sunset boat kornati Croatia A Quick Guide to Sailing the Kornati National Park
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A Quick Guide to Sailing the Kornati National Park

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When we first bought our boat in Croatia in 2022, on the nearby island of Iž, we opted to sail past Kornati without stopping. At that time, new to Croatia (and to sailing), we decided it was too expensive, too far offshore and there were other destinations we wanted to prioritize. Now, sailing back up Croatia, we decided to check it out. This is what we discovered.

Kornati is often referred to as a sailor’s paradise, a stunning section of the Zadar archipelago off Croatia’s coast. It’s said Kornati has an island for every day of the year; in truth, there are closer to 100.

The Kornati National Park is renowned for its rugged beauty, crystal-clear waters, and rich marine life, perfect for exploring by boat.

It is a truly unique sailing destination, offering stark and serene landscapes, hidden coves, and historical landmarks ideal for visiting by sea.

But is Kornati worth visiting? With a high price tag for entry, expensive restaurants, and a remote(ish) location some 10 NM offshore, you might be weighing up Kornati against the thousand other islands and coastal destinations to sail to in Croatia.

In this guide, we’ll answer that question and explain everything you need to know about sailing to Kornati National Park with your own boat, a chartered vessel, or as part of a cruise.

Is Kornati Worth it?

Kornati is quite expensive and slightly remote (but not really). If you haven’t sailed to other parts of Croatia or are just coming for a short holiday, it might not be top of your list.

We enjoyed our time in Kornati and found it a nice change from the port villages of the inhabited islands and medieval towns of the mainland. That being said, we’ve been cruising Croatia for two summers, and if we were recommending our top experiences on the coast, there might be a couple of things we would recommend above it.

Sailing to Kornati With a Tour

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There are heaps of tours that can take you on a Kornati adventure.

Most tours leave from Zadar or Babinje, and there are a variety of ways to see Kornati and the nearby nature park of Telašćica.

Excursions in larger tour boats are normally the cheapest, starting at $50 per person.

Sailing trips for small private groups are also a great option (which is how we would recommend seeing the Kornati with a tour). While these experiences might be a little more expensive, depending on the tour and the size of your group, it’s a very cool way to see Kornati.

Private Speed boat tours are also available for those wanting to see more in a single day.

There are also unique experiences like a tour on a traditional sailing ship.

Tours generally include a knowledgeable skipper and guide who can offer insight and context into the region, its nature, and its history. Depending on your chosen tour, you’ll visit some of the highlights of the Kornati and stop to swim and explore.

Park entrance fees are included in some tours, but not always. You should check with the operator in advance.

Some tours offer snacks and beverages or even lunch, while cheaper excursions may require you to pack a lunch or pay an additional fee.

Sailing to Kornati With Your Own Boat or Chartered Boat

1205da57 A Quick Guide to Sailing the Kornati National ParkA Quick Guide to Sailing the Kornati National Park
Park Permits and Prices

If you are planning a voyage to Kornati in your own boat or a charter boat, you’ll need to purchase a permit from the National Parks Service.

Tickets can be bought online, at park offices, authorized points of sale, or directly from park rangers. It’s advisable to buy tickets in advance online for convenience and potential discounts. Be aware of the park’s regulations, including restrictions on fishing, diving, and anchoring in certain areas.

You purchase a permit for the vessel rather than per person, and the price depends on the length of the boat and the number of days you plan to stay, with either 1, 3, or 5-day passes available. Passes are relatively expensive, but deep discounts of more than 50% are available outside the summer tourist season, which runs from June 1 to September 31.

How Much Does Kornati Cost?

Prices start at €25 for one day for a small boat less than 7 meters in length and go way up to thousands for larger boats seeking multi-day permits.

You can purchase permits online or at national park centers such as the one in Murter or Sali.

It is also possible to purchase a permit from a ranger inside the park, but the prices are more expensive.

