With its great exposure to the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is full of islands with a variety of faces. Of the country’s 1185 islands and islets, only 66 are actually inhabited. Arid and lunar for some, green and cultivated for others, dotted with pine trees, olive groves and lavender, the Croatian islands are dotted along the coastline and are not alike: seaside with deserted beaches and wild coves for some, cliffs and deep drop-offs for others or largely urbanised seaside resorts for the last.
Discover islands of Croatia
Most of them are difficult to access, and only around twenty offer quick access for day visitors from the mainland. Even fewer are accessible by cruise ship.
For yachtsmen, on the other hand, the protected coves away from the world and the main shipping lanes, ideal for a Robinson-style anchorage, are an option that has made the country famous.
Between the nearby peaks and the sea, space is often limited. Inhabitants have built their homes here, as well as market gardens in small villages. On the islands, olive trees, vines and other Mediterranean trees and shrubs grow very easily: a real festival of pleasant smells.
From the Italian-Slovenian border (in north-western Istria) to Montenegro (and the sumptuous landscapes of Kotor), Croatia owes all its islands to the Dinaric Alps. The mountain range plunges into the sea and emerges here and there to the delight of tourists and Croatians alike.
All in all, there are so many treasures to explore and sumptuous landscapes to discover on a tailor-made holiday off the beaten track, with the assurance of being surprised at every new step. Some will prefer swimming and the beach, others cultural visits or outdoor activities such as hiking. There’s plenty to discover for tourists who want to get off the beaten track of the Adriatic coast.
List of islands of interest in Croatia
- North of Zadar, the islands worth discovering are Brijuni, Krk, Rab and Goli Otok, Pag and Zadar (and its archipelago).
- South of Zadar: Brac, Bisevo, Elaphites (archipelago), Hvar and the islands of Pakleni, Korcula, Lokrum and Vis are well worth a visit.
The best way to reach these islands is often by boat. Flights are available, but ferries and shuttles are more popular than other means of access (tourist catamarans, speedboats, sailing boats, rowing boats, etc.).
As far as the weather is concerned, even if the weather is fine and the sun is shining, don’t forget that the sea is still dangerous: the apparent calm of a summer’s day can herald thunderstorms, violent winds and strong currents. Lovers of the natural beauty of Croatia’s islands will be well looked after and in complete safety.
The country’s crystal-clear waters are ideal for diving, and dozens of species of fish can be spotted just a few metres from the shore on the rugged seabed around the islands. This is particularly true at certain spots, notably in nature reserves or near wrecks, which are numerous and much sought-after by divers.
On a trip to Croatia, it’s rare to be able to visit more than one island: the time needed to access them quickly eats up half a day or a full day’s travel, and only yachtsmen sailing between the islands will be able to enjoy them to the full. So you’ll have to choose between all these options and try to group your excursions.