Beautiful Croatian Islands You Need to Explore by Boat

| © Philip Berryman / Alamy

With more than 1,000 islands scattered along hundreds of kilometres of coast, the Croatian archipelago offers endless opportunities for a sailing adventure. Each has its own character from lush flora-filled islets to long fingers of land lined with dramatic cliffs, but a running theme is the dreamy sapphire hues of the Adriatic Sea. Here we reveal the best spots to hit along the Croatian coast by boat.

Cruise along the most amazing islands in Europe with Culture Trip’s Sailing Trips.

Hvar

Part of the last cluster of islands at the eastern end of the Dalmatian Coast, Hvar has been making an increasingly glamorous name for itself – even dubbed the new St Tropez. But beyond the luxury yachts and swanky nightlife of scenic Hvar Town, the island boasts an abundance of natural beauty, too. Its silver-purple lavender fields draw summer crowds, while lush coastal pastures overflow with wildflowers and asparagus. Be sure to drop anchor at Stari Grad, one of Europe’s oldest towns and a real historic gem.

Despite its Golden Horn – an impossibly white beach that’s become the poster child for Croatia’s coastal beauty – Brač remains one of the less-visited islands. While fairly dry inland, its dramatic rocky coast is fabulous to explore by boat. It offers some of the region’s best scuba diving thanks to super-clear water, especially around the beautiful Lučice Bay. Dock in Supetar – the island’s main town on its northern side – and treat yourself to market-fresh seafood from a harbourside restaurant.

Vis

If you’re looking for a real slice of old-world Croatia, Vis has maintained a sense of sleepy timelessness like few others. This is largely due to it once being a military base, so it was cut off from visitors and development for several decades. A hands-down highlight is Stiniva Beach, a secluded patch of white pebble beach flanked by tall cliffs, and much easier to approach by boat. When you’re done, sail round to Vis Town with its big natural harbour and quaint waterfront promenade.

Mljet

The most easterly of the big islands is also Croatia’s greenest, and by quite some margin. In fact, over 70 percent of Mljet is covered by dense pine forest. One-third of it is also made up of national park, within which are two crystal clear, saltwater lakes. They’re ideal for a cooling swim, and one even has a tiny isle with a monastery-turned-restaurant you can take a small boat to. Circumnavigate Mljet island and you’ll pass numerous scenic islets, too. It really is all quite a feast for the eyes.

Rab

Rab town is famous for its attractive bell towers

Despite one side almost completely fringed with tall rugged cliffs, Rab is known as the island with the sandiest beaches in the whole Adriatic. You will really notice its contrasting halves as you sail around, with lush forests, charming villages and numerous coves lining its southern coast. You can sail along a narrow stretch between Rab and an elongated islet to drop anchor at any of several sheltered harbours on either side of Rab Town. Be sure to step ashore here for a stroll around its charming walled old town.

Korčula

Approaching Korčula town by sea, you’ll immediately understand why this fabulous medieval settlement has been dubbed Little Dubrovnik. Numerous centuries-old buildings seem to jostle for position behind the ancient ramparts. Continue around the Peljesac channel and you’ll appreciate the natural beauty of the island, too, scattered with olive groves, pine forests and golden beaches. At the island’s farthest western point is a tiny islet and the lovely Batalo Beach. Take a dip here before strolling to a simple restaurant for seafood hot off the coals.

Dugi Otok

Translating as long island, at 45km (28mi) and skinnier than most, this is certainly one of the archipelago’s most elongated. Dugi Otok is mostly known for the Telascica Nature Park covering the southern part of the island. With its countless islets, dramatic wood-topped cliffs and calm waters, it’s understandably popular for boating. And if you’re planning to set foot on land, Mir Lake is a wonderful spot for a dip – it’s warmer than the sea in summer and its salt-rich waters are rumoured to have healing properties.

Cres

The most westerly, one of the largest and least developed of Croatia’s islands, Cres is a haven for wildlife. It provides sanctuary for the rare and gigantic griffon vulture amongst the rugged wilderness of thick forest, craggy coastline and hidden coves. Sail to the Mali Bok nature reserve for the best chance of sighting these impressive birds. Circle to the other side of the island to gaze up at Lubenice, a 4,000-year-old hilltop fortress, before exploring the nearby Blue Cave – a sea grotto filled with turquoise light.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

X
Edit article