The one-of-a-kind scenery of the National Park Kornati, filled with cliffs, so-called crowns, drystone walls and seasonally populated oases, will impress every sailor
National Park Kornati is a tiny archipelago comprising 89 mesmerizing islands and reefs. It rightfully deserves the title of a Mediterranean yachting paradise, offering a chance to sail slalom among the islands of the archipelago, surrounded by cliffs, dry wall-dotted greens and only occasionally inhabited oases that will impressive even the most experienced traveler.
What to do in Kornati?
This area abounds in natural beauty and cultural heritage, from which we have selected only the most popular for charter – and the most visited – ones. Don’t forget Kornati offer more than this, so if you have time, discover the archipelago yourself. On the island of Kornat, Magazinova škrila is a natural ravine formed by limestone hurdling towards the sea, probably during or after an earthquake.
Kravljačica, Strižnja or Vruje coves are excellent starting points for going to the ravine, which is not only on private property, but also must not be disturbed in any way – so no jumping over or demolishing drywall, no picking fruit and no bothering animals.
The most popular phenomenon of the Kornati National Park are the so-called crowns; vertical cliffs facing the sea, created in the distant past as a result of geological events. The longest crown is located above sea level on the island of Mani, and the highest, at 82 meters, lies on the island of Klobučar.
The crowns extend under the sea, and the one on the island of Piškera descends down to 90 meters under the sea. Climbing on the crowns is not allowed, unless you are a peregrine falcon, cormorant or tern, or any other birds living there in their natural habitat. One of the most interesting cultural attractions in the park are drystone walls, erected at the end of the 19th century, when the pasture landscape was transformed.
The settlement of the islands in prehistoric times is evidenced by the remains of Illyrian fortifications, while the fortress of Tureta on the island of Kornat is a relic from the Byzantine era, built to make navigation in the Adriatic, which was quite unsafe at the time, a bit safer.
Church of Our Lady of Tarac
At the foot of the fort lies an old three-nave basilica. The newer church of Our Lady of Tarac is also interesting, where holy mass is celebrated on the first Sunday in July. In the cove of Lavsa on the island of the same name there are the sunken remains of a saltworks and the remains of a salt warehouse.
In the 16th century, the Venetians built a castle on the island of Vela Panitula, which was used to collect taxes on fish from Kornati fishermen. From Šipnata Bay, take a 30-minute walk to the monument to local firefighters who died in the Kornati tragedy in 2007 and visit the impressive Kornati crosses.
What to see?
Other than sailing, there are other activities you can enjoy in the Kornati archipelago, like visiting its many elevated viewing spots, or diving under the surface of this moonscape. Our favourite summer activity in the archipelago is olive picking on Kurnata, running around trying to catch some of the islands’ feral sheep population (still very meek though) or fishing, experiencing a slower, quieter life that the locals have been enjoying for centuries.
Diving and snorkeling
Special permits are not required for snorkeling, while diving with diving equipment is allowed in organized groups, with the permit issued in diving centers, which also recommend one of the seven dedicated diving areas within the archipelago. Every area offers something unique, and certified divers will find the national park even more interesting than those visiting only its shores.
It is almost impossible to single out one Kornati peak – scenic viewpoint – as better than others. Each one will leave you breathless. The highest point is Metlina (237 m) on the island of Kornat, but it is the most difficult to reach. Vrh Opata, as well as Litnji vrh on Vela Smokvica offer a wonderful view of the Murter Sea to the northeast and the National Park on the other side. From Otočevac on the island of Piškeri, you can see almost the entire area of the Kornati National Park, while the top of Levrnaka is quite easy to reach, so it is definitely worth visiting and enjoying the view.
The central part of the park, including the peaks, is privately owned, mostly by locals from the nearby island of Murter, so make sure you take that into consideration while sightseeing. Also, keep in mind that the summer sun is strong, and there is almost no shade in the entire archipelago, which can make hiking difficult and unpleasant.
