Sailing Croatia on a Charter Vacation

Croatia is a true sailing Mecca

Over the years Croatia has emerged as a top holiday destination for Europeans and Americans alike. With more coastline than any other country in the Mediterranean—1104 miles along the Adriatic Sea and 2522 miles on its 1246 islands and islets—the country is a true sailing Mecca.

Lastovo, Croatia
The town of Lastovo. Photo by Michaela Urban

Dubrovnik, in the southeast, is one of the country’s most famous medieval walled cities (thanks to the HBO series “Game of Thrones”). From here there are some fantastic islands to explore to the northwest, one of my favorites being Mijet, which has a wonderful natural park on its northern western tip. You are also close to Lastovo, which has some amazing Cold War historic sites: old gunboat bases carved in rock walls and a vast maze of tunnels that once housed munitions, soldiers, and gun batteries. It’s important to note that some of these military sites are not officially open to the public, so explore at your own risk.

While Dubrovnik is an interesting city to visit, my preference for charter sailing is Split or Pula. Some of Croatia’s most interesting islands lie between these two major port cities. 

Like Dubrovnik, Split is rich with architectural history, harboring Diocletian Palace, one of the best-preserved monuments of Roman architecture in the world. This city also has a wide range of charter choices. My personal recommendation is Sail Croatia. 

Just off the coast, one can easily visit the popular and beautiful islands of Brac, Hvar, and Vis (best known for being the site where they filmed one of the “Mama Mia” movies).  

Rovinj, Croatia
Rovinj. Photo by Michaela Urban

Split also puts you in good striking distance of the Kornati archipelago, reportedly the most beautiful island national park in Croatia. A favorite spot is the anchorage in Lojena Lagoon on Levrnaka Island. Known as the “Pearl of Kornati,” this anchorage boasts the only sandy beach in the whole archipelago and arguably one of the nicest in the Adriatic Sea. The island also has a wonderful little restaurant that serves great local cuisine.

Another feature of the Kornati Islands are the cliffs on Mana Island. These cliffs can rise over 200 feet above sea level. Keep an eye out for the peregrine falcons that like to make nests here. You should also visit Lake Mir on the southern side of the Nature Park Telascica. The cerulean color of this bay is amazing.

If you want to approach these islands from the north, you can charter out of Pula. Dream Yacht Charter runs a great charter base there. Pula is on the southern tip of the Istria Peninsula, a magical region in Croatia. 

Given its location, Pula provides one with a choice of heading along the eastern or western coast of Istria. Either way you’ll find great shelter in most conditions, as the coastline provides numerous bays and fjords.

The west coast of the peninsula has the biggest selection of sandy beaches, if that’s what you are looking for, but it’s also much more developed. My charter friends and I prefer nature, so we like the eastern side of Istria, especially its many natural and beautiful islands. 

Yacht anchored in front of one of Lastovo's gunboat tunnels
Anchored in front of one of Lastovo's gunboat tunnels. Photo by Michaela Urban

Heading west from Pula, there are two exceptional anchorages on the east side of Premantura Peninsula that are only a 17-nautical-mile sail from Pula: Portic and Debeljak Bays. The Premantura Peninsula is one of the most beautiful areas of Istria, as it is relatively unspoiled. Both these anchorages provide great protection from all winds except northeast and good holding, with sandy beds, at a depth of six meters in Portic and five meters in Debeljak. 

From these bays, I recommend heading straight out to the islands, with a first stop at Maracol Bay on Unije Island. The sandy bottom in Maracol holds well at a depth of almost 20 meters in the outer part of the bay’s south and southeast side. The sea is mostly crystal clear, so just look for the lighter turquoise coloring that indicates good sandy bottom and anchoring (there are also mooring balls). The bay offers protection from almost all wind directions except the easterly wind. From there, you have so many wonderful islands and anchorages to explore that it’s impossible to list them all. 

If you decide to head northwest from Pula seeking local Istria culture, you will want to stop in at Rovinj. A relatively short sail from Pula, this historic town rises out of the water on its own little peninsula. Famous for its narrow cobblestone lanes and centuries old churches, markets, and architecture, you will have no trouble finding lots to explore here.

Coast of Istria, Croatia
Author Eric Vohr off the coast of Istria, Croatia. Photo by Michaela Urban

If you have time to do some land excursions before or after your charter, we found a very well-appointed and affordable campsite called Mon Perin, located just 30 minutes by car northwest from Pula. It’s a community-run property that supports the local town with its earnings, and offers very nice campsites as well as a wide range of other options for accommodations. These include glamping (staying in a luxury tent provided by the campsite) or staying in one of the campsite’s many bungalows which have private kitchens and bathrooms. Great restaurants, bars, and a wonderful beach right at our doorstep completed the relaxation package.

However you choose to sail in Croatia, you will love it. The cuisine is wonderful, and the people are friendly. I guarantee it won’t be your only trip there.


By Eric Vohr and Michaela Urban


Learn more: Dream Yacht Charters; Sail Croatia; Mon Perin

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