Thinking of chartering a yacht to explore the Croatian coastline? According to Wikipedia Croatia is a fascinating country with a chequered history involving invasions of kingdoms dating back to the 9th Century and a civil war which ended only toward the end of the last century. With this much personality, as well as strong influences from its 5 surrounding bordering countries, and the fact that it this beautiful coastline country edges gently into the Adriatic Sea, there’s no wonder Croatia one of the world’s top 20 places to visit. The accolades don’t stop there, Croatia is one of Europe’s most stunning sailing grounds with more than 1,200 islands dotted along the impressive coastline. So, if you’re thinking about chartering a yacht but are unsure of where to head, here are our top 10 reasons you need to consider this Adriatic gem for your next charter yacht cruise adventure.
1. Croatia is still relatively quiet.
Although Croatia is still pretty new on the tourist scene, it is becoming increasingly popular as a travel destination. High season brings the Cruise Liner tourists into port at a rapid rate and the quaint cobbled streets of the old towns of Split and Dubrovnik can be quickly saturated with crowds. This doesn’t make exploring these areas impossible, it just means a little more strategic planning… early morning or later in the evenings are ideal when the cruise-crowds have made their way back to their vessels. As gorgeous as these popular coastal cities are to explore, there is also the wonderment of a plethora of islands to choose to dock alongside and wander the villages of those that are inhabited or explore the many reefs and inlets of the 140 uninhabited islands that make up the Kornati National Park.
The statistics suggest that Croatia is growing in popularity by more than 20% each year, a pretty good reason to make it there quick.
2. Fantastic Facilities
Croatia happily welcomes sailors to its coastline harbors and supports this with excellent marina facilities. There are 50 or so marinas in Croatia scattered on the coast; 21 of them are managed by ACI (Adriatic Club International) and the rest are privately owned. All the historical coastal ‘old towns’ were built close to the harbors, many of which are still operational – most of which have now been extended and modernized to support the growing number of seafaring visitors and trade. One of the many wonderful things about Croatian harbors and ports is their close proximity to the thriving and bustling action, making a quick stopover and explore to shore magnificently convenient. Access to extraordinary museums showcasing ancient artifacts, galleries, churches, and monasteries, not to mention world-class restaurants and entertainment.
There are about 20,000 berths in Croatia but in peak season, it is strongly recommended that you, or your captain, reserve 24 hours in advance or arrive at the marina in the early afternoon as berth places fill up quickly. Most marinas are open all year and the facilities include reception, exchange office, restaurant, bathroom facilities, grocery stores, repair shops, etc. ACI
If the action of seaside towns and cities doesn’t appeal there are many safe mooring options in countless secluded natural bays or islets, where you can while away your time and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings and the warm, temperate waters of the Adriatic.
3. Insanely perfect sailing conditions
With marinas open throughout the year, you know you’re in a pleasing part of the world to charter a yacht. The sunny Adriatic enjoys an average of 315 cloudless days per year. The very best season to set sail in Croatia, however, is Spring (April, May, and June) and early Autumn/fall (September and October). Mild weather and calm seas, coupled with less of the summer crowds, means greater accessibility and more tranquility. The summer months of July and August are wonderful for swimming but the crowds, cruise liners, and heat can be less than appealing. Big tip if you’ve only got the summer months to play with, wake up early, explore as early as possible and take on the European ‘activity’ of an afternoon siesta back in the comfort of your charter yacht during the heat of the day.
Winds are generally pretty mild, and although showers can come and go all year round, there is not a ‘rainy season’ as such. Sailors do however need to be aware, as the weather can change quickly – from good to bad, as well as from bad to good…
4. Rich in history: beautiful old towns to explore
We could focus on the world-famous ancient city of Dubrovnik here, but actually, this description pretty much fits any ‘old town’ of the Croatian coastline. But… the sheer physical beauty and historical grandeur of Dubrovnik have to be seen in person to be appreciated. Founded in the 7th century, ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic’ (named by Lord Byron) lives up to its name, with one of the prettiest and best-preserved old towns in Europe, a stunning coastline, and a profusion of Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance historical sites to gaze at as you amble down inviting cobblestone streets. In fact, just taking it in from the shallows of the shoreline is as impressive… The inviting waters of the Adriatic around the Dubrovnik walls are perfect for swimming or supping, or simply blow up a floaty and take it all in as you bob around in the gentle, warm waters.
Other fabulous old town cities to be included if you are considering a mainland Croatia itinerary, are Split for its vibrant harbor entertainment and eateries, and Zadar, where you can experience the haunting sounds of the sea organ as you watch the setting sun. And then there are the islands of Hvar, Korcula, and Brac which offer an idyllic escape that fuses ancient history with a taste of modern tourism.
Whichever shoreline spot or the many choices of islands you explore, Croatia is without a doubt one of the most picturesque countries in the world.