Here is a summary of the peak season / off-peak prices in 2024

Length1 Day3 Day Price5 Day Price
Less than 7m€45 / €25€90 / €45€130 / €65
7m – 11m€65 / €30€130 / €65€190 / €95
11m – 18m€95 / €50€190 / €95€290 / €145
18m – 25m€160 / €80€320 / €160€480 / €240
25m – 35m€320 / €175€640 / €350€960 / €530
35m – 50m€640 / €400€1,275 / €795€1,910 / €1,195
50m – 75m€1,035 / €690€2,070 / €1,380€3,105 / €2,070
75m – 100m€1,725 / €1,035€3,450 / €2,070€5,175 / €3,105
More than 100m€2,245 / €1,210€4,485 / €2,415€6,730 / €3,625

Your park permit gives you access to mooring buoys, which are set up in some of the best and most popular anchorages in the Kornati.

If you plan to fish, you’ll need to make sure you have a separate fishing permit.

Best Time to Sail Kornati

kelli sailboat sunset croatia A Quick Guide to Sailing the Kornati National Park

In our opinion, the best time to sail in Kornati is during the shoulder seasons of late spring, particularly in late May and early fall, particularly late September and early October. During these months, the weather is stable and pleasant, ranging from 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F), and the sea is calm, making it ideal for sailing.

These periods also see fewer tourists compared to the peak summer months, allowing for a more relaxed and peaceful experience. You’ll likely have anchorages to yourselves, and you can also get deep discounts on entry tickets.

On the downside, mooring buoys may not yet be laid, so you may have to rely on your anchor overnight. Additionally, there is a slightly higher chance of grey, wet, or windy days. We experienced grey fog and light rain when we visited in late May, but the weather added to the atmosphere of the islands.

The peak summer months (June to August) offer warm temperatures and vibrant activities but come with crowded conditions and higher costs. Winter sailing (November to March) is less common due to cooler temperatures and unpredictable weather, but it can be suitable for those seeking solitude and a unique sailing experience.

Top Destinations and Highlights in Kornati National Park

Sailboat in Kornati National Park Croatia
Mana Island in Kornati is a popular attraction.

Kornati National Park encompasses 89 islands and islets, so there are plenty of places to discover for yourself. The hallmarks of the Kornati are barren, windswept islands, rocky cliffs, and crystal-clear water. Some of the landmarks include:

  • Levrnaka Island: With a natural harbor, Levrnaka is perfect for an overnight stop if you’re coming on a multiday adventure to Kornati. The island also offers hiking trails with stunning views. There is also a restaurant, Konoba Levrnaka, with a dock and lazy lines available. Reservations are essential in the busier months.
  • Mana Island: Famous for its cliffs and the ruins that look like an ancient settlement but are, in fact, an old movie set. Mana offers panoramic views and excellent snorkeling opportunities.
  • Ravni Žakan Island: This small island features a high-end restaurant with a small dock, making it an ideal spot for an overnight stay and enjoying local cuisine.
  • Piškera Island: Piškera has Kornati’s only designated marina providing facilities and safe mooring for sailors. It’s a great base for exploring the surrounding islands.
  • Lavsa Island: Known for its tranquil bays and beautiful natural harbor, Lavsa is a serene spot perfect for a peaceful retreat. There are a couple of konobas on the island.

Navigating Kornati’s Waters

Navigating through the Kornati archipelago is generally straightforward, thanks to its calm, protected waters and well-charted routes. Here are some tips for safe sailing in the Kornati National Park:

Entering and Exiting
  • Enter and exit the national park through either of the marked channels found at the north and south of the large Kornat island.

Tips for Safe Sailing

  • Take care anchoring: Many of the anchorages are narrow and deep, with rocks along the shore. Make sure you use detailed charts and a depth sounder to anchor safely or take advantage of the provided mooring buoys.
  • Stay Informed: Regularly check weather forecasts from reliable sources, such as the Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service or local marina offices. The weather is slightly more variable out here, and there is less opportunity for protection, so vigilance is key.

