Koločep or Kalamota as the locals call it is an evergreen island full of pine and carob trees entangled with citrus gardens and small olive groves. Kalamota is like a small park, a favorite resort beside the beach. Kalamota has in fact just two small settlements, Gornje Celo (Upper Celo) and Donje Celo (Lower Celo), each a sovereign ruler on its own part of the island. The settlements are interconnected by a meandering path that leads through the gardens and the olive groves, unraveling the remnants of the ancient architecture scattered all throughout the island. Kolocep has around 100 inhabitants during the winter and that number increases and probably doubles or trebles during the summer time.
In fact Kolocep holds a unique record and that is the island of Kolocep is the southernmost inhabited island in Croatia. You can wander the island and rediscover the lovely pre-Romanesque churches, old summer manors, guardian castles and more. Kalamota has a surface of 2.4 square km and is 3 Nm northwest of Dubrovnik, which makes it the closest of the group of Elaphite islands. In the times of the Dubrovnik Republic, Kolocep was an important shipbuilding site. Two members of Christopher Columbus’ crew on the Santa Maria were sailors from Kolocep. Already the first encounter with the island of Kolocep cannot leave you unmoved. You will be intoxicated with the still calm, the scent of the Mediterranean plants and the intensity of the colours of the Adriatic.
The island is made up of limestone and dolomite rock but at each end every settlement has its own, natural, miraculous sandy beach. Kalamota experienced its golden age in the 15th Century. The beautiful landscape of the artist has enthralled and attracted many a painter. At that time many sacral buildings and summer manors were built on the island. Later in the 16th century after an attack by the Turkish fleet, Kalamota was fortified with defense towers. Today on Kolocep, apart from swimming you can visit the parish church, The Assumption of Mary, located in Donje Celo, built in the 13th century. On the way to Gornje Celo you can visit The Church of St. Anthony from the 15th century and admire one of the greatest works of the Dubrovnik school of painting, an altar-piece, painted by Ivan Ugrinovic in the 15th Century. In Gornje Celo, a pre-Romanesque church of St. Anthony of Padova, built in 11th/12th century waits for your visit as do some other pre-Romanesque churches. However, many of the fabulous buildings of the past are now only ruins.
It is a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of life as there are no cars, in fact there are no vehicles at all, on the island. Well worth the short trip and ideal for families due to the sandy beaches and clean seas. Kolocep has more than 250 sunny days a year. Its climate is of a moderate Mediterranean type, and due to the isle's indented coastline and small area, the predominant climatic features throughout the island are influenced by the Adriatic. The sea moderates the air temperature considerably keeping the average monthly daytime highs above 10 °C in the winter time and below 27 °C in the summer. An area off shore where lobsters abound is another one of Kolocep's features. So don’t forget to try the local specialties when you are there. In conclusion this beautiful evergreen island is so close to Dubrovnik to be accessible and yet so far away to be a haven of peace and tranquility. Well worth a visit.
Getting to the island is relatively simple as many ferries and local boats travel the short distance from Dubrovnik harbor. The ferry takes about 30 minutes to arrive and the faster boats can make the journey in 15 minutes, and both options are relatively inexpensive. For those looking to stay a little longer on the island there is a small hotel on the island with 151 rooms and 8 apartments and with a sandy beach in front of it and a cluster of small restaurants and bars around the harbor. There are also a range of private accommodation from small bed and breakfasts renting only one room to slightly larger guest houses offering apartments and meals.