Sunglasses: Taylor Morris | Hoop Earrings: Dinny Hall
Dress: Mango | Blanket: Obonjan’s Own
Obonjan Island, Croatia
Obonjan is a small beautiful island in Croatia, tucked a 20 minute speed boat ride away from the central Dalmatian coastal town of Šibenik. In previous years Obonjan was given over to the Croatian Scouts, but as of summer 2016 the island has been transformed in to a wellbeing island with a festival slant.
Having set my sights on some wellbeing-related travel in 2016, I jumped at the opportunity to visit the island in its second week of opening with Oli.
Today I am sharing my experience of Obonjan – the incomparable magic of sleeping amongst the forest pines and waking up to glittering seas. The combination of yoga, workshops, music and all-day DJ sets. And ultimately, why I think that anyone with a penchant for balanced wellbeing (namely looking after your body and soul in a FUN environment) would love the special little island of Obonjan.
What: A wellbeing island retreat with a festival slant.
Where: Obonjan island, Croatia. 90 minutes from Split by taxi, then boat. The closest town is Šibenik.
Flights: To Split or Zadar airports from London, Manchester or Dublin for the UK. We flew with Easyjet from Gatwick.
Cost: €72 pppn for a bell tent, €97 pppn for a four man forest lodge, or €123pppn for a two man forest lodge.
“On Obonjan you are never far away from either the forest or the sea.”
Obonjan is a tiny island in Croatia. At its most southern point you can see from each side of the island to the other. As of summer 2016 Obonjan has been transformed in to a wellbeing destination – combining exercise, workshops, live performances, DJ sets and more.
Co-founded by the team behind Hideout and Getaway festivals in Croatia, Obonjan has a grown-up festival vibe. Music, talks and workshops are interspersed with pool time, jumping in the sea, excursions to other islands (should you wish to), and a pace which is entirely determined by the individual.
As you’d expect of Croatia, the water around Obonjan is a vivid turquoise hue, striped with deep inky blues. Obonjan is mildly hilly, and you get everywhere on the island by foot. It’s easy to rack up your 10,000 steps a day as you move between your accommodation, and the various points of interest on the island.
Accommodation of bell tents and forest lodges are scattered amongst the pine forest throughout the island’s centre. On Obonjan you are never far away from either the forest or the sea.
The island’s capacity is currently for around 450 guests only, so Oli and I quickly became familiar with people – guests and staff alike. We were there for a total of three days, and we felt a true community on the island – both with the staff who were unfalteringly lovely and friendly, and with the other guests.
What To Do On Obonjan
One of the most appealing factors about Obonjan is its diverse offerings for what to do on the island.
If you’re visiting for the music you’ll rarely be without a DJ or artist to go and see. If you’re there for the wellbeing, there are yoga classes a few times a day as well as various holistic talks and workshops. If like me, and most of the people we met when we visited, you’re there for both – then you can pick and choose what you would like to see and do.
I took two yoga classes during our stay, and enjoyed an amazing deep tissue massage with Laurie Neall. Laurie just opened a new studio – The STC – in West London, if you can, book yourself in for a session with Laurie, it will be life-changing I promise you. I have never experienced a massage like it – it was totally restorative and got rid of niggling aches I had had for years. We also took the opportunity to jog (only once – it was hot!) and walk a lot on the island.
Practicing yoga on a wooden deck, looking out on to the Adriatic sea at 7.30am is not an experience I am going to forget. Equally, taking a Vinyasa flow class in the forest was pure magic. As I mentioned before every where you are on the island you can see a glimpse, if not an entire expanse, of turquoise sea – it makes each of the activities on Obonjan island all the more enchanting.
During our stay we saw Kate Tempest and Loyle Carner perform in a relaxed, intimate environment. There was music playing through that days and nights too by the pool and beach.
Most of the activities on the island are included in the price of the accommodation. Only massages, one on one classes and excursions are extra.
A huge must for the island is watching sunset and stargazing. There is hardly any light pollution on the south side of the island, which makes it the perfect environment to watch sundown followed by the clearest stars. Although we didn’t see any ourselves, apparently this year is an amazing one for shooting stars and meteor showers. If we rewound our time again we would take a bottle of wine to the south beach and just sit there for a couple of hours one evening.
The food on Obonjan is no doubt a highlight of the island.
Responsibly-sourced and organic menus boast some of the most delicious food Oli and I have ever been treated to.
There are a handful of spots to dine on the island, including two restaurants, a pizza place and a juice bar.
The Kitchen is a relaxed bistro-style restaurant, based at the pool. The Kitchen serves a breakfast buffet in the morning, and a delicious wholesome menu for lunch and dinner. The Kitchen’s menu changes depending on what ingredients are fresh and ready to hand – it includes fresh salads, pastas and meat and fish dishes.
