Photo by Ivo Pervan

A Thousand Islands, a Thousand Things to Do

Choices, choices. How to choose your ideal Croatian island holiday when you have more than a thousand to choose from, all surrounded by one of the cleanest seas in the world, and including one which is not only the sunniest in all of Europe, but also has the most UNESCO island heritage in the world?

Find Your Beaches

Where to start? Beaches of course. From the iconic Zlatni Rat in Bol on Brač to the delightfully hidden Stiniva on Vis, which was voted the best in all of Europe, Croatian islands shine with their beach selection. Thought there were no sandy beaches in Croatia? Discover the sandy heaven on the island of Susak – a whole island covered in sand. And for those naturists among you, choose the beach where naturism began with an abdicating British king on Rab in 1936, or perhaps CNN’s top FKK beach in the world on Jerolim island.

Explore the Legends

Don’t forget to explore the legends of the Croatian islands, for here both St Paul and Odysseus were shipwrecked on Mljet. And while you’re there, take a look at the stunning national park! Or go to Lokrum, just a stone’s throw away from Dubrovnik, and find out more about local tales of mermaids, fairies and pirates!

Taste the Wine

Let’s talk about the wine and Croatia’s famed 130 indigenous varieties. Many of them are island specific, including Grk on Korčula, Vugava on Vis, Bogdanuša on Hvar, Dobričić on Šolta and Žlahtina on Krk. You just need to learn one word: živjeli (cheers)!

Enjoy the Mediterranean Diet

Of course, the plentiful fruits of the Adriatic ensure that fish plays a large part on the menu, and it is said that a fish swims three times in Croatia. First, in the pristine Adriatic, then in olive oil during preparation, and finally in wine, as it is consumed. It is not without reason that the Mediterranean diet has been listed as an intangible UNESCO heritage. But the islands too have their own traditions and recipes such as Viška pogača (Vis pie), vitalac on Brač, and the edible dormouse festival on Hvar… Try not to try them all!

Fall in Love with Nature

And for all the stunning natural beauty – the sensational Blue and Green Caves on Biševo, the heart-shaped Galešnjak and more – there are also man-made wonders, which are fascinating to explore. Not to mention that wildlife lovers have plenty to enjoy, including the unique griffon vultures on the island of Cres and dolphins in the Lošinj archipelago!

Man-Made yet Breathtaking

Visually it is hard to beat the tiny islet of Baljenac near Šibenik. Just 0.14 km2 in size, but with a staggering 23.36 km of immaculate dry stonewalls. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stari Grad Plain, the magnificent Blaca Monastery, complete with a piano carried manually by nine monks, who consumed an alleged 56 litres of wine on the way, the mysterious Dragon’s Cave on Brač, and the military caves of Vis are all outstanding man-made highlights.

Join the Tradition

From the Lastovo Carnival to the Jelsa Easter Procession, Croatia’s islands excel in celebrating their heritage, and so be sure to check with your local tourist board what festivals are taking place during your visit, for Croatia’s history has deep roots on Hvar – it is where you find its oldest town. Organised tourism in Europe began on the Croatian island of Hvar in 1868 with the founding of the Hvar Health Society, and the recuperative powers of its temperate climate continue to this day. The island of Lošinj is also known as the island of vitality, with good reason to claim so.

Travel by Boat

And how to capture as much of this vast selection as possible on your holiday? Croatia has a well-integrated system of maritime transport, with major inhabited islands connected throughout the year. Private speedboat providers can bring additional convenience to your trip, and with proper planning, it is possible to explore the maximum of Croatia’s rich island diversity as you choose.

The only question that remains is – which Croatian island experience are you looking for?