Kornati national park, an archipelago of 89 unforgettable islands, islets and reefs is a so called ‘nautical paradise’ located in the central Croatian coast. With its beautiful natural and cultural heritage, 2700 hours of sunshine per year and astonishing flora and fauna it left me, not unlike all of the visitors breathtaken.

Was it a dream? I don’t know. All i remember is the sun shining like a gold medall behind thin misty clouds and its reflection on the sea as the gates of the horizon were guarded by them – the white Kornati islands. Although i have seen them before, from the place where i spend my summer hollidays – the island of Murter, I always had a wish of going on an adventure there and experiencing from first hand what lies on those islands behind whome the sun sets gently every day from my terrace.  And that was when my desire for visiting it got even bigger.

And so one windy August day my wish came true as my cousins, family friends and I set out on a trip with two boats from a small village Jezera located on the island of Murter. Throughout our journey we were riding the white horses, waves which are called like that because of their crest that is broken and appers white. The blowing bura- a strong wind called like that in Croatia that blows from land to the sea, created big waves that made our ride to Kornati bumpy but really fun and adventurous. And so after a one hour ride, which appeared shorter because I spent it singing croatian songs about the sea with my cousin, we made it to our destination in the lee of beautiful and famous Kornati Islands.

Those white shores rising above the teal adriatic sea have a quite interesting history behind all those years they’ve been standing tall. The foundation for making admirable caves, holes,sinkholes and other valuable karst formtions that distinct both geologically and biologically were carbonate rocks tht have been exposed to atmospheric influences as well as to intense karstification during the last 65 million years.  The first stop on our outing were the spectacular Kornati crowns (cliffs)- the result of cracking and faults on Earth’s crust due to the African plate subducting under the Eurasian plate the crowns were additionally sculptured by corrosion, erosion and abrasion throughout years. The island of Mana spreading in front of us represented the longest crown (1350m).

As we rode a nautical slalom through the archipelago, numerous islands that were once connected to the mainland (up until last glacial period) stretched around us. It is fascinating how those islands were once before only hills on the land.

Our next stop was a bay on the island called Levranka. We anchored our boat and dived one by one (to be honest there was more pushing off the boat than self willing diving but that is just one more way of expressing family love) into the azzure blue sea.

After a refreshing swim and some healthy snack three most adventurous family members set off on another adventure. My cousin Katherine, grandpa and I decided to concor the hilltop that stood above the bay with tourists that seemed as small as ants from our boat. When we got to the shore we put our shoes out from the crew bag (where they were safe from getting wet during our swim to the coast) and so our hike started. On our way up we could see the bay getting smaller as we climbed and the islands of Kornati stretching to the end of horizon. When we got to the top of the hill we couldn’t get enough of that admiring view as the sun shined above on the blue sky. Although we captured the beauty of the stunning view with our cameras that picture will always stay in my mind to reind me of the allure and the feeling of satisfaction when we finally made it to the top.

Now came the harder part- getting down and although it was tricky because the rocks rolled beneath our feet, at the end we made it back to our boat safe and sound.

After our return to the rest of the crew, our captains- my uncle and his friend decided it was time for lunch and so we set of to a place called Vrulje on the island Kornat itself. That peaceful oasis with just a dozen of houses is actually the largest settlement on the island. The place itself is not inhabited all year and it only has one store where you can buy groceries with one boat-store bringing products from the land. The most of the owners of houses in Vrulje are the inhabitants from Murter island who resided the islands way back in 13th century as the serfs who used to work for the nobility of the city of Zadar. Peasants and shephards from Murter had to move to Kornati islands because the island of Murter became overpopulated.

After we tied our boats next to the restaurant where we ordered lunch I set out for a walk on my own through the village- barefoot. Although there wasn’t much to explore in the village I enjoyed the serenity of the place and since cars are banned on the island the only thing making noise was the soothing sound  of seagals overflying the bright blue sky. After my walk there came the part of ordering meal at the restaurant and our crew chose a tipical traditional dalmatian dish- grilled fish. Our choice was freshly caught dentex fish also called the ‘Fish Emperor’ due to its tasty meat.

After the lunch we were ready with our stomachs full to go back home. As we pulled off leaving Vrulje and loving islands behing and heading to the open sea i turned my head to take one last look at the islands before a bumby ride to Murter. And the islands said nothing, they just stood there tall waiting for another goodbye as the sun set behind them diving somewhere into the depths of the Adriatic sea.

More info about the Kornati National Park: http://www.np-kornati.hr/en/

Viktorija Veličan, Vladimir Prelog Science School, Zagreb, Croatia