Croatian Islands a blend of modern and traditional tourism
Croatian islands had become quite popular premium holiday destination in Croatia. Croatian Adriatic coast with its something over 1200 islands is one of the most rugged and picturesque coastlines in Europe.
From total number of 1246 islands just 67 of them are permanently inhabited what expands offer of Croatian islands on yachting and robinson tourism.
Croatian islands has avoided exaggerated concrete construction and managed to preserve original Mediterranean charm of its coast.
However, tourist offer is very rich. There are plenty hotels, restaurants, private luxury villa, apartments and boat marinas together combined with numerous cultural and historical sites, well preserved nature, breathtaking beaches, amazing landscapes along with traditional Croatian cuisine, high quality wines and warm welcoming hosts making Croatian islands the most desirable place for your holidays.
All major destination on Croatian islands are excellently connected with coast by ferry lines, while smaller and deserted ones you can visit by using many smaller private boat lines or as a one day excursion arrangement, what makes them ideal destination for exploring and island hopping holidays on Croatian coast.
Explore Croatian islands
The area of Croatian islands stretches from Umag, Istria on north all way to the Molunat island on the utmost south island of Croatia.
From geomorphological reasons most of Croatian islands are elongated and narrow and northwest southeast oriented parallel to the coastal mountain ranges.
Although they have a similar origin, relief as well as the flora and fauna of the Croatian islands are very different from one island to another.
So we will mention largest and the most important ones from north to south:
St Nicholas Island – beautiful small tourist resort away just 5 min of boat ride from Porec city center. One of the oldest and famous holiday resorts in Istria. Island is covered wit forest of Mediterranean oak and pine, it has two beaches paved and gravel one.
Brijuni Islands – archipelago of 14 different islands and islets. This area in 1983 was proclaimed as national park. Many visitors are attracted by the beauty of the islands.
Brijuni are well known as a place of congress tourism, golf courses, a paradise for yacht enthusiast. Brijuni safari park is a host o many animal species gifted from diplomatic partners from India, Guinea, Etiopia and many other countries.
You can see elephants, zebras, waterbuck, zebus and so on.
Kvarner gulf archipelago:
Cres Island – with surface of 405,7 square kilometers Cres is largest among all Croatian islands. Cres has many coves, bays and mostly pebbly beaches on west and south side of island.
Cres is a home of European biggest bird, griffon vulture which often can be seen gliding across the sky over the island. Cres with its perfectly preserved nature is ideal place for you if you are admirer of eco-tourism.
It can be easily reached from frequent ferry line from Krk island (Valbiska – Merag Line).
Krk – slightly smaller than Cres (405,2 km2) Krk is on second largest island in Croatia. Island of Krk offering to its visitors various attractions and experiences, no matter you like the culture, the nature or the modern tourist resort.
On Krk you will see a thousand years old towns, gorgeous rural villages, excellently furnished beaches, concealed bays ideal for swimming, vibrant night clubs and small and quiet restaurants and caffe bars.
Krk is connected to the mainland with “Krk bridge” and beside Brac and Losinj it is the only island with international airport, so it is quite easy to reach.
Islands Of Ilovik and St. Peter – are situated in Croatia south of the island Losinj, separated by the channel of Ilovik. Other name of Ilovik is “Island of Flowers” due to the fact that oleander, palms, roses and other flowers grow around every household. High eucalyptus trees are a characteristic attraction of this island.
Unije Island – part of Losinj archipelago. The Island of Unije is also known as “Olive island” due to the fact that there are over 20,000 olive tree groving. Island itsself has only 88 premanent resident, island doesnt have builded roads so there are no car traffic. Despite that fact Unije island is easy to reach due to frequent ferry lines from Pula, Rijeka and Cres Island.
Another interesting fact is that you have small airport although there are no roads.
Susak – located souteast from Unije Island this island is well known for its sandy beaches, traditional clothes and fact that all island been made of sand. Experienced travelers would agree that there is nothing similar on whole Mediterranean.
Susak island is not quite easy to reach, island doesn’t have any roads or tourist infrastructure and accommodation is not easy to find, what makes this island ideal place for robinson type of tourism.
Island Of Rab – covered with magical pine forest and beautiful sandy beaches Rab is also well known for is gentle Mediterranean climate and strong winds from Velebit mountain during winter season.
Largest tourist center on island is Rab town. Rab Town have numerous medieval building made by Venetians in 13-th century, old town walls are still there in some places. Beside Rab town there are seven smaller villages scattered over Rab: Barbat, Banjol, Palit, Kampor, Mundanije, Supetarska Draga and Lopar.
Rab is well connected with mainland by regular ferry lines Jablanac-Misnjak.
Island Pag – longest and fifth largest island on Croatian Coast. There are only two bigger town on the island Novalja and Pag town and several smaller places: Mandre, Povljana, Kustici and Simuni where the best beach is located.
