Enjoy swimming, snorkeling, a little hiking and a lot of fun. An excellent day trip for all ages.
Making a last-minute decision to join a day trip excursion out to Kornati National Park was one of the highlights during our six days in Murter, Croatia. We were nearing the middle half of August and the daytime temperatures were still hitting the mid 30’s (Celsius). Having arrived into Croatia just a few days prior, we were excited to start exploring.
Kornati national park is a protected group of 89 islands located in the Adriatic Sea in central Dalmatia. One of the largest protected archipelagos in the Mediterranean, home to protected ecosystems and small traditional communities. Reaching the unique group of islands is only possible by boat. There are no scheduled ferries between the Kornatis and the mainland. However, it is relatively easy to arrange boat service from many of the nearby coastal towns such as Zadar, Sali, Šibenik, Murter or Split.
We elected to take an organized excursion from the charming town of Murter. It is the closest port city to the Kornati islands and therefore a quicker trip across. It was also the most convenient for us as we where staying a few blocks away from the main harbour.
We didn’t have any trouble booking an excursion and found there were many options. We booked our trip the night before at a kiosk located at the main harbour. During the evening the harbour is busy with activity and a perfect opportunity to peruse the different excursion companies. It is a competitive business and each one will be vying for your tourist dollar. We had a large group of 8 and were able to negotiate a slightly discounted price. During the summer of 2017 the typical prices ran about $300kn (€40-50) per adult and $150kn (€20-25) for children 3-12 yrs.’ of age.
Some important questions to ask
It’s important to ask the boat tour operator a few questions before you finalize your selection, to ensure you book the trip that will best suit your needs.
- Enquire about departure time and return time, to get the most out of your day. We wanted to make sure we were leaving relatively early and arriving a little later in the day. This is especially important during tourist season as you want to get to the beach area before some of the other travel groups arrive.
- Enquire about boat size. Some vessels are small and intimate while others are rather large and hold upwards of 250+ people.
- Lunch is often included with a choice of fish or pork and wine, pop/juice for the kids. If you have any special dietary needs be sure to request at least 1 day in advance as they may not always be able to accommodate you.
- Ask for details on the planned route and any stops during the trip. Some excursions only stop once. It’s important to remember that the group of islands are protected. Mooring large vessels is only allowed in certain bays and climbing on some of the islands is strictly prohibited.
What to bring
Our boat excursion left at 8:30AM sharp.
- Water, sunscreen & hats for protection
- Bathing suits, towels, snorkel gear & water shoes
- Extra snack
Lunch was included in the price of our tour, but we always bring an extra snack. I find that it keeps everyone happy and the complaint factor to a minimum. I want to note here that it is really important to bring enough fresh water to last you through the day. It is very difficult and expensive to buy water on the islands, there are no natural sources of fresh water.
What we saw
Our boat tour led us around the largest of the islands in the national park, Kornat. We where able to get a good look at the island landscape from the boat. Many of the smaller islands making up the archipelago were formed over time as a result of weather and erosion. These islands were formed over 65 million years ago. Today they jut out of the sea, sitting like crowns upon a monarch. In Croatian they are aptly named Krune or crown.
One of the most impressive structures you’ll encounter as you travel alongside the island of Kornat will be Tureta Fortress. Believed to have been built for military purposes, to impose a presence on approaching ships. It dates back to the 6th century during the time of the Byzantine era.
As your vessel follows the coastline of Kornat, you will see many small coastal settlements, barely changed from the arrival of the first settlers from the nearby towns of Murter, Betina and Zaglav, in the 17th century.
During this time and into the 19th century, as the population grew, agriculture began to thrive. You can recognize some of the complex stone walls as you look towards the hillsides. They were built to prevent sheep from jumping fences and guard against the harsh gusts of wind coming in from the south-east, know as jugo .
Our first stop was at the island of Levernak, where we enjoyed a swim and quick hike at Lojena beach. We were given just over an hour to enjoy the beach and surrounding area. We found a spot for our towels on the small beach and headed into the crystal clear water. After a brief swim a few of us hiked up the hillside to get a better view of the surrounding area. This beach is one of the more popular and, well known coves. It will most likely be busy and overrun by tourists by midafternoon.
An hour goes by very quickly and I found myself wishing for more time to explore this area. We headed back to the boat and continued on route. As the vessel was rounding the top of the largest of the islands, Kornat, we were served a simple lunch with a choice of fish or pork cutlet and a glass of wine.
Our second stop was a quick 50 minutes, in a small private cove on the island of Kornat. We were not able to do any exploring at this stop as the land surrounding the beach was privately owned. Nonetheless, we enjoyed every moment and appreciated the semi-secluded cove enjoyed only by our tour boat.
What we liked best was the ability to look towards the islands and the coastline, from the vantage point of the vessel. We were able to get a lay of the land and observe structures that were more than 15 centuries old. Although snorkeling wasn’t as exciting as some locations in the Caribbean or Hawaii, the kids did enjoy putting on the masks and swimming about.
As a group, taking a day trip to explore a national park on an island, away from the crowds, was worthwhile. It’s an experience you’ll most likely think back to fondly. I know my children appreciated the time we spent swimming, relaxing and exploring together.
*Note: This post is not sponsored in anyway. The opinions are our own as we experienced them, an unbiased and honest review.
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