Croatia is truly a land of islands because it has more than a thousand of them – 1185 to be exact, which makes this such an alluring place to explore via private charter yacht. Cruising along Croatia’s Adriatic coast is a journey that will captivate those who have not had the chance to enjoy this pocket of the Mediterranean. Besides the stunning natural beauty of the islands, visitors will enjoy the warm hospitality of the small towns and villages that pepper the Dalmatian coast. Architecture enthusiasts will find a treasure trove of Roman artifacts as well as medieval structures, as this area has been a playground for kings and poets for centuries.
The Kornati islands: This archipelago consists of 140 islands covering an area 114 square miles (300 square km) and most of the area has been declared a National Park because of its natural beauty, due to its numerous coves and crystal clear blue waters. George Bernard Shaw fell in love with the group of islands and said, “On the last day of Creation God desired to crown His work, and thus created the Kornati islands out of tears, stars and breath.” There are no permanent residents of the islands and most of the area belongs to the people of Murter Island who come to tend the olive groves, the vineyards and orchards. They have cottages there, in which they stay during the agricultural season. These islands are best visited on a yacht from Zadar, Sibenik or Split.
Brac: One of the most accessible islands in the Croatian Adriatic – ferries run almost every hour from Split to Supetar (with bus connections on to other resorts). There is also a small airport near the resort of Bol, with several flights a week from Zagreb in the summer. This island is the largest in Central Dalmatia at 150 square miles (394 square km), the third largest in the Adriatic, and is one of the sunniest with 2,700 hours annually. The island is known for its agricultural products and the locals produce good wine, olive oil, figs, nectarines and other fruits. But the main export is, and has been from ancient times, the famous Brac stone from which many buildings in the world have been built, including the White House in Washington D.C. The main resorts are Supetar, Bol – with the most beautiful beach in the Adriatic, the Golden Horn (Zlatni Rat), Sutivan, Milna and Sumartin.
Hvar: Hvar is the fourth largest island at 182 square miles (300 square km). It is even sunnier than Brac, with almost 2,800 hours of sunshine per year. However, there is enough rain to keep the island green and to maintain the beautiful fields of lavender, rosemary, sage, marjoram and thyme and the carefully cultivated vineyards. Many people remark that in the spring, Hvar smells like a herbalist shop! When in Hvar, you must purchase some lavender oil, which is the major export of the island.
Vis: Vis is the most westerly of the larger Croatian islands, at 24 miles from the mainland, and its area is 56 square miles (90 square km). The island is quite easily reachable with a fast boat service from Split. Vis is the oldest established town in Dalmatia, founded in 397 B.C. by the ruler of Sicily, Dionysius – the Latin name for the island is Issa. In World War II, the island was major base for British troops stationed there and there is a British military cemetery on the island. After 1945, Vis was closed to tourism by the Yugoslav army and only reopened when Croatia declared its independence in 1990. Some of the most exclusive wines in Croatia are produced there, such as Plavac and Vugava. The two larger towns are Vis Town and Komiza, which both have hotels, but private accommodation with locals can also be found. From Komiza, visit the nearby small island of Bisevo, which is famous for its Blue Grotto (Modra Spilja).
Korcula: The sixth largest island, it is 20 miles long and rather narrow, between 4 and 5 miles wide on average. This island is known for its dense forest and the ancient Greeks called the island Black Korcula (Kerkyra melaina) for this reason. Local legend says that Prince Antenor of Troy founded the Korcula settlement. Still on the subject of history, it is interesting to mention that Marco Polo, the famous adventurer, was born on Korcula, and his house still there. There is also a British connection with the island: the late Fitzroy Maclean, the Scottish politician, soldier, adventurer and writer, had a house there which is still used by his family today. President Tito gave the house to him personally and it was the only house owned by a foreigner in the former Yugoslavia until Croatian independence.
Mljet: Mljet is 23 miles from Dubrovnik and is the southernmost of the larger islands. Its area is 62 square miles (100 square km). Over two-thirds of the island is covered by forest with the western half of the island declared a National Park. The Lonely Planet guidebook calls it “the most seductive island in the Adriatic”. According to legend, Odysseus fell in love with the island and stayed there for seven years. Prince Charles has visited the island twice and was also enchanted by its beauty. The island is best visited on a day trip from Dubrovnik or Korcula as there is only one hotel on the island, but many locals offer private rooms if you wish to stay there.
