With 1185 islands to choose from, Croatia's Adriatic coast truly offers an embarrassment of riches. Whether your interest is lounging lizard-like in the sun, exploring ancient villages, hiking through lavender fields or partying until dawn, there's an island in Croatia for you. And you don't need your own yacht to see them! All of the following islands are easily reachable by regular ferries run by Jadrolinija, Croatia's largest ferry company. Let's start at the southern tip of Croatia and work our way northward.
A good part of Mljet Island is pristine national park including two inland seawater lakes that present the very picture of tranquility. You can bike around the lakes, paddle or swim them or take a hike through the interior. Most people visit on a day trip from Dubrovnik, but there's no reason you can't stay overnight. There's only one hotel but a good amount of private accommodation.
Large and forested, Korcula offers endless possibilities for exploration. Start in the Old Town, crowded onto a little peninsula and then explore some quiet islets around the main island via excursion boat. To get away from it all, stay in one of the interior villages.
Unquestionably the trendiest of Croatian islands, it seems that everybody wants to head to Hvar. The old town is impossibly romantic, the harbor is the most delightful in the Adriatic and the nightlife. . .Suffice it to say that you'll find everything from chic cocktail bars to down 'n' dirty backpacker joints (although much more of the former). During the day, take a boat to the naturist islands that beckon offshore or traipse through the lavender fields that dot the interior.
The most accessible island from the Dalmatian coast, Brac is a favorite getaway for Croatian mainlanders. Cheaper and somewhat less crowded with foreigners, Brac Island's highlight is the unusual Zlatni Rat beach, a staple of Croatia's tourist brochures. Supetar is the main entry point and boasts an appealing "fishing port" ambiance.
Here is that special gem that is still relatively undiscovered, mostly because Vis Island is a long ferry ride from the coast. But it's so worth it. Neither hip nor chic (yet), Vis has the unspoiled nature, the swimming and diving possibilities plus two great villages. Vis Town has early Greek and Roman remnants and Komiza is the kind of charming fishing village that is rapidly disappearing from the Mediterranean. Think St Tropez about, oh, 100 years ago.
Also not on the tourist circuit, Dugi Otok is long and relatively flat compared to the other islands. Still, there's good swimming and a calm and peaceful atmosphere. It's main highlight is the Telascica Bay nature park with a saltwater lake and miles of rugged coastline.
All Croatians sigh over Pag Island as it produces the country's finest cheese, pungent and aromatic. Dry and flat, Pag Island still boasts a kind of offbeat beauty. The main town is Pag Town, with its straight, stone streets but party people will want to head to Novalja on the northern end of the island. At the first thought of summer, Novalja's main beach is transformed into a non-stop outdoor party with DJs, cocktail bars, foam nights and a regular circuit of theme events.
Cres & Losinj Islands
These two long thin islands are separated only by a narrow canal. Losinj in the south is much more developed for tourism with a range of hotels and a magnificent bay that is a center for windsurfing. Cres is much wilder and mostly devoted to fishing and sheep raising. Accommodation is somewhat limited in terms of both comforts and quantity but it's easy to stay in Losinj and visit Cres.
This is a pretty island near the northern coast with scenic Rab Town as its center. Tourism is very developed here largely because of the splendid sandy beaches in Lopar. Sandy beaches are a rarity in Croatia! This is the place for an easy, relaxing beach holiday.
With an airport receiving international flights right on the island, Krk is one of the easiest islands to reach. Desolate it isn't but you'll find a wide choice of places to stay on this large island. Visit the historic center, walled Krk Town but also Baska with its long stretch of pebbly beach and the hilltop village of Vrbnik.