Story about MOLAT


Ljubljana born culture manager/yogi Nataša Kelhar has been coming to island Molat for more than three decades, witnessing it's history as a military hub and later a secluded getaway for Slovenian film makers and actors.

Here she shares with us here thoughts on what makes this island tick.

In the middle of the Adriatic, almost a quarter of the way from Croatian to Italian coast lies island Molat. Around 250 people permanetly live in island's three villages. As you enter Lučina bay, arriving by boat to the main village also named Molat, you pass by a big two story building with functional and clean architecture hidden between tall pine trees. In an average Croatian coastal town that building would be a hotel, but here it is a ruin. A part of ex military base.

For years it felt like going to the end of the world and that's why the actual physical arrival on the dock on Molat was always such a magical moment.

Village Molat viewed from Straža hill.

Army and artist getaway

The island saw little tourism development because of the military base and result it maintained a traditional way of life. Little by little it became a summer hub for the slovenian influencers: actors, directors and even athletes that used to regularly meet here for summmer months in 80s. It was their place of choice to get away from the spotlight, the grind of daily lives and spend time in nature. Some of them keep coming back.

We talk to Nataša Kelhar, who was one of the first to start spreading the word about the island and has been coming to Molat for almost 30 years and still does.

Malik adventures
Nataša Kelhar

When did you first hear about Molat?

In 1980 while I was working in culture management in Ljubljana. Actress Zvezdana Mlakar told me about a little isolated island with small traditional houses, handful of secluded beaches and a simple life. It didn't take me long to think about it - we packed our things and came here for a trip that lasted for a month and a half.


What happened then? Who else joined you.

I knew a lot of people and I always got asked where I go for holiday. I started telling people about this little pictoresque island and people started getting interested. The standard crew became Manca Košir (actress and public figure in Slovenia), Karpo Godina (one of the biggest slovenian film directors), Milena Zupančič and Radko Polič, (theatre couple), Lado Reskovar (a singer), Peter Božič (playright), Elza Budau (poetess). Actor Janez Hočevar - Rifle started coming by with his sailboat. Soon there was a whole crowd.


You have been coming back for 30 years to this island. How did that come about?

Yes. A few of us from that group are traditionalists. The energy I feel in a certain place always comes back when I visit the place again. The scent, sounds, quiteness and people give Molat a unique energy. I can even say a healing energy. It's the kind of place where you know some locals for 30 years and you don't have a need to get to know them really to the core. The locals are very curious and they are fond of telling you about what’s happening on the island. but there is no pressure and you kind of have all things in control (although you don’w want to control things).

You would come to the only bar (and still today one of the two bars in the village), to have a coffee and get updates on what is happening in the village.


And others?

Some people just like to move to a new place every time, some just started travelling less, but for a number of years Molat was a priority on their island hopping list.


Can you please share with us what was it like to be on the island with all the soldiers based there in 80s?

I think the soldiers had their life and the locals had theirs. They seemed to have interacted minimally and somehow lived along each other. I felt secure, although there was nothing to be afraid of, and the army captain was always so gentlemen like…. As a visitor then I didn't feel there was much impact, other than the fact that we were one of the very few travellers on the island. I particularly like this becuase I think hotel guests are very different from those who stay in homestay and local B&B. That's what made the island so special for many of my friends – and it still is that way today.

It seems that nature is dictating the pace, rather than the devices or our own little voices in the head.

Story from Island Molat - 03 | Malik Adventures

"Vapor" - local name for a boat that was the only connection with the island for decades. It now operates in a different archipelago travelling much shorter distances.


Can you describe your arrival here?

Coming here in 80's was different every time. What was the same every time is that it was what Germans would call ' Albtraum' - getting here was a nightmare. We travelled by bus, train or planes to get to Zadar and then there was 2.5h-3h drive by boat. For years it felt like going to the end of the world and that's why the actual physical arrival on the small pier on Molat was always such a magical moment. You are immediately calmed down. Today there is still only 1 or possibly two boats going to the island per day (although faster) so you retain some of that arrival feeling.

Story from Island Molat - 04 | Malik Adventures

Little ritual and daily chats with locals.


What was it like to be here then and what made people come back again?

Zvezdana and Radko had a same feeling as I. Who is coming, when are they coming, who is arriving with vapor boat, who is sailing to Molat. With time we started picking up the village stories: who went fishing, what did they catch, why is the baker late with the bread and other island news. Why is the baker late with the bread. We spent the days in little tucked away beaches,exploring walking trails. In the evenings we would be back in the same bar with same people, only this time singing dalmatian songs. In a little village like this it felt like you know everyone.

People give you a feeling like you are in the land of Liliput where everything is small. Small houses. Small gardens. Small worries

Picturesque and authentic village Molat in Adriatic, near Zadar | Malik Adventures
Wooden Dalmatian boat in picturesque village Molat on island near Zadar | Malik Adventures
Small houses and small worries - simple life on the island.

What was it like to be here then and what made people come back again?

Coming for the first time I was worried what I would do in an isolated and simple place like this. But Molat has a special energy in the air. I can feel it even today when I make myself tea from herbs that I picked up on the way to Straža (one of the hilltops with a short hiking route) – it's the energy, the sun and pureness. There is something healthy in the air. But, you have to learn to let go to it and feel it. And that's all before you start thinking about the architecture and the people.

We all liked our little ritual in Lučina. You would come to the only bar to have coffee and gt updates on what is happening in the village.

The island makes you feel like you have isolated yourself from the world. You are here on the island and the rest of the people are there on the mainland. It's kind of like putting more focus on fewer people that are around you. Finally there isn't too much of anything. When you go to an island like this, you prepare yourself for a different and a new experience. You are going to meet yourself and you will do things in a different way. If you are open for it – than it's great. It takes you out of your daily automatism.

Story from Island Molat - 05 | Malik Adventures

Nature dictates the pace on the island.


How is it when you compare it to your life back home?

On Molat it is much easier to get in touch with the nature. It is all around, you just need to wander out of the village and go to a little secluded beach or a hilltop.

When you're here, you put more focus on people that are around you. Finally there isn't too much of anything.


How does it feel to come back here today?

In essence all has remained the same. People still do the gardening, they make their own wine, share their potatos with the neighbours and go fishing. I like the fact that you don't have any hotels, but you have progress. The kind of progress that benefits the whole village – like the innovative reception area with amenities for nautical tourists that are nicely incorporated in traditional architecture. It seems that people are not too greedy to get more income but instead try to do something good for the village.


So, when do you plan to come here again?

Next summer I have my cousin visiting from Southern California and I already told him we're spending a week on Molat.

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