Croatia is a wondrous destination for youngsters and adults alike, be they locals or not. Rich in adventurous history, delicious traditional meals, breathtaking waterfalls, glorious mountaintops and a plethora of touristy attractions, this country should be on your bucket list even if it’s just for visiting the numerous filming locations of your favorite movies and TV shows – Game of Thrones, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and many others were filmed on Croatian soil.
And here’s yet another cheesy reason to opt for Croatia as a vacation destination (especially with your significant other) – the Galešnjak island, also called The Lovers’ Island, The Island Of Love, or simply The Heart Of Croatia.
The island of Galešnjak is one of the very few naturally heart shaped islands that have ever existed on our planet. It was initially discovered in the distant 12th century during the Roman pope Alexander III’s travels in the late 1170s brought him to the city of Zadar. Later on a 19th century cartographer who worked for Napoleon Bonaparte also recorded it in his historical findings. However, the island didn’t get much recognition up until 2009 thanks to Google Earth’s detailed imagery of it and its surrounding area. That’s when it went viral, but even nowadays, a decade later, not many people are familiar with its existence.
One of the reasons why the naturally heart shaped island isn’t an overcrowded, extremely popular destination, is the fact that it’s actually super tiny. Galešnjak covers only about 0.132 square kilometers of land, cast away in the Adriatic Sea. In other words, it can’t exactly house a flock of curious tourists due to its miniature size.
Another factor that contributes to the island’s declining popularity is the lack of attractions. There aren’t any cafes, hotels, boat rides or other similar activities and amenities typical for other touristy islands. Nothing endemic or entertaining to see here – just the naturally formed shape of a slightly crooked, hand drawn-like heart.
The most intrinsic reason as to why the island has lost its appeal is the fact that it is privately owned by a local family who has been in charge of it for numerous decades. The current owner, a man named Tonci Juresko, realized that the land had much potential not only as a romantic destination for honeymooning couples, but also for partners who’d want to get married or who’d just want to visit the small heart shaped piece of land. As a result, he ordered two stripes of Galešnjak to be completely deforested – a decision which met more controversy than expected. Juresko made a public statement that he deforested these virgin areas in order to make room for new plants and trees, as well as for a wedding chapel that could officiate matrimonial unions.
The Galešnjak island is reachable by water and air – either by windsuit/ parachute or by boat. With a length of less than 2 kilometers, the surface area doesn’t exactly provide a spacious and prosperous setting for tourism. Nevertheless, the owner believes his efforts won’t go to waste. According to official reports, he got the idea of adorning the island with new plants and a chapel after he found out that Angelina Jolie had considered spending the whopping amount of $16.1 million USD over buying a different heart shaped island (based in New York) as a present for her former husband, Brad Pitt.
Only time will tell whether the owner’s plans will thrive. In the meantime, people can still reach the island, which is often dubbed as the largest of all naturally heart shaped islands on the globe, and enjoy it from afar without setting foot on its miniature beach and patched forest.