The Island of Plavnik, visible from the entrance of Punat Bay and the city of Krk, looks just like a large whale: its head is a 194 metre high hill, and its tail is only a few metres above the sea level. The name Plavnik derives from the croatian word “Plav” meaning blue and referring to the dark blue colour of the deep sea surrounding the island. Should you be intrigued to see it from up close, rent a boat or book an island cruise tour. The boat ride from Punat or Krk lasts about an hour.
The boat excursions will give you an opportunity to cruise around the island. However, should you like to take more time to explore it, rent a boat and moor on the white pebbly beach on the southern side of the island. Take a light stroll along the stone path that takes you through the centuries-old oak forest to the top of the island. The island has never been inhabited, however you can find two stone houses with a chapel there. The houses are a testament to the time when two families of shepherds occasionally lived here. The island has always been popular among shepherds because of many pastures. You may also meet sheep, rabbits and deer as well as the largest fig tree you will ever see.
What are griffon vultures and where to find them?
Of the 31 bird species that live on the island the most interesting are the griffon vultures. Excursion boats which will take you on the island cruise know where they nest, and you can observe the largest European bird and third-largest bird in the world up close. This vulture can live for up to 60 years, has a three-metre wing span and grows up to 105 centimetres high. They are under the special protection of the conservation authority. Funnily enough, birds are lucky to have tourists around. Sometimes, baby birds fall into the sea when trying to fly out of their nest before they are ready. Tourist and fishing boats save them from drowning and inform the bird sanctuary, where they are then taken in and cared for until they are ready to be set free.
Believe it or not, this has not always been the case. In 1886. the magazine Naša sloga wrote about the heir to the Austrian throne, Prince Rudolf Habsburg, shooting three vultures on Plavnik. Pleased with his game, he gave a golden needle to the island’s owners, the aristocratic Petris family. Their family crest with the year 1577 are still to this day carved into a stone and still visible on a chapel at the tip of the island.