Fresh Island Festival stands tall as an annual celebration of hip hop, set on the idyllic beaches and islands of Croatia’s south coast. Split between seafront venues and boat parties, the festival is a 3-day extravaganza of sun, sand and sound.
We spoke to Medo, co-founder of the festival, about this year's 5th anniversary, the island's hidden beaches and what makes Pag so unique.
Why is Pag such a good spot for a festival?
Pag has amazing venues with great stage production. The clubs are open-air and on the beach, and I don’t think you see those types of venues anywhere in the world. They are right in front of the sea.
The other thing is that it's not too commercial yet and I think festival goers like that. If you are travelling somewhere like Miami or Ibiza, it is too commercial and too expensive. Nice venues, traditional food and less over-crowding is a perfect combination – plus the weather is always amazing.
For someone who has never been to Pag before, what three things would you say they should do or see?
The National parks (Platvice Lakes or Krka) are really special. We also have a really beautiful Pag cheese which is famous in Europe. As well as this there are beautiful beaches all over the island, especially the hidden beaches.
Do you have a favourite beach?
Ručica – it's about 16km from the city but it's really beautiful. You need to drive there, or when there are festivals there are buses which will take you there. It's next to a small village called Metajna which looks like old Sicilia.
This year is the 5th anniversary of Fresh Island Festival – do you have any special plans to celebrate?
Yes, this is the first time we are building the stage on the beach and we are in the process of creating a huge fireworks display over the sea. We are also doing lots of events during the festival so there will be lots of celebrating.
Which acts are you most looking forward to seeing?
I like Wiz Khalifa of course, he is amazing, but I'd love to see Kehlani because I've already seen Wiz Khalifa perform so it would be really interesting to see Kehlani and Ty Dolla $ign. In terms of UK artists, definitely Shakka.
Other than the music, what are the most essential things to do?
Visiting the secret spots on the island, restaurants, beaches; hotel luna at the end of the island is a great vista spot. There are so many stories about the island which make it a great place to visit. There are also lots of extreme sports - bungie jumping, water skiing. You can also rent old-fashioned cars and drive across the island.
What is the local food like?
Pag is really famous for its cheese and lamb, and of course mediterranean food. I recommend going to have a nice sunset dinner in a boutique restaurant called Boškinac. It is owned by one of the greatest Croatian chefs and winery producers called Boris Šuljić, and is a really amazing place to eat.
Would you suggest going to the local islands and taking any boat trips?
You can visit a few different islands by boat. Lošinj is nice if you are looking to chill. If you like traditional walks through old buildings and culture you can go to Pag. Zadar is really close and you can get there by car over the bridge. This year it was one of Europe’s top destinations, so it's a really good place to see.
Of course if you have time you can visit the national parks, Platvice or Krka, to the north of the island. If you spend a week here then I’d recommend 4 days for the parties and secret beaches and 3 days to visit the parks and islands.
And is it worth going along the coast to Split or Dubrovnik?
If you are staying longer than 7 days then yes. Definitely Split, as you can go to the islands around it, like Hvar, Korčula and Vis. They are really nice islands and Split is very well connected with them.
Fresh Island Festival 2016 takes place from 12-14 July. To stay up-to-date with all the latest news and announcements on this year's edition, see our Festival Guide.