Melaina Korkyra, or Black Korčula, is the first known name given to this island, nestled in Dalmatia. Black, because when the first Greek colonists from Corfu saw it on the horizon, it was that color from the dense pine trees.
This is not a history lesson, but walking around the island and the same-name town of Korčula, history truly is at every step. And you can enjoy it in almost utter peace, for most of the year. High tourism season in Korčula is August, but even then, it is not unbearable, despite what the locals may say. They enjoy 11 months of rather slow and down-to-earth way of life, only to endure that one month of overcrowding.
Out of season, most stores, bars and restaurants in the old town shut down, so if you are looking for a cleaner, more direct way of getting to know the layers of history, architecture and local life, do visit any time outside the main season.
Before the last ice age ended, subsequently raising sea levels in the Adriatic by 120 meters, Korčula was a natural extension of what is today the Pelješac peninsula. This means that the tall and narrow peninsula looms over the island, with its tallest peak St Ilija right above Korčula town. Not only a sight to behold, it also provides some shelter from cold northern Bura winds, and often keeps rain clouds from the continent far enough away. At the same time, the Pelješac Channel compresses western Maestral winds, making it a favorite spot for wind surfers.
Korčula is not an unknown destination in terms of Croatian tourism. But its location and accessibility options manage to stave off the majority of visitors, forgoing the horrendous jungle that can be found in Dubrovnik, for example. At the same time, many who have visited both towns often refer to Korčula as a mini version of Dubrovnik.
No worries if you’re not a history buff, this place gives you plenty of street photography opportunities, as well as landscape shots. In case you’re there in the summertime, the sun sets directly in the Pelješac Channel, with a myriad of boats and surfers buzzing by in front of it. And Korčula town is a great starting point to explore the rest of the island, whether it’s sandy beaches in Lumbarda, or inland villages of Čara and Smokvica, surrounded by vineyards.