Ancient Romans used the term Nomen est omen, or, name in the essence, for things that were perfectly described by their name alone. This is also true of Igalo—the name signifying a long beach with therapeutic characteristics.
Igalo has also been described throughout history and in literature. In 1913, Sava Nakičenović, a priest from Zelenika, wrote the book “Boka” (trans. “Bay”) and wrote of Igalo specifically: “Foreigners come to this village to get medical care because of the mild climate. The village numbers 45 houses. Its long beach slopes very gently into the sea therefore for very long it is shallow with fine sand.”
But the most interesting fact about Igalo is that the respectable nature of this popular tourist locality is based on a love story. The story is twisted up in history and one family—the Janković family—as well, making Igalo a rich historical city as well as a romantic hot spot.
In 1917, Špiro Janković, the founder of the steamboat society, “Oceania”, formed the Boka steamboat society in Boka Kotorska Bay, Montenegro. In 1928, Janković invested in the hotel Igalo, which shortly thereafter became the symbol of the city.
During this same time, tourism came to these parts of the Adriatic. The hotel itself was a huge tourism draw, with a tennis court, rowing boats, a music festival promoting the local tamburitza society and daily trips for tourists to the hills, an excursion that has again become popular in more recent years.
During the Second World War, in 1936, a telegraphic line from Paris to Belgrade was routed through Marseille, Gibraltar, Algeria, Tunisia, Malta and Igalo in a combined effort against the Reistag.
Frenchman Žorž Kateno stayed at Janković’s hotel Igalo while manning the telegraph line and it was during this time that Zora Janković, daughter of Špiro Janković, caught his eye and his heart. While the Janković family had originally made a home in Igalo in 1687, it was not until this love story came to the light that the family came into the local spotlight.
The large complex of the Mediterranean health center in Igalo today dominates the scenery. Although, hidden in a beautiful nearby park, one will also find the residence of former Yugoslav President Marshall Josip Broz Tito.
Igalo has risen to notoriety as a spa center because of its very mild Mediterranean climate, with more than 200 sunny days each yeah, blooming vegetation and healthy mineral water (referred to as Igaljanka) as well as mildly radioactive mud.
In 1910, Austrian doctor M. Levi made a professional report listing Igalo as the perfect place for a health center. Years later the Institute in Vichy, France used the natural radioactive muds of Igalo in combination with the River Sutorina to make a new health mud. In addition, Murava seaweed used in combination with the muds of Igalo creates a perfect remedy for rheumatism, bronchitis and other ailments.
The health center attracts patients and visitors from all over the world, especially from Norway.
Igalo historically was its own city, separated from Herceg Novi by the coastal borderline. However, over time, the expanding coastal line broke down the borders between these two cities, and connected them by the longest promenade in the Bay—a street that stretches all the way from the health center to the main square in Herceg Novi.
The city of Igalo is conveniently located, not only for those living in Herceg Novi and the surrounding cities, but also for other visitors and guests. The health center is a mere 10km from the Croatian border and 15km from the airport at Ćilipi, making the center easily accessible to tourists and to patients that may be immovable over long distances.
Igalo is covered in mostly sandy beaches, though some are concrete and rough. The shallow water—the waters off of Igalo stay only 1m deep for more than 250m of walkin—the water temperatures tend to be much warmer than other beaches and waters in the surrounding area.
The promenade turns into shopaholic’s dream during the summer season when the bazaar opens—between restaurant gardens, open-air clibs and modern cafes, one can watch painters creating portraits in 5 minutes, browse silver jewelry displayed on wooden suitcases, children selling seashells, handmade souvenirs made of pebbles, ceramic souvenirs etc.
During the day tourist boats stop at numerous piers along Igalo and take on passengers to the popular nearby resorts of Žanjice, Rose and Malula, and daily trips across the Bay to Kotor and Our Lady of the Rock. However, it can be rather crowded for some and Igalo should not be considered a “quiet” getaway.
Because of its mild climate all year round, Igalo is also a winter resort. Many find it very romantic when the colors from bright blue and white turn into grey and dark blue, when the air is full of sea aromas from the waves breaking on the promenade and when the town itself becomes a spa for relaxation. The town also becomes a big Mediterranean garden revealing palm trees, eucalyptus, oleander trees, Cypress and mimosa trees in their full beauty.