5. Pula’s Roman amphitheater second to the Colosseum in Rome
Did you know that Croatia boasts the ruins of a Roman Amphitheatre to rival the famous Colosseum in Rome? It is true – and it is magnificent! Pula on the southern end of the Istrian Peninsula is where you’ll find it. Our best advice is to plan your charter yacht itinerary to be onshore and at the entrance around an hour before closing time and there’s a good chance you’ll have the place almost to yourself. Having said that, make sure to check whether there are any concerts or other entertainment scheduled, as it’s a popular venue for local and international acts.
6. Istrian Peninsula, truffles and wine.
While we’re on the subject of the Istrian Peninsula, there are many more reasons to explore Croatia’s westernmost outcropping, nestled up against the Italian border. The land here is rich and fertile with farmlands and pretty vineyard-draped hill towns to explore. If you’re foodies, you’ll enjoy the local dishes and Italian-influenced cuisines, glorious wines and world-famous truffles from this area. Pretty seaside towns dotted along the coastline. Rovinj is our favorite. It still operates as a fishing harbor, and the quaint, steep cobbled streets are lined with interesting shops and galleries. The view from the top of the 190-foot bell tower of the Church of St Euphemia is not to be missed – the climb is not for the faint-hearted, but the views are well worth it!
Although the Istrian Peninsula is the main wine-producing region of Croatia, it is certainly not the only one, so if you’re not planning on going up that far north, don’t despair! There are fabulous wine-producing farmlands on the islands too. For example, if you’re keen to explore the Island of Hvar by land, you could take a trip out to the picturesque Stari Grad Plains where you will come across a unique wine and culinary experience called Hora. Surrounded by incredible views, the wonderfully friendly staff at Hora will delight you with delicious food and wine pairing. It is wise to book your table a day in advance, as the fantastic traditional main course, Peka, takes many hours to cook.
7. Krka Waterfalls
Your charter yacht itinerary is likely to keep you spellbound on the water, but if you’re planning to take some time ashore and head a little bit inland from Split then a visit to the wondrous waterfalls of the Krka National Park is well worth the time. This breathtakingly beautiful park encompasses an area of 109 square kilometers along the Krka river. The beautiful walkways and waterfalls of Krka National Park draw tourists from around the globe. With its gorgeous lakes and flowing water everywhere, it’s for many the highlight of a Croatia trip. Best of all, you can swim around the beautiful flumes, getting up close and personal with a national icon, the Skradinski Buk waterfall. It was formed to protect the Krka River and is intended primarily for scientific, cultural, educational, recreational, and tourism activities.
8. Cheaper than Italy and France
Trying to decide where it is you would like to charter a yacht, can be a lengthy and confusing process. All the gems of the Mediterranean and the Adriatic offer azure warm waters, pleasant sailing conditions, amazing scenery, historic towns, breathtaking beaches, and beautiful island-hopping opportunities. But when it comes down to the bottom line, the cost of chartering a yacht in Croatia will give you more bang for your buck. When it comes to budget, Croatia wins over Italy and France. The local currency in Croatia is the Kuna and in Italy and France, it is the Euro. Prices can jump to around double of what you would pay in Croatia when you charter a yacht on the Mediterranean.
9. The beaches
When you charter a yacht in Croatia you are highly likely to stumble across some of the planet’s most stunning beaches. You’ll experience sparkling blue waters gently lapping onto spectacular beaches – some of which are pebbled and others soft, white sand. When you’re in the mood to swim ashore for a day on the sand in Croatia, it’s best to head south and anchor along the Dalmatian coast. Here you will find seductive shores, pebbly coves, and warm, sun-kissed rocks. Zlatni Rat – translated to “Golden Cape” in English, is a famous beach on the island of Brac. This beautiful strip of warm, golden sand stretches into the aquamarine waters of the Adriatic Sea. Since it’s a popular destination, it can get crowded; but its warm waters, shallow bays and picturesque views make it worth braving through them.
10. The Festivities
If you’re charting a yacht during the Summer months in Croatia you are bound to stumble across an organized music or arts and culture festival. The duration of these vary and some can last for 5 days and 5 nights, while others can revel hard for a couple of weeks! For example, the Croatian Summer Salsa Festival is held every year in Rovinj on the Istrian Peninsula, it takes over the cobbled streets with concerts, beach parties and dancing into the dawn sunlight. If you’re after something a little more culture-based, also on the Istrian Peninsula, the Pula Film Festival takes place annually in July. The celebration of Croatian and International films includes educational programs, concerts, exhibitions and some screenings under the stars. Further south in Dubrovnik hosts its own vibrant Summer Festival; Croatia’s leading cultural and arts event which showcases local dance, music, theatre, art and folklore. Many of Croatia’s islands turn the volume up on party time, if this is your thing consider Sonus Festival, an underground electronic music festival which takes over Zrce Beach on the island of Pag for 5 days and nights in August.