About 9km west of Mali Lošinj by sea, Susak is arguably the most compelling of the smaller Kvarner islands. Its sandy composition gives it an appearance quite different from the rocky terrain of the other Adriatic islands, with ochre-coloured cliffs covered in ferns, wild fennel and soaring bamboo-like grasses. Criss-crossed by footpaths, it’s a blissfully easy island to explore, and the sandy beaches are superb.

Susak’s isolation has produced a distinctive way of life: islanders still speak their own dialect and have retained a local costume (still worn on festive occasions), which consists of gaudy green-and-yellow skirts worn with even brighter pink tights. The island’s industry, fish canning, has long since died out, and many islanders emigrated to the Americas in the early twentieth century (hence the sizeable Susak community in Hoboken, New Jersey). Susak’s unique autochthonous wines include the red Pleskunac, and Trojišćina, an intriguing, dry rosé.

Susak celebrates its annual feast-day on July 30, when hundreds of émigrés return to the island for a day of folk music, eating and drinking – don’t expect to find any accommodation on or around the island on this date.

Susak village

The island’s only settlement (and arrival point for ferries) sits on a broad sandy bay. Narrow streets climb up from the seafront to the oldest part of Susak village, which grew up around an eleventh-century Benedictine monastery. The only surviving part of the monastery is St Nicholas’s Church (Crkva svetog Nikole), inside which there’s a large wooden twelfth-century crucifix known by the locals as Veli Buoh – the “Great God”.

Susak beaches

Susak’s main beach, Spiaza, is a huge crescent of smooth grey-brown sand stretching away east from the harbour. The bay is very shallow – you need to wade out for about half a kilometre before the sea is deep enough to swim in. Similarly sandy is Bok bay further east; it tends to be slightly less crowded because you have to walk round a rocky headland to get there. Unlike family-oriented Spiaza, Bok is the kind of beach where nude bathing will not raise any eyebrows. There are numerous other (frequently pebbly or stony) coves around the island, although you will need time to explore the island’s network of sandy tracks to find one that suits.

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