The Zadar Archipelago consists of some 300 islands off the coast from Zadar. This area was once a mountain range but is now mostly submerged, leaving scrubby islands with beaches that run into crystal clear waters. The region is very Mediterranean in nature with olive trees growing on the islands, and farming and fishing being the main means of livelihood. Most of the islands remain uninhabited, with less than 15 having communities. Some of the larger islands are serviced by ferries and have hotel accommodations. Some of the more popular islands in the Zadar Archipelago include Dugi Otok, Ugljan, Pasman, Premuda, Motal, Olib, and Kornati National Park.
Kornati National Park
Kornati National Park (Nacionalni Park Kornati) is made up of 147 islands in the Zadar Archipelago. The main island in the park is Kornat Island which measures 25km / 15mi long and 2.5km / 1.5mi wide. The park was set up in 1980 as a measure to stop development of the islands and protect the marine life. Most of the islands within the park are uninhabited and fishing is prohibited. The islands, for the most part, are barren with little to no vegetation. Rolling dry hills rising out of the clear waters shape the landscape in Kornati National Park. The terrain is actually rugged with caves, cracks, and cliffs. The islands were once lush, and home to Roman villas, but there is no fresh water on the islands and the land was exploited during the Venetian rule and left desolate. Some of the islands still have Roman remains. Among the more interesting ruins are those of Roman villas and walls which run down the shorelines into the water, thought to have been a holding tank for fresh frish. The area is popular with yachters and scuba divers. Despite the barren landscape the park has a unique beauty and attracts many visitors.
The island of Dugi Otok, in the Zadar Archipelago, is the largest of these islands, measuring 124 sq km / 48 sq mi. There are a scattering of villages around the island, which subsist primarily on fishing and farming. Dugi Otok has been inhabited, or at least utilized as a vacation destination, since Roman times. In the village of Sali, the main community and port, are some Renaissance summer homes and Church of St Mary of the Assumption. At the northern end of the island is the fishing village of Bozava with the 10th Century Church of St Nicholas. The real beauty of the island is its rugged landscape and natural attractions. The north is also home to the popular Sakarun Bay. On the south end of Dugi Otok is the Telascica Nature Park and Kornati National Park. This is a great place for relaxing on the beach or scuba diving.
The island of Molat, like Premuda, is relatively isolated with only a few hundred people inhabiting the island. There are three main villages, Molat, Zapuntel and Brgulje. Although there is no hotel accommodation available on the island it may be possible to arrange private stays in these villages. The residents of Premuda rely mainly on fishing and agriculture. The woodland on the island was wiped out by exploitation of the land. While the island was under the rule of Venice a group of monks settled here and attempted to bring back the forests. Premuda is currently undergoing a reforestation program in hopes of re-establishing the forests. The island has a nice coastline and the only real man-made attraction is the old church of St Andrew.
The island of Olib in the Zadar Archipelago is home to about 700 people. The main settlement is the village of Olib, located on the Bay of Olib. The island was inhabited during Roman times, was first mentioned in the 11th Century by the name Aloip, and became home to refugees fleeing the Turks in the 15th Century. The foundations of Roman structures can still be seen in the Bay of Banjve. Some of the architecture on Olib dates to the 16th Century, including the church of St Anastasia / St Stosija.There is no hotel accommodation on Olib but it is possible to arrange for stays in private houses.
The island of Pasman has a small population and a few villages but has a much more natural feel to it. Villages line the coast on the side that faces the mainland. The main communities on the island are Pasman, a fishing village, and Tkon, where the ferries land. Outside of Tkon is the Monastery of St Cosmas and St Damian (Sv Kuzma I Damjan). This Benedictine monastery was built in the early part of the 12th Century but rebuilt in the 15th Century in Gothic style. The island has a few beaches on the eastern side. Pasman is linked to neighboring Ugljan Island by a bridge.
The island of Ugljan is one of the more populated islands in the Zadar Archipelago. Its close proximity to Zadar makes it an easy destination for locals to visit or even commute back and forth to work on the mainland. The island is green with farmland, gardens, and olive groves. The main town on Ugljan carries the same name as the island and is home to the Franciscan, St Jerome Monastery. The village of Preko is a newer, more upscale "suburb" with expensive villas owned mainly by Zadar residents. Also of interest on Ugljan is the Venetian St Michael fortress, perched on a hilltop. Ugljan is linked to the island of Pasman by a bridge.
The small island of Premuda is quite remote with only a few connections each week to the mainland. Only about 100 residents live on Premuda, all of them in the main village of the same name. The island is small, covering an area of only 9 sq km / 3 sq mi. There is no official accommodation on the island but it is possible to arrange for stays in private houses. There are no private cars on the island. The main reason visitors come to Permuda is to experience the tranquil setting, enjoy the beautiful beaches, and get away from the mainland.