Set amongst pine trees and surrounded by turquoise seas, just off the coast of mainland Croatia lies a little bit of paradise. Obonjan, running 6 weeks through the summer July to September, kicks off its first year on the previously uninhabited island. Four years of hard work has been put in to creating an island designed to be a place of health and wellness alongside excellently programmed concerts, late night forest parties and well thought out food and drink menus.
It’s not all about yoga and dancing, guests attending the summer long festival can enjoy stargazing from the south of the island, get involved in art workshops hosted by resident artists, laugh at some of the comedy shows on offer and take in the pink lit skies at sunset (and we also fit in some sunrise’s too!)
As festival accommodation goes, we certainly couldn’t complain. Our own private forest lodge was set back in the trees and perfectly positioned to always be in sight of the sea. With an en suite, veranda, deck chairs and two separate rooms it was kitted out beautifully - you can see how much attention to detail has been put in by the creators of this island. We visited the bell tents too and these were perfectly designed if anyone is on a tighter budget.
Applebum had the pleasure of being invited along to play a few records over the week. We were fortunate to play poolside, on the East Harbour by the sea and at the Forest Bar for a late night Anderson Paak after party. Naturally this was our favourite night - made better when Anderson and his crew turned up to party with us! - however the music across the week had felt like it had been programmed to suit the Applebum team (credit to the Obonjan booker). In the short time we were there we saw Tru Thoughts’ Latin, Funk and Soul producer Quantic followed by genre-bending jazz-house producer/DJ Romare, along with Applebum residents The Age of L.U.N.A, energy filled and multi-talented Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals, and lastly chilled indie rock band Local Natives.
Just as important as music to the ethos of the island is the wellbeing and health conscious Zen Den - a place to escape to, eat vegan salads, drink fresh juices, have a holistic massage and partake in different types of yoga and meditation. Set amongst the trees on a decking platform we took a few yoga classes (not recommended first thing after a very late night drinking!!) with options for early, mid morning and sunset - we (eventually) opted for sunset which was a great way to put the day to bed and bring in the night.
The intimate capacity of the island also made for an amazing experience. neighbours became friends and dancing partners became sunbathing buddies. It felt like it was our own exclusive island with a community of like minded people. Even some of the artists and DJ’s were extending their stay to enjoy what was on offer, which is a testament to how far its come in such a short time.
To round it off here’s our top ten moments
1. When Little Prince opened his Drift Bar set with Finlay Quaye - Even After All in front the bluest sea and scorching sun.
2. Stumbling back from home from the Forest Bar after Romare and Quantic, in the middle of the night and realising we could see the Milky Way!
3. Discovering our own sunset view point a short walk from our forest lodge, through the pine trees and naming it Des’ree point.
4. Mastering the crow pose during yoga after a particularly heavy night.
5. Having Anderson Paak. and The Free Nationals come down to our Applebum after party then onto the after after party at South Beach.
6. Watching The Age of L.U.N.A guys completely nail their performance and feeling extremely proud.
7. Watching the sunrise with a huge crew of guests and Obonjan workers and feeling like one big community.
8. Having a pizza for pudding every night because they were just that good!
9. After 4 nights out in a row being able to watching back to back films at the pavilion and give our bodies a much needed rest.
10. Leaving on a private boat to the mainland, looking back at the island and feeling we were part of something special.
Obonjan we'll be seeing you next year!