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Croatia : What is your kind of boat?

Croatia - our advices for your cruise


 


By Anaïs BEDE 

Managing Editor of Filovent magazine. "As a travel enthusiast, my holidays always equate to boat trips!"

 

18 October 2021

 

Reading time: 6 minutes

 

 

IN A NUTSHELL

 

Sailing areas : There are 4 sailing areas. In the North, from Pula, you can discover Istria and the Gulf of Kvarner. From Zadar and Sibenik, you will sail to the Kornati Islands which is a protected nature reserve. Trogir and Split will provide you with beautiful cruises in the Dalmatian Islands. Finally, from Dubrovnik you will visit Korčula, Mljet, and Lastovo. 

Special features : the waters of the Adriatic Sea which are both dark because of the posidonia, and clear at times. The numerous islets, bays and islands make it easy to find a place sheltered from the wind. The anchorages are well-equipped but you have to pay for them!

 

 

Sailing areas of Istria and the Gulf of Kvarner

Map of sailing areas in Croatia (clickable map)

 

Contents

 

  1. Practical information for your boat rental in Croatia
  2. Why go to Croatia?
  3. What are the main sailing areas?
  4. The best anchorages in Croatia
  5. Which itineraries to follow for your rental?
  6. What are the weather conditions?

 

 

 

 

"Croatia is a great place for sailing. There are a multitude of stopovers, a profusion of anchorages and wild coves, so the possibilities for shelter are never far away" Jean-Paul, who sailed for a week from Biograd with Filovent on-board an Oceanis 38.1, told me.

In the heart of the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is the perfect blend of charming stone villages, breathtaking scenery, tradition, and a rich historical past. With its 1,800 kilometres of coastline, Croatia offers beautiful sailing in the midst of green or desert landscapes, depending on the region.

 

Vianney and Alice sailing on an Oceanis 43
Vianney and Alice sailing off Split on an Oceanis 43 (photo by Vianney Spriet)

 

 

1. Practical information for your boat rental in Croatia

 

Average rates depending on the season and the size of the boat

 

A large majority of charter companies in Croatia offer monohull sailboats for rent. The table below gives you an order of magnitude of the average prices of rentals. These prices can change according to the season, the availability, the model, the age of the boat...

 

Type of boat High Season
July and August
Mid-Season
May, June and September
Low Season
April and October
Mono-hull (2 cabins) €2,000 €1,500 €1,000
Mono-hull (3 cabins) €3,500 €2,500 €1,500
Mono-hull (4 cabins) €4,500 €3,000  €2,000
Catamaran (between 30 and 40 feet) €7,000 €4,000 €2,500
Catamaran (between 40 and 50 feet) €11,000 €6,000 €3,500

 

The different starting bases

 

Some marinas in Croatia are grouped together in the ACI (Adriatic Croatia International Club), which was founded in 1983 with the primary goal of developing and modernising nautical tourism in the country. So they are modern and well-equipped marinas. They are therefore ideal for starting a cruise on-board a catamaran or a mono-hull sailing boat. Today, there are 22 ACI marinas.

Croatia has many departure bases, so you will have the choice to discover the different sailing areas. Nevertheless, some bases are more interesting than others for starting your cruise in Croatia in terms of accessibility, number of charter boats, and proximity to the airport. Therefore, choose:

  • to depart from Dubrovnik, to discover the Elaphite archipelago, Mljet, Korčula, and Lastovo;
  • to depart from Split or Trogir , to discover the Dalmatian islands;
  • to depart from Zadar or Biograd, to explore the Kornati archipelago;
  • to depart from Pula , to discover Istria and the Gulf of Kvarner.

 

Which licence is required?

 

The question of the licence is one of the most common questions before renting a mono-hull sailing boat or catamaran in Croatia. If you want to skipper your boat, you must have a valid international or Croatian sailing licence and a VHF radio licence. Checks are often carried out by the harbour master's offices, so do not underestimate these obligations. Of course, you won't need a licence if you choose to sail with a professional skipper.

 

Aerial view of an Oceanis 43 off the Croatian coast
View from the sky of an Oceanis 43 off the Croatian coast (photo by Vianney Spriet)

 

2. Why go to Croatia?

 

The Republic of Croatia came into being following the collapse of Yugoslavia. This young country is, however, the fruit of a thousand-year-old history that has enabled it to forge a unique identity. Indeed, this country has seen the establishment of successive Romans, Greeks, Byzantines, Venetians, French and Austrians-Hungarians who have all left their mark. Sailing in Croatia means therefore finding yourself at the crossroads of civilizations.