Important Regulations

Restricted Zones

There are four no-go zones within the park where access is restricted. These are

  • Purara islet and the Klint and Volić reefs
  • Mrtenjak islet
  • Kolobučar islet
  • Small Obručan and Great Obručan islets

Anchoring and Mooring Options

mooring buoy and anchorage map kornati Croatia A Quick Guide to Sailing the Kornati National Park
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  • Anchorages: Numerous sheltered bays are ideal for anchoring. Popular anchorages include the bays around Levrnaka, Lavsa, and Piškera islands. Authorized anchorages include
    • Stiniva
    • Statival
    • Lupeška
    • Tomasovac – Suha punta
    • Šipnate
    • Lučica
    • Kravljačica
    • Strižnja
    • Vruje
    • Gujak
    • Opat
    • Smokica
    • Ravni Žakan
    • Lavsa
    • Piškera – Vela Panitula
    • Anica on Levrnaka
    • Podbižanj
    • Koromašna
  • National Park Mooring Buoys: The park provides mooring buoys to protect the seabed. These buoys are located in some of the most popular bays and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Early arrival is recommended to secure a spot during high season.
  • Restaurant Mooring Buoys and Private Docks: There are several traditional konobas or tavern restaurants within the park. Many offer mooring buoys and private docks for guests. These spots often require reservations, especially during peak season. Due to the remote location and lack of infrastructure, you can expect to pay significantly more than you would outside the national park.
  • Some recommended restaurants include
    • Uvala Koromačna
    • Konoba Suha Punta
    • Konoba Statival
    • Konoba Smokvica
    • Konoba Piccolo
Conservation

Remember that Kornati is a national park where the protection of the local flora and fauna is paramount. Don’t touch, disturb, or remove any plants or animals in the park, and don’t introduce any foreign plant or animal matter. Don’t light fires. Don’t discharge waste, and take all your trash with you.

Walking on the islands is prohibited except on the designated hiking trails.

Activities and Experiences

Snorkeling and Diving Spots

Kornati’s clear waters and diverse marine life make it a haven for snorkeling. Notable spots include the waters around Levrnaka and Mana islands.

Diving is also popular, but you will need to dive with an authorized group or get a license for autonomous diving from the National Park Services.

Fishing Opportunities

Fishing is regulated within the park to preserve marine life. You will need to obtain a fishing permit from the National Parks Services before you cast a line. You can enjoy recreational fishing outside the restricted areas listed above.

Hiking Trails and Nature Walks

Several islands offer hiking trails that provide breathtaking views of the archipelago. Levrnaka and Kornat islands are popular for their scenic trails. Hiking off the marked trails is prohibited.

Local Cuisine and Dining Tips

Although Kornati is a national park, a number of traditional konobas, or tavernas operate during the tourist season. It probably comes as no surprise that seafood, such as locally caught fish is the star of the show out here.

Due to the remote, undeveloped nature of the area, the prices at these restaurants are usually higher than on the mainland.

How Long Do I Need in Kornati?

We spent three days in Kornati, and that was enough for us. However, one day would be enough to sail the length of the national park and experience many of the best locations. On the other hand, if you have the time, you could easily enjoy a leisurely exploration of the area over five days.

Insider Tips in Kornati National Park

Best Anchorages in Kornati National Park

  • Levrnaka Bay: Known for its protected natural harbor.
  • Lavsa Bay: A tranquil and scenic anchorage.
  • Piškera Marina: Provides excellent facilities and a great base for exploring.

Avoiding Crowds

  • Visit During Shoulder Seasons: April, May, late September, and October offer fewer tourists and a more peaceful experience.
  • Explore Lesser-Known Islands: Avoid the main routes and discover the quieter, hidden gems of the archipelago.

Where to Next?

Telašćica

From Kornati, we strongly recommend visiting the Telašćica Nature Park, found on the southern end of Dugi Otok.

Although not as big as Kornati, this spellbinding bay is the perfect place to spend the night or visit on a day trip.


Kornati National Park offers a unique sailing experience in Croatia, with its rugged beauty, clear waters, and serene landscapes. Whether you’re exploring its top destinations or uncovering hidden gems, sailing through Kornati promises a memorable adventure. With the right preparation and insider tips, you can make the most of your journey through this stunning Croatian archipelago.


Further References

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