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Looking for information about the Pakleni Islands in Croatia? I’ve got you covered!
Located just off the coast of Hvar, the Pakleni archipelago is home to some of the best islands in Croatia. Since I’ve been living in Croatia since 2014, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the islands on multiple occasions and the best way I can describe them is in just three words: heaven on earth.
That’s right, these islands encompass all that comes to mind when you picture the Mediterranean. Crystal clear sparkling waters, turquoise bays, pristine pebbled beaches fringed with fragrant pine trees, flowers everywhere, and a symphony of cicadas as background music.
These are the reasons that keep me coming back to Hvar and the Pakleni Islands time and time again. So if you’re visiting Croatia and you want to experience the breathtaking beauty of the Pakleni Islands, then this guide is for you!
In this blog post, I’ll be sharing everything you need to know about visiting the Pakleni Islands in Croatia. From the logistics of getting there, where to stay, the most picturesque beaches to explore, and so much more, consider this guide your go-to resource for unlocking the best of the Pakleni Islands.
How to Visit Hvar’s Pakleni Islands in 2023
About the Pakleni Islands
The Pakleni Islands, also known as the Paklinski Islands, are a series of 14 islands and islets that form a captivating archipelago situated just off the coast of Hvar. This rocky cluster of islands is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, crystal clear turquoise waters, secluded coves, and bright pink bougainvillea trees.
The Croatian name of the archipelago, Pakleni Otoci, is popularly translated to “Hell’s Islands” or “Hellish Islands”. However, the real name derives from the archaic Croatian word paklina, meaning tar. The pine trees that flourish on the Pakleni Islands were a valuable resource, as their resin was extracted to create tar, which was used to waterproof and protect the hulls of ships. The tar was described as being “black as hell”, which is how the islands got their unique name.
Since then, the production of tar has ceased on the islands, and visitors flock to this sun-drenched chain of islets each year for a taste of pure Mediterranean paradise. It’s no wonder that the Pakleni Islands are one of the most popular day trips from Hvar, and you’ll definitely want to dedicate an entire day out of your stay to exploring the archipelago.
There are three main islands, in particular, that are highly frequented by both locals and tourists alike: Jerolim, Marinkovac, and Sveti Klement.
Which Pakleni Island Should You Visit?
Jerolim, the island closest to Hvar, is a haven for nature enthusiasts seeking tranquility and unspoiled beauty. Its pristine beaches, secluded bays, and lush vegetation create an idyllic setting for relaxation and exploration. Jerolim is known for its clothing-optional beach (more on that later), attracting sunbathers looking for a more liberating experience. The island also offers a beach bar and top class restaurant.
Marinkovac, the second largest island in the archipelago and is home to one of Europe’s most famous beach clubs, Carpe Diem. However, Marinkovac is much more than just a crazy place to party. There are some really lovely beaches here situated in the tranquil Zdrilca Bay that will make you forget you are in the party capital of Hvar.
Sveti Klement, the largest and most popular island in the Pakleni archipelago, captivates visitors with its sandy beaches and abundance of bars and restaurants. This island is a favorite among boaters who cruise into the turquoise bays and drop their anchors for the afternoon. The flower-filled village of Palmižana is the most well-known spot on the island and is home to a sandy beach lined with restaurants and laidback beach bars.
Where are the Pakleni Islands
The Pakleni Islands are located located off the southwest coast of the island of Hvar, Croatia, opposite the entrance to the Hvar harbor (you can see them from the top of the Fortica Fortress). Below you can see a map of the Pakleni Islands to get a better sense of where they are located in Croatia.
Best time to visit the Pakleni Islands
The summer months of June to September are the prime time to visit the Pakleni Islands, as the islands are at their most vibrant and bustling during this period. The pleasant Mediterranean climate, warm temperatures, and long sunny days make it ideal for exploring the archipelago and enjoying its natural beauty.
