Croatia’s best kept secrets: island hopping in the Adriatic

From Pula to Dubrovnik by boat, discover Croatia’s best kept secret islands along the way.

credit: jbarrios9000

Over the past decade Croatia has gone from being relatively unexplored to being one of the most desirable tourist destinations. Known for it stunning scenery, beaches and good weather it is no wonder that the country has become so popular among travellers. Don’t be disheartened though if you prefer to stay off the tourist beaten track, Croatia still has some little known hidden gems where you can experience authentic Croatian life, untouched nature and peaceful beaches.

Explore the wilder side of Croatia by yacht. Charter a yacht from Click&Boat and make the journey from Pula to Dubrovnik, stopping along at these secret island destinations along your route…

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credit: vuk8691

Susak

Starting off your cruise from Pula, a seaside city on the tip of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula, set sail for the island of Susak. The journey takes just under 3 hours by catamaran and Susak has a small harbour to moor your boat.

Being so far away from the mainland, the island of Susak has developed a little bit differently than the other Croatian islands, in terms of language and culture, here you will see another side to Croatia. The people from Susak have many unique traditions. Some of which are exclusively the island’s own (such as their own language and the whimsical clothing). It’s well worth a stop over to experience these unique customs.

The island also has interesting history. In fact, Susak was often raided by pirates so in the 7th century a wall was built around the island to protect the towns and inhabitants from attacks. Remains of the wall can still be seen dotted around the island today.

Adding to its charm, Susak is also the only island in the Adriatic completely made of sand and there are still doubts as to how this island came about - so there won’t be any complaints about the typically Croatian rocky beaches here!

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Toreta - the tower of love on Silba credit: _jure

Silba

Next stop is Silba, a quick 2 hours sail from Susak and conveniently just one and a half hours ride by catamaran from the city of Zadar. The serene little island is free of cars, motorbikes and even bicycles in the summer months to preserve the environment and the tranquility. You won’t find any hotels on the island, instead visitors opt to stay in private apartments or houses.

Silba has lots of small beaches and bays where you can enjoy swimming and laying around in the sun. To the west of the island you can find gravelled beaches and in the north and east you will find soft sandy ones, which is pretty rare in Croatia. Pocukmarak, Tratica and Sotorisce are the must visit beaches. Each offering crystal clear water, great spots to watch the sunset and sports and activities.

The small island has many historical monuments to explore. While on Silba you can visit the Toreta, Marinic tower also known as the Tower of love. The legend says that the tower was built in memory of an unforgotten love. Just 5 minutes from the centre stands the remains of the old island windmill, and there are a number of historical churches to visit.

The mild mediterranean climate makes Silba a great spot for sports and activities. On many of the beaches you can play volleyball, basketball or handball or you can take to the waters and enjoy windsurfing and waterskiing.

Vrgada

From Silba, set sail to the island of Vrgada. For those who want to see “the Mediterranean as it once was” this traditional little island is the place to be. It’s easy to forget the hustle and bustle of everyday life on this small island, where life goes at its own pace. In Vrgada, as is the tradition that tourists are greeted by locals on a mule.

Vrgada belongs to the coastal part of the Zadar archipelago and is just 2.5 nautical miles to the mainland. This small island is largely covered in forest in the north and descends into the sea in the south. The crystal waters make great spots for snorkeling.

A must see spot on the island is the Hakuna Matata beach bar, located on a sandy beach with crystal clear water that offers great spots for diving and waterskiing. Sit back with a drink and enjoy the warm atmosphere far away from urban disturbances. It’s also a stunning spot to take in the sunset.

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Zlarin credit: Clement Peiffer

Zlarin

Heading south east is Zlarin, known as “The Golden Island” for its unspoiled beauty. Located in the Sibenik archipelago, it is also easy to stop off at the neighbouring Prvic, Murter and Krapanji islands.

Zalin is home to a traditional city, sandy beaches and its many coves make the area a popular destination for boaters to explore. Here you will experience a real rustic holiday destination. Like the other dalmatian islands, there are no cars allowed on the island which makes it a tranquil escape from the main city hotspots.

Zlarin is most famous for harvesting coral which is then turned into jewellery and ornaments.The island even houses a coral museum where you can learn about the history and process of the coral harvesting.

Climb up to Klepac hill to experience the most spectacular views, you’ll see sandy beaches, bays and the traditional fisherman villages dotted along the island. Not to mention you can spot the neighbouring islands.

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Lastovo credit: DavorLovincic

Lastovo

Ending your tour practically on the edge of the world, the island of Lastovo is Croatia’s second most distant island and a perfect spot for relaxation. After 50 years the island is finally open to tourists again and offers a largely untouched and peaceful relaxation spot.

In spite of its remoteness, the island is still well connected to main tourist hotspots including Split, Dubrovnik, Mljet and Korcula. The island’s dense forested area and indented bays provide endless spots to get back to nature and enjoy the wildlife and for activities such as scuba diving, trekking and boat trips.

Special tourist attractions on the island include the famous Lastovo chimneys that were once status symbols of old Lastovo families. Lastovo is also home to Croatia’s youngest nature park, the archipelago was named a national park in 2006 by the Croatian government as a means to preserve the natural area. Visitors can enjoy the untouched beauty of the park.

The island also famously hosts a music festival each year, usually in August in which all the locals dress up in silk costumes. Definitely worth a visit if you’re on the island in August.

From Lastovo, it’s time to get back to civilization. After a trip exploring Croatia’s best kept secrets drop your anchor and make your final stop at the city of Dubrovnik and visit the historic old town before heading home.

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credit: pedro_ros