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Sailing the Croatian Islands

Hello to all the readers of Skipper blog, my name is Katerina and I’m happy to be your sailing guide for the next summer destinations. Let’s start from the aquamarine Croatia, just get aboard and enjoy!

Croatia is one of the top sailing destinations in Europe and there’s the reason why. Apart from the cleanest sea (thanks to the stream that goes along the whole coast), it’s full of islands – from tiny solitary green rocks in the middle of the Adriatic to the big ones, coloured with terracotta tile roofs of the houses and white stone of the churches, but both having amazing picturesque bays to offer. Can you imagine a better place for sailing?

Dalmatian Islands


Medieval charm and modern spirit

Late June, when the season was only about to start, the weather was already lovely but all the people were not yet there, I arrived to Split to discover the town and start a wonderful trip under the sail.

If you’re planning to sail in Dalmatian islands, Split is a perfect platform to take off. The second biggest city of the country and one of the prettiest Dalmatian ports, it’s rich with divine beaches, Venetian and Roman traces in architecture and a very vivid Riva promenade, full of venues to chill in the shade, hiding from hot summer sun. Diocletian’s Palace, a Roman emperor’s luxury villa is a central point of attraction and a UNESCO world heritage, surrounded by numerous medieval streets and squares, very lively and smelling of delicious local food.
I also loved Sustipan, a spacious green park right underneath Marjan hill, perfect to avoid strong afternoon sunrays and enjoy the view over the sea and the port. We could spend hours there having a picnic under the shade of a huge pine.
Close to the hill, there’s one of the most pristine beaches of Split (according to the locals) called Kasjuni. It’s best time to be is around 7 in the morning, when there’s no one else but you and the calmness of the sea.

Anyway, once we have enjoyed all the perks of the ‘big city’ (whatever this could mean for a Croatian coastline), it was the time to set our sails towards the islands!

Island of Brač

Amazing sunsets at Golden Cape

Straight from Split we sailed towards the first Dalmatian island, Brač.
It took us about an hour to get there, and as most people do, we went to Brač for 1 principal reason: the famous Zlatni Rat beach in the town of Bol. It has a very particular triangle shape with a long cape, reaching out to the open sea and making wonderful shades of blue around it. Due to this fact, though, the water around Brač tends to be colder comparing to some other islands, but the scenery at sunset is absolutely worth it.


Bol is sort of a family destination, very calm and quiet, perfect for couples with small children. It has a tiny historical center, nice promenade with cafes right alongside moored boats and a parallel street with amazing local restaurants, delicious and pretty cheap. The other nice spot in Brač is a small cave beach next to the St, John and St. Theodore’s church. You got fantastic view once you go up there, looking over the beach and the everblue sea shadowed by the pines.


Anyway, it doesn’t take you really long to explore Brač so let’s move further, next stop is the Island of Hvar!

Island of Hvar

Full of colours, full of life

With the fresh sea breeze of late June we left Brač and set our sails towards the island of Hvar. About 1 hour of afternoon sunbathing on the cockpit and we were almost there. As you approach it under sail, it’s easy to be impressed by Hvar Town, made of a white stone, terracotta houses and deep green palm trees. It’s also a popular wedding destination thanks to its unquestionable beauty and genuine party vibe.

Island of Hvar

Hvar has got 2 ports: in Stari Grad and in the town of Hvar itself, where we arrived. The island is only 11 000 people big, but in summer the population reaches twice the number and the island becomes invaded mostly by Brits, Americans and Canadians. Hvar is beautiful all over, but there you go some sightseeing highlights: you can’t help but be taken by the impressive bell towers of the Franciscan Monastery, St Mark’s Church and Cathedral of St Stephen. The view from the Spanish Fortress above the town is something beyond extraordinary: you can see the whole island, more beautiful than ever in pastel colours of the sunset. The saturating blue of the Adriatic, the contrast of the tile roofs, the yachts, slowly approaching the shore and the enchantment of a small white-stone town hugged tightly by the emerald green of the pines – this landscape will take place in my heart forever.

Stari Grad
Stari Grad, the second port town on the opposite side of Hvar, is really tiny but cute with its small marina and a lovely quai to stroll. Pretty local konobas are dispersed in twisted little streets, stone squares and churches are naturally decorated with vines and flowers and lavanda scent follows you wherever you go.


Total relax at sandy beaches

Palmižana is kind of a ‘VIP’ beach island in 20 minutes of sailing from Hvar. Approaching the shore I realized that our boat is nothing else but the actual stairway to heaven!
I swear to you, I’ve never seen the sea of such a colour – neither in the Mediterranean, nor in the Caribbean. Just imagine the sun-glittering silver of the boat slowly gliding through the waters of pure turquoise, crystal clear and transparent. You can find some private beach chalet on this dream island, sandy beaches (which is rare in Croatia) with free sunbeds and the warmest lagoon of the sea. Beware of the sea urchins though!

Next sailing stop? The island of Šćedro!


Pristine nature and tranquility

Some knots south of Hvar there’s a small island of Šćedro. It is protected as a nature park, with its virgin beauty and secluded hidden bays, making you feel like it just belongs to you. Once you immerse into its unique serenity, watch sunrays glimmering on waves around your boat, believe me, you just never want to leave!


A distant treasure

Our next point of sailing interest was Vis, very much advised by fellow sailors.
Vis is a bohemian island 14 nautical miles (26km) from Hvar Town. It’s a hidden gem of the Dalmatian archipelago being the most distant one from the mainland. Among its ‘musts’, Blue Grotto is definitely to be mentioned: located on the island of Biševo, off Vis’ southwestern tip, this coastal cave is one of the region’s most famous natural sights. Between 11am and noon the sun’s rays pass through an underwater opening, bathing the interior in an unearthly blue light. Beneath the crystal-blue water, rocks glimmer in silver and pink to a depth of 16m. One of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen! In June it was still accessible, but if you try to visit it in July or August, be ready to get stuck in a boat traffic. However during the high season there’s another less crowded option – the Green Grotto, maybe a bit less impressive but beautiful as well!


Sweet rural paradise

The last stop of our cruise was Šolta, an oasis of unspoiled nature. Famous for its splendid pebbly beaches (not busy with bathers) that are surrounded by clear waters, a paradise for snorkeling enthusiasts thanks to the high visibility of its picturesque underwater life. You can also pay a visit to one of the numerous family-run farms on the island and immerse into the art of making oil, wine and honey, which we enjoyed a lot. All in all, local gastronomy is another value to visit Dalmatia – both meat dishes and seafood are delicious, Croatian wine being amazing as well!

Thus, our marvelous cruise was coming to an end, turning back to Split after a week of sailing. Croatia is without saying a stunning country, striking right away with its purely virgin, unspoilt nature, the hospitality of local people and the deliciousness of meals, but everything seems even more attractive if you’re watching from the yacht, right?

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