The Croatian coast, surrounded by a veil of crystal clear sea, is an almost surreal beautiful yachting paradise. Ancient cities dotted with stone streets and red roofs, untouched natural oases crowned with the titles of National Parks, strings of inhabited and uninhabited islands whose shores charm with photogenic bays and mesmerizing caves all give a unique flavor to this part of the Mediterranean.
When the summer mistral blows, the Adriatic Sea blooms with white sails, sparkinling like a decorated Christmas tree. In recent years, elegant luxury yachts have increasingly found their place among them. Being the world’s number one destination for renting a sailing boat, Croatia has an emerging offer of luxury catamarans for hire, and a very good offer of luxury yachts for charter.
Whichever route you decide to sail and whichever destinations you choose, you will have a wonderful time, but in this article we would like to present our selection of destinations in Croatia and the way to experience them in the best possible way.
The destinations we deservedly crowned with this title are usually the main suspects mentioned by returning yachting enthusiasts, the secret ingredient in the summer cocktail that keeps them coming back and makes them recommend Croatia to their friends. Follow their lead and sail Croatia, allowing yourself to be seduced by its beauty.
Dubrovnik – Croatia’s most wanted
The city of Dubrovnik is a proud ambassador of the many charms of Croatia in the world, and all who visit the country should take a walk through its streets. Grad, as the locals call it – literally, The City – offers a range of glamorous experiences, and visitors are faced with a painfully sweet choice of what flavor they want their visit to be.
After the spectacular city gates welcome you, take a walk through the walls of Dubrovnik that have cradling the city for centuries, mighty and protective. Atop one of these five-century-old towers, there lies one of the 100 best nightclubs in the world, the Revelin Club, where you can sail into the night like nowhere else in the world.
Other experiences not to miss are the lively pulse of the stone maze that is Stradun and the streets around it, delicious food in any of the city’s most prestigious restaurants, and a refreshing cool drink in the Buža Bar at the southern part of the city walls, with a unique view of the open sea and Lokrum – a green island treasure under UNESCO protection.
This island as peaceful urban oasis with some of the most desirable beaches in the country, and definitely worth a visit. If you’re so inclined, take a ride in the cable car to Srđ, a mountain that proudly towers over Dubrovnik. There, from Panorama restaurant, indulge in a view that will make you understand why this photogenic city was chosen to shoot the popular series Games of Thrones and why many choose Dubrovnik as the place for their romantic wedding.
It is best to visit Dubrovnik outside the high season, but if you can’t do that and come in July or August, we recommend you use the early morning hours to walk through this fairytale city or for another attractive experience – sail alongside its spectacular walls.
Smaller yachts mostly drop their anchor in the nearby ACI marina Komolac, is tucked away in the canyon of the shortest river in Europe – Omble, while larger ones usually stay in the port of Gruž, in one of the most glamorous Croatian marinas – Marina Frapa Dubrovnik.
With southerly winds, a number of luxury yachts often anchor near the nearby island of Daksa, enjoying beautiful views and in this most prestigious anchorage, between Old town and the enchanting Lopud. There you can often see the most attractive yachts sailing the Adriatic.
Elaphites – island paradise just outside Dubrovnik
The sailing slalom between the islands of Koločep, Lopud, Šipan and Jakljan, separated only by a few miles and sprinkled like green puzzle pieces of the Elaphiti islands, will prove to be a unique yachting pleasure. The only one uninhabited among them is Jakljan, while the other three are inhabited and similar in every way.
On the west side of Koločep, Lopud and Šipan, there are picturesque places where yachts often drop their anchors, and their opposite, southeast sides, are only a 30 – 60 relaxing minutes on foot away – a walk well worth taking.
Make sure to explore the almost too picturesque places of Lopud and Šipan. Anchor in the most attractive bay of this archipelago – Šunj Bay, famous for sand and turquoise, and Cima Beach bar, where popular DJs guarantee a good time.
On the island of Šipan, treat your palate to a foodie treat in the family-owned tavern Kod Marka, or the excellent fine dining restaurant Bova, whose atmosphere and shallow, clear waters remind many of their guests of the Caribbean.
National Park Mljet – a charming green oasis dotted with lakes
National Park Mljet stretches over one third of the island of the same name and is one of the most beautiful Adriatic gems, a green oasis whose meditative energy cannot be missed.
