At the foot of mighty Velebit mountains, in the northern part of the Adriatic Sea, is a hidden small village called Jablanac. It's a picture-perfect village, overlooking the Rab island. The population is tiny, only 83 inhabitants. But it has everything you may need: a beautiful shore for swimming and a good restaurant to refresh yourself. People are kind, as that's usually the case in small places, so I would recommend at least stopping there on your way to the south.
The biggest attraction here is the breathtaking views of Zavratnica inlet. Zavratnica is very steep and has 100 meters high cliffs. They say it's one of the most beautiful bays in Croatia. This location is still considered as one of the hidden gems in Croatia, although more and more people come to visit each year. Especially because many want to see a sunken military ferry wreck from World War II. The scenery is incredible - rocks with a strong resemblance on fjords and a deep blue sea – perfection.
I recommend taking a walk around the place as there is a beautiful walking trail made all around the shore plus a trail on the upper part of the hills with a nice viewpoint (like an old stone tower).
The interesting fact is that the famous Croatian literate Vjenceslav Novak also liked this place. That's where he was finding the inspiration for writing. By visiting this place, I can get why.
How to get there?
You can get to Zavratnica using a footpath from a village Jablanac (1km away, it will take around 20 minutes), or for those who are more into hiking; you can take a hiking trail from the village Zavratnica. I suggest doing both as the area is extraordinarily beautiful and you have to see it for yourself. On your way, you might see the mountain goats too.
There is also a great viewpoint from above. To get there drive past Jablanac village on the coastal street. Soon, you’ll get to the ‘Zavratnica’ sign which will lead you onto a rocky narrow street. Follow the signs and in 10 minutes you’ll be at the viewpoint.
When at the top, be careful and don’t go too far away from the path. As the area is not populated, there’s a possibility you’ll meet some wild animals. So, keep an eye on the snakes.
When to visit Zavratnica?
The best time to go would be a bit outside of the season. For example, September. Because it's not that hot and it's always fewer people. If you're planning on using the hiking trail, take the hiking boots. This area can also be quite windy, so be prepared for that.
Is there an entrance fee?
I’ve read that once you pass through the tunnel (the part of the walking path), a fisher’s boat will approach you and ask to pay an entrance fee of 15 kuna (~2€) per person. That’s because the bay was designated a protected landscape due to its beauty.
However, no one approached us. Probably because we were there in September, outside of the summer season.