The Kornati Islands, also known as the Stomorski islands, are located off the coast of Croatia, south of Zadar and west of Šibenik. This archipelago of islands is made up of 147 islands stretching 22 miles (35 kilometers) in length to cover an area of 124 square miles (320 square kilometers). The karst-limestone islands make up the densest archipelago of the Mediterranean Sea and are named after the largest island of the group, Kornat.
There is evidence of human presence on the islands from the Neolithic Age. The area came to prominence during the Roman period when many of the archaeological sites still found on the large islands were built. During the long Venetian occupation, the islands were used as a resupply stop for the Venetian fleet. It was at this time that the topography of the landscape was abused by the overgrazing of sheep and goats. Following the subsequent erosion and degradation of the soil, the islands were abandoned and finally purchased by the residents of Murter in the 19th Century. Today, the archipelago is still uninhabited although portions of the larger islands are cultivated by their owners.
In 1980, the country of Croatia declared the archipelago a national park, namely the Nacionalni Park Kornati. 109 islands, centered around the island of Kornat, are included in the national park which is managed from the town of Murter. Interestingly, the country has not renamed many of the islands which feature vulgarities such as Babina Guzica and Kurba Vela. These names were first introduced when Austrian cartographers visited the area. Their local guides wished to mock them by making up rude names. These have unfortunately stuck. To learn the extent of the translations, you will have to visit and ask your local dive guide.
The Kornati archipelago is ideal for watersports. In addition to scuba diving, visitors can enjoy boating, snorkeling and swimming. There are also plentiful hiking trails around the islands’ natural landscape and reaching vantage points with mile-wide views is not difficult. Bird watching is also a favorite activities among visitors. Those who are interested in history might also wish to seek out the archaeological ruins left by former Roman occupants. Unfortunately, there are no hotels on the Kornati Islands. It is best to stay in the town of Murter in order to have access to the best activities in the area.
The closest international airport is in Split (SPU). Unfortunately, there is no way to access the Kornati Islands via public transportation. Visitors with their own boat can dock in one of the many protected coves. Visitors without their own water transportation will have to access the islands with a local dive shop from Murter or on an excursion from Zadar, Sibenik or Split.