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Best Small Islands in Croatia

While larger, more well-known islands in Croatia get all the press, such as Hvar, Brac, and Korcula, there are many smaller, lesser-known Croatia islands that don’t get enough credit. They’re no less spectacular, and many can even be visited on a small ship Croatia cruise, with more diminutive vessels able to reach smaller ports. Whether you’re looking for a small ship cruise itinerary that includes some of these more hidden gems or you want to explore independently, this list of the best small islands in Croatia is perfect for going off the beaten track. Enjoy a more tranquil, unspoiled atmosphere, magnificent beauty, and a more authentic experience at any one of these treasures during your Croatia vacation.


Sunset at Lopud
Aerial view of monastery

Part of the Elaphiti archipelago, Lopud is a peaceful, car-free island that’s easily reached by boat from Dubrovnik, just an hour’s ferry ride away. It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy panoramic views that include everything from the sapphire waters and idyllic sands that surround the shores to soaring mountains with lush greenery. The seafront promenade is always enticing with its water-view restaurants, little independent boutiques, and ice cream shops along the northern bay. With a short hike south through the hills you’ll find the bay of Sunj, home to secluded Sunj Beach, the most beautiful on the island with silky sands tucked into a tranquil cove, perfect for a refreshing swim.


View of Lokrum Island with boats in the sea
Dead Sea in Lokrum Island

Just outside the walled Old City of Dubrovnik is the small, uninhabited island of Lokrum. It’s easily visited by a short boat ride or by joining a kayak tour and paddling the .35 nautical miles while immersed in the jaw-dropping scenery. There may be no human residents on Lokrum, but watch for the rabbits and peacocks that roam freely in the large national preserve. You can also spend an afternoon at one of the many postcard-perfect beaches, sunbathing and swimming. Lokrum Main is popular for cliff jumping with the rocky cliffs in varying heights ideal for a leap but there are gentle sloping areas for wading too. Or, head to the Dead Sea Lake for a swim in the saltwater lagoon.

Pakleni Islands

View of boats in Pakleni Islands
Pakleni Islands

A string of jewels that lie opposite the Hvar Town harbor, the Pakleni Islands are a nature lover’s dream with pine forests, hidden coves, and magnificent lagoons for swimming. The second largest island in the archipelago, Marinkovac, is home to one of Europe’s most famous beach clubs, Carpe Diem, which hosts daily parties. Those looking for a more tranquil stretch to relax will want to head to the picturesque beaches along Zdrilca Bay. If your Croatia vacation includes Hvar, boat tours are available that often stop at Sveti Klement, the largest Pakleni Island. Many include time on sandy Palmizana Beach which edges a beautiful horseshoe-shaped bay while offering casual beach bars and eateries along with enticing spots to sunbathe and swim.


View of Lastovo Island
Lastovo village

Lastovo faces Korcula Island, located off the southern Croatian coast. A true hidden gem, visitors can experience an authentic Croatian village, with the main village also called Lastovo. It’s tucked onto a steep slope that overlooks fields with grapevines, olive trees, and vegetables. Wander through to view the old stone homes that have traditional red-tiled roofs and visit historic churches like the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian. Those who enjoy the outdoors can take advantage of walking and biking trails that wind through forests and vineyards, as well as relax in one of the small bays with crystal-clear water for swimming. There are many treasures to discover beneath the sea as well, including colorful fish and vibrant coral.

Brijuni Islands

Brijuni National Park salt marshes
Open zoo in Brijuni National Park

Once a summer retreat for former Yugoslav president Tito, the Brijuni Islands were designated a national park following his death in 1980. There are no permanent residents but there are a handful of accommodation options for those who wish to spend the night. Most visit on a day trip from the Croatian mainland town of Fazana, with the largest island of Veliki Brijun just a 20-minute journey by ferry. If you do stay overnight, you’ll enjoy an especially peaceful haven after the last ferry leaves. Either way, there are the usual pretty beaches like Saluga and Brijun along with dense forest, Roman ruins, a botanical garden, and even a safari park. It hosts exotic animals, including an elephant and zebras.


Susak town
Susak Town

Just under two square miles in size with a population of under 200, Susak lies about 89 miles southwest of Zagreb, the Croatian capital, in Kvarner Bay. One of the most unique and best small islands in Croatia, it’s made up nearly entirely of golden sands. There are no roads, with trails zig-zagging across the island instead. The island’s name is derived from the Greek word for oregano, with the herb and others growing wild across the landscapes. There’s plenty of scenic beauty to enjoy here, including spectacular coves with picturesque beaches. If you’re looking for an interesting culture, Susak is also ideal. Here you’ll see the locals donning traditional costumes and hear them speaking a unique island dialect.


View of Solta island
Grohote town in Solta

Despite being visible from the waterfront promenade in Split, Solta sees few visitors. Most travelers aren’t aware just how much they’re missing as this island is an unspoiled treasure, spared from much development. There are sheltered coves with serene beaches and calm, turquoise water for swimming while diving enthusiasts can discover a remarkable world beneath at sites like Senjska and Livka. The island also produces products like wine, honey, and olive oil. Visitors can even learn how to make honey at a family-run farm or take a tour of an olive mill to delve into Solta’s olive oil-making tradition. History buffs shouldn’t miss the ancient ruins of sarcophagi, the remains of Roman Emperor Diocletian’s fish market, and a prehistoric fortress.


Clear water on Bisevo Island
Blue Cave Bisevo

Just south of Vis Island is tiny Bisevo. The furthest inhabited island from the Croatian mainland with a population of less than 20 inhabitants, it’s just 2.2 square miles in size. It’s best known for the famous Blue Cave which can only be accessed by joining a tour on a small boat that can cruise into its sea entrance. When conditions are right, typically during the late morning hours, rays of sunshine beam into the interior through a crack in the roof, bouncing off the white limestone at the bottom, illuminating it in an explosion of cobalt and silver. Afterward, you might swim in one of the isolated coves around the island where sea turtles and dolphins are often spotted.

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