A mecca for nightlifers between July and August and for water aficionados all year long, Pag Island just might be the icing on a very tasty Croatia itinerary. A long island in the north Adriatic Sea just north of Zadar, if you take Pag from a distance at face value you'll most likely want to turn your boat around (the ride in is a glimpse of a broad, dusty rock). Luckily, we explorers of cultural niches forge ahead and welcome the local wine, cheese (called Paski Sir), olive oil, and lamb into our bellies, the pristine water conditions for our diving and snorkeling, and the boon of lovely beaches that dot the island.
The two larger settlements are Pag Town and Novalja, where you'll be able to sample the local cuisine and culture, but for those who love their parties, then find yourself on one of Europe's finest beaches, Zrce. Relatively tame for most of the year, the highly regarded Hideout Festival kicks off the summer at the end of June, a sand-party scene that doesn't wind down until mid-August. If you show up at any other time, despite the consistently warm temperatures, you'll assuredly miss the hordes of drunken 20-something's, but you'll still have the excellent water-based activities and local cuisine to rave about when you get home.