The variety of islands that can be found in Croatia is almost unmatched. Of the over 1000 islands off the mainland, you can find anything from islands only inhabited by a lighthouse guard or a few deer to ones with amazing bars and nightlife. Whether your ideal vacation is great food, mingling with the locals, being inspired by art, or experiencing beautiful wildlife, Croatia has an island for you. You’ll probably want to visit more than one of them though – whether you island-hop by ferry or get a private crewed sailboat to take you from island to island. Here are just four of Croatia’s most beautiful islands.

Hvar

The idyllic Adriatic town of Hvar where impressive Venetian-era houses proudly line the broad waterfront and bay.

If you’ve looked into Croatia at all, you’ve already heard of Hvar. While it’s known as one of Croatia’s most luxurious destinations, it has more to offer than swank. The more “down-to-earth” coastal towns have much to offer in history, heritage, and culture. Take for example the Spanjola Fortress. This Venetian fortress dates back to the 1500’s. You will have a clear view to of Hvar Town and the Adriatic and Pakleni islands. Inside its castle there are historic artifacts displayed that depicts life in the Bronze Age.

You won’t want to miss out on the exquisite beaches and beautiful waters that can be explored. Take a short boat ride to the Blue Cave. There you can take in the beauty of the immense cliffs and the neon light caused by the sunlight reflecting on the caves floor through the narrow shaft.

Cres

The oaky forests in the northern hills of Cres make this island especially unique. This is truly an oasis for plant and animal lovers. Enjoy the wide variety of amphibians and non-poisonous reptiles, and griffon vultures. The sight of one of these fearsome birds spreading its wings and swooping into the sunset is spectacular.

The outdoor activities offered in Cres are endless. From mountain hiking to bicycle tours through small roads and paths, you will be surrounded by the views of the seaside and the forest. There are several natural landmarks and protected landscapes as well as archaeological sites and rural, historic buildings and complexes.

Mljet

If you’re looking for a paradise getaway, Mljet Island will get you far away from the busy tourist traps and into an oasis of your own. Only about 1100 people live on the island and are spread out in several villages. Here you can meet locals, spend time in nature, and enjoy a more laid-back style of vacation.

You can’t visit Mljet without spending a day at St. Mary’s Island. This hot spot is in fact an island within an island. Mljet is home to two inland saltwater lakes and St. Mary’s is located in Veliko Lake.  The island is home to many Roman ruins and even a 12th Century Benedictine monastery. Get a refreshing ice cream while you poke around the historic buildings on this beautiful island on an island.

Rab

If you’re looking for the party, Rab is the place for you. Paradise Beach is especially popular for its clear blue water and beach sports. It’s the ideal safe beach to experience parasailing, play volleyball, hit a waterslide or two, and party all while enjoying delicious island food.

If you happened to be in Rab in the months of July and August you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy one of the many fishermen’s nights. It is a great opportunity to savor the fresh fish, try local wine, and enjoy live music at a reasonable price. Nights like these give tourist the chance to mingle with the locals and get a feel for what it’d be like to really live there. There will likely be posters that advertise when and where the festivities will be held in the town.

Rab is the ideal base spot for day tours by boat. From this island you can hop to the neighboring islands of Krk and Pag and even make your way back to the mainland to visit Velebit National Park.

So whether you’re looking to party and soak up the nightlife, mingle with the locals, sit back and relax, hike through forests and down into caves, or try your hand at the many water sports available on these Croatian beaches, you have just found your next vacation spot. Add these four beautiful Croatian islands to your bucket list. You won’t regret it.