Croatian coastline is one of the most astonishing pieces of landscapes in the world. It is the place where mountains meet the sea. Beneath them lie scattered ancient cities linked in the invisible bound with the Adriatic Sea. When you sit for a cup of coffee in one of those magnificent historic monuments, you’ll see dozens of islands emerging from the sea, bathing in Mediterranean sun. Almost every major town in the Croatian coast has its own archipelago. Just this fact is enough to evoke imagination and adventurous spirit of all who are in love with the sea and sailing. Especially ones who need to explore as many places as possible. The island hoppers. Croatia Island hopping is the real adventure from start to finish.
Where to start?
Almost every island in Croatia is not so far from the other. In the northern part of Croatian Adriatic there is a group of big islands. It is known as Kvarner, with Krk, Cres, Lošinj and Rab as major touristic and sailing centres. All of them are very close to each other, with just few hours of calm and relaxed sailing. The island of Krk is most suitable for navigators with its famous Punat marina, from where you can sail to any of Kvarner islands. Also, there is international airport on the island, so one can drop there from any part of the world. Well, the airports are certainly great thing about Croatia Island hopping. There are International airports in Pula, Rijeka (Krk), Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik. Navigators who come from distant corners of the world can just rent a boat in advance, sit on a plane and after few minutes in the airport hall they find themselves on the deck of their sailboat.
How to continue the adventure?
Kvarner is a group of islands far away from the other islands. How far? Not so much. Perfect for island hoppers. The most southern part of Kvarner is the island of Ilovik, beneath Lošinj. This small island can be reached within few hours if you start from Silba, the most northern part of Zadar archipelago. This vast tapestry of islands, counting 300 of them, is the centre of sailing in the middle part of Croatian coast. Within hours you can sail from one island to another. From Silba, to Olib, from Olib to Premuda, Molat, Zverinac and Dugi Otok (Long Island). There are lot of marinas on the coast, with three marinas in the old city of Zadar and the biggest marina in Croatia, Marina Dalmacija in Sukošan, 10 kilometers south of Zadar. There are three big islands in this archipelago – Dugi Otok, Ugljan and Pašman, all of them reachable by sailboat within hour to two, no matter where you start. If you want a peaceful cove, try western shores of these islands.
Kornati – nature at its best
Southern banks of Pašman and Dugi Otok look at the northern capes of Šibenik archipelago with its crowning jewel – Kornati. Kornati is a group of more than hundred uninhabited islands scattered around great area. This archipelago is national park so you can find there literally untouched nature. There are two marinas there, and if you need more supplies for the boat, you can always reach Biograd on the coastline and the island of Murter with its three marinas. Šibenik archipelago is popular for its small picturesque islands – Vrgada, Zlarin, Žirje, Krapanj, Prvić and Kaprije. Which one of those is famous for its sea sponges and which one because of corals? Well, island hoppers need to find out that for themselves. Croatia island hopping is all about discovery.
The Split archipelago
Of course that Croatia Island hopping doesn’t stop there. Split with adjacent town of Trogir has its own archipelago. Split, the old home of Roman emperor Diocletian, has 6 marinas. Trogir, one of the oldest cities in Croatia, established by ancient Greek settlers, has three. All of them equipped to explore the magnificent islands of Čiovo, Šolta and of course, Hvar and Brač, centres of island nightlife in Croatia. These islands can be reached by sailboat within few hours, so you can start your journey in the afternoon and drop the anchor in the bay of Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. Just to watch flamboyant nightlife in front of the walls of the old town. If you come from far away, do not worry. There is International airport between Split and Trogir. So you can go both way and rent a sailboat.
Dubrovnik or King’s Landing?
When you continue your journey with wind in the sails and go more south you’ll see beautiful pieces of nature and history. History can be seen in the Island of Korčula and nature all over the place. Especially in the Island of Mljet, with almost half of the island designated as national park. After that you can sail into the port of Dubrovnik. This town is the star of Croatian Adriatic and the ultimate goal of Croatia Island hopping. The old medieval republic with its fortification walls is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites from 1979. Its popularity is now bigger than ever because it is chosen for filming of one of the most popular series, the Game of Thrones. So, it won’t be strange if you find yourself in the Game of Thrones King’s Landing when walking the old city of Dubrovnik.