7 Days Exploring the Islands of Zadar Archipelago
Zadar is one of those rare cities woven together from endless interesting points and corners. Protected by the mighty Velebit mountain and nurtured by the fertile Ravni Kotari from the north, it opens and spills into islands dotting the sea on the south. If you decided to explore the region by foot, you’ll have your breath taken away by the imposing Velebit and the magic Paklenica canyons, but those among you visiting Zadar by boat get to enjoy the unique labyrinth of islands big and small stretching across the blue.
Although four days are enough to cover the area by boat, this corner of paradise is so captivating you might decide to spend the entire summer discovering its many faces at your own pace. After leaving the city of Zadar and the northern shore of Ugljan behind, turn west, toward the turquoise waters surrounding the island of Srednja Sestrica and toward the strait between the tiny islands of Sestrunj and Mali Paranak. Both of those are a sight for sore eyes as well as great anchoring spots, but while Sestrica is true Mediterranean wilderness, Sestrunj offers some activities. Up on the hill, the village of Sestrunj on the island of the same name is just large enough for several smaller piers, several houses, a smart bench (!), a coffee shop – and around 30 permanent residents to enjoy it all
Next stop on your journey to the soundtrack of cicadas and crickets is the isle of Iž. In those waters there are several well marked fisheries and pretty much nothing else to disturb your peace. The welcoming marina Veli Iž in the town of the same name is ready to accommodate your every need and is an ideal haven on stormy nights, but as small as the town may be – it’s still to big for our taste. Instead, spend a night or two in the secluded Vodenjak cove hidden in the meandering coast of this quiet island. Inside the cove, like a tiny jewel in the cove, the charming islet of Školjić attracts the eye on the glistening turquoise water dotted with buoys. Drop your anchor in its vicinity and you’ll be safe from northern wind. Almost all coves on the western shore of the island of Rava offer the option mooring at buoys, and are protected from northern winds. If you want to spend some time on this beautiful island, but prefer totally secluded areas, we recommend you set sail for coves of Paladinica or Grbavac. The former is the largest anchoring spot on the island, but the latter lures with gastro delights at (sometimes pricey) Villa Rava. A day only has 24 hours, but how many beautiful memories you can pack in that time is completely up to you. Our suggestion for creating at least some of them is a pit stop for gas and supplies at Sali on Dugi Otok – and then, serenity. Telašćica Nature Park begins with Telašćica cove and only gets better after that. The salty Mir lake and its imposing cliffs are not to miss, while the famous Kornati archipelago with its 152 pearls is a definite must. Sail through the Mala Proversa strait, connecting two dots on the island since the Roman era, and enter Telašćica cove, then tie your boat in the Mir cove and start your adventure: 2.2 kilometers of safe hiking trails, picturesque and photogenic lakes (swimming is allowed in the park), impressive cliffs definitely worth a photo or two. Even on hot summer days, the 30-minute walk to the cliffs is well worth the sweat – especially if you meet the locals – sometimes deer, but mostly donkeys ready to hang around for the price of a juicy apple.
Next stop after Telašćica Nature Park is obvious – Kornati, but we’ll leave that story for some other time and just taste the waters, setting sail for the island of Žut, known for its many coves. Between the island and the neighboring Žutska Aba lies one of the most beautiful, most secluded and most romantic spots in the region, so drop your anchor and chill for a day. Žut is the second largest island in the Kornati archipelago, named for its proximity to the neighboring isle of Kornat: Žut comes from Iuncuts (joined adjacent), and not as the locals sometimes think, from the yellow (žut, yellow in Croatian) colored flowers almost covering the island all summer long. The port of Žut is large and well protected from all winds, so leave it to Aeolus whether or not you have to moor in the ACI Marina Žut, or rough it in the wild in one of the tiny nearby coves. On your way back, be very careful while passing through the Mali Ždrelac strait, as the underwater is rather rocky. Once you pass the 16.5-meter tall bridge, you’ll know you’re very close to Zadar, where your trip and our story began. For one last dip in the sea, we recommend the southern side of the island of Ugljan and its sandy beaches stretching hundreds of meters into the sea.