While cruising isn’t an option at the moment, some destinations can only be properly explored at sea so how about sailing holidays in Croatia? Tranquil bays and lagoons, untouched natural parks and islands off-the-beaten-path remain discoverable only to the privileged few yacht owners and their entourages until now. But with social distancing being widely encouraged across the whole world, sailing holidays are becoming the go-to for those who want to enjoy the benefits of the seaside.
Just imagine this: warm crystalline water leaping at your feet while you’re sunbathing on the deck bleached by the Adriatic sunrays and eating freshly caught fish for dinner as you watch the sun slip behind the horizon, all without the need of face masks and long queues. As impossible as it might sound, the dream can easily become a reality as you give into island hopping while practicing the Dalmatian art of ‘polmalo’ which translates to ‘take it easy’, among pristine bays and pine-covered forests.
Home to 1244 islands and over 1,000 miles of mainland coastline, Croatia is best explored by boat. Europe’s finest sailing playground is a little over two hours from London and both charter and budget airlines fly to the main cities all-year round – making it even more effortless to plan your trip. Full of spectacular scenery, unspoiled nature and translucent water, it contains a diversity of sailing routes that are safe and interesting.
Located on the coast of Adriatic Sea, it has typical Mediterranean climate which means an abundance of hot days during summer and mild winters – perfect if you want to avoid the crowds and visit the country during its off-peak season. And with rich history, plethora of shops and restaurants, landscapes covered in vineyards and party lifestyle easily comparable to the nightlife in Ibiza, it has something to offer to everyone.
Where in Croatia?
It’s surprising how much you can see in a week. While there is a multitude of harbours and marinas from where you can start your journey, we recommend going down south for the best ratio of Dalmatian culture and the country’s natural beauty.
If you’re after adventure and wilderness, your best bet is to start in Kornati – easily reached from the marinas at Zadar, Biograd and Murter. Boasting 152 islands, islets and rocks, the Kornati archipelago is the densest group of islands in the Mediterranean. You can easily devote two or three weeks to sailing around the limestone islands, stopping at deserted beaches and dreamlike villages for fresh fish (try local Orada with a side of grilled vegetables) and seafood, or find a secluded bay to spend the night in the wild – with dinner on the deck while watching the stars glimmer in the night sky.
As you move further down south, you can explore Split, a beautiful historic town thrumming with curious tales that deserves at least one full day for exploring. From here, it’s an easy sail away to some of Croatia’s most popular islands – Brač and Hvar. Carpe Diem beach club is a bit of a gem. Located on a secluded bay only accessible by boat, this restaurant-turned-club is famous for its live DJs playing music until early hours.
Then there’s the more remote islands of Vis and Trogir, while Pakleni islands are ideal for curing the hangover after partying all night in Hvar town. Fondness for conservation needn’t mean resistance to change and the recent years have seen a wave of new hotels and restorations in the country’s sought-after historic centres such as Dubrovnik (a must visit especially if you’re a Game of Thrones fan). Don’t forget to also explore Korčula, Pelješac, Mljet and Šipan on the eastern fringes of Croatia – all beautiful and unique in their own way.
When to go?
2021 is fast approaching. Avoid the busy season of July and August and instead travel to Croatia in spring or early autumn. In summer, charter prices are at their peak and most marinas add 10% to mooring fees.
Timing is key to best enjoy sailing holidays in Croatia. May and June is warm and sunny, with the relatively calm weather; however, the sea is still warming up so can be a little chilly at times. Early autumn is the best time to visit – most tourists have returned home while locals travel back to the mainland from their holiday houses. There’s a lot more space at the local konobas – restaurants serving home-cooked Croatian dishes – and the difference in prices of fresh local produce is substantial.
You will also find that fig trees are flooded with ripe fruits which can be eaten straight from the twigs and the towns are preparing for their annual grape-harvesting season that lasts all the way until mid-October. Be sure to visit the famous Duboković and Tomić wineries.
How to rent a yacht
Once you’re all set for the experience of your life and your suitcase is packed, there are many ways to rent a yacht in Croatia – the country is a hotspot for sea-enthusiasts and in May, it even hosts an annual Spring Cup Regatta where sailors gather to race across 120 nautical miles. Many companies offer sailing trips and courses so you can set off from the location that suits you best.
A basic one week’s charter of a Bavaria 46 (the most common and standard type of yacht) with plenty of room for six people with a skipper will cost around €2,500 in September and around €3,500 in the peak summer season of July and August. Courses are also available where you spend seven days at sea learning how to sail and cost around €500 upwards. There are also experts who will help you to plan your own route too.
In recent years, Sail Croatia has also instigated party boats with disco lights, fog machines and outdoor bars – great for celebrating and an alternative to cancelled music festivals. If you want to holiday in true luxuriate life style, there are plenty of options with charter companies offering larger yachts and motorboats – complete with jacuzzis, chefs and a crew that will look after your every need.
If you’re ready to enjoy a sailing holiday in Croatia, we recommend booking with one of the three most experienced sailing companies: ultra-sailing.hr , activityyachting.com and anasail.com
Featured image taken in Trogir. Photo by Sergii Gulenok/Unsplash.