From North to South and from East to West, Croatia has a variety of landscapes, so there's something for everyone! The North is mainly comprised of mountains while in the East you will find mainly hills, plains and large lakes. The country's 11 national parks are a concentration of fauna and flora that contribute greatly to its beauty. Visits to certain cities such as Dubrovnik, Split , and Pula, real open-air museums, are to be prioritised in your holiday itinerary!

Finally, the point of going to this country is to explore with your boat some 1,800 kilometres of the Croatian coastline and the many islands and islets that populate the Mediterranean Sea as well as the Adriatic Sea.

Overall, the traditions, history, Mediterranean culinary heritage, forested mountains and the waters of the Adriatic Sea are all reasons that make Croatia a heavenly destination for a sailing boat charter.

 

3. What are the main sailing areas?

 

Istria and the Gulf of Kvarner

 

The richness of Istria's natural and cultural heritage is undeniable. It has, on the one hand, a preserved coastline with crystal clear waters and beautiful beaches, as well as several Roman and Venetian cities (Poreč, Pula,Rovinj, andNovigrad), and on the other, a mountainous hinterland with authentic medieval cities (Buzet, Motovun, Hum, and Grožnja). The big advantage of sailing in this region is that it is not very popular with holidaymakers, compared to the Kornati archipelago or the Dalmatian islands.

First visit Pula, "quite a dynamic city which contrasts with the quietness of the surrounding islands" according to Laurent, who decided to start his cruise on a Bavaria Cruiser from this city. Located at the Southern tip of the Istrian peninsula, Pula has always been a strategic place from Roman times until today. The city is known for its naturally well-protected harbour, the beaches along its coastline, and its historical monuments including a Roman amphitheatre , perfectly preserved despite being 2,000 years old! The Roman, Venetian, and Austro-Hungarian occupations have enabled the city to display a varied architectural style.

Located in the Gulf of Kvarner, the island of Cres is the largest island in the Adriatic Sea. The northern part of the island has a forest of oak and chestnut trees, while the central part is comprised of thick scrubland. To the South, in the town ofOsor, Cres is connected to Losinj by a bridge. Daniel, who sailed with Filovent from Pula on-board a Bali 4.1, advises you to take the canal in Osor with your sailing boat, which opens at 5 pm. "We spent the night in the cove at the base of the canal, it was amazing" he told me.

 

The Kornati Islands

 

This archipelago, located between Zadar and Sibenik, has a total of 147 islets, 89 of which are part of a national park. Classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Kornati Islands which include Zut, Dugi and Premuda, will seduce lovers of wild and desert landscapes. Indeed, the islands of the archipelago are mostly uninhabited. They are formed by spectacular cliffs dotted with sparse vegetation, and shores full of coves with crystal clear waters. Hiking, snorkelling and coastal sailing are what you can expect while navigating through this labyrinth of islands.

The must-see stopover in the Kornati Islands is Telašćica bay, located in the South of the island Dugi Otok. This 10 kilometre-long bay, classified as a natural park, has many facets. The North-East is full of landscapes devoid of vegetation, while the South-West is covered with a luxuriant forest comprised mainly of pine trees, olive trees and fig trees. Mir Lake is one of the obligatory passages when sailing in Telašćica Bay. A path enables you to walk around the lake and then climb to the top of the cliff where you'll enjoy a beautiful view of the sea. The special feature of this lake is that it contains twice as much salt as normal, and the water is warmer than the sea. The level of the lake rises and falls according to the tides. Swimming in this lake is therefore a unique experience that should not be missed under any circumstances!

 

Typical desert landscape of the Kornati
Typical desert landscape of the Kornati (photo by Michel Dutartre)

 

Dalmatia

 

Dalmatia is a coastal region bordering the Adriatic Sea and is over 350 kilometres long. Known for its history, its traditions, and its breathtaking landscapes, Dalmatia amazes all those who visit it! While you're there, take the time to visit some cities before heading to the Dalmatian islands. We advise you to stop in Split whose historic centre is classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site, and Trogir, a real open-air museum. Solta, Brač, Vis and Hvar are the islands where you will be able to cast off.

A stopover at the island of Brač should be included in your cruise itinerary in the Dalmatian Islands. The South of the island is particularly remarkable with its wild landscapes and coves that you'll find between Murvica and Blaca. The most popular place on the island is Zlatni Rat beach, known for its peculiar V-shape, the tip of which extends into the sea.

 

Solta
Breathtaking aerial view of Zlatni Rat! (Adobe Stock photo)

 

The island of Solta is quite uncommon for boaters compared to other Dalmatian islands. The small fishing village of Maslinica, to the West, is worth a visit!

