In Croatia, it is not unusual for an island and its main town to have the same name and so we have Rab Island and Rab Town.
To the west is Losinj island, also in Kvarner region, to the north is Krk island, also in Kvarner region and connected to the mainland by a bridge. The island of Pag to the south of Rab is in the Dalmatia region.
Our hotels are located in Rab town. Rab island is a place that when visitors first experience it, they usually say something like “wow, I had no idea that it would be like this”. Undiscovered by many from the UK and with quite a trip (and a glorious one) to reach it, it has remained something of a hideaway secret. That said, “once hooked”, the love affair continues and many people return. Again, and again.
The Romans were so smitten with Rab town that Emperor Octavian Augustus gave it municipal status in the 1st century BC and today, the main square is called Trg Municipium.
Geographically, it is unforgettable – and unusual. The eastern side is rocky and harsh showing a lot of bare stark rock then the western side is truly lush and green – with just a few kilometres separating the two landscapes. Beaches are pretty pebbled coves and long expanses of sand. This contrast of landscape is somewhat awesome and has drawn the attention of Hollywood film location scouts.
In the past few years, visitors from the UK have slowly started to discover Rab. Some choose a simple stay-put holiday for a week or longer based at one hotel enjoying perhaps a day trip, organised excursion further afield to the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Others choose a two-centre holiday combining a stay on the mainland Opatija Riviera, the neighbouring island of Krk or the Zadar riviera with a stay on Rab and perhaps an excursion, while others opt for a longer holiday of discovery with a self-drive car where Rab Island is included within a multi-centre itinerary. All are possible and the best airports for Rab are Rijeka on the nearby island of Krk and Zadar on the mainland coast in the North Dalmatia region. Count on a transfer (with stunning views) of around two hours 30 minutes depending on ferry and catamarans fitting with your plans. The journey to Rab Island from all directions is unforgettable with so many vistas. During the 90-minute ferry journey from Lopar on Rab to Valbiska on Krk island it is not unusual to see dolphins as a colony of more than 120 lives to the west of Rab and Krk. Dolphins are rare to see in August as they avoid busier boat traffic.
Curiously, a rather famous British visitor discovered Rab in 1936 when King Edward VIII (accompanied by his future wife Wallis Simpson) marvelled at the beautiful bays.
Water taxis are a way of life on Rab and are efficient and well-priced. It’s a great way of getting about on Rab with various water taxi stops in Rab Town plus a bookable service enabling visits all across the island. Most popular spots to visit are Suha Punta cove, the Frkanj and Kalifront peninsulas, the fishing village of Supetarska Draga and many other small spots. Water taxis will usually take visitors to hidden coves and bays and return at an agreed time for a fixed price.
We especially like the beach at Suha Punta in a hidden pine forest with a choice of pebble beach and rocks. The pebble beach is in front of the Hotel Carolina and is a public beach, anyone can go there.
There are also buses which connect the south and the north of the island including the port of Lopar (ferry to island of Krk) and the famous Paradise Beach nearby with two kilometres of sand fringed by pine woods.
The island is around 22 kilometres long with a surface area 93 square kilometres so that much can be explored.
Catamarans connect Rab Island with Rijeka and Zadar (mainland) and the islands of Pag, Krk, Silba. Ferries connect Rab Island with Misnjak (mainland) and Valbiska on the island of Krk.
For a small island, Rab has a wonderful summer festival and event scene, themed mainly around culture and music. There are also excellent biking and hiking trails along excellent marked areas together with a good choice of boat trips and boats for hire for those so qualified. Some of the Kvarner region’s outdoor hiking and running events take in the forest and hill trails of the island of Rab.
Did you know?
- In 1936, British King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson visited Rab on a sailing holiday. Seemingly, they were so enchanted that they asked the local mayor if they could swim naked in Kandarola Bay. The mayor agreed and, the story goes that this was the beginning of nude bathing in this part of Europe. Certainly, there are a number of secluded naturist beaches on Rab best reached by water taxis and the drivers know them all!
- Rab curiously has more than 25 sandy bays (rare in Croatia), most are in the north of the island (20 minutes’ drive from Rab Town) including the amazing two-kilometre-long Paradise Beach near Lopar.
- Rab cake (Rapska Torta) was first made by nuns and served to Pope Alexander III in 1177 when he consecrated the Assumption Cathedral in Rab – according to legend. It became popular with wealthy families while Rab was part of the Venetian Empire. Containing almonds, maraschino liqueur and who knows what else, visitors can sometimes do a special cake making class at the Rabska Torta Cake Shop