Approaching Pag by a regular 20-minute ferry hop from the mainland, you may be forgiven for thinking that you’ve landed on the moon. The east coast is a bleak, forbidding landscape of stark white and barren limestone karst against the blue expanse of sea and sky, blown bare by the Bura wind. When it’s hot, it’s baking. The upside is the food produced here under such harsh conditions: outstanding lamb and the famous cheese of paški sir.
Pag is thin and 64km (40 miles) long, made up of two parallel mountain ranges. Settlements are mainly sleepy fishing villages, with two towns, Novalja and Pag town. Novalja is a resort town that’s become party central. Zrće beach, a short bus ride away, is the biggest club hub in Croatia.
By contrast, the administrative and commercial centre of Pag town exudes cultural heritage. Narrow, fortified medieval streets weave beneath a 15th-century Gothic cathedral and the sun beats hard off the white stone pavement as ladies painstakingly stitch Pag lace in doorways.