When it comes to the sailing, Kornati is the most visited national park in Croatia. And it's no wonder, with their ideal position in the center of the Adriatic, this route offers wonderful bays and coves and breathtaking nature everywhere around you. We depart from Biograd and get down as far as Opat.
Our trip begins from another very nice, hospitable and well-organized marina: Marina Kornati in Biograd na Moru. The marina has a long tradition – by the year of establishment, it's the second oldest on the Adriatic, second only to the marina in Punat. It is famous for numerous regattas, well attended nautical fair Biograd Boat Show and 300-boats fleet, operated by ten charter agencies. The fleet in marina Kornati is so large because – as the name suggests – it is the starting point for Kornati archipelago. The position couldn't be better because the route legs are no more than 10 miles.
Attention, don't forget to buy the tickets for the National park of Kornati and Nature park of Telašćica: 3-day ticket for both parks and a 1-day ticket for the Kornati only, which will be necessary for the fourth day (see more: The ticket prices and etiquette for sailors). So, we follow the standard procedure – check-in at 17:00. If the conditions at the sea allow, depart right away. We can’t go very far, but we also don’t need to, we sail to the cove Zaklopica, only 4 Nm from the marina, in the south part of Pašman.
We spend the first night of our sailing trip anchored in cove Zaklopica. Indeed, very calm night because the cove is secluded, “folded” (in Croatian – “zaklopljen”). The sandy cove is a perfect spot for the swimming, in the late afternoon, but also in the morning tomorrow. We can spend our evening in the boat, but we can also visit a nice, cozy “konoba” (restaurant) on the shore, in the middle of a fragrant Mediterranean garden, at times pervaded with a nice smell of Mediterranean seafood from “gradela” (barbecue). The pets are also welcome here. The kids will be delighted with the trampolines and tortoises that the owners breed in their garden.
We have less than 10 miles of careful navigation between the islands, ridges and underwater reefs before we reach Luka, on the island Žut. The island Žut is the second largest island of Kornati archipelago, but it is not a part of the national park, so we don’t need a ticket. The most famous and the most visited place is, of course, ACI marina Žut. Except for the safe berth and full nautical comfort, this is also a perfect starting point for a walking tour. There are three peaks on the island Žut: the highest one is Gubavac (174 m), followed by Tvrdomešnjak (163 m) and Veli Vrh (153 m). There is a hiking trail from the marina to Tvrdomešnjak that offers a fantastic panorama overlooking the adjacent islands – Kornat, Proversa, Sit, Pašman…
It’s tempting to swim in the crystal clear sea in the marina. Here you can do it on the other side of the gate, which creates a kind of a sea swimming pool with the ladders to get out of the water.
After hiking and swimming, it is time to enjoy the Kornati slow-food. There is an excellent restaurant in the marina, which offers traditional dishes of top-quality Kornati cuisine: fish al Forno, lobster “on buzara” (kind of a lobster stew), octopus and lamb “under peka” (a traditional style of cooking under extreme heat, using a terracotta lid). Near marina, there are two excellent caterers from the Kornati: the first one is konoba Sandra in the Papeše cove. The Božikov family pays special attention to their offer of fresh fish and, as they say: “sometimes you can also find some John Dory, monkfish, dentex, lobster and red scorpionfish, there are cuttlefish, squids, octopuses and also some amberjacks, piper gurnards and flounders found in the nets”. They also care about preparing the tasty meals “outside on fire, in the bread oven, as “brudet”…” In front of the restaurant, there are 15 berths on moorings, a couple of boats can moor laterally and the depth is 3 to 6 meters. Not far from here there is a restaurant “Fešta” that belongs to Mudronja family. A couple of special meals are offered here as well, such as tartar sauce made of swordfish, bream carpaccio with truffles and capers and also swordfish carpaccio with grapefruit and rucola. Besides that, the restaurant is a real homeland museum of Kornati. In front of the “Fešta” there are 30 moorings with water and electricity that are free of charge for the guests. In the cove Dragišina there is a restaurant “Vision”, in the neighboring cove there is a restaurant “Sabuni” and in the cove Strunac the famous restaurant “Bain”. All of them, similar to restaurant “Žmara” of Edi Juraga, offers fresh fish, shrimps, clams, squids…
The bay Telaščica is situated in the south part of Dugi Otok (literally the Long Island), separated from Kornat by passages Mala Proversa and Velika Proversa. This is one of the safest, the biggest and the most beautiful natural ports on the Adriatic. The moorings are located in the cove Mir, where there is also a restaurant, but during summer, many tourist boats visit the cove, so you can find peace and quiet on buoy or anchor, while dinghy can bring you to the shore. You can enjoy long strolls in nature here and admire the harmony of 400 plant species, some of them rare and endemic. When you’ve had enough of the land, you can also dive and see all the less common red coral and carnivorous sponge.