If you want to avoid the crowds at in ports that often jam the high season in the lofty Polače bay or bypass the river of excursionists who flow from Pomena toward the lake, drop your anchor in the Gonoturska bay, which overlooks the open sea and is often chosen by larger yachts when their owners want to spend a romantic night at anchor.
To feel the natural vibration of this nature’s masterpiece where pine branches descend all the way to the lake surface, choose a time when the nature wakes up or when the sun is slowly setting on the horizon.
These lakes are a paradise for lovers of active life. You can explore them by kayak, and don’t forget to visit the island of St. Mary with an ancient Benedictine monastery. An equally beautiful experience is a round around the lakes on bicycles, along the 11-kilometer trail.
Fin the secret spot under the Small Bridge – where the Great Lake meets the Little Lake, by the town of Soline – where the Great Lake merges with the open sea, creating a natural jacuzzi shaped by tides. At dusk, take a walk along the eco trail to the top of Montokuc (258 meters), or up the less demanding trail to the top of Veli Gradac (157 meters) – both will reward you with a divine view.
Before leaving the beauty that is Mljet behind your stern, take another type of strawl and sail through the islands that, like a natural breakwater, completely hide the port of Polače from view from the sea, forming what we consider the most beautiful sailing corridor in the Adriatic.
Korčula – a city of song, wind and mesmerizing shapes
What makes Korčula even more appealing are the 20 islands in front of it; small and big, protected from all wind and perfect for a relaxing day with a dropped anchor. After a day off, take a stroll through this walled city whose inhabitants are well known for their love for song, dance and hospitality.
Excellent position of Korčula on the peninsula delights all those who approach it from the sea: the town was erected on the very spot where the Pelješac Channel is at its narrowest, for tactical oversight of galleys and other ships.
The streets of Korčula were built in the herringbone pattern – and not just for its aesthetic appeal, but to allow safe circulation of air in the hot summer months – a feature beloved by both residents and visitors.
As you’re taking a walk through this alleged birthplace of Marco Polo and admiring its walls and towers, don’t be surprised if you come across the closed doors of some local businesses during bouts of stronger wind. The people of Korčula are passionate lovers of windsurfing and kiting and have been known to simply take a day off if the wind is too good to miss.
While you’re waiting for their return and admiring their maneuvers in the channel, you can visit the locally famous Cukarin for traditional sweets and desserts. When the heat subsides, the musical backdrop of this city comes alive: the melodic a capella singing. Those who wish to experience real gastro-extravagance will be pleasantly surprised by the Michelin-starred restaurant Lešić Dimitri.
As imaginative as they are, locals throw a spectacular Half New Year-party every year, but if you are not one of the lucky ones who meet there on June 30, make sure you at least donot miss the romantic battle dance moreška. In the vicinity of Korčula lies Lumbarda, home of an autochthonous white grape variety Grk, definitely worth tasting, as well as of two enchanting sandy beaches; Bilin žal and Pržina.
Those who want to explore the hidden pearls of Korčula on a kayak, bicycle or in some other imaginative way, Korčula Outdoor is the ideal partner to design a spectacular experience laced with local flavors.
Hvar and Pakleni islands – a 5-star yachting affair
The town of Hvar and the Pakleni islands are a must-see destination for everyone sailing through the waters around Split. Although primarily interesting to lovers of glamorous parties and high-impact nightlife, this corner of Croatia offers many other seductive points.
In the town of Hvar, you should definitely climb Fortica fortress, which offers an incredible view of the town and the playful Pakleni islands, and lose your way in the many cobbled streets where distant past seems like it was only yesterday, visit the local monastery, many churches and the oldest theater in Europe.
Another thing you must experience in Hvar is the hubbub of the port, where boats big and small rush around like rikshaws on the streets of India. The miniature town port where all the locals’ boats are tied is unique, and the promenade stretching on both sides of this protected cultural good delightfully charming.
The town of Hvar never seems to sleep, and is locally known as mini-Saint Tropez. Beach parties last all day in several beach bars, and when the sun sets, party goers just move to night clubs like Carpe Diem, Pink Champagne and Central Park Club.
Those who aren’t in a partying mood can enjoy the town’s slower lifestyle over a cup of coffee, a glass of good wine or over lunch created by some of the country’s most famous chefs.
This little town deserves its popularity among high-end clientele, whose large yachts can often be seen anchored at a distance, or at the dock, if their skipper is as skilled at negotiating as navigating.
Pakleni Islands are an island heaven for Robinsons, party goers and gourmets alike. This micro-archipelago made up of 21 islands in all shapes and sizes is connected to the town of Hvar as if by an umbilical cord.
