About Islands of Croatia
A guide to the islands of Croatia, for Crewed or Bareboat Yacht charters........
'' With hundreds of islands to choose from, you can drop anchor in deserted coves, dive into the clear waters of the Adriatic or sail into port and visit historic towns, vineyards and pine forests. With its reliable winds, good marina facilities and sheltered harbours, the Dalmatian coast is fast becoming one of Europe's most popular sailing-holiday destinations.''?Marcus Tanner, The Independent,
One reason, that the Croatian coastline is so beautiful is that it contains, well over, one thousand islands. If you were to look out to sea from anywhere along the Croatia coast, it would be unusual for you not to see a green speck in the distance! Most of the islands, however, are small and uninhabited and there are 66 inhabited, of which only 20 or so larger islands are popular with regular tourists. The good news is that you can visit even the smallest, remotest, uninhabited island when you spend your vacation aboard a charter yacht. Following is a description of some of these islands, starting from just off the Istrian coast, in the North East and going all the way down to the islands near Dubrovnik in the South West.
Read our guide about dining ashore in the Croatian Islands.
Just some of the jewels awaiting you on your sailing holiday:
The Brijuni islands (also known as Brioni Islands)
These islands were closed to the general public, until recent years, as they were the summer residence of President Tito and the top officials of former Yugoslavia. Over the years, almost 100 foreign heads of state were received by Tito on the islands. Many film stars were also guests of Tito, including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti, and Gina Lollobrigida. Nowadays, the islands are open but the facilities are a bit rundown, as little money was spent on their upkeep after Tito's death. The group of islands consists of 2 larger ones and 12 smaller ones and they were given National Park status in 1983. The largest island is Veli Brijun, at 1,700 acres (5.6 square km), and is 2km from the coast. It is especially green and is covered with Mediterranean vegetation. The island also has a safari park which is home to various animals, many of them given as gifts to President Tudjman, such as zebras, giraffes, bison, camels and deer. The island is fast becoming an exclusive resort, there are four hotels on the island accessible, by boat, from the port of Fazana, on the mainland, near Pula. The site of the first golf course in Croatia is on Brijuni. Despite the numerous visitors, the landscape has been well preserved, as proved by a large number of birds which winter on the islands.
Cres & Losinj islands
Cres is the second largest island in the Adriatic, covering 155 square miles. Together with Losinj and another 28 smaller islands in the group, it covers an area of 193 square miles (513 square km), making it the largest group and equating to 16% of the total surface area of all the Adriatic islands. Both islands are accessible by ferry from Brestova in Istria or Valbiska on the island of Krk. Mali Losinj is connected by boat to Zadar (about four hours).
The main resort is the town of Mali Losinj, whose harbour is said to be the most beautiful in the entire Adriatic. The tourist area is centred around Cikat bay, which is well known for its beach and good windsurfing. The town of Veli Losinj is quieter and there is easy access to it from Mali Losinj. Cres Town is also popular, and reminds many of an Italian village due to the fact that it was ruled by Venice for several centuries.
In this archipelago, one of the strangest islands is Susak. This island has a small population of less than 200 who speak their own dialect, which is not easily understood by other Croats. It is also distinct because the women often dress in a colourful costume, comprising of a short, multicoloured dress, white blouse and red leggings.
Krk is the largest island in the Adriatic, covering 157 square miles (405.78 square km). It is one of the most populous islands with a population of about 17,000. It is well developed and very busy with tourists as it is connected by bridge to the mainland. Rijeka Airport is located on the island of Krk We would not call this island the most beautiful or the greenest, but there are numerous tourist facilities which make it very popular. The main resorts are Baska, Malinska, Omisalj, Vrbnik, Punat and Krk Town. Krk Town is famous for St. Mary's Cathedral, the seat of the Krk bishopric. (The current head of the Roman Catholic church in Croatia, the Archbishop of Zagreb, Bozanic, was previously a bishop in Krk.)
Rab island is one of the greenest islands in the Adriatic and probably one of the most magical. It is covered with pine forests and has beautiful sandy beaches, and is well known for its mild climate which differs from the mainland. The reason for this is that three ridges are present which protect the island from cold winds from the Velebit mountains. The main resort, Rab Town, is full of medieval buildings, built during Venetian rule which occurred since the 13th century. The old town walls are still visible in some places. Rab's main claim to fame is a stone cutter called Marin. He settled in Italy and founded the state of San Marino.
is the second longest island in the Adriatic. It covers an area of 110 square miles (284.6 square km) and is 37 miles (63 km) long. Due to strong wind of Bora, the island has very little vegetation but there are numerous stone walls built by farmers and shepherds which allows for some cultivation. In spite of this, Pag has a lot of charm. It is well known for its sheep cheese (paski sir), lace making and the beautifully preserved Pag Town, built according to plans by the famous Croatian Renaissance builder, Juraj Dalmatinac. The main resorts are Pag Town and Novalja.
The Kornati islands ( National Park)
This archipelago consists of 140 islands covering an area 114 square miles (300 square km) and most of the area has been declared a National Park because of its natural beauty, due to its numerous coves and crystal clear blue waters. George Bernard Shaw fell in love with the group of islands and said "On the last day of Creation God desired to crown His work, and thus created the Kornati islands out of tears, stars and breath." There are no permanent residents of the islands and most of the area belongs to the people of Murter island who come to tend the olive groves, the vineyards and orchards. They have cottages there, in which they stay during the agricultural season. The biggest admirers of Kornati are yachtsmen, who find in this area, that which they seek most: a sun soaked warren of sea and islands set in unspoilt nature.
