Seen from the mainland, PAG is a stark and desolate pumice-stone of an island which looks as if it could barely support any form of life. Around eight thousand people live here, looking after three times as many sheep, who scour the stony slopes in search of the odd blade of grass. Hot afternoons always seem hotter here than anywhere else: nothing stirs, and, on the and eastern side of the island, seemingly nothing grows except for a grey-green carpet of sage.The two main settlements are Pag Town, with its attractive historic centre, and Novalja, a bland modern settlement whose beach-based nightlife is fast earning it the title of the "Croatian Ibiza". Peg's main claim to fame is its cheese (paški sir) - a hard, piquant sheep's cheese (with a taste somewhere between mature cheddar and parmesan) which you'll find in supermarkets all over the country. The distinctive taste is due to the method of preparation - the cheeses are rubbed with a mixture of olive oil and ash before being left to mature - and the diet of the sheep, which includes many wild herbs (notably the ubiquitous sage) flavoured by salt picked up from the sea by the wind and deposited on vegetation across the island. Indeed, Pag is a salty kind of place all round: the precious stuff is the island's main industry, with saltpans stretching out along the island's central valley, and even the tap water tastes slightly brackish. Pag's other traditional industry is lace-making, a craft that for the moment remains refreshingly uncommercialized. Small pieces are sold from doorways by the lacemakers themselves, often wearing the dark, full-skirted local costume which seems to have endured here more than anywhere else on the Adriatic.

Approaching Pag from the north, there's a ferry from Prizna, on the mainland 3km below the Magistrala, to Žig1jen, 5km north of Novalja.The island's southern end is connected to the mainland via the Pag Bridge (Paski most), about 26km north of Posedarje on the Magistrala. The only public transport on the island is provided by daily Rijeka-Zadar buses (two daily in each direction) which pass through Novalja and Pag Town. -Specializing in Cheap Flights F