What do Saint Nicholas and sea shells have in common?

Nothing except the fact that one island in Montenegro has two names…wait, three: Saint Nicholas island, Školj and Hawaii. An explanation for each one of them is equally interesting.

The oldest name might be Školj, since the shape of an island resemble sea shell (školjka is shell in a local language). The other version says that name originate from Italian word scoglio, meaning cliff. Both seem acceptable to me.

Even from the coast, one can spot 16th century Catholic Church on the island, situated one kilometer away. Dedicated to St. Nicholas and severely damaged in the last earthquake in 1979 it silently keeps its secrets.

The latest name Hawaii is even preferred by local people and used more often. Famous discotheque built here in Hawaii style was one of the main attractions of Budva for a while. Unfortunately, it exists nowadays only in explanations of local people given to confused tourists.

I checked the island for you and if I should describe it in one word I would say “wild and beautiful”. I know there are two words, don’t go into details :-). More, the better 🙂

Our captain who gave as a boat trip had two years of experience…in his life. He spoke a little bit strange Russian language, often repeating his father’s words. As we all do often.

When the captain realized he was removed from his duty by two local men, somehow he became inconsolable. The journey anyway lasted as long as his cry, which means not too long.

It is interesting that boat didn’t have a straight way to the island. There is a shallow path stretching from an island in direction on Budva, only 50 cm deep on some places, and can be crossed safely only on two places. Does it mean that an island used to be connected to a mainland long time ago? The path can still be clearly seen from the mountains, much brighter in color compared to the rest of the sea.

Legends have their own way of explaining things. One of them says that Saint Sava (highly respected Serbian Saint) in 12th century planned to embark on the ship in Budva so that he can do his pilgrimage in the Holly Land. Big waves and restless sea spoiled his plans, so he threw some stones in the water, making the path to the ship waiting for him to embark.

The first thing that catches your eyes here is incredibly dense vegetation. Nice mixture of Mediterranean flora and evergreens make the forest a perfect shelter for animals. In the time of Yugoslavia, some deer were brought here and special reservoirs for water have been built on the island. Nobody has seen them for a long time now and probably because nobody dares to enter and explore the forest. I have noticed the path taking you to the interior of the island, but workers in a restaurant warned me not to go there cause of the danger of snakes. It seemed scary enough.

Rabbits still come at night to the beach when only few people disturb the peace of the island. Waiters leave them food (mostly bread) at night, knowing they will come and get it. Pheasants can also be found on the island and many different types of birds.

I have decided to check the beaches first. The first one, looking at Budva, seemed quite appealing. Since the Restaurant is situated nearby and I was desperate for a coffee, I decided to come back here later for coffee and swimming. People and their choices are simple (read: predictable).

Active preparation for the season was all around. Not too many people and perfect for taking photos. The other beach close to the church is already partly facing an open sea. It has a nice view on the Old Town and the Church in the back seems so inviting covered with a wail of mystery. It is still surrounded by medieval graves which, according to oral tradition, belong to crusaders who were struck by epidemic on the island and buried around it. It is not possible to enter it, since it is waiting for another restoration.

Beaches on the island are pebble and rocky, but water is always perfectly clear. As a living proof, one can find Sea Urchin close to the cliffs. Don’t be afraid since most of the beach is safe and Urchins are easy to spot.

The third beach, from the side of the open sea is the “wildest one”. No traces of civilization on the view except of, well…other people. With cliffs behind and only the sea in front, you can completely forget where you are…

After I realized that two only coffee bars on the island are not open, I came back to the restaurant (my first option proved right) to finally add some caffeine to my blood. I got a perfect cold Nescafe and a cream was the view on Budva!

Then I tried out the sea for a fist time this year…it was perfect!

Useful information:

Transportation to the island and back from Budva costs 3 € per person.

Starting point: pier near the Old town.

Frequency: every hour starting from 9am to 5pm.

Eating and drinking: there is one restaurant with a nice food and two coffee bars.

Facilities: Beaches are totally equipped – there are toilets, cabins and showers. Price for renting two sun beds and sun shade is 10 €.

For adventurers, recommended are beaches on the southern side of the island. They are the most beautiful, but can be reached only by small private boats. They don’t have any facilities around and probably not too much human company. In the case of storm, be very careful and leave before it comes!

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