Drop your anchor in the ACI Marina Palmižana, one of the most beautiful marinas in the Adriatic, and take a relaxing stroll along the many lovely coves on these islands.
Vis – Mamma Mia, what an island
The island of Vis is beloved among locals and international yachts alike. Made famous by Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, filmed on its shores, the island has in 2019. made it to the UNESCO geo-parks list.
The island is just perfect in size for exploration, and easily approachable by sea, but don’t let that stop you from exploring its interior, as well. Take two to three days for getting to know Vis: spend a day in Vis old town or the picturesque Komiža, or sneak into one of the many hidden coves dotted alongside its northern and southern shores.
If you only have one day to explore the island, we suggest you spend it in Stiniva cove, the best known and the most impressive place in this area. While there, spend a day on one of its beaches – Stiniva, Vela Smokva, Milna or Zaglav – or on the nearby tiny island of Budikovac, surrounded by crystal clear blue waters.
Of course, the best known tourist attraction on the island is the Blue Cave, the symbol of the tiny island of Biševo right next to Vis.
Please keep in mind the cave is not accessible during southerly winds, and that in high season this is the most popular place around, so make sure you count in waiting time into your schedule. The blue calm that will hug you as soon as you enter the cave will be well worth the wait.
Split – a town both UNESCO and locals consider the most beautiful in the world
Split grew from a quiet, provincial place only interesting for a short stay en route to the nearby islands into an impressively attractive destination equally interesting to tourists arriving by land and those sailing in.
This town where the past and the present seem to have joined their hands in creating something unique is best know for an emperor’s palace: Roman emperor Diocletian’s fortress and palace built in the 4th century. The stone complex standing proudly for 1700 years is a true cultural monument, and with the right tour guide you’ll find yourself teleported through time , all the way back to the exciting antiquity when the palace was erected.
The palace is equally impressive top to bottom; from its maze-like basement complex to its tower, now in the service of the locally beloved St. Duje. When the sun sets, the quiet stone town wakes up and the party starts in all of its many restaurants, trattorias and clubs of all kinds. For a more relaxing stay, try a walk alongside the new promenade and the west side of town, or climb up Marjan hill, the green lung of the city where hours fly by while you’re hiking or relaxing on one of the many shaded pebble beaches.
Lovers of sun and sand will love the busy and crowded town beaches, like Bačvice and Firule on the eastern side of town, lively almost 24 hours a day.
Split has some years ago added another event to their busy schedule, the ever so popular Ultra Europe Music Festival (July 8-10, 2022), so if electronic music isn’t your idea of a relaxing vacation, make sure you book your stay well in advance, as during the festival and in weeks leading to it you’d be hard pressed to even find a room for rent, let alone anything bigger.
Larger yachts seem to prefer the Kaštela Bay on the northern side of Split, but you may also try your luck in the town port on its western side. Once again, this area is extremely popular in high season, so if you are planning to visit in July or August, make sure you book everything in advance. Our recommendation, though, is to avoid the high season altogether – our favorite time to explore Split and its surroundings is the charming and warm September.
Krka National Park – green fairy land with seven majestic waterfall
Krka National Park has never left a visitor disappointed, but has left many of them speechless. This unique place in the region is even more beautiful if you sail it on your own boat, creating your own itinerary.
After leaving behind the Šibenik channel, you’ll soon find yourself in the meandering and narrow entrance to the river Krka, but worry not: next stop is a wide Prukljansko Lake, very easy to sail through, and after that – and passing under the impressive Krka bridge – the town of Skradin. This is where your fairy tale truly begins, as you’re entering Krka National Park.
The newly built Lagoon Sixty5 ‘Amada Mia’ is the most admirable luxury sailing catamaran available for charter on Adriatic coast, Croatia.
If you’re up for it, you can join a guided tour staring in Skradin and just be a tourist for a day, allowing a boat to take you to Skradinski buk, the longest and most famous waterfall in the park. After that, you might decide to take another four-hour boat trip to the tiny and charming island of Visovac where the only thing not created by Mother Nature is the Franciscan monastery, or to the spectacular Roški waterfall.
The park is crossed with hiking trails (29 km) and bike trails (470 km), so you can explore all of it on your own and work on your health while you’re at it. This green fantasy land is a true paradise for active individuals and lovers of pristine nature and calm.
