It’s widely said that the best way to explore the islands of Croatia is to sail around them and we couldn’t agree more. There’s nothing quite like island hopping; exploring towns and coastal villages, stopping at isolated coves for a refreshing dip in turquoise waters, preparing leisurely onboard meals using fresh produce collected at your last port of call (each meal with a different stunning backdrop), at a pace that epitomises relaxation.
We’ve pulled together some highlights, tips and recommendations from our 5 day/4 night Dalmatian Coast adventure from Split to Dubrovnik that saw us anchor at Hvar, Korcula, Mljet and Sipan.
We start our journey in Split, Croatia’s second-largest city. A quintessential Mediterranean city featuring a maze of an old town set within a 4-walled ancient palace. Steeped in Roman history there is plenty of things to explore…the town gates, the bell tower of the church of St. Dominus, the Cathedral and crypts.
For our first night we headed to the beautiful ‘Splitska Riva’, a pedestrian harbour bursting with cafes and restaurants and a great spot for a pre-dinner drink to watch the sunset. Busy and full of tourists, we kicked off the holiday with an enjoyable meal at Brasserie on 7 – the dish of note was a truffle pasta (a must whenever we return to Croatia). A great spot to take in the locals and tourists alike promenade along the riviera.
For our second and final night we ventured into the old town, to the rustic but upbeat Corto Maltese Freestyle Food restaurant where we sat pavement-side, in view of the hawkers and buskers, as we feasted on delicious Croatian and Italian dishes…we loved this place and a perfect farewell to Split.
Local white wine recommendation: Prović Livija Zlatarica (light and refreshing with hints of apple, lime and elderflower).
Our first anchor was at Palmižana Beach on the island of Klement in the Hvar archipelago. Hvar town, a short water taxi ride away, incurs expensive mooring fees so most small charter boats tend to find an idyllic spot nearby. Hvar has become hugely popular with tourists over the years and it’s not hard to see why it has been named one of the most stunning Croatian islands.
Mooring at the end of the day, we loved exploring the seductive port town with its stone streets and old Venetian palaces, but with a packed yachting agenda we wish we’d had more time than just one evening here. We had a lovely meal at Zlatna Skoljka restaurant, known for their Mediterranean seafood dishes. The water taxi back was a memorable experience, trying to find our yacht, in the dark, by spotlight, after too many bottles of the local vino…let’s just say we slept well that evening!
The morning started with a refreshing dip off the back of the yacht, to clear any cobwebs from the night before, before we set sail to the breathtaking fortress town of Korcula. After stopping in a beautiful bay for a swim along the way, we moored in the marina which gave us an opportunity to replenish supplies and use the marina facilities (if your yacht is more compact and ‘intimate’ than a super yacht, you’ll appreciate the spacious facilities and use of a shower that doesn’t rock with the waves!).
Korcula town is famous for its medieval walls and a succession of narrow streets that are patterned after a fish skeleton, with street ‘bones’ that branch off to reduce the effects of wind and sun. Elldrew loved exploring them and our handy hint is to allow time to check out the local jewellers, who are more adept and stylish than the usual mass ‘Made in China’ wares that one finds in tourist hotspots. That evening we enjoyed a relaxed meal at Pizzeria Tedeschi on the cobbled side-street of the fortress looking across the Adriatic.
Mljet National Park
Day 3 saw us anchor in a serene bay near the harbour village of Prožura. This less well known destination was one of our highlights, being that the only facility was one local restaurant who rewarded your custom with free transfers and mooring. Even more special is that Marijina Konoba is a family-run restaurant famous for it’s slow-baked meats and fishes – literally cooked in a pit of hot coals in the ground. This, of course, takes time so around 5pm a small speedboat approached to drop off menus, we had to radio our food order across within the hour and they would be back to collect us for dinner (what an amazing concept). A fantastic evening and a must-try!
Local red wine recommendation: Milos Stagnum (rich and intense with aromas of dark fruit and plum).
Our penultimate day had our sails hoisted as the wind sped us towards Sipanska Luka, the main port of Sipan. A picturesque protected harbour, in the 15th century it was a popular place for Dubrovnik’s upper classes to have their holiday homes, now it’s more of a sleepy village, perfect to wander and explore.
After climbing the hill to stretch our legs and take in the views from St. Stephens Church, that evening we feasted with the locals at Restoran Tauris, a popular tavern style restaurant, off a small green, with an extensive selection of local fish and meat dishes. We strolled back to our moored yacht, chatted with our harbour neighbours and watched the cats try to steal fish scraps from the local fisherman on the dock.
It was just a short sail to our final destination on the outskirts of Dubrovnik. We really didn’t want to leave but at the same time we were ready to stretch our arms as we were transferred to our nearby hotel. It took a day to lose the sea legs but our amazing sailing holiday had given us a new respect of the sea, as we reflected on the special places and people we met along the way. It’s definitely one to add to your bucket list!
Boat Hire Tips
- Yachts provided by hire companies tend to be owned by the skipper you sail with.
- Hire yacht company fees will usually included boat hire + skipper, tourism tax, daily fuel (based on 4 hours a day), towels and linen, final cleaning and transfers to/from local hotels.
- Your skipper will discuss route options on the day of arrival and work out the best schedule based on your hire (we had wanted to sail to Vis but we would have needed an extra day due to distance).
- Skipper meals are not included so expect to pay €35 per day to cover meals (in cash). You can reduce this by inviting them to dine with you whilst onboard. We also invited our skipper to some of our shore meals. We gave a €450 cash tip at the end of the hire to cover all fees (a general rule is to tip the crew between 5% – 10% of the hire fee).
- Marina fees will need to be paid, in cash, on the day of mooring (allow €100-€200 per mooring).
- Stock up on food and drink supplies, taking lots of bottled water, but only for the first two days. Don’t stress and buy supplies for your entire journey. Aside from being heavy to carry with luggage, you will usually moor in a marina every second day so there are plenty of supermarkets to replenish.
- Cabins located at the stern (back) will usually have low ceilings based on configuration of seating up on deck, so perfect for kids or less fussy passengers.
- Despite being on the water it’s very warm in cabins at night, especially if there is no wind. Whilst most yachts have air conditioning, it can only be turned on when moored at a marina and connected to a power supply.
- Bigger marinas will provide communal toilet and shower facilities. It’s a great way to ‘refresh’ during your journey as onboard facilities can include a very small ‘wet room’ that houses both toilet and shower.
- There are plenty of restaurants along the route but not all take credit cards (especially in bays where electricity can be unreliable) so take some extra cash.
We booked with https://andadventure.com/