Think you are ready to write the final chapter of your Balkan backpacking tour? Have you reached the southernmost point on Croatia’s coast, or even ventured further to explore Montenegro’s Adriatic hot spots? Disillusioned by the crowds, the honking cars spewing fumes into your face as you walk through sweltering concrete streets just to get a glimpse of the translucent turquoise sea? Don’t give up! Keep going south, all the way south, to the last spot of the Adriatic that still has some inkling of hope to be saved from mass tourism’s destructive gaze.
Hop on a bus from any city in Montenegro and go to Ulcinj. When you get there, take a taxi and tell the driver you want to go to Ada Bojana, or find your way to the main road and start hitchhiking 15km south. Either way, you are in for an interesting journey. Taxi drivers will share nostalgic stories and lure you in with common myths and mysteries of the region’s past. Hitchhiking let’s you experience a slower travel so that you can taste locally grown produce, homemade olive oil and an endless variety of olives and cheeses. After all, you’ll need some food to take with you because the place you are going has no stores. In the summer season you’ll find an overpriced market on the campgrounds, and a small kiosk at the entrance. Otherwise, you’re on your own.
Wait, what is Ada Bojana and why is it so special? If you are coming from the Croatian coast, with its dozens of stunning islands and trash-free beaches, Ada Bojana might seem like a dump, a forgotten wasteland of nostalgia for the good old times in Yugoslavia’s golden years. You won’t find 5-star accommodation, potable water or predictable wi-fi. You won’t find spick-and-span beaches, bug-free bathrooms or the hottest names in the electronic dance scene.
You will find amazing sunsets, spontaneous beach parties warmed by bonfires till the sun rises, charming bungalows that serve as historic monuments to better times under socialism, a spacious sandy beach that beckons you to set up tent and sleep out under the stars, a lot of fish and a lot of fishermen who know how to cook it right!
Ada Bojana is an island, but not a big one. With only a 3km–long beach, it’s easy to traverse and fun to explore. But don’t get lost! There are rumors of roaming wild boars and cows in the island’s preserved forest. Only 1/3 of it is managed by the hotel enterprise; the rest is wild and open, waiting for nude adventurers to stroll down its beach and soak in the healing benefits of its mineral-rich sand.
However, if you’re not used to being naked, it’s okay. Just go past the designated nude area and you are free to roam. Creative types will be inspired by the endless supply of random washed up debris that serves as building blocks for unique art installations. Social butterflies and avid story collectors will easily happen upon captivating histories of locals and tourists alike.
A world within itself, Ada Bojana is a community of nudists, locals, foreigners, hotel workers, fishermen and women, tourist entrepreneurs, kite surfers, daydreamers, weekenders, squatters, restaurant connoisseurs, musicians, city folk, fathers, mothers, grandpa’s and grandma’s, Albanians, Montenegrins, Catholics, Muslims, Christians, Atheists, gay, straight and ‘just curious’ promiscuous searchers.
No matter who you are, you can find your peace on Ada Bojana. It’s not perfect, nor does it pretend to be. Its shores are constantly changing with each wave and river flow. The wind uproots the stale boredom of conformity and routine everyday around 2pm, as the kite surfers come out and fill the horizon with colorful flying sails.
Washed up sea artifacts and wooden scraps are made into ad-hoc shelters from the unrelenting summer sun. If you stay through the high-season hype in July and August through September, or come with the early birds in May and June, you will marvel and the tranquil rhythm of nature’s tempo. Warning! It’s not easy to leave Ada Bojana. You might find a new love, new hobbies or friends, but you will most definitely find peace of mind and memories that remind you of how we can live harmoniously, healthily and creatively.
And please, if you go, pick up your trash!