Cruising around the Adriatic Sea and enjoying the full beauty of Croatia can be one of the most fulfilling and memorable holidays you've ever had, but with more than 1000 islands to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which ones you actually want to visit. Of course, you probably won't have time to stop at each island, so you'll have to be okay with cruising by the vast majority of them. Fortunately, there are really only about 80 larger islands, with the Hydrographic Institute classifying the rest as smaller “islets” and “rocks,” so choosing an island to serve as your holiday headquarters shouldn't be too difficult, especially with your list narrowed down to the following three options:
Although the island of Mljet isn't the most popular, it's renowned for its lush greenery and an interesting history that stretches back thousands of years. In fact, the island is a key site in both Greek Mythology and Christianity, as it's said to be the haven where the apostle Paul was shipwrecked as well as the site where Calypso detained Odysseus for 7 years. Covered in inspirational natural scenery and dotted with fairy-tale like architecture, this humble hidden paradise is an often overlooked yet unanimously cherished highlight of Croatia's famous Gulet cruises – learn more about this kind of nautical tour.
The island of Cres is home to enchanting forests, exotic beaches, and a range of rare wildlife that makes for superb photography and observation opportunities. More specifically, the island is home to one of the world's densest populations of Griffon – a majestic vulture with a massive wingspan. Furthermore, as part of the Cres and Lo Lošinj group of islands, there are plenty of other interesting sites to see nearby.
3. Dugi Otok
This long but slim island stands out with towering cliffs and awe-inspiring coastlines adorned with abundant greenery and white sand beaches. As the largest island in the northern Dalmatians, it's home to Telascica Bay and Nature Park – one of Croatia's 8 national parks – as well as Saharun beach on the north side of the island which is lined with impressive orchards and vineyards. Plus, immediately south of Dugi Otok lies a group of islands that make up Kornati National Park, so stopping here is a good way to experience two must-see Croatian parks in the span of a day.
Planning a Cruise that Will Show You All of Croatia
With a Gulet cruise, Croatia as a whole becomes more accessible and the experience feels more intimate than the alternative of sailing on a larger commercial cruise liner. Believe it or not, it's possible to see most of what this diverse archipelago has to offer within just a few weeks if you have a well-planned trip itinerary and cruise route prepared ahead of time. Booking far in advance not only saves on travel reservations, it also gives you plenty of time to compare cruise providers, choose hospitality accommodations, and research the main attractions you'll be visiting during your holiday.