Quiet Beauty of the South
The Croatian-Adriatic offers countless possibilities for a quiet summer sailing trip. Our suggestion this time is a route that reveals hidden gems from the islands of Hvar, Korčula, Mljet and their tiny neighbors in seven days
Most local yacht owners start their cruises by sailing away from the waters of Split – you haven’t really sailed if you’re staying close to the shore. The adventure begins when you can no longer see Split city lights…
Day 1: Split – Taršće cove (Pakleni Islands – Hvar)
Early yachting season is the best part of the year to enjoy Pakleni Islands. Their many south-facing bays and coves are always a hit with yachts, and Taršće cove is our favorite. Its clear blue waters are as safe as you’re going to get in bora wind, so drop your anchor, tie your boat and head straight for Dionis restaurant. Cozy, homey atmosphere and a breathtaking view of the nearby olive groves and the island of Vis across the bay are what makes people come to Dionis the first time, but excellent food is what makes them return over and over again. Just make sure you’ve packed a hand-held lamp, as around here it gets very dark, very fast.
Day 2: Taršće cove (Pakleni Islands) – Lovišće cove (Šćedro Island)
After a morning swim, set sail for the city of Hvar, four miles away from the cove. Drop the anchor in the western part of the Hvar harbor and go for a walk, discovering the town’s many old, narrow streets. If you arrive to the town early, before the sun heats up the stone, climb up to Fortica – the fortress towering over the town – and enjoy the view. Bear in mind the Hvar harbor is busy, not well protected from the wind and with varying depths, so don’t leave your boat unattended for long. Seven miles farther, Zaraće cove is the locals’ favorite swimming spot and the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon. From there, you can go for a hike, or visit Sveta Nedilja village and take a tour of the Plenković winery. The tiny village harbor (which should be avoided in bad weather) doubles as patio for a trattoria whose wine cellar is under the sea – what an experience. Spend the night on Šćedro Island – in its most popular Lovišće cove – but mind the weather report, as bora can get pretty strong around these parts.
Day 3: Lovišće cove (Šćedro Island) – Trpanj (Pelješac peninsula)
This region is not very popular among chartered boats, but that only makes it more appealing. This unique part of the Pelješac peninsula starts on its northernmost point and continues into Divna cove, whose name says it all, as it literally means beautiful. A tiny island with no name in the middle of the cove will provide some safety during bouts of mistral and is the perfect place to go for a swim and enjoy the view – the high hills of Pelješac. Three miles farther you’ll find one of the most beautiful little gems of this part of the Adriatic, the unfairly neglected town of Trpanj, easily recognizable for its statue of Virgin Mary welcoming visitors from atop a tiny rocky island. Trpanj will charm you with its narrow streets, long seaside promenade and many restaurants: we recommend you try Stari mornar (Old sailor), where good food is enjoyed alongside traditional dalmatian music.
Day 4: Trpanj (Pelješac peninsula) – Korčula (the island of Korčula)
Take a plunge early in the morning in the Pržina cove on the south-western part of Pelješac, and get ready for a long day. The turquoise water and sandy beaches of the cove are by far the most beautiful on the peninsula. When sailing through the Pelješac channel, be careful not to collide with one of the many windsurfers or kitesurfers: the Venturi effect lures many adrenaline addicts into the channel. As interesting as it may be to take a stroll through the narrow streets of Korčula, we recommend you enjoy the view of the town from the sea. This mini Dubrovnik – similarly nestled among stone walls – is a popular yachting spot, with an ACI Marina and plenty of space to tie your boat by the promenade.
Day 5: Korčula (the island of Korčula) – Polače (the island of Mljet)
Any of the tiny islets around Korčula is a great choice for your early morning swim – Male or Velike Stupe, or Majsan, whose shallow waters are a favorite of locals and tourists alike. The Mljet channel will take you toward the island of Mljet, known for the beauty of its nature. Polače harbor – one of the most popular anchorages in the Adriatic – is your best choice: at Rogač cove tie your boat to one of the ancient pines and head for the National park covering the western side of the greenest of the Adriatic islands.
Day 6: Polače (the island of Mljet) – Suđurađ (the island of Šipan)
On Mljet you can’t go wrong: everything is beautiful. Prožura cove is popular among those with children, while Podškolj cove is preferred by adventure seekers and snorkelers, but they both have restaurants with authentic island cuisine. Spend the night at Suđurađ, a tiny town on the south-east side of the Šipan island known as the birthplace of most of the region’s fishermen: wake up at dawn and watch them set sail, or wait until they return and buy delicious, fresh fish. A must-see around here is the renaissance palazzo Skočibuha and the quaint Šipan harbor.
Day 7: Suđurađ (the island of Šipan) – Slano
While still in the waters of Šipan, set sail for the Bijač cove. The Harpoti pass will take you toward the north-east coves of the Jakljan islet, where pines descend all the way to the sea and the sea shines with every blue in the spectrum. Any cove between the nearby Crkvine islet and Veli Jakljan cove is perfectly protected and none of them are crowded, so they are all equally attractive. The final harbor on your seven-day trip is Slano, heavily devastated during the war, but on its way to recovery. The newly opened ACI Marina Slano is among the biggest and most attractive in this part of the Adriatic and a definite push in the right direction.