Highlights from The Kitchen which Oli and I enjoyed included a grilled chicken salad, fantastic steak and chips and the most delicious wild mushroom tagliatelle pasta.
Bok, the other sit-down restaurant on the island, has more of a tapas vibe. It was closed the first two nights we visited as the wind on the island was so ferocious it made it impossible to sit by the water’s front. When we did get to try Bok on our third night on the island we fell head over heels. The atmosphere dining in a little nook of the forest, whilst overlooking the water is incomparable. It felt so romantic sharing dishes of mouth-wateringly good food, over a Croatian red wine (also amazing) surrounded by glowing lights strung amongst the trees. It was definitely mine and Oli’s favourite evening.
As expected of an island which attracts the health-conscious, there are delicious vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options in each of the eateries. One of my favourite discoveries food-wise was the ‘peaches and cream’ chia pot served at the juice bar. Layers of crunchy granola, dates and nuts were mixed with almond milk and chia seeds, then layered with an avocado cream. It was SO good – I quickly swapped out my normal eggs breakfast for one of these layered pots two days in a row.
Being able to enjoy healthy, fresh food on Obonjan made the biggest difference to our energy levels and overall wellbeing on the island. The best bit was that none of it felt like a conscious decision – healthy eating is so ingrained in the psyche of Obonjan that it’s a given that everyone would eat and feel well.
Despite sometimes undoing some of the good work with the array of cocktails, and fantastic wines on the island . . . !
There are two types of accommodation on Obonjan – the bell tents, which can sleep up to three people, or the forest lodges, which are a safari-style canvas lodge which can sleep up to four people.
Oli and I stayed in a bell tent, the most luxurious and comfortable version of camping I can imagine. From the wood foundations the tents are built on, to the mattresses, woven throws and overall Pinterest-able decor, the bell tents made camping a total pleasure. Not to mention they have air-conditioning, plug points, wi-fi, a mirror and proper lighting . . . this is camping even the most unseasoned of campers can get on board with.
The bell tents share a bathroom block a short walk from the camp.
The forest lodges, which Oli and I ogled many a time, are luxurious canvas lodges with ensuite facilities. Each forest lodge has a little viewing platform, from which you can lounge in to the deck chairs provided and look out on to the views.
Every bell tent and forest lodge is positioned so as to look out on to the water. A truly magical view to wake up to every morning.
What To Wear
The overall aesthetic of Obonjan felt quite Ibizan, although pretty much anything goes. I spotted a lot of denim shorts and peasant tops. As well as cold-shoulder jumpsuits and little bomber jackets for the evening.
My favourite piece of clothing I saw was on one of our yoga teachers Bess – @RoamingYoga – who wore the most stunning embroidered dressing gown for meditation.
Tips For Visiting Obonjan
– Book your flights as early as possible as Croatia can be expensive to visit in high summer.
– Split is a gorgeous town to stay in, if you fancy a night or two elsewhere during your travels. We enjoyed one amazing night in Split, staying in the Old Town in and Air BnB, before heading to Obonjan.
– Tomaseo restaurant on Šibenik’s port front is an amazing affordable spot, well worth a visit before or after your boat ride to Obonjan.
– Buy bottled water at the Corner Shop – the local supply shop on the island. It costs a fraction of the price of buying it at the bars or restaurants.
– Warm clothing and pyjamas are essential on Obonjan. It can get very cold if the weather turns. Request a duvet from reception if your accommodation feels cold – they make all the difference to a good night’s sleep.
– Bring earplugs. Oli and I called it a night around midnight most evenings, but partying can go on quite late on the island. Earplugs helped us get a good snooze when other’s were still up.
Overall . . . Our Experience On Obonjan
James Bond meets Woodstock meets Ibiza is how I’d best describe Obonjan. The beauty of it is spectacular. Obonjan is glamorous yet relaxed and there’s definitely a grown-up hippy atmosphere which falls on the right side of the ‘authentic movement’.
The island is an oasis, you feel like the whole world exists on Obonjan when you are there.
It is the most picturesque getaway for a couple – there’s nothing more romantic that dining amongst the pine trees at Bok, or watching the stars from the porch of your tent. Equally it would make a great holiday with friends. A four man forest lodge would be the perfect option for a group.
If you are looking to truly take a break from the pace of day to day life, Obonjan will transport you to another world. There is an incredible energy to be derived simply from being in such a beautiful natural setting.
There is something truly magical about Obonjan, and it is a destination I would gladly visit again.
Obonjan closes for the season in early September this year, and will open again next summer.
To view availability for the island – click here. There are still a few dates available for 2016.
If you guys have any questions about mine and Oli’s experience on Obonjan, leave me a comment below.
You can see lots more day to day photos of our travels over on my Instagram – @MonicaBeatrice
Thank you to Obonjan for inviting Oli and I to experience the island. Everything detailing in our review is true to our wonderful experience.
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