The Zadar Archipelago
Ugljan, Pasman, Murter, and Dugi Otok all are part of what is sometimes called the Zadar Archipelago, a group of more than 300 islands. Three of the most popular with tourists are detailed below. Each has a distinct personality. All the inhabited islands in the archipelago are accessible by ferry only, with the exception of Murter, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge.
Ugljan is the island closest to Zadar and one of the most populous, though it is never very crowded. Ugljan has been inhabited since prehistoric times. It was once the site of Roman habitation, as indicated by the villa rustica still found there. Today nearly 8,000 people call it home, including some who work on the mainland. Ugljan's main industries are farming, animal husbandry, and fishing, though tourism is becoming a growing source of revenue.
Pasman, like Pag, has barren and fertile areas. Most of the sites on Pasman date from medieval times. The only occupied Benedictine monastery in Croatia (Sts. Cosmos and Damian) is behind walls and atop a hilltop near Tkon. That and the island's Franciscan monastery in Kraj are worth a stop.
Murter is south of Pasman and closer to Sibenik than it is to Zadar. However, it is mostly under Zadar's jurisdiction. Murter doesn't have much to recommend it except that it can be accessed from the mainland by a short bridge and it is also just south of the islands that make up Kornati National Park, making it a good staging area for visits to Kornati. Murter's largest and most interesting town, Murter Town, is the site of the Kornati National Park's office. Murter is also the best place to book an excursion to Kornati National Park, as its citizens own 90% of the park.
Dugi Otok is the biggest island (117 sq. km/45 sq. miles) in the Zadar Archipelago, the farthest from the mainland. It also boasts the most irregular and "wild" coastline, which makes it particularly appealing to those who like adventure and who want to avoid the usual tourist haunts. Eleven villages are strung out along the northeastern side; on the western side, Dugi Otok's cliffs rise almost vertically from the sea. Dugi Otok also offers the remains of several medieval churches, as well as a gorgeous beach on Sakarun Bay at the island's north end.
Ferry service exists to Dugi Otok from Zadar, but there is little transportation on the island itself, so if you want to thoroughly explore it, you will need a car. The extreme southern portion of Dugi Otok is part of Kornati National Park. Tips: The lighthouse at Veli Rat is one of the best attractions on Dugi Otok. It is at the extreme western tip of the island and is surrounded by pines, bays, and beaches. The lighthouse is an unusual shade of yellow, said to be the result of the inclusion of 1,000 eggs in the paint.