It is important to note that the businesses on the Pakleni Islands, like many other coastal destinations in Croatia, operate seasonally. From October to May, and sometimes even extending into June, restaurants and beach clubs temporarily close their doors due to the decrease in tourism and cold weather.
How to Get to the Pakleni Islands
How to Get to the Pakleni Islands from Hvar
The easiest and most convenient way to get to the Pakleni Islands from Hvar is to take a water taxi. Water taxis depart daily from the Hvar Town port (close to the main square). Most operators do not have websites or schedules available online, so you’ll have to book with them directly.
Taxi boats provide service to the three main islands regularly throughout the day, and transfers only take about 15-20 minutes. Just be sure that you know exactly which island you are going to before you board so that you don’t end up at the wrong one! If you want to have the most options for food, drinks, and activities, I suggest taking the water taxi to Palmizana (Sveti Klement Island).
Rent a Boat
One of the more popular ways to get to the Pakleni Islands from Hvar is to rent a boat for the day. You can rent a small 5hp boat and visit the islands on your own terms. Many vendors will rent these tiny boats to you even if you don’t have a boating license, although this is technically not allowed. Either way, if you do decide to rent one, make sure you have travel insurance just in case!
Your boat rental may come with a cooler, and if it doesn’t, you may have the option to rent one. I highly recommend taking advantage of this as you’ll want to keep your drinks cold! Plus, be sure to bring some snacks, sunscreen, towels, and plenty of water.
Yes! You can actually kayak to the Pakleni Islands from Hvar Town. If you’re feeling adventurous, this guided kayaking tour can be a really fun way to discover the Paklinski Islands. Choose between a single or double kayak and paddle about 30-45 minutes across the channel with a professional guide. Once you reach the archipelago, you’ll visit gorgeous beaches where you can rest, swim, and sunbathe. Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy a coffee or grab a light meal at one of the island cafes to recharge.
Private Boat Tour
If you don’t feel comfortable renting a boat or you just want to kick back and relax while someone else does all the driving, then a private boat tour is a great option. Having your own skipper who is familiar with the area and knows all of the best spots is a huge perk. These tours are often customizable, so you can work with your skipper to figure out a route that will best suit your needs.
This private tour of Hvar’s Red Rocks looks pretty epic and is for up to 9 guests, so if you split the cost, you get amazing value. Your skipper will take you to explore the southern beaches of Hvar where you’ll have time to snorkel, cliff jump, and explore hidden beaches and coves. Although tours like this one have tentative itineraries, you can always ask to spend more time in certain places or add in an extra stop.
Pakleni Islands Group Tour from Hvar
The final way to get to the Pakleni Islands is to join an organized group tour. These tours provide everything you need for a memorable day out on the water. Many of them combine the Pakleni Islands with other incredible locations in the area, so you’ll get to see more than you normally would if you just took a water taxi across.
Discover the magic of Croatia’s blue cave on this full day tour of Vis and the Pakleni Islands. You’ll get to snorkel and sunbathe at one of Croatia’s award-winning beaches (Stiniva Cove), get a glimpse of traditional island life in Komiza, witness the Blue Cave illuminate in spectacular shades of blue, crusine through the Green Cave, and end the day on Palmizana beach. If you want to experience something fun and totally unique, this tour could very well be the highlight of your Croatia trip.
This small group day trip promises a relaxing day cruising around the Pakleni Islands on a small yacht that seats up to 7 passengers. Your skipper will take you to gorgeous swimming spots where you’ll have plenty of time for snorkeling, swimming, lounging on the deck, or jumping off the boat into the refreshing waters. This boat trip is a fantastic option if you crave a more intimate experience but don’t necessarily want to splurge on your own private tour.
How to Get to the Pakleni Islands from Split
If you are planning on flying to the island, you will need to fly into the closest airport to Hvar Island, which is Split. From Split Airport, you can either take a private boat taxi to the island or head into Split Town (23 kilometers or 14 miles from the airport).
