Croatia is a land where natural and manmade beauty meet. Here you can explore medieval walled cities, their distinctive red roofs forming a startling contrast with the bold blue depths of the tranquil Adriatic. Rocky cliffs, lush forests, sandy beaches and sparkling waterfalls all add to the fairytale charm of this balmy Mediterranean paradise.
Unfortunately, Croatia’s most iconic destinations also tend to be its most overcrowded ones. During the idyllic, sun-drenched summer months, tourists from all the world over flock to these tranquil shores.
But that’s not why you are visiting Croatia. You want to take a relaxing stroll along a pristine white beach, not get jostled by throngs of swimmers and sunbathers. So where can you go in Croatia to actually get away from it all?
What you may not know is that there are over a thousand islands in Croatia. Some are populated, some are not. A few even double as national parks. Most tourists who visit Croatia will never have a chance to see these hidden islands, much less set foot on their shores and explore. But if you set sail in Croatia on a charter, you have the chance to drop anchor in these secluded coves and bays and discover the very best that Croatia has to offer—without all the crowds. You can read more about it in our two part article: 10 Reasons why Croatia is an ideal sailing destination part I and part II.
Following are 5 remarkable hidden gem islands to sail to on your Croatia charter holiday!
1. Vis: A Romantic Hideaway
Vis is the most far-flung inhabited island in Croatia, so venturing here will definitely get you away from the crowds. Approximately 3,600 people make their home here in the towns of Vis and Komiža, on the eastern and western coasts respectively.
While Vis has a history as a fishing community, today the island sustains itself mainly on agriculture and tourism. This is a lovely place to visit if you want to tour a local vineyard and taste some of Croatia’s fine wines. Enjoy fresh-caught seafood at one of Vis’ renowned restaurants, or head into town to shop for souvenirs. Wherever you go, you can breathe in the aromatic scent of fig, mulberry, olive, pine, and fig trees. Palm trees lend a tropical vibe to the streets and beaches of this magical island.
Want to pamper yourself in luxury?
Stop in for the night at one of Vis’ famous bed and breakfast establishments. During the day you will find plenty to do—everything from exploring the beaches to learning about the island’s fascinating military history to snorkeling in Stiniva Cove. The cove offers you a chance to get up close and personal with bottlenose dolphins and loggerhead turtles.
You could easily spend a whole week in Vis, but when you’re ready, it is time to step back onboard your charter vessel and set sail to your next destination. But, if you want to learn more about Vis, we already wrote a great article about 7 Wonders of Island Vis - so feel free to check it out!
2. Korčula: A Cultural Jewel
Korčula is not exactly hidden—with more than 15,000 residents, it is the most populous island in Croatia not connected to the mainland with a bridge. But therein lies its appeal. Even though Korčula can get to be crowded, it will never be swarming with quite as many tourists as the other large towns in Croatia. You can only arrive here by boat, and that means most tourists will never get a chance to walk its enchanting streets.
The settlement here is ancient—so ancient in fact that legend holds that it was founded in the 12th century BC by the Trojan hero Antenor. Many peoples have called Korčula their home: Mesolithic and Neolithic peoples, Illyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Venetians - even famous Venetian merchant and traveller - Marco Polo! With the island changing hands so many times, the culture here is a rich amalgam of influences. Today you can come to Korčula to watch a traditional sword dance, listen to Klapa, a variety of a cappella singing, or even attend the Korkyra Baroque Festival, a prestigious international event held every September.
3. Bisevo: A Swimming and Snorkeling Eden
This tiny island is uninhabited, and quite easy to sail to from Vis, which is located just five kilometers away. Here you will find Blue Cave, also known as Blue Grotto. This cavern is renowned for a very unique natural phenomenon which occurs between the hours of 11 in the morning and noon. The cave itself is quite dark, but the sun shines through the water so that it appears to glow a deep, resplendent blue inside. The effect is similar to that of sea sparkle—except that no algae is causing this marvelous luminescence. It is simply the play of the light.
Bisevo is not entirely unknown—Blue Grotto is too distinctive to not garner some international fame among tourists. But because you can only reach it by boat, you may very well find you have the glowing blue waters all to yourself.
4. Pakleni Islands: Secluded Beaches
There are a couple of different ways you can get to the Pakleni Islands—water taxi from Hvar Town, or your own charter boat. The Pakleni Islands are a study in contrasts; if you stop off in Palmizana (read an in depth article about hidden sailing paradise Palmižana), you will find yourself surrounded by other tourists—this is the place to party.
If on the other hand you take a ten minute walk from where the water taxi drops off passengers, you can find a lovely hidden beach called Mlini. The water here is incredibly shallow, and there is another small island just offshore. You literally can walk all the way there through the water without boarding a vessel—an experience you cannot have just anywhere. Like Blue Grotto, Mlini Beach is a unique natural wonder!
5. Lastovo Island: A Remote Respite
If you really want to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of ordinary, everyday life, Lastovo Island is the respite you are seeking. It is the second most far-flung island off the Croatian mainland, and here, you will feel like you are at the edge of everything. The waters here are the cleanest in the Mediterranean, making for incredible diving opportunities. The island itself is dense with natural beauty. Climb to the summit of Hum or take a dip in the tranquil waters of Skrivena Luka Bay. When you are ready to grab a bite to eat, visit the picturesque sleepy village of Zaklpatica for some fresh-caught seafood.
If you want to know more about Lastovo - read our in depth article about Top 5 reasons why you should sail to island of Lastovo.
As you can see, Croatia offers numerous adventures for travelers who are ready to get off the beaten track—and there is no better way to do that than on a charter boat in Croatia. Many of these magical destinations simply cannot be reached any other way. So enjoy the serene bays and cozy villages that most tourists never get to see; chartering a vessel in Croatia offers you an exclusive pass to all this Mediterranean wonderland has to offer!