Zavratnica Bay is the real miracle of the Adriatic coast. Zavratnica looks like a fjord, but in fact is not near a fjord.
Location of Zavratnica
It is available to everyone, and it is very clean and quiet as it was purposely hidden from everyone. As you walk down the road from Veliki Alan, Velebit to Jablanac (ferry port for island Rab) it is hard to imagine nearby hidden “little fjord”. Let’s repeat right now that Zavratnica really is not a fjord, because it is not derived from glaciers, but “due to tectonic movements which fractured carbonate rocks from Paleogene – Neogene era. Fractured, shattered rocks were washed away by the flowing streams from the peaks of Velebit and extended the canyon with a hundred meters high cliffs.” There is a legend about the origin of Zavratnica as a result of a terrible earthquake that in year 615 a.d. sunk three former Roman settlements, all in a single night. The sites of the Roman cemetery and the mint are in the vicinity of Stinice (Ortopla), and settlements are near Sv. Juraj (Lopsica) and on island Pag (Cissa).
Getting to Zavratnica Bay
Access to the bay is the easiest from Jablanac, along the coast by following the tunnel and the promenade. After about twenty minutes you will reach the end point, carved about 900 meters in the Velebit mountian. A pretty good alternative is to go beside mountain lodge “Miroslav Hirzi”, which is with only 20 meters above the sea level, the lowest altitude for a mountain lodge in Croatia, and perhaps beyond. Then you are lowering beside the lookout tower or viewpoint, behind the tunnel, which gets you to the trail along the coast. Since the sixties Zavratnica is declared a protected area and of year 1981 is the part of ”Velebit Nature Park”, so you must pay a ticket at the entrance (20 EUR). Going deeper into the bay you are passing by the memorial plaque of Vjenceslav Novak, who spent here his days writing his works. Immediately, nearby you are passing beside the remains of alleged German war ship, sunk in the World War II. Still, it’s worth more to look up at the cliffs and peaks in all its natural forms. Bay begins to taper abruptly and you came to its end, where there are several educational panels with information about Zavratnica and its development. The sea of the bay is relatively shallow, and the semicircular coast has several benches with pine wood. Hence from here, hiking trail leads to Veliki Alan and also to the viewpoint above the bay.
Zavratnica Bay, of course, can be hiked in a semicircle, and you can also swim in its clear sea. However, as the temperature was well over 30 degrees we decided to return using the shortest way back to Jablanac and seek refreshment.