Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Croatia boasts more than 1,000 islands along its coastline. They are all spectacular but there are five of them that seem to appear on pretty much every 'Must Visit' list.
Most of our clients who went sailing in Croatia once, went back time and time again. Impressed with their first Croatian sailing experience, most went back to set off from different parts of the very long coastline and explore this beautiful country in small chunks. We have been doing this ourselves for years and are in full agreement with anyone who loves going back.
There is so much to see and do as the coastline is very diverse in nature, culture, history and cuisine so the experience is always new. On this occasion, we will focus on five spectacular islands in central and southern Dalmatia.
Split is the main yacht charter hub in Central Dalmatia and a vast number of sailing holidays start there. There are a lot of reasons why this is a good choice - close proximity of Split International Airport, multiples of marinas within a short drive from the airport (Trogir, Rogoznica, Kastela, Split and many more) plus excellent sailing ground offering national parks, party hubs, tranquil island villages - all within short sailing distance from each other.
Solta is so close to Split, it's practically a suburb of this 1,700 years old metropolis-by-the-sea. Only 19km long and five km wide, this little island is a short sail away from all Split, Trogir and Kastela marinas. It's a hilly island with steep shores, mostly on the southern side, and deep bays. With a profusion of sheltered coves, Solta is a popular yacht stop. The island is well known for its honey and olive groves. If you wish to dock overnight, you can do so in a modern marina in Rogac. Up a steep hill from Rogac lies Grohote, an alluring stone village made of network of stone alleys and hidden courtyards which weave around a parish church in a tableau of medieval, Mediterranean charm. You will find a market, pharmacy, tourist office and post office in the village. Another village worth visiting is Maslinica. It has it all--the vibe of a fisherman's village with great beaches and restaurants. The village center is a smattering of stone houses clustered around a deep bay. Walk west around the cove to a series of small, pebbly beaches and a cafe-bar. As Maslinica is west facing, it is an ideal spot for watching a spectacular sunset.