Kolocep, Lopud & Sipan (The Elafit islands):This chain of islands between the Peljasac peninsula and Lapad and are close to Dubrovnik. They are called the Elafit islands because of the Greek word elafos, meaning deer – in ancient times the islands were apparently home to a large deer population. There are actually six islands in the group which were made particularly famous by being home to the most skillful of mariners. The islands are very beautiful and are perfect for a relaxing holiday, although there is very little hotel accommodation.
ITINERARY ~ Venice to Dubrovnik
Day 1- We begin our cruise in Venice, Italy a city with beautiful buildings, paintings and sculptures. The mosaics of St Mark’s, the canals, the elegant glass shops and cafe’s, and above all the atmosphere of the city by day or night make a visit to Venice a memory to treasure. We will spend the evening in Venice where you can settle into the yacht and later wander through the maze of narrow alleyways and dine ashore if you prefer.
Day 2 - 70 NM We will get an early start as we depart for the city of Pula. Pula is an entry and exit port for customs and immigration clearance and is famous for its Roman remains. The marina is settled right in the heart of the city, overlooking a well preserved Roman Amphitheater. There are many more ruins, including the Arch of the Sergians, the Gate of Hercules and the Temple of Augustus.
Day 3 - 12NM We will only go a short distance today to a wild and beautiful secluded bay, south of Pula. Here it is typically a calm spot to settle in for lunch and the bay is also a good spot for swimming and other water sports.
Day 3 – 30 NM Losinj is a large crescent shaped island with its numerous little islets, crystal clear waters and wild surroundings was an important trading post in the island chain. Losinj has archeological ruins dating from the Bronze Age as well as beautiful Roman Villas.
Day 4 - 40 NM We depart early today for Zadar, a busy town and harbor with numerous older buildings and several interesting museums where one can learn more about the history of Zadar. The old city of Zadar is a must on any itinerary and simply must be seen. The present street plan of the old town is basically the same one as laid down by the Romans and the ruins of the Roman Forum are still visible.
Day 5 - 28 NM The Kornati Archipelago is made up of over 100 islands and is the largest archipelago in the Mediterranean. The Kornati National Park is a spectacular cruising area and great care has been taken to protect the environment. Visitors are welcome but it is requested that great respect be exhibited for this national treasure.
Day 6- 30 NM The city of Sibenik lies 2 miles inland on the East Side of Lake Projkar. The old part of the town climbs the hill overlooking the quay and is a good spot for photographs. There are narrow streets and alleys with houses dating from the Middle Ages. The unusual barrel vaulted cathedral is of particular interest.
Day 7 - 20 NM Built on an island, the village of Rogoznica was founded in the early 16th century. The harbor and anchorage are in a sheltered landlocked basin with wooded topography and surroundings. This is another ideal spot for lunch, swimming and water sports or a visit to the small fishing village that lies ashore.
Day 7 – 20 NM We will continue on to Split in the afternoon. Besides being a major administrative and commercial center, Split is also a tourist center. The city is built within and around the fortified Roman Palace which was constructed for the Roman Emperor Diocletian in about 300 A.D. Much of the Palace still stands today and it is a unique example of late Roman architecture. A modern marina in Split will provide us with berthing for the evening.
Day 8 – 20 NM Settled around the 4th century B.C., the island of Hvar has many wine vineyards, lavender fields and olive groves. There are also many coves and interesting ports of calls on the Island. This is a nice spot for exploring the land and local culture ashore.
Day 9 - 25 NM Korcula is one of the largest islands of the Croatian coast and the birthplace of Marco Polo who is a favorite with sailors for his traveling adventures around the world. The two main ports in Korkula are Vela Luka and Korcula old town and both are well worth a visit.
Day 10 - 15 NM Mljet is a densely wooded island with thick forests. A 12th century Benedictine Monastery is set on an island in the middle of Lake Veliko Jezero. The anchorage at Luka Polace lies inside a deep fjord like inlet that is an ideal spot for water sports for the young at heart and athletic while other members of your charter party make an exploration ashore.
Day 11 – 15 NM The Elaphite Islands lie off the coast of Croatia between Dubrovnik and the Peljesac peninsula. There are a number of sheltered anchorages and attractive villages to visit in this region. The local people are very friendly. This will be our last night at anchor before we arrive in Dubrovnik tomorrow.
Day 12 - 15 NM The famous Medieval town of Dubrovnik is the most popular tourist attraction of Croatia and well worth it to take some time to explore. The Walled City” as Dubrovnik is called was built in the 13th century and features Renaissance walls and towers as well as hundreds of famous buildings, churches and palaces. The marina is located in a quiet secluded bay just north to the main town where a short bus or taxi ride will take you into the old town and also the busy commercial harbor. We will berth here for the evening and tomorrow you will depart the yacht.