Island of Vis: Mount Everest of Croatian Yachting
One of the most popular yachting and sailing destinations in Croatia, the island of Vis is a place with many faces, all sharing one thing: beautiful nature. We’ll do our best to take you there as if you really were on a yacht, sailing through hidden coves of the north side to the famous Stiniva and Budikovac
The Island of Vis in Croatia is an elite yachting destination, both for yachts in charter, and fast sailboats and their skippers looking for an adrenaline rush. Everyone sailing the waters of Split is bound to visit Vis.
Island of Vis, Croatia: Military Base and Hollywood movie
Hypnotically beautiful due to its charming combination of colorful history, its position – in the middle of the big blue Adriatic, yet still close enough to coast for comfort – its unique, mostly pristine nature and its delicious local cuisine.
The island of Vis used to be one giant military base, and the Yugoslav Army kept foreign tourists away from its shores up until 1989. Army barracks and other buildings are now one of the things you simply must see if you visit Vis: 38 imposing military buildings that tourists just seem to adore and you can see it through Military Tour Vis.
Location for Mamma Mia 2
In the past few years, the island of Vis has been discovered by Hollywood (‘Mamma Mia 2’ was filmed there), and by UNESCO, who have granted the status of World Heritage to the entire Vis archipelago. The island is ideal for a two or three-day trip. Its northern shores are steep and mostly uninhabited, the eastern and western sides hold two surreal picturesque towns in the palm of their hand – Vis and Komiža – while the southern shore is spotted by a large number of charming coves and isles.
The town of Vis: The heart of the island puzzle piece
The town of Vis is a small universe in itself. Set in a deep cove, it is well protected from all wind, and was beloved by ancient Greeks who there have founded their colony of Issa, the first Greek colony in the Adriatic. You’ll find berths in the south-eastern part of the cove (Kut) and the southwestern part (Luka), and between them a large number of buoys.
Depending on the wind, you might need to move around the cove to find a peaceful spot, but there are buoys everywhere, so that won’t be a problem. The only part of the cove offering complete protection in all weather conditions lies between the gas station and the ferry terminal. Prirovo peninsula at the entrance into the cove will charm you straight away, with its stone houses and the church spire.
The northern shore of island of Vis (Croatia): Unassuming beauty
Seven miles long, the northern shore is still successfully resisting over-tourism, mostly due to northern wind that scare away most yachts. Rogačić is the only lively little port on the northern side of the island. Half an hour on foot from the town of Vis, it is popular for its beauty and because it is well protected from southern and westerly winds.
The most attractive part of the cove whose muddy bottom holds the anchor firmly in one place is the tiny Parija cove. This part of the cove, with depth ranging between four and ten meters, holds the entrance to the tunnel that used to serve as a hiding spot for military ships. From the cove, several small and deep coves branch out, but Rogačić is the only one where you can drop your anchor (anchoring is even forbidden in the eastern cove, and impossible in the central).
Fort George and Fort Bentinck
If you are interested in military history and wish to see Fort George and Fort Bentinck, make sure you get there before the construction crews – the area is marked for redevelopment, with a new marina and a tourist port soon to fill out Rogačić cove. Gradac cove is probably the least popular anchoring destination on the island.
The intimate cove has muddy and sandy bottom, and three tiny pebble beaches. The westernmost hand is home to a handful of private summer homes, but you can’t drop your anchor there due to the presence of underwater cables. The other two hands are pristine, electric blue and up to ten meters deep. Although they are safe in southern wind, they are surrounded by tall cliffs and even southern wind can bounce off them and get dangerous.
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The neighboring cove is Oključna, set deep into the island. Well protected from southern and northern wind, it is up to 15 meters deep. When dropping your anchor, make sure to avoid the many local ships, or opt for the nearby short dock (if your keel is shorter than 2m). From Oključna to Barjaci cape, and farther toward Križni cape, there are many small coves and the most popular among them is Perna, whose beautiful water and ideal depth for anchoring attract many.
Komiža: Summer Yachting Favorite
Sailing into Komiža is surely one of the most delightful experiences in the Adriatic. This wide, deep set cove is surrounded by mountains ranging up to 500 meters in height. Nestled in its heart is the dreamy town of Komiža, with a lovely tall St. Nicholas church, stone houses and the oldest fishing port in the Adriatic.
You can find free berth behind the tall breakwater or at any of the 70 buoys scattered across the port. Komiža is not protected from any of the westerly winds, but the most unpleasant of them all is only a problem for the locals, as it’s the winter libeccio (SW). The town is not protected from northern or southern wind, or even from the afternoon mistral, so yachts anchored in the port or at the buoys shouldn’t count on a peaceful night.
The bottom of the cove is unfriendly as well, with many underwater rocks, so make sure you approach carefully – but the lovely coves south of Komiža are worth the trouble. And don’t miss to visit Biševo, tiny island with huge heart and beautiful Blue Cave.
Southern Vis : A Colorful Yachting Heaven
Southwest, Stupišće cape is piece of land reminiscent of Swiss cheese: the army has left behind an underground tunnel network. Between the lonely cape and the most popular cove on the island, Stiniva, there are endless little coves, some of them so tiny you’ll surely be the only one there. Stiniva is a little miracle and best enjoyed at dawn or at sunset, when there aren’t many other vessels around. The cove is most easily accessible with mistral (NW) or pulent (W) winds.
Its unique shape is probably due to soil erosion: the top part of the cave in the heart of the cove fell into the water a long time ago, creating this charming little space. The white beach and the cute little rock pool are on both sides protected by tall cliffs – the entrance to the cove is only four meters wide, so the safest way to enjoy the beach is to tie your boat to a buoy (there are many floating around in this 10-20 m deep cove), and then take a RIB to the beach for a day of swimming.