One of the most accessible islands in the Croatian Adriatic - ferries run almost every hour from Split to Supetar (with bus connections on to other resorts). There is also a small airport near the resort of Bol, with several flights a week from Zagreb in the summer. This island is the largest in Central Dalmatia at 150 square miles (394 square km), the third largest in the Adriatic, and is one of the sunniest with 2,700 hours annually. The island is known for its agricultural products and the locals produce good wine, olive oil, figs, nectarines and other fruits. But the main export is, and has been from ancient times, the famous Brac stone from which many buildings in the world have been built, including the White House in Washington D.C. The main resorts are Supetar, Bol - with the most beautiful beach in the Adriatic, the Golden Horn (Zlatni Rat), Sutivan, Milna and Sumartin.
The island of Hvar is located in the central part of the Adriatic, near Split and is the fourth largest island at 182 square miles (300 square km). It is even sunnier than Brac, with almost 2,800 hours of sunshine per year. However, there is enough rain to keep the island green and to maintain the beautiful fields of lavender, rosemary, sage, marjoram and thyme and the carefully cultivated vineyards. Many people remark that in the spring, Hvar smells like a herbalist shop! When in Hvar, you must purchase some lavender oil, which is the major export of the island.The hoteliers on the island pride themselves on consistently good weather - if there is more than four hours of rain per day, they give a reduction on your stay and if snow falls (which happens once a year, on average) your stay is free! The main resorts are Hvar Town, Stari Grad, Vrboska, Jelsa and Sucuraj. Being far from the mainland, the island gives an ideal protection from everyday routine and crowds, which guarantees a wonderful vacation. Hvar is an island which can offer you everything. From the unforgettable nightlife to beautiful boat trips to the nearby Pakleni Otok, sandy beaches, sightseeing in the old city. The town of Hvar is often called the 'fairytale city' due to its architecture and beautiful nature that surrounds it. What you shouldn't miss is the fort Foritica, the Hvar Catedral, the Hvar Theater from 1612., the Franciscan Monastery & he streets of the old town...
The town offers excellent night life which attracts many young people from around the world. Good fun is guaranteed and the cafes and night clubs are full untill the early hours. After the exciting night life, you can relaxt in the one of the unspoiled bays, in the shadow of olive trees and near crystal clear water, known to all skippers who can also suggest some of the local tavernas with local wine and seafood typical for this area.?
Vis is the most westerly of the larger Croatian islands, at 24 miles from the mainland, and its area is 56 square miles (90 square km). The island is quite easily reachable with a fast boat service from Split. Vis is the oldest established town in Dalmatia, founded in 397 B.C. by the ruler of Sicily, Dionysius - the Latin name for the island is Issa. In World War II, the island was major base for British troops stationed there and there is a British military cemetery on the island. After 1945, Vis was closed to tourism by the Yugoslav army and only reopened when Croatia declared its independence in 1990. Some of the most exclusive wines in Croatia are produced there, such as Plavac and Vugava.
The two larger towns are Vis Town and Komiza, which both have hotels, but private accommodation with locals can be found. From Komiza, one can get a boat to visit the nearby small island of Bisevo, which is famous for its Blue Grotto (Modra Spilja). For the ultimate in peaceful and relaxing holidays, go to Vis!
The sixth largest island, it is 20 miles long and rather narrow, between 4 and 5 miles wide on average. This island is known for its dense forest and the ancient Greeks called the island Black Korcula (Kerkyra melaina) for this reason. Local legend says that Prince Antenor of Troy founded the Korcula settlement. Still on the subject of history, it is interesting to mention that Marco Polo, the famous adventurer, was born on Korcula, and his house still there. There is also a British connection with the island: the late Fitzroy Maclean, the Scottish politician, soldier, adventurer and writer, had a house there (still used by his family today). It was given to him personally by President Tito and was the only house owned by a foreigner in the former Yugoslavia until Croatian independence. The main resorts are Korcula (mainly people call it "Little Dubrovnik" because of its medieval squares, churches, palaces and houses), Vela Luka and Lumbarda.
23 miles from Dubrovnik and is the southernmost of the larger islands. Its area is 62 square miles (100 square km). Over two-thirds of the island is covered by forest with the western half of the island declared a National Park. The Lonely Planet guidebook calls it "the most seductive island in the Adriatic". According to legend, Odysseus fell in love with the island and stayed there for seven years. Prince Charles has visited the island twice and was also enchanted by its beauty. The island is best visited on a day trip from Dubrovnik or Korcula as there is only one hotel on the island, but many locals offer private rooms if you wish to stay there. The National park of Mljet,covers the western part of the island, which many regard as the most alluring in the Adriatic, full of lush and varied Mediterranean vegetation. The park includes two deep bays which, due to their extremely narrow links with the sea, are regarded as and indeed named lakes: the Great Lake and the Small Lake. Mljet is also very rich in cultural heritage, the most prominent example being the complex of the 12th century Benedictine monastery. The monastery is located on a small island in the middle of the Great Lake and is set in a lush park
Kolocep, Lopud & Sipan
This chain of islands, known as the Eliphat islands, between the Peljasac peninsula and Lapad and are very close to Dubrovnik. They are called the Elafit islands because of the Greek word elafos, meaning deer - in ancient times the islands were apparently home to a large deer population. There are actually six islands in the group, and were particularly famous as the most skilful mariners came from there. The islands are very beautiful and peacefull, a perfect port of call for a relaxing few days.