Tired of the usual islands crowded with tourists? Do you have no interest in shops and clubs and are instead looking for unspoilt nature and beautiful sea? Stop searching and start planning your holiday on the Kornati Islands.
This archipelago in Croatia has more than a hundred islands and islets, 89 of which are part of a nature park established in 1980 to preserve the beauty of these places and their amazing variety of plant and animal species.
The archipelago is divided into Upper and Lower Kornati. The name of the archipelago derives from the impressive cliffs above the sea that are called crowns, which are mainly found in the Lower Kornati. They have impressive heights: 60-80 metres above water and more than 100 metres underwater.
They are islands of karstic origin, with a rocky coastline characterised by impressive cliffs, headlands and caves with thousands of ravines. This stretch of sea is a paradise for sailors, divers and snorkellers; the beaches are often only accessible by boat and never crowded.
Difficult to reach, with no hotel facilities except for a few private houses that are rented out to tourists, the Kornati islands are not a destination for everyone. But those looking for peace, wilderness, beautiful sea and a complete break from everyday life will love these rugged, little-visited islands with their sometimes lunar landscape.
In addition to the clean sea, you will be delighted by fish restaurants, military fortresses, ancient tombs and Venetian castles. Hoist the sails, it’s time to set sail!
Sea, sea and more sea: you are guaranteed to spend most of your holiday on the Kornati islands admiring the thousands of shades of blue that the Adriatic Sea takes on here.
Every once in a while, however, it is worth getting off the boat and taking a look at the wild beauty of the hinterland and the historical remains scattered across the islands of the archipelago.
On Kornat, the largest island of the archipelago, you can admire the Church of Our Lady of Tarac, built in the Middle Ages on the remains of an early Christian basilica, and the Tureta Fortress, dating back to Byzantine times.
A testimony to Venetian rule is the Castle at Piskra, of which unfortunately only a few remains can be seen.
All the islands are criss-crossed by nature trails. During your walks, you will be struck by the numerous dry stone walls, once used to mark out pastures and landed estates.
Saharun beach is one of the few sandy beaches in the archipelago, set in the bay of the same name; it is washed by crystal-clear sea that remains shallow near the shore and then drops to 10 metres. It is located along the south coast of the island of Dugi Otok.
Also on Dugi Otok is the enchanting Telascica Bay near which a salt lake opens up, perfect for safe swimming.
Other beaches not to be missed on the Kornati islands are Lojena (Levrnaka Island), Veli Rati Bay and beaches on Molat Island.
Sailing, swimming and diving are prohibited in the protected areas of the park, i.e. around the islets of Purara, Klint, Volic, Mali Obrucan, Veli Obrucan, Mrtenjak and Kolobucar.
Diving within the park, as well as sailing, requires a permit. The cost is not cheap, but the beauty of the seabed and the rich underwater life you can admire are worth all the money spent.
There are no hotels on the Kornati Islands and holiday accommodation is very scarce. The islands have no permanent population but there are private houses that are rented out to tourists. Some of these are former fishermen’s houses, simple but characteristic.
Bear in mind that services are reduced to the essentials and there are no shops on the islands, with the exception of a general shop in Vela Panitula. In the summer months there are boat-stores, i.e. boats that go from one island to another selling basic necessities, functioning as a sort of travelling convenience store. There are a couple of restaurants serving excellent local cuisine.
Given the scarcity of available accommodation, sleeping on the Kornati islands is an exclusive experience, not cheap. A simpler and in some cases more affordable solution is to visit the islands by taking part in a boat trip, either daily or over several days.
The Kornati islands do not have airports, the closest ones are on the mainland and are those of Zadar and Split, connected to the rest of Europe by low-cost flights (some flights may be seasonal);
The only island that can be reached by ferry is Dugi Otok. The other islands can only be reached by private boats: you can rent one if you have the permits, or you can choose between an organised tour and a skippered cruise.
The ideal base from which to explore the archipelago is the Betina marina on the island of Murter.
The Kornati archipelago is located on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, between the islands of Dugi Otok and Zirje. It is the densest archipelago in the Adriatic Sea, with 140 islands, islets and reefs, covering an area of approximately 320 square kilometres.