 

Senjska Uvala
View of Senjska Uvala from the heights, South of Solta (photo by Lucas Martin)

Vis is the second island where there are no crowds because it's only been open to tourism since the 1990s. It is a favourite of many boaters, including Alexandre, who rented a Sun Odyssey 408 in Split through Filovent: "Vis is a beautiful wild island. From his boat, it's a green rock in the middle of the calm water of the Adriatic Sea. Its picturesque villages, Vis and Komiza, and its stone houses make all the charm of this island." If you stop in Vis, don't forget to visit the blue cave located in Bisevo. Nestled in the small Balun bay, light enters the cave through an underwater opening which gives the water a unique and hard to describe blue colour.

Hvar is certainly the most touristy and up-market of all the islands, but it's also the most interesting. The villages of Stari Grad and Hvar, in the West, have a typical Croatian landscape. As Alexandre told me about his anchorage in the port of Hvar: "From our boat, we had a direct view of the beautiful sunset on one side, and on the other, of the lovely town of Hvar. We then went back to the mainland to end our evening in the lively streets of the city", and Frank said: "Hvar is the Saint-Tropez of Dalmatia". A stopover on this island will enable you to sail among the Infernal Islands, also called Pakleni Islands, South-West of Hvar. This archipelago is composed of 21 islets with a similar morphology: flat and rocky surface covered with lush and varied vegetation.

 

Hvar
View of Hvar (photo by the Croatian National Tourist Office)

 

The surrounding areas of Dubrovnik

 

Nicknamed the "Pearl of the Adriatic", Dubrovnik is among the top destinations in Croatia. Conquered by the Greeks, Romans and Venetians, this city is full of historical monuments testifying to its millennial existence. We recommend you visit this city. On-board your boat and departing from Dubrovnik, there's no shortage of beautiful cruises!

 

View of the old town and the old port of Dubrovnik
View of the old town and the old port of Dubrovnik (Adobe Stock photo)

 

Start by setting sail for Lokrum, the nearest island to Dubrovnik. This uninhabited island invites you to relax during the various walks that enable you to discover it in depth.

The Elaphite Islands are the heart of your cruise around Dubrovnik. This archipelago consists of 14 islands, 3 of which are inhabited: Sipan, Koločep, and Lopud. The main activity on its islands is to walk the many paths: in Koločep, the one between the villages of Gornje Celo and Donje Celo , and in Lopud, the one connecting the hills.

Korčula is located in the North of the Elaphite archipelago. The town of Korčula, in the East of the island, is a must-see: "Korčula, with its houses built of old stone, overflows with charm. It's perched on a promontory and therefore provides a beautiful view of the water, which is sometimes turquoise and at times dark blue" Grégoire told me.

Lastovo is the furthest island from the Croatian coast. Formerly a Yugoslav military base, the island was only opened to tourism in the 1990s. The village of Lastovo, hidden in the hills, is not to be missed during your stay on the island.

 

The village of Lastovo
View of the village of Lastovo nestled in the hollows of the hills (photo by Grégoire Billon)

 

Finally, Mljet must absolutely feature in your cruise itinerary. As Jean told me: "for me it's really the prettiest. It has everything to offer between its wild, wooded side, its small anchorages, the monastery and the inland lake. Its landscape is varied, so there's something for everyone!". The main place of interest of the island is the discovery of the National Park. This park contains two large bays connected to the sea by a passage so narrow that they're considered lakes, called respectively "Small lake" and "Large lake". On the "Great Lake" you will find the islet of Saint Mary which houses a monastery. Beyond the National Park, the villages of Pomena and Polače on the West side of the island are both charming and typical of the region.

 

 

monastery of the islet of Saint Mary
View of the monastery on the islet of St. Mary (photo by Jean Lequime)

4. The best anchorages in Croatia

 

Anchorage at Sveti Nikola, North of Pula 

 

This anchorage located in a bay was recommended by Etienne. It's calm because there are few buoys and the water is translucent. At the end of the bay, there's a small church and a pier. "It was the good life!" he summed it up for me.

 

 

Sveti Nikola Anchorage
Sveti Nikola anchorage (photo by Laurent)

 

Anchorage in the bay of Stiniva in the South of Vis in the Dalmatian Islands 

 

This anchorage is idyllic, although it's quite popular during the summer season. At the end of the bay, there's a small beach that is protected by two imposing cliffs. From your boat, you will be amazed by the harmony of this place: the white of the cliffs and the blue of the water.

 

Stiniva Bay
View of Stiniva Bay (photo by the Croatian National Tourist Office)

 

Anchorage at Uvala Lavsa on the island of Otok Lavsa in the Kornati archipelago 

 

This anchorage was recommended to me by Jean-Paul. The place is beautiful and from the cliff you can see all the islands around Otok Lavsa.