Magic of Mala Travna and Senko Karuza
The appearance of this part of the island proves how mighty southern winds are, so take them seriously and approach the beach by land if you aren’t that skilled a yachtsman. At the beach, make sure you visit the equally tiny restaurant.
Vela Travna and Mala Travna coves used to be equally popular, but lately Mala Travna has been gaining popularity among the yachting crowds, most of them lured in by gastro-magic by one Senko Karuza. Mr. Karuza is not only a skilled cook whose creations will delight your palate, but a great story teller who will make your evening unforgettable and give you a full Vis experience.
Sadly, the cove was recently connected to the rest of the island by road and has lost some of its charm, but it’s still very appealing, especially with southern wind. It has a rocky bottom and the water is between six and ten meters deep, so make sure you drop the anchor properly and tie the boat to the cliffs just to be on the safe side.
Discover Ruda cove
When in Mala Travna, don’t miss an opportunity to dive underwater and meet the inhabitants of that tiny blue microcosm, which in addition to being colorful, is cooler than the rest of the island due to the presence of several freshwater spouts. Ruda cove is well hidden from view, but if you dare sail into it, you’ll find yourself on most charming little lake in the loveliest shade of blue, marred only by the view of the neighboring Rukavac village and its newly built summer homes.
The cove is well protected from westerlies and northern wind, but its rocky bottom makes it dangerous enough for anchors, so you might stop at one of the buoys.
Silvery shine of Srebrna cove
The next cove, Srebrna, got its name – silver – from the silvery shine of its pebbles in the moonlight. The wind moves the waves southward, all the way to Italy, caressing pebbles into shape in the process. This cove is beloved for her vivid colors, and visited by many a tourist arriving from the inland. It isn’t protected from winds and has a rocky bottom, so we do not recommend you drop your anchor or spend a night there.
The next cove in the pearly necklace of the island is Rukavac, inhabited and open to all southern and southeastern winds. The northern side of the cove is somewhat protected and there are buoys for visitors of restaurant ‘Dalmatino’ there, while the western side is exotic looking and has a long pebble beach. This part of the island, called Tepluš by the locals, also has buoys, belonging to the ‘Diamond Beach’ restaurant.
Ravnik and Green Cave
Rukavac cove also has a tiny dock three meters long, and when it isn’t busy with fishing boats sailing in, there’s an impromptu fresh fish market there. Across the way, the tiny Ravnik island serves as a nature-made breakwater quite apt at slowing down south-eastern waves. On its southwestern shore, is the Green Cave, the most popular tourist attraction around and the symbol of the island. There is an entrance fee for the cave, so if you decide to visit, make sure you pick the best time of the day.
Approach the cave on a RIB around noon, when sun rays seep through the roof and color of the water is as green as the name says. Always keep in mind the cave is not protected from southern wind, and the water in front of it is too deep to safely drop the anchor.
Budikovac: Tiny gem in the Vis archipelago
Budikovac island is another tiny gem in the Vis archipelago, beloved by yachts even though it isn’t protected from any wind, especially southern.
Locals and more experienced sailors love to find refuge from the wind in the blue cove on the northern shore of Budikovac. The island is locally famous for the lagoon on the western shore, accessible from the south. The lagoon is dotted with buoys, but it is too shallow to be sailed in – so if you wish to go all the way in, make sure you choose a boat with no more than one meter (3 ft.) of berth.
In the lagoon, there is a sandy beach and a beach bar with a floating pontoon popular as a RIB tying spot, so keep in mind it can get crowded during day. If you choose to stick around after hours, this part of the Vis archipelago will show you its true charms.
Eastern Shore : Irresistible Sand Oases
Zaglav cove is one of the most unique places on the island, connected to the neighboring Milna (15 minutes away) by a narrow path stretching across the sea, used mostly by goats. Yachts and boats will find the cove safe with all winds, and it’s popular among the locals, too.
Half a mile away, Milna cove is as different as it gets. Inhabited, connected by a road visible from the sandy beach immediately lets you know you’re closer to civilization. Calm sea and pearly glow of water are ideal for kids, but again, beloved by locals, who play their beach game of picigin in its shallow waters. The cove is protected from mistral and tramontane, and quite popular among sailors looking for some peace and quiet.
Vela Smokova cove is paradise for divers
Vela Smokova cove is pristine – mostly due to the fact it’s inaccessible by land without the help of a skilled hiking guide. As beautiful as it was when it was made, the cove is not wide enough for more than several yachts at the time, but the water depth ranges from 2 to 20 meters and its sandy bottom is ideal for anchoring. Long part of the navy practice grounds, the cove has been spared from development. Divers will find another gem here: at two meters of depth, a sunken wing of a World War II airplane.
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Sandy heaven in Stončica
Stončica cove is hypnotizing, breathtakingly beautiful from all sides, and accessible by land and by sea. Almost exotic, this cove is the deepest set cove in the archipelago, well know to every ship passing by – at its entrance, the enduring Stončica lighthouse has been welcoming sailors for generations. At the heart of the cove, there is a pontoon popular during the day, protected by a net stretching along its backside.
This piece of sandy heaven isn’t protected from tramontane and northern winds, with waves crashing into the steep rocks and ricocheting, creating underwater whirlpools. Scattered across the cove are 15 buoys, the safest option, and in the cove, there is the aforementioned beach, a beach bar and a trattoria very popular among the locals.
Text Josipa Vlahović Cikatić
Photos Ivo Pervan, Boris Kačan, Aleksandar Gospić/HTZ