Best time to visit the Kornati
To visit National Park Kornati, choose the warmer half of the year; from early April until the end of October, not only for the weather – ideal for sailing – but for the fact that in the off-season, some parts of the park are closed for visitors.
Marinas and Berths in NP Kornati
In National Park Kornati, anchoring and overnight stays are allowed in 19 bays, and one marina (Kornati marina) – ACI Piškera. Buoys are present in the coves of Tomasovac – Suha punta (10), Šipnate (10), Anica (12), Kravljačica and Strižnja (20), Vrulje (18) and Kameni Žakan (10). However, in almost all seasonally inhabited bays, there are excellent restaurants in Kornati islands that also provide moorings for their guests. Among the most prestigious are Opat, Ravni Žakan and Levrnaka.
Sailing from east to west, extremely popular sailing and gastronomy destinations are Vrulje and Strižnja, and the islands of Vela Smokvica, Lavsa and Katina. Visitors looking for serenity and calm often choose to visit the coves of Kravljačica, Šipnate, or Statival, nestled along the shores of the island of Kornat like pearls.
The large bay of Modri Bok is a favorite for swimming and diving, while the most popular anchorage in the archipelago and in out National Park Kornati Luxury Yacht Charter Guide is Lojena bay on the island of Levrnaka, rimmed with sand and bathed in hypnotizing azure waters.
Fishing boats have since forever been finding shelter in the seventy-meter-wide channel between the island of Piškera and the much smaller Vela Panitula, and today this peculiar place is often visited by sailing boats. You’ll find a general store and a good restaurant within the Kornati marina ACI Piškera, and while you’re there, enjoy an authentic experience of crossing over the channel on a small wood boat.
ACI marina Piškera is open during the sailing season, can only be safely approached from the south, and offers excellent shelter during storms. However, with mistral or stronger southerly, the channel is unsafe, so it’s better to leave the visit to this Kornati marina for another occasion.
Where to eat?
Opat bay is primarily known for the local restaurant, equally interesting for the menu and the atmosphere. Well protected from northerly, the bay is still unsafe with southerly. You’ll find mooring sturdy enough for larger yachts along its eastern shore, and several buoys in the middle of the bay. Make sure you climb up to the top of the island and enjoy the spectacular bird-eye view of National Park Kornati.
Ravni Žakan is a small and low island with two bays. One of them is on its southern shore, popular among fishing boats in the golden era of Kornati fishing, when the fish trading post was built – today, a great restaurant, Konoba Žakan. These days, in front of the restaurant lies a long wavebreak, sturdy enough for mooring of larger yachts sailing through Kornati National Park.
The bay is popular with excursion boats, as well, so the island is a mini tourist hub in the high season. Make sure you take the five minute walk to the top of the island, from where you can see all the way to Vrata od Opata and other islands.
The azure lagoon of Ravni Žakan offers protection from bora, but not from southerly wind, when the north-western shore is safer. Turčinov Žakan bay is bordered by a strip of woods and dotted with private homes, which is rare for the archipelago. In the bay, you can drop the anchor, moor at one of several buoys available, or tie your boat to the stone dock next to Larus restaurant. The small and rustic tavern offers a simple menu based on local, fresh ingredients and traditional recipes.
Levrnaka island is another elite destination in our National Park Kornati Luxury Yacht Charter Guide, if for nothing else, then for the restaurant of the same name. Nestled in the tiny azure Anica cove, right across Kornat island, the restaurant has a private dock reserved for customers.
The bay offers protection from all wind, although with unpleasant waves during bora and southerly. Make sure you take the long walk to the other side of the island, to the most beautiful bay on in the archipelago, Lojena.
Text Josipa Vlahović Cikatić
Photos Ivo Pervan, Boris Kačan, HTZ/Aleksandar Gospić, HTZ/Zoran Jelača, Đorđe Stošić & Mario Jelavić