Pag is famous for its unusal karst landscape, Pag lamb and Paski Sir (Pag Cheese) both have protected origin and have best quality and high price, Pag lace and numerous beautiful beaches dispersed all over the island.
Zrce beach in Novalja stands out among others because of its rich entertainment and parties which lasts all day long. Pag easy to reach because island is connected with mainland by Paski Most (Pag Bridge) which is just 20 minutes away from Zadar.
Molat Island – situated in north part of Zadar archipelago Molat island with its many sheltered and safe bays safe is a true gem for any yacht owner.
Molat is perfect holiday destination if you want peace and quiet. Island have amazingly well-preserved nature, heartland is covered with pine forest while the coast consists of numerous shallow bays with beautiful beaches.
This is one of favorite places for yacht owners and they are visiting it very frequently on their way to Kornati national park. You can visit this island by regular ferry line from Zadar that sails once a day to Molat.
Island Of Ugljan – have around 1000 permanent resident scattered in seven small villages: Ugljan, Lukoran, Sutomiscica, Poljana, Preko, Kali and Kukljica. Coast of Ugljan is full of smaller or bigger coves with turquoise blue sea and well preserved nature.
Ugljan is great place for boat excursions, scuba diving or just swimming.
Island is just 25 minutes of ferry drive away from Zadar, ferry line from Zadar to Preko (main ferry port) is quite frequent it goes every hour with with the exception of Sundays and holiday days.
Dugi Otok – island with pretty rugged coastline always been one of favorite destinations for boaters. However one of the major attractions of Dugi Otok island are well preserved nature and one of the most beautiful beach that you will ever see – Saharun beach.
On southern part of Dugi Otok you can visit Nature park Telascica, group of 13 islands, islets and rocks which along with surrounding sea making area of 71 square kilometer.
This prove of coexistence of people and nature can be visited by regular ferry line Zadar-Brbinj (Jadrolinija drives twice a day) or catamaran line Zadar-Sali-Zaglav once a day.
Kornati Islands – one of the most dense archipelago on Mediterranean consist of 89 islands and islets and taking area of 220 square kilometers. In 1980 Kornati proclaimed as a National Park.
Islands Of Kornati generally are made of karst-limestone which arose from sediment Of Adriatic. Strong winds and sea currents created numerous fascinating stone shapes, cliffs, smaller and larger caves.
Kornati islands are true paradise for nautics as well as for scuba diving type of holiday. Kornati national park can visited by a whole range of private boat lines.
Island Of Zlarin – is also known as “Golden island” because of its well preserved natural beauty. Zlarin island has gained a reputation unique production of jewelry and ornaments made of coral.
Zlarin is full of beautiful sandy beaches, greenery and calming ambience. Island of Zlarin is easy to reach by frequent ferry line from Sibenik which is just 8 km away from Zlarinska Luka main ferry port on island.
Murter Island – situated 30 kilometers northwest from Sibenik is largest island from Sibenik archipelago. Due to the vicinity of Kornati National Park is imminent nautical resort for all yacht owners.
However, trademark of Murter island are its natural attractions, gravel and sandy beaches Slanica, Kosirina, Podvrsak, Cigrada and Lovisca. Island have great number of hidden little bays which will offer you spectacular views of Murter island.
There are four bigger villages on island: Murter Town, Betina, Jezera and Tisno. Last one is connected with mainland by drawbridge so you won’t have to bother yourself with ferry schedules.
Split group of islands
Brac Island – is largest island from Split archipelago with surface 394.6 km2 and closest one to Split ferry port (just 45min). Brac is enclosed from Split by Brac Channel from north side, Splitska Vrata (Split gate) – separating Brac from Solta island on west side and Hvar Channel on south side of Island Brac separating from Island of Hvar.
Brac have population of 14500 residents, largest towns are Supetar and Pucisca and other smaller places are: Postira, Milna, Selca, Splitska, Sumartin, Sutivan, Gornj Humac, Lozisca and Bol.
The relief of the Brac island varies, landscape is mainly made of karst limestone but there are also tamer relief of brown fertile soils in mainland. Tourism is broadly developed on the island and place is rich with cultural and historic heritage, unique Mediterranean cuisine, magnificent beaches and bays, crystal blue sea, high quality hotels and private accommodation in local villas and apartments.
Beside regular ferry and catamaran lines from Split and Makarska, as a option you have small airport on Brac island capable of accepting smaller planes.
Hvar Island – leader of tourism of Central Dalmatian islands. In the past Island Of Hvar had important strategic and nautical position, the rich of the various historical periods, the culture and natural monuments and the literature.
A good part of that time is still preserved and can be seen.
Another interesting fact about Hvar is that is island with most sunniest hours on Adriatic. Due to mild climate gentle winters temperature and delightful summers Hvar is a host to many travelers who are seeking rich nightlife, rich traditional architecture and charming preserved nature.