In Skradin, take a short lunch break and try the local risotto, prepared over two days, or visit the oldest trattoria in Croatia, Konoba Mate. Around here, yachts are usually anchored in the ACI Marina Skradin or in the downtown port, but many a yacht can be seen anchored along the coast, far from the hubbub and surrounded only by the song of frogs and crickets.
Kornati National Park – the longest marine labyrinth in the Mediterranean
This tiny region of the Adriatic and even tinier part of the Mediterranean is completely different from everything in its vicinity. As rocky and sandy as its neighbors are lush and green, the Kornati archipelago is locally known as the Croatian Moonscape.
Still, these rocky islands, almost all 89 of them, do have some green on them, too. Tiny coves and irresistible green oases beloved by the locals – some of whom live on those islands during the summer season – are perfectly suited for welcoming both yachts and their masters. On some of the islands, visitors will be delighted to find charming little trattorias offering some of the finest foods in the region.
The most probable explanation for the name of these islands lies in the Latin word crown, and many of them do seem to be crowned by steep cliffs rising above them as if looking toward the open sea – Rašip Veli, Rašip Mali and Mana, for example. The island of Levrnaka and its Lojena cove are famous as the location of the most beautiful beach in the archipelago, while the largest island, Kornat, is beloved among hikers.
Start your hike in Kraljavčica cove and climb all the way to the top of the majestic Metlin (237 m) one hour later, and if you feel extra sporty, go all the way to Magazinova Škrila, which will take you another 20 minutes.
Should you happen to be around here on the first Sunday in July, don’t miss the feast of Our Lady of Tarac, celebrated in the church of the same name and visited by a number of yachts and boats every year.
Kornati certainly have more faces than they seem to at first, so make sure you don’t spend your entire vacation on your yacht. Also, while you’re around these waters, visit one of the largest natural ports in the Adriatic, the nearby Telaščica bay – another nature park –, the Mir lake, a salt lake whose calming energy will wash over you the second you see it, or the nearby Dugi island cliffs.
Brijuni National Park – the glamour of the eternal green
This archipelago looks like dost of green paint on the blue canvas of the Adriatic: 14 magically appealing islands, most of them smaller and under 55 m in height. The largest among them, Veli and Mali Brijun, charm with bays and coves, but keep in mind yachts have limited access: they are only allowed to dock in the Sv. Nikola bay on Veli Brijun and the Sv. Mikula bay on Mali Brijun. All yachts longer than 180 ft can anchor in the nearby Fažanski channel separating the archipelago from Istria.
On these islands – probably best known locally as the summer residence of the late president Josip Broz Tito – you can take a 4-hour trip and see it all from the comfortable seat of a small, open tourist train. Otherwise, you can rent an electric bike or a regular bike and go find your own route, search for one of the many archaeological location, see some of the wild animals grazing peacefully in the Safari Park – deer, chital deer or mouflon sheep.
Brijuni also have tennis and golf courts, many intimate beaches accessible by kayak, but if all this is too much activity for a vacation, just relax until it’s dinner time and you can enjoy one of the many exclusive restaurants in the archipelago.
During July and August, Brijuni turn into a large stage, as the islands host The Ulysses Theatre. This international theater project, held annually since 2001, is a special treat for all theater lovers, with events like shows and concerts sprouting all around, but primarily in the fantastic setting of fort Minor. Brijuni have been celebrated in many a book and travel guide, so if you’re in the vicinity, come by and write your own green island adventure.
Local guide for luxury yacht charter in Croatia
In order to explore this area at its best, we provide free counseling regarding chartering and activities during your charter holidays. The team of experts that brings together Yachts Croatia is also at your service when creating your perfect charter experience in Croatia.
M/Y Simull with her dynamic and chic silhouette, generous living space, three elegant en-suite cabins, including a full beam master’s cabin, and with the Sport Flybridge makes her an absolute yacht for your holiday!
When choosing a yacht, you first need to decide whether you want to feel the meditative power of silence on board sailing boat and catamaran, or whether you appreciate speed and comfort, with interest to rent a motorboat or luxury yacht. After that, leave all the ‘details’ to us. We will pay special attention to all your needs, to select the boat up to your wishes, to feel safe and comfortable with the crew that will make your time special, organize provisioning and prepare the route that will leave you breathless!
Upon request, our team will visit the yacht (s) you are interested in, with special care to your wishes – and make sure that we ‘pamper’ you with beauty while sailing!
Photos Robert Matić & Yachts Croatia archive