone for two hours with the golf buggy or hired bikes? But it was a lovely bay to stop at anyway.
After dropping the golf buggy off and paying for our time we had an ice cream from the cafe and waited for the next boat, whilst watching the fish.
Brijuni islands were a definite highlight of my trip. The children enjoyed it and although the road train was fun, I think we all preferred exploring by ourselves. I think if we went again we would hire bikes to cycle around the island as it would be cheaper and so we could spend more time exploring. Although I can’t deny playing with the golf buggy was fun!