Hvar population is 11.103 residents and two biggest towns on island are Hvar and Stari Grad others are: Jelsa, Sucuraj, Zavala, Sveta Nedjelja (Milna) and Vrboska. Ferries and catamarans from Split split drive regularly 5-7 times a day to islands main farry ports in Hvar Town, Stari Grad.
Recently seaplane connection has been established between Split Airport and Jelsa, flight lasts 15 minutes and you can enjoy in panoramic view of Croatian islands: Ciovo, Solta, Vis, Brac and Hvar. Seaplane to Jelsa and back flies four times a day.
Solta Island – with a area of 59 km2 of pure and untouched Mediterranean nature, over 20 hidden bays with completely unspoiled stone beachs makes Solta island is certainly most perfect destination for peaceful and tranquil holiday.
Solta island is more than that, due to vicinity of urban Split island Solta is true paradise for travelers who are seeking quiet and slow way of life as it once was in the Mediterranean.
Larger settlements on Solta are: Stomorska, Rogac and Necujam. Solta is well connected with Split with regular ferry and catamaran line Split-Rogac. Price of ticket is just 18 kunas (around 2,5 euro).
Vis Island – farthermost of all larger Croatian islands.
Vis is 45 km away from Split ferry port and it takes 140 minutes of ferry drive to reach it. This apparently aggravating factor has its advantage because once when you land on Vis island will be a witness to the one of the best preserved landscapes in the Adriatic.
Vis is plentiful with natural attractions: Blue Cave (Modra Spilja), geomorphological monument of nature Stiniva, Green Cave (Zelena Spilja) on small island Ravnik and sandy beaches of Stoncica, Milna and Zaglav bays.
Ferry and catamaran lines from Split to Vis goes 2 to 4 times daily and during summer season you have direct connection with Ancona (Italy).
Korcula Island – proudly holds the title of greenest island of Adriatic.
Korcula was inhabited since prehistoric times. Sixth largest among Croatian islands with area of 270 km2 and population of 16.000 people scattered across island in several settlements: Korcula town, Blato and main ferry port (if you are travelling from Split) Vela Luka.
Smaller villages are: Brna, Lumbarda, Pupnat, Kneže, Racisce, Zrnovo, Prigradica, Prizba, Grscica, Cara, Zavalatica, Babina, Smokvica. Mainland of island is made mainly of Pine forest while coastal part of Korcula is abundant vineyards and olive trees.
Southern slopes of Korcula are formed of numerous bays and beautiful beaches. Beside regular ferry line from Split Ferry port to Vela luka you can reach Korcula with ferry from Peljesac peninsula (Orebic ferry port).
Lastovo archipelago – group of 46 smaller islands and islets scattered on area of 46 km2. Special trademark of Lastovo are its chimneys “Lastovski Fumari” which are a symbols of old Lastovo families.
Well preserved nature and crystal clear see are might be bright side of past day when Lastovo was isolated while it was naval military base. Major settlements on island are: Lastovo, Glavat, Pasadur, Skrivena Luka, Susac, Uble (main ferry port) and Zaklopatica.
Ferrys from Split to Lastovo drives twice a day in 10.30 and 17.30. Ferry drive last 5 and half hours with 30 minutes stop in Vela Luka (Korcula).
Mljet Island – considred to be most beautiful among all Croatian islands, true oasis of piece and quiet.
In 1960 area around Mljet island is proclaimed national park. Mljet is a true paradise island with abundance of Mediterranean vegetation, wonderful mild sandy beaches complemented with crystal clear sea and rich underwater life what makes Mljet favorite destination not just for nature lovers but also for divers.
Mljet national park occupies the largest part of the island. On island you can find several villages, Big and Small lake (Veliko and Malo jezero) which are salt water lakes and on island of St. Mary you can visit Benedictine monastery.
In village Polace you can check on one of the best anchor places on Adriatic. Mljet can be visited with regular ferry connection from Dubrovnik and Peljesac peninsula or via private boat one day excursions from Korcula.
Elafiti archipelago – are group of 14 islands and islets northwest from Dubrovnik: Sipan, Kolocep, Lopud are larger one while smaller islands are: Daksa, Sv. Andrija, Ruda, Misnjak, Jakljan, Kosmec, Golec, Crkvine, Tajan and westernmost Olipa.
Sipan is only island from this archipelago that have developed traffic infrastructure while other two Kolocep and Lopud are car-free. However, even for visiting Sipan Island you don’t need car beacause road is just 5,2 kilometers long and connecting Sudurad (San Giorgio) and Sipanska Luka.
Sipan is well connected with Dubrovnik with catamaran and ferry line Dubrovnik – Lopud -Sudurad or as alternative you can use organized private boat for one day trip excursions to Sipan.