The rippled waters of the Dalmatian Coast have long entertained sailors. Amid pine, cobbled streets and complex history, here's where you can find the best Croatian islands for sailing trips and adventures.
See also our guide to the best islands in the Mediterranean.
The Best Croatian Islands for Sailing Holidays
While many people think of the Mediterranean as a typical holiday destination, people often overlook Croatia. Instead, they often opt for Italy, Spain, France and Greece. However, it's time to broaden your horizons and consider the shimmering Dalmatian coast for this year. To help you out, we've produced this guide to the best Croatian islands for sailing holidays to help you work out where to go and why.
Croatia has become one of the top spots to visit for a sailing trip, with a wide variety of historical, cultural, and entertainment options available. You can choose from a selection of boats and build your itinerary around your own particular interests, depending on what you want to do
Yachting fans will find their perfect break in Croatia, with all the turquoise seas and exceptional views you expect from the Mediterranean and more than 1,000 islands to explore. With such a variety of places to visit by water, chartering a yacht in Croatia can open the doors (or waterways) to an amazing break.
Why visit the Dalmatian Coast?
The Dalmatian coast is one of the top destinations for yachting charters in Croatia, offering crystal clear waters through which sailors can spot some of the most amazing aquatic life.
Diving the Dalmatian Coast
Divers can snorkel and scuba dive in spectacular surroundings such as Bibinje, just outside Zadar, with its beautiful harbour and range of dive sites that offer the chance to see sea bream, crabs, combers and more.
Divers who head out to the deeper waters can also spot rocks covered in sea sponges, damselfish, gorgonians and even small-spotted catsharks. Whether you are an experienced diver who wants to head to the deeper waters or a newcomer who just wants a taste of underwater exploration, Croatia’s coast has a place for you.
Dubrovnik and World Heritage
One of the most popular places for visitors travelling by sea is Dubrovnik, with its famous city walls and cobbled streets. It's easy to see why it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From sunset strolls to a Benedictine monastery, you can people watch and sip coffee all over the city.
Fresh local produce
If you like to know where your food and drink comes from, enjoy Croatia's vineyards, olive groves, and fishing villages which offer fresh produce wherever you go.
You will also find plenty of beaches perfect for those who want to soak up the sun, enjoy a swim in the sea and make the most of the chance to relax.
The Best Croatian Islands at a Glance
From Dubrovnik, visitors can take a day trip to Lokrum Island, a nature reserve just off the coast and with exceptional views of Dubrovnik itself. For those who want to enjoy the hustle and bustle of a city break, but also want some down-time, taking a yacht out to Lokrum Island is the ideal way to get the very best of both worlds.
Naturalists can enjoy a variety of beautiful greenery with a wide range of species including native flora as well as some tropical varieties that have been imported from all over the world. The island was purchased by Austrian Archduke Maximilian I in 1858 and he was responsible for the establishment of some of the most amazing gardens all over the otherwise uninhabited island.
When you charter a yacht, you have the freedom to go discover some of the islands that lie further up the coast, including Korcula Island. As one of the most impressive islands off the coast, Korcula’s herringbone street patterns are specially designed to allow for cool air to flow around the town without being at the mercy of the stronger coastal winds.
Visitors can find historic sites in the city itself, including the Cathedral of St Mark, an impressive town hall, plus ancient fortifications that have protected the city for centuries.
On the nearby islet of Badija, you can visit a 15th-century Franciscan monastery with its own beautifully maintained cloisters. They are ideal for anyone who wants to enjoy some peace and tranquillity on their break.
The Island of Hvar is also known as the ‘Queen of the Dalmatian Islands’ and has been likened to Venice in terms of its culture, history and variety of attractions. Visitors can dock at the city harbour in Stari Grad to be perfectly placed to enjoy all the island has to offer, from galleries and museums to an extremely vibrant nightlife.
Just outside Hvar town is the islet of Sveti Klement, home to the ACI Marina Palmižana, known throughout the region as one of the most beautiful marinas in the Adriatic. Combining easy access to some of the most popular tourist attractions with the slow pace of an ecological paradise, this area is perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in the local culture, but also take some time out to relax and recharge their batteries.
The Elaphiti Islands
Also within reach of Dubrovnik, the Elaphiti Islands offer the chance for a quiet, calming pace amid a rocky coast and pine laced shores. With a small village of quirky shops and eateries, it's a great stop on a family travel itinerary.
If you are sailing Croatia from south to north, then Mljet Island is the first for you. It's also one of the greenest islands along the Croatian coast, with a National Park shrouded in forest.
The Kornati Islands
The Kornati archipelago also goes by the name of the Stomorski islands. You'll find them towards the north of the Dalmatian coast, just south of Zadar. The landscape is predominantly tough grass with a sprinkling of sage and the buzzing of bees.
Sailing in Croatia: in Conclusion
Discovering Croatia from a yacht charter is a great way to experience the absolute best of this hugely varied and beautiful country. You can learn about the area’s fascinating history, enjoy freshly cooked local dishes and soak up the sun in a choice of secluded paradises, with everything easily accessible by boat.
Where to start & finish: most options start in either Dubrovnik or Split for their ease of access.
How long to sail Croatia? You can take a day trip from Dubrovnik or Split but most people prefer to spend 7 days and nights on the water.
When to visit Croatia? Spring starts in April and the sailing season runs until September. Bear in mind that the water can be cool at the start of summer, even while the sun shines.
What else is there to see in Croatia? Other highlights include Plitvice Lakes National park and Zagreb, Croatia's capital.