“If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik. Because the beauty there will leave anyone breathless.” George Bernard Shaw
Crotia, the land of 1,000 islands, is an absolute paradise for sailing. Taking a Gulet along the Croatian Coast is a truly unique experience. Sailing around the Croatian islands includes typical Venetian villages with ancient bell towers, baths, medieval fortresses, quaint taverns and some of the clearest water and pristine beaches in the Mediterranean.
Dropping anchor in one (or ten) of these spectacular Croatian islands during your sailing trip around Croatia is definitely a highlight of the coastline. You’ll discover secluded coves inaccessible from land, bathe at sunset in spectacular waterfalls and savor delicious local food and wine in the taverns of some of the most beautiful hidden islands.
There are more than one thousand Croatian islands. All vary in size from small tree-covered rocks to some of the larger islands in the Mediterranean.
Croatia’s islands offer everything from stunning national parks, nudist beaches and 24-hour party pontoons. Each island has its own unique personality, attractions and sights.
But which Croatian islands are the best? Well, it’s incredibly difficult to narrow it down, so we’ve done our best to bring you a list of the top 10 best islands to visit in Croatia.
Officially, Croatia has 1778 kilometres of Adriatic coastline. However, it’s actually around three times that if you measure every single twist and turn, because over the millennia the wind and the waves have deeply eroded the brittle limestone to create a spectacular shoreline. Thanks to the forces of nature and Croatia’s vibrant history, the country has one of the most richly varied coasts anywhere on the Mediterranean. Craggy karst cliffs give way secluded bathing beaches and charming little port towns with rows of red tiled roofs nestling in the folds of the coats.
More than 100 Croatian beaches have earned blue flag status for their remarkable purity on land and in the sea.
Much of this is thanks to the white pebbles that cover most beaches in the country, keeping the water a clear, jewelry-grade tone of turquoise.
Inside nearly every curve of the Croatia’s coastline, from Istria in the north to Dubrovnik in the south, lies a fabulous Adriatic beach where you can play
Vis it was named the best beach in Europe by European Best Destinations, a Brussels-based organization that promotes culture and tourism, in 2016, and looks every bit the part.
Set in a natural limestone arena, sheer tufted walls of rock all but encircle the smooth, sunken, white pebble floor, with the only break at the 16-foot wide “cliff gate,” which opens the beach to the sea.
The unusual formation, thought to be the result of the collapse of an ancient cave, could easily serve as a heavenly Hollywood vision, or at least a refuge for the Mother of Dragons from “Game of Thrones.”
Kamenjak National Park, Istria
Croatia’s most exciting beach can be found at the southernmost tip of Istria, on the Kamenjak Peninsula, a national park, which dribbles into the sea for nearly four miles before ending in 70-foot high cliffs.
From here, daredevils leap into the sea.
Its protected status keeps both land and water pristine for the passing dolphins and Mediterranean monk seals that frequent.
Dinosaurs also loved this area, leaving fossils and footprints in the limestone, some of which can be seen on “The Dinosaur Path” near Penižule beach. More recently, humans have added the kitsch, with life-sized dinosaur models.
Oprna Beach, Krk
With more blue flag beaches than any other island in Croatia, Krk offers spectacular swimming and sunbathing around almost every bend of its shoreline.
But Oprna Beach is undoubtedly one of its stand outs, as well as one of the hardest to get to.
The calm, clear waters and long shallow shoreline here make it a favorite for snorkelers and divers.
Plus, its remote location means the beach remains quiet and relaxing throughout the summer.
As with many wild beaches Croatia, reaching it requires navigating a narrow path down a slope.
While you’re there, you can also take a boat out to 16th century Franciscan monastery on Košljun, a tiny island within the island of Krk.
Zlatni Rat, Brač
Croatia’s most photographed beach extends like a “golden horn,” as its name translates, south from the island of Brač.
A Mediterranean pine grove fills in the bell side, but the mouthpiece is naked beach, with golden pebbles so fine, they actually feel like sand.
Punta Rata, Brela
Along the Makarska Riviera, stretching south along the rocky coast from Split, some of Croatia’s most famous beaches spread out against the backdrop of the Biokovo mountain range.
The arrow-shaped Punta Rata beach flashes more bling than most and is often rated among the best beaches in the country, if not the world.
Its crown jewel is the “Brela Stone,” a giant boulder just off shore miraculously sprouting pine trees.
Sveti Jakov Beach, Dubrovnik
What’s could be more cinematic than swimming under the walls of King’s Landing in “Game of Thrones?”
As every fan knows, Dubrovnik loaned its inimitable visage to the series, and remains every bit as impressive in person as it is on screen.
The city’s main beach, Banje, rolls out an attractive enough pebble carpet.
But the wilder Sveti Jakov, a 20 minute trek away, keeps the Dubrovnik backdrop while adding quiet, privacy, shade, snorkeling, and excellent sunsets.
For a taste of Game of Thrones architecture without the massive crowds of Split or Dubrovnik, Šibenik stuns with medieval majesty. The town is filled with alleys that crisscross white stone structures and towers, begging visitors to get lost among the cobblestone nooks, hidden gardens, and secret food stalls. Climb the remains of St. Michael’s Fortress (originally constructed by the Venetians to protect against the Ottomans) for a bird’s eye view of the town including red tiled roofs, the domed 15th-century basilica, and sunsets over the sea.
Odysseus Cave, Mljet Island
According to legend, after being shipwrecked on Mljet, Odysseus found refuge in this cave where he met the nymph Calypso and remained under her captivity for seven years. While the myth was later attributed to the island nation of Malta, the fact remains that this hidden spot provides one of the most striking swimming caves in the world. It requires a 15-minute hike down a steep cliff, but visitors are rewarded with calm, neon-blue waters filled with iridescent fish and few tourists. For the most intense experience, arrive midday when the sun’s rays produce a spectrum of electric colors that illuminate the cave.
Kornati Archipelago National Park
ornati is located in the central Adriatic Sea and the northern part of Dalmatia. It is comprised of around 130 uninhabited islands, reefs, and islets. The Kornati islands, with their incredible natural beauty, diverse rocky coastlines and well-preserved, rich marine ecosystems, were declared a National Park back in 1980.
The Kornati islands are becoming increasingly popular with the international sailing community. This is having a significant impact on their development, with top-quality shoreline restaurants popping up in every available cove.
These islands are perfect for hiking, kayaking and re-connecting with nature among Kornati’s beautiful vineyards, olive groves and fig trees.
Pag, the large island in northern Dalmatia, stuns with a rocky landscape more closely resembling the moon than the Adriatic coastline. With 8,000 residents and 30,000 sheep that wander throughout quiet villages, visitors will find respite from the loud holiday crowd. The one exception is Zrće Beach, which has become a pulsing nightlife hub for 20-somethings in recent years. The main draw is calm Adriatic waters that make for perfect swimming or a leisurely row around the coast. And of course, the island produces paški sir cheese, a hard variety made from the distinct milk of the hearty sheep. For those who love abandoned sites, the old town offers a dusty landscape of sea views along with the remains of an old monastery.