Sand island

13 July 2022.

Written by Matija Čaić

Susak is an island on the edge of the Kvarner gulf. His western coast faces open sea while is eastern turned towards island Lošinj. Croatia has over thousand islands so one little islet will not be something special unless it is made entirely of sand like no other in the Adriatic.


There are two theories about Susak’s origin. First is that the sand was deposited by rivers Raša and Po after last ice age. Second is that sand was blown and carried here by the wind. Maybe even from Sahara.

Whatever his origin was, Susak is natural and cultural phenomenon unique in Mediterranean so he is definitely worth visiting. He is protected as heritage so any building on the island is prohibited.

His name came from greek word „sansegus“ which means oregano, plant that is in abundance on the island.

Also, there are no cars on the island because none of the ships that sails to Susak can carry them. You should leave your tin pet somewhere in Rijeka or Mali Lošinj and completely give up yourself to nature.

Aerial view of Susak island.


There is only one village on the island with the same name. It is divided in two parts, upper village on the hill, and lower village on the coast. They are connected with stone staircase and dusty road.

Since it was besieged many time during history, island was often fortified. Foundations of the last fortress from 12. century can still be seen near church.

Island has everything one tourist – adventurer can need. School, ambulance, post office, carpenter, two stores, lighthouse, school, church, two chapels, and graveyard.

Susak, island, Croatia, Adriatic, Mediterannean, travel, tourism, sand, Sahara, heritage
Upper and lower village of Susak. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Roman Klementschitz

Flora and fauna

97% of island’s surface was once covered vith vineyards and wine was island’s main export product. Today, island is covered with bulrush.

One of the most peculiar occupant of Susak is lizard which residents call tarantula. His skin is almost completely transparent so one can see his internal organs and he produces sound that resembles barking.


A few thousand people used to live on Susak but government started taxing the wine they started emigrating, mostly to Hoboken in United States. Today there are only 200 mostly older permanent residents. During summer this number rises many times because of all turists who come to this perculiar island.

Because of their isolation natives talks with very specific dialect. It is a combination of old croatian and all official languages when Susak was under foreign rule, french, german and italian. Some oft his dialect can be heard even in Hoboken.

Islands folk costume is very striking because of its living colours mainly bright red and orange.


When Jason stole golden fleece he was fleeing over Croatia and Istria. During the classical period Susak was greece colony so it is assumed that he and sorceress Medeia took refuge here. Medeia’s brother Absyrtus found them but they set a trap for him. Absyrtus was cut in the pieces that were thrown in the sea. Other islands in the archypelago where created from his remains.

Health above everything

Future of Susak maybe lies in health resorts.

In 1912. a sanatorium for children with respiratory diseases opened here. Fresh air from open sea had beneficial effect on inflamation processes.

But one thing that will definitely put Susak on world map of health tourism is cure for infertility. Mud from Bok and Spiaza reportedly cures infertility on women who covers themselves in it. It is not rare case to see ladies enjoying the sun covered from head to toes in mud.

There are many testimonies of couples who tried to concieve a child for a long time and they finally succed after vacation on Susak. Well, who knows, maybe it is island’s merit or maybe just good old romance.

Background photo: Wikimedia Commons, MarkDhawn

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