There is no direct transfer option from Split to the Pakleni Islands, so you’ll first have to get from Split to Hvar. To do this, simply hop on one of the many ferries that depart to Hvar Town every few hours. When you arrive in Hvar Town, you will have to board a water taxi that will then take you to the Pakleni archipelago.
Alternatively, if you plan to base yourself in Split for a few days, you can join a boat tour from Split and explore Hvar and the Pakleni Islands on a day trip without having to worry about any of the logistics.
Where to Stay on the Pakleni Islands
Accommodation on the islands is limited. Most vacation rentals require a one-week stay and are not suited for budget travelers. But if you’re dead set on spending the night on the Pakleni Islands, here are a handful of options I was able to dig up. I’m sure that staying on the islands would make for a truly unforgettable experience – I mean just imagine waking up to zero tourists and indulging in the sparkling bays for a few hours each morning before the boats arrive!
Due to the limited accommodation options and their potential higher cost, some visitors choose to stay in Hvar Town and explore the Pakleni Islands as day trips. Hvar Town offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit various budgets and preferences. From luxury hotels to guesthouses and hostels, there are choices available for every type of traveler.
Pakleni Islands Best Beaches
When it comes to the best Pakleni Island beaches, you’ll be spoiled for choice with a variety of stunning options to suit your preferences. Whether you’re seeking lively beach bars, a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, or a secluded spot for privacy, the archipelago has it all.
Palmizana Beach stands out as the most popular beach on the islands. Its narrow sandy shoreline is lined with sun loungers and beach bars, creating a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. This is where you’ll find most of the island’s restaurants and bars, making it the heart of the action. If you thrive in lively environments and enjoy being surrounded by fellow beachgoers, Palmizana Beach is the place to be. If you prefer something a little more laidback, it’s probably best you skip Palmizana.
Mlini Beach offers a tranquil and relaxed vibe, making it an excellent choice for a peaceful day by the sea. The beach may be rocky, but there are sun beds are available to rent for the day. What sets Mlini Beach apart is its selection of charming restaurants nearby, where you can try delicious local cuisine while enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
Also exuding a laid-back atmosphere is the nearby Zdrilca Bay. This beach is perfect for anyone seeking a serene and secluded spot to unwind. You’ll find a number of pebbled beaches in the area and ample space for relaxing in the tranquil ambiance of the bay.
Carpe Diem Beach
Hands-down Hvar’s most legendary beach, Carpe Diem offers a unique blend of relaxation during the day and crazy partying when the sun goes down. During daylight hours, you can indulge in sunbathing, lounging in cabanas, enjoying refreshing cocktails, and even getting a relaxing massage. As the sun sets, Carpe Diem transforms into a world-class nightclub that hosts famous DJs, providing a epic party atmosphere that lasts into the early hours of the morning. With that being said, Carpe Diem is the place to be if you want to experience some of the best nightlife in Croatia.
Jerolim Island FKK Beach
If you’re in search of privacy and a naturist experience, Jerolim Island FKK Beach is a top choice. It is one of the most beautiful nudist beaches in Croatia, with sheltered bays and low-lying pine trees creating an intimate and serene environment. This beach is typically less crowded, allowing you to enjoy your own slice of the sea in peace and privacy.
Pakleni Islands Things to Do
Swim and Snorkel
One of the main draws to the Pakleni Islands are their pristine natural beauty and unbelievably clear waters. Like a lot of the other beaches on Hvar, there are countless hidden coves to explore on the islands. The visibility is impressive, making the bays around the islands ideal for snorkeling and spotting sharks in the Adriatic Sea.
Beach club by day and nightclub when the sun goes down, Carpe Diem is world famous for its vibrant party scene. If you’re looking for the best clubbing experience in Hvar, this is it. Go for sunset drinks or stay until dawn to dance all night to the beats of renowned DJs.
