Susak Island – A Magical Getaway Retreat for Relaxation and Healing
Marina’s by the Sea, our private home, is located on a small island steeped in historic mystery and unrivaled in beauty. Susak Island (or “Otak Susak” in the native Croatian language, “Hrvatski”) is located near the northern Adriatic coast of Croatia. It stands out from other Adriatic Islands because it is covered by sand. To this day, scientists disagree as to how this sandy island was formed. How it formed won’t matter when you feel the fine sand between your toes, listen to the waves gently lapping the beach, and feel the warm breeze on your face, as you stroll along the strand.
While much of the island’s history before the 20th Century remains an enigma, there is a story from ancient Greece that endures. The islands making up Susak’s archipelago were once called the Absyrtides. The name comes from the legend of Jason, Madea, and the Argonauts. After stealing the golden fleece, the heroes took refuge on Susak Island to escape the relentless pursuit of Absyrtus, Madea’s brother. Absyrtus fell into a grizzly trap laid my Madea and the story relays that his remains formed the many surrounding islets.
Another ancient tale about Susak Island
Famed explorer Jaques Custeau studied on Susak Island because of its incredible diving conditions and diverse forms of underwater life. Some claim he named his boat Calypso based on the story that Susak Island was the place where the sea nymph of Greek mythology was exiled by the Titan god, Atlas. It was here she would lure the hero Odysseus. They lived together for 7 years in an exquisite cave home and had two children, but Odysseus eventually returned to Greece, leaving Calypso with little more than a never-ending longing for her true love.
To honor this romantic story, we named our private party room and bar at Marina’s by the Sea “Calypso’s Cave.”
Modern history of Susak Island
Just as the tides roll in and out of Susak Island’s sandy beaches, so too did the whims of the world affect the people that live here. After World War I, Susak was given over to Italian control, but this ended in 1943 when the Allies invaded Italy during Operation Torch. Nazis took control of the island during this time and remained on Susak until the end of the war in 1945.
The Paris Peace Treaty officially ended World War II and Susak became part of the Socialist Republic of Croatia, under Yugoslavian rule. (The new Yugoslavian government changed the name of the island to “Susak”. In Croatian, the word “otok” means “island” so it is referred to as “Otok Susak”.) This was a dark time for the island, when poverty, famine, and a lack of work motivated a mass exodus. Through the 1950’s and 60’s, more than 80 percent of Susak’s population left the island to escape the oppressive communist regime. Most came to the United States, including Marina’s father who helped build their island home.
Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, finally allowing the people of Susak a taste of freedom. Today, the island is slowly becoming more popular with tourists, who are eager to immerse themselves in its astounding beauty, both above water and below.
The people of Susak Island
Residents of Susak Island have known true hardship over the decades, but it has never broken their warm-hearted spirit. The island boasts a mix of various cultures, so the people of Susak carry on many unique traditions not found on other regional islands. Some of these unusual traditions include the island language, food, and fanciful traditional clothing.
Above all, the people of Susak are friendly and welcoming. Islanders have another unique custom of calling people by nicknames. Even outsiders are often given nicknames, which is something you should wear with a badge of honor. It is a sign of acceptance and cause for pride.
The island connection
Many people who visit Susak Island talk about the invigorating energy that seems to emanate from its sandy shores. While there are many stunning beaches on Susak, each with its own unique allure, Bok Beach is undoubtedly the most famous. It’s easy to understand why it’s so popular when you first set foot on its secluded sands and experience the deep blue, warm water lapping against the shore.
Bok Beach is a place of rare beauty where you not only enjoy nature, but feel it become a part of you. It is a place of inspiration where a magical setting invigorates body and spirit.
There are many places on Susak Island where visitors experience a similar therapeutic connection. It’s a feeling that will bring you closer to yourself – and to those mythical tales of old. You too will fall in love with Susak Island – its beaches, its history, and its amazing people.
The Italian name for the island is “Sansego”, which comes from the Greek word “Sansegus”, which means “oregano” – the herb. Oregano grows in abundance on Susak!