What makes this place even more special is the salt lake Mir. The sludge there is healing, much appreciated by those with bone ache. The lake is a home of an endemic species of eel, called “kajman”, but it is not dangerous. You can take a stroll to the crowns of the cliffs, 200 m high, descending vertically over 90 m deep into the sea. One side offers a calming view to the open sea, while another overlooks wild cliffs, which are home of the gray hawk.
There is a group of coves ahead of us, perfect for anchoring for the night, swimming and hiking to the viewpoints. First on our route is the cove Šipnate. Unfortunately, this wonderful cove is marked by a great tragedy that happened in 2007, when 12 young firemen lost their lives in a terrible wildfire. Sad, but grandiose monument, twelve memorial crosses, along a memorial plaque bears witness to the tragedy that happened. The cove Kravljačica is the best spot for hiking to Metlina (237), the highest peak of Kornati. Needless to say, the view from Metlina overlooking the islands is breathtaking.
Swimming in Lojena on Lovernaka, the most beautiful off shore beach of Kornati, is absolutely a must. Here Lojena is as important as it is Sakarun on Dugi Otok. However, Lojena is still more beautiful and wonderful in her wild beauty: turquoise, crystal clear sea, trembling pebbles on the coastline and the pearly sand on the seafloor.
If we miss “civilization”, company and “terrestrial” socializing, we will choose cove Vrulje for the night, the largest populated place in the archipelago, sort of capital of Kornati. Except for the private houses, there are also restaurants “Ante”, “Robinson” and “Sontele”, the center of all events. In the end, if it is too difficult to us to leave wonderful Levrnake, we won’t be able to spend the night in Lojena cove, but on the opposite, inner side of Levrnake, in Anica cove. There you can find two small restaurants as well.
Lavsa is the safest anchorage and the most peaceful place on the Kornati. British Guardian, that often praise Croatian nautical destinations, once recommended Lavsa as the ideal anchorage to their summer sailors. Surrounding hills protect the boat from the wind and sailors from concerns. There are practically no sounds, except for the sounds of starting the engine or splashing, when someone jumps into the sea to take a swim. Everything else is blissful silence, accompanied by wonderful scenery. Those who want to see more of beauty that Kornati offer can hike to one of the surrounding peaks and those who want to enjoy good food can visit local restaurants “Idro” and “Marija”; always supplied with the fresh fish and other seafood.
It is time to move toward the exit. That is a peninsula Opat (meaning “monk” in English), on the southeast of the island Kornat. We will recognize it by its peak after which is was named because it resembles a shaved scalp with a crown of hair, which was once called tonsure and signified affiliation to the order of priesthood in Christianity.
At the foot of the hill, west from Kornat, there is a cove of the same name, inhabited since ancient times by the local population from Kornati and Murter, which has reputation for being one of the top gastro destinations on the Kornati. The king of this place is Ante Božikov Dupin, one of the best-known caterer of Kornati and Murter. His ancestors lived here since time immemorial, and he brought that tradition to modern catering perfection. In the morning, don’t hurry. Don’t miss the chance to glance at all that beauty you’re about to leave from the top of the Opat.
After early lunch, we are moving again. From Opat to Vrgada there are about 10 miles of navigation in the course 010. We will stop on the anchorage Artina, on the northeast side of Vrgada. It is as if the time stands still on this island near the mainland. Young people moved to the cities and elderly that remained breed sheep and poultry and grow authentic varieties of vegetables and olives. Also, tourism brings some of the revenues. In fact, through the history, Vrgada wasn’t very lucky. In the Middle Ages, the island was struck by the plague, killing thousands, phylloxera destroyed vineyards, olives groves tangled in the underbrush. An eternal silence remained, a peace without cars, life without rush and crowds… There is still a crystal sea, sandy and pebbly beaches. Only the pine wood has grown, creating the Mediterranean as it was, in the beauty of which we enjoy now.
We are leaving early, very early. There are 6 miles to cross and our agency requires the boat at 8. Actually, this makes pressure to return the boat already on Friday evening. Yet, completely satisfied, we seized another day of our sailing vacations.