The Kornati Archipelago is located in the central Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Croatia. The Archipelago is located approximately 15 Nm west of Sibenik, 7 Nm to the southwest of Murter Island, or 15 Nm south of Zadar. The Kornati Archipelago consists of 140 islands, cliffs and islets, 89 of which are included in Kornati National Park.
The natural beauty and ecological uniqueness of the Kornati Archipelago led the park authorities to declare the majority of the Kornati islands a national park in 1980, and the total size of the protected area has grown over time to 220 square kilometers. Much of Kornati National Park is water, as opposed to land. The land masses that make up the Archipelago are both remarkably beautiful and geographically interesting, with high cliff faces rising out of the waters and lovely topography.
Visitors to Kornati National Park will find that simple cabin accommodations are available in the park, but these have neither running water nor electricity. Those not looking for such rustic accommodations can stay on nearby Murta or in another nearby city. Piers and restaurants dot the coastline of some of the islands in the Park, providing visitors with necessary services, including fine seafood. The majority of the land in the Park is privately owned. The islands themselves are dotted with olive groves, vineyards, and simple cottages used occasionally by the owners, who are primarily residents of Murta Island. Swimming, boating, hiking, and bird watching are all popular activities for visitors to the Kornati Islands.
The most interesting land features of the Kornati Archipelago are the cliff faces or “crowns” rising out of the sea. These crowns are the result of a tectonic rift that stretches from Istria to Middle Dalmatia. The highest of the crowns is 82 meters, the longest measures 1350 meters, and the deepest extends 90 meters into the sea. The crowns are home to rare wildlife, including peregrine falcons. Adventurous visitors are warned that climbing the crowns is not allowed.
Other interesting land features in the Kornati Archipelago include impressive hilltop views overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The hill of Metlina on the Island of Kornat is particularly lovely. Also of interest is the Magazinova Skrila on Kornat. The geological phenomenon is the result of a mass of limestone sliding along its foundation, most likely caused by an earthquake. The Kornati Archipelago is also home to interesting Illyrian ruins, a Byzantine fortress, and an early Christian three-nave basilica.
The waters around the Kornati Archipelago are rich in animal life, providing one of the most interesting biological ecosystems in the Adriatic Sea. The Kornati Archipelago is a popular dive destination, and the interesting sea bed and rich biodiversity make for a beautiful dive experience. Diving is only allowed via approved dive organizers, and divers should be certain to follow park regulations to preserve the delicate environment of the waters surrounding the Kornati Islands.
Several of the islands in the Kornati Archipelago may not be visited in order to preserve their delicate ecosystems, nor is boating or diving allowed in the waters immediately surrounding these islands. Walking paths throughout the islands allow visitors to enjoy the landscape, even though much of it is privately owned. The Kornati Islands are beautiful, but preserving their beauty is critical, so visitors are reminded to be respectful of their surroundings, and the area is patrolled by park rangers.
The Kornati Archipelago may be of interest to anyone visiting the region who enjoys the sheer wonder of nature. It may be of particular interest to divers, since the seas around the Kornati islands are both lovely in terms of wildlife and geographically interesting. Geography buffs will enjoy the crowns and other oddities of the area.