Inside Šibenik archipelago: Yachts guide for belly button of Croatian Adriatic
Endless yachting possibilities, deserted coves and tiny island villages make sailing in the Šibenik archipelago a once in a lifetime joy
The Adriatic may be small in comparison to other seas, but each of its many archipelagos is a microcosmos in itself, telling its own story – be it a special island vibe, or special weather and sea conditions. The waters around Šibenik are one of the six larger archipelagos in the Adriatic. This jewel located in the very middle of the Croatian waters is affectionately called the belly button of the Adriatic. Still spared the summer hubbub of party yachts turning the nearby Split waters into a never-ending rave, the Šibenik archipelago is lucky to have many uninhabited islands – the first of the many meditation-inspiring details that will allow your mind to roam.
In the waters around Šibenik, people are more friendly than the sea: several large underwater rocks and sand banks, as well as varying sea depth due to presence of many islands call for attention. On the other hand, you’ll never have any complaints about (or problems with) the weather: mild, sunny, with moderate wind.
Most islands in the archipelago lie close to the mainland and are spared stronger wind, so it is no wonder that this sheltered little heaven hosts four large marinas ready to accommodate even large yachts – Marina Tribunj, ACI marina Vodice, Marina Mandalina (Šibenik) and Marina Kremik (Primošten). Near the entrance to the Krka National park lies another marina, the ACI marina Skradin. You can always forgot the structured world of marinas and wing it, dropping your anchor in one of the many island oases – Zlarin and Prvić lie nearest to the city, Tijat, Zmajan i Kakan are uninhabited, Kaprije and Žirje face the open sea.
The famous Kornati National park and Murter are close as well, but do not belong to the archipelago. Mother nature has modeled this part of the Adriatic especially for yachts; the long and narrow runway toward the Krka National park. You can take that long, winding canyon toward the Prokljansko lake, enjoying the sci-fi setting, all the way to the town of Skradin. The town located at the mouth of the river Krka is a safe option with no winds or currents, a charming place whose quiet is only interrupted by frogs and crickets performing their nightly gig.
South from there, almost immediately after leaving the Sv. Nikola canal, you’ll come upon Zlarin and Prvić. Zlarin is both an island and the largest town on it, a peaceful place with calming sunsets and pastel-colored houses. Tie your boat somewhere at the promenade and take a relaxing walk – preferably to the Prslika trattoria, a favorite among international celebrities big and small and fine food lovers. If you want to experience Zlarin, but have no desire to stroll busy town streets, we suggest Magarna cove on the north-east side of the island, the only fully protected port around.
The island of Prvić – the third in the trio with Zlarin and Lupac – is similar to Zlarin. The only protected port on the island is Prvić Luka, but you can drop the anchor at Trstevica beach in the nearby Šepurine. Trattoria Ribarski dvori has reserved ‘parking spots’ for their customers. When in Prvić, make sure you see the Faust Vrančić memorial museum, take a two-mile walk to Šepurine and explore stone cobbled streets, and at sunset sit for a relaxing dinner by the sea. The most famous restaurant on the island of Prvić is Mareta, whose traditional food and fresh made ice cream, and friendly staff explain its long-lasting popularity.
The island of Tijat is beloved among lovers of peace and calm turquoise waters, as there is only one tiny port there – the well protected Tijašćica cove with many buoys. The cove is somewhat busy during day, but at sunset calm descends upon it. The newly opened summer place Spirito bar is the only place on the island that makes even a little noise – but only a little, so sit by the pines and enjoy a cocktail. Unlike Tijat, the uninhabited Zmajan has no natural coves, but its southern coast is perfectly calm and you can anchor there for a serene night under the stars.
The island of Kaprije – named after the delicious caper – is the heart of the Šibenik archipelago and a logical choice for those in transit between Split and Kornati. The best protected place to drop the anchor is Kaprije cove, and the most famous trattoria on the island Kod Kate. Kaprije may be small, but it offers more than one cove and one trattoria: Remetić cove has ten buoys, Medoš cove promises an excellent lunch in trattoria Kunjka, Mala Nozdra cove has two trattorias – Mateo and G-8. All these coves are uninhabited, and restaurants and trattorias are accessible by boat only.
The uninhabited isle of Kakan is another popular yachting micro-location: Potkućina cove is a large lagoon, a blue and green haven with 60 buoys, well protected from wind. Dinner options in the cove include the Babalu grill and bar and restaurant Sedmo nebo (seventh heaven), while the nearby Tratica cove lures with the scents coming from the kitchen of trattoria Paradiso. A beach, some pines, view of the sea and fresh seafood – what more does one need? The isle of Žirje spend the longest time idling and unexplored, but this former Yugoslav army base escaped the destiny of its many neighbors that ended suffocated under private villas and chain hotels. The only port on the island is Muna, with a general store where you can replenish your pantry.
The most famous cove on the island is Vela Stupica, where you can dine in family restaurant Rosa, and significantly less popular is its smaller twin Mala Stupica, still offering several buoys. The deep-set Tratinska cove promises a quiet night – after a nice dinner in trattoria Tratinska whose view of the sea is as spectacular as their food. The quiet coves of Mikavica, Nozdra Velika and Nozdra mala are ideal for those looking for a good night rest, after which you can end your stroll through the Šibenik archipelago at the picturesque Blitvenica lighthouse.
Photos by B. Kačan, M. Jelavić, D. Šupuk & T. Drinković