If you do choose to stay and party, know that the Carpe Diem entrance fee also includes a round-trip water taxi from Hvar Town, so you don’t have to worry about transportation.
Grab a bite to eat at one of the many Pakleni Islands restaurants. Konoba Tri Grede is my personal favorite, which is a local spot that was recommended to me by one of my Airbnb hosts when staying in Hvar Town. They offer freshly grilled seafood in a super casual tavern near Mlini Beach on Marinkovac Island. Not too far from Konoba Tri Grede is Mamato Bar, a popular spot for lunch nestled among the trees overlooking Zrilca Bay.
Over on Sveti Klement Island is Laganini Lounge Bar & Fish House, which is a favorite among boaters and visitors to Palmizana Beach. The location is truly stunning and it’s a great place to grab drinks even if you don’t go for lunch. Perched on top of a hill in the middle of an olive farm is Konoba Dionis, a wonderful place for sampling local Dalmatian fare (definitely try their eggplant parmesan!).
On Jerolim, Festina Lente is one of the few options available on this island, yet a fantastic place for some fresh Mediterranean cuisine.
Visiting Croatia’s islands? Download the Croatia Island Hopping Guidebook!
Are Pakleni Islands worth visiting?
Absolutely! These are some of the most beautiful islands in Croatia and deserve at least an entire day of exploration when visiting Hvar.
How do you get to Paklinski Islands?
The Paklinski Islands can be reached by water taxi from Hvar Town, private boat, or group tour.
How far are Pakleni Islands from Hvar?
The Pakleni Islands are only a 15-20 boat ride from Hvar Town.
Final Thoughts: Pakleni Islands Hvar
In conclusion, the Pakleni Islands in Croatia are a true slice of paradise that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. With their pristine natural beauty, dazzling waters, and an abundance of activities and experiences to enjoy, these islands offer an unforgettable escape from the ordinary.
From swimming and snorkeling to exploring hidden coves and indulging luxe beach bars, the Pakleni Islands cater to every traveler’s desires. So, if you’re planning a trip to Croatia, make sure to include the Pakleni Islands in your itinerary. With this ultimate guide at your fingertips, you’ll have all the information you need to make the most of your visit.
Before you go: Check out these amazing things to do in Hvar Town.
Croatia Travel Planning Guide
💸 What is the currency in Croatia?
As of January 1st, 2023, the official currency of Croatia is the Euro and NOT the Kuna (which is also the name of the national animal of Croatia).
🇭🇷 What language do they speak in Croatia?
Croatian is the official language of Croatia. Learn some phrases in Croatian before your trip with the Ling app!
🚑 Should I buy Croatia travel insurance?
10000% YES – Seriously, don’t leave home without it. You never know what can happen on the road. I like SafetyWing because they provide excellent coverage for as little as $1.50 a day.
📱 Will my phone work in Croatia?
Maybe – check with your provider to see if you’ll have service while traveling Croatia. If you don’t have service (or it’s too expensive) I recommend getting an eSIM like Airalo. Airalo allows you to have data while traveling without the high costs of roaming. They have super affordable plans available for 190+ countries, including Croatia. Download the app and get your plan before you leave home so that you have data as soon as you touch down in Croatia!
🏨 What’s the best way to book my Croatia accommodations?
For Croatia hotels, Booking is by far the best site.
🛫 What’s the best site to buy Croatia flights?
I always use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights.
🚗 Is it safe to rent a Car in Croatia?
Yes! – In fact, renting a car in Croatia is one of the best ways to see the country! I recommend Discover Cars because they check both local and international rental companies to ensure you get the best deal. (Get your Croatia road trip itinerary here)
💦 Is it safe to drink the water in Croatia?
Tap water in Croatia is completely safe to drink, so bring your reusable water bottle and fill up!
Do I need a visa for Croatia?
Depending on where you are coming from you may or may not need a visa to enter Croatia. Check the official Republic of Croatia Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more information on who should apply for a visa.