 

View of Uvala Lavsa from the heights
View of Uvala Lavsa from the heights (photo by Michel Dutartre)

 

Anchorage in Otok Sćedro between Korčula and Hvar 

 

Concerning this anchorage, Lucas and Alexandre came to the same conclusion: it's quiet and unspoilt. "The advantage of stopping at Otok Sćedro is that there are plenty of anchorages and you have a beautiful view of Hvar to the North, and Korčula to the South" Alexandre told me.

 

5. Which itineraries to follow for your cruise?

 

Itinerary 1, for one week: Discovery of the Dalmatian Islands - Total distance covered: 165 nautical miles

This itinerary is proposed by our local partner, Sailing Forever.

  • Day 1: Split → Bobovisca or Milna, West of Brač (10 nautical miles)
  • Day 2: Brač → Vis to the North-East of Vis Island (23 nautical miles)
  • Day 3: Vis → Zaklopatica Bay, then Pasadur to Lastovo (40 nautical miles)
  • Day 4: Pasadur → Korčula (30 nautical miles)
  • Day 5: Korčula → Scedro (22 nautical miles)
  • Day 6: Scedro → Hvar and the Infernal Islands (15 nautical miles)
  • Day 7: Hvar → Split (25 nautical miles)

 

Itinerary 2, for one week: Discovery of the Kornati Islands - Total distance covered: 164 nautical miles

This itinerary is the one Jérôme took during his cruise from Zadar on-board a Tarpon 42.

  • Day 1: Zadar → Muline, then Dolinje (24 nautical miles)
  • Day 2: Dolinje → Sakarun (12 nautical miles)
  • Day 3: Sakarun → Veli Lagan, then Soline (12 nautical miles)
  • Day 4: Soline → Telašćica Nature Park (32 nautical miles)
  • Day 5: Telašćica Nature Park → Lojena, then Lopatica (12 nautical miles)
  • Day 6: Lopatica → Otočić Žutska aba, then Vodenjak (30 nautical miles)
  • Day 7: Vodenjak → Zadar (25 nautical miles)

 

Itinerary 3, for one week: Discovering the surroundings of Dubrovnik - Total distance covered: 148 nautical miles

This itinerary is proposed by our local partner, Navigare Yachting.

  • Day 1: Dubrovnik → Sipanska Luka to Sipan (15 nautical miles)
  • Day 2: Sipan → Polače to Mljet (25 nautical miles)
  • Day 3: Polače → Skrivena luka, South-East of Lastovo (23 nautical miles)
  • Day 4: Skrivena luka → Pasadur, Veli Lago, North-West of Lastovo (8 nautical miles)
  • Day 5: Pasadur → Korčula (30 nautical miles)
  • Day 6: Korčula → Okukjle to Mljet (25 nautical miles)
  • Day 7: Okukjle → Dubrovnik (22 nautical miles)

 

Itinerary 4, for one week: Discovery of Istria - Total distance covered: 139 nautical miles

This itinerary is the one that Daniel took during his cruise from Pula on-board a Bali 4.1.

  • Day 1: Pula → Uvala Portic (10 nautical miles)
  • Day 2: Uvala Portic → Otok Unije, East Coast (20 nautical miles)
  • Day 3: Otok Unije → Susak, then anchor at the end of the day in Otok Murtar (13 nautical miles)
  • Day 4: Otok Murtar → Ilovik (20 nautical miles)
  • Day 5: Ilovik → North-West of Rab (18 nautical miles)
  • Day 6: Rab → Southern tip of Cres, then Otoc Zeca (28 nautical miles)
  • Day 7: Otoc Zeca → Pula (30 nautical miles)

 

Mljet
Mljet, a wonder to behold! (photo by Grégoire Billon)

 

6. What are the weather conditions?

 

The favourable weather conditions make sailing with your catamaran or mono-hull sailing boat charter in Croatia enjoyable and accessible.

The dominant winds are the Mistral, a Mediterranean wind from the North-West, and the Jugo, a warm South-Easterly wind from Northern Africa. In Croatia, the wind rarely exceeds force 3. Indeed, as Jean-Paul, who sailed on a Dufour 410 from Dubrovnik, told me: "sailing in Croatia is enoyable because the sea isn't too rough and there is a little wind: it's perfect for sailing. It happened to me to anchor at night in Croatia and to find my boat in the morning in the same place". Moreover, with many islets, especially in the Elaphites archipelago, it's a real advantage: "you'll always find an islet that will protect you from the wind" Grégoire, who rented a Lagoon 400 in Dubrovnik through Filovent, told me. Consequently, as Vianney, who rented a sailing boat in Split, told me: "Croatia is an ideal destination for those who are new to sailing and who want to learn".

The weather is hot and dry from May to September with temperatures between 20°C and 27°C.

 

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank all the Filovent customers who agreed to talk to me about their holidays in Croatia, and who contributed greatly, through their testimonies and photos, to making this article unique! 

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