Many years ago, in the 70s and 80s of the last century, a boat excursion to the Kornati Islands was a „must“ for all tourists visiting Dalmatia. I always wanted to visit this group of harsh and bare islands, scattered like pebbles in the Adriatic Sea – but I never had the opportunity.
On our way to the Netherlands in September this year, we made a stop in Biograd na moru, where we met an old friend, Stipe, who had been organizing such boat trips since many years. And yes, the last trip of the season should take place on the following day! Of course, we were lucky to participate, although the weather forecast was not so favorable.
And we were not the only ones… Next day, many foreign tourists joined us on the „Pino“. The wind, a classical „Jugo“, was rather strong, but the sky was clear. The waves were rough, but the water was deep blue.
Leaving the port of Biograd na moru, we made a first stop in Tkon on the island of Pašman, where several other tourists joined the group. Continuing the trip to the National Park of Kornati Archipelago that is also listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, we were impressed by the changing colors of the barren islands: from stony white to pale ochre, mottled with patches of pale green sage and decorated with shallow caves and craggy cliffs (photo 1).
We passed several colonies of herrons (photo 2) and the skipper had a hard job to maneuver his boat through the narrow canals in between the islands. He was guided by old „traffic signs“ that consisted of white stone heaps with black stripes (photo 3).
It was interesting to hear that the islands were originally owned by the nobles of Zadar, who allowed the peasants from that region to raise flocks of sheep and grow olives for a share in cheese and oil thus produced. The islands are still in private ownership, but there are no permanent residents.
„Private properties“ are still clearly divided by dry-stone walls (photo 4). Once upon a time, they served to pen the sheep. Unfortunately, the sheep disappeared, but the owners of the land still use their cottages during the summer to tend the olive groves, the vineyards and orchards – and of course, they also take advantage of the opportunities offered by tourism and yachting.
Fish breeding facilities are expanding more and more, as this is an ideal area for such an activity. Stipe fried sardines on the boat and served his home-made wine. A good snack, but I must admit that the strong wind and the high waves made me lose my appetite!
We stopped in several small inlets for a swim and lunch was served in a traditional fish restaurant on one of the 140 (!) picturesque islands (photo 5).
It was a great day! No wonder that George Bernard Shaw fell in love with the Kornati Islands and said: “On the last day of Creation God desired to crown His work and thus created the Kornati Islands out of tears, stars and breath.”(photo 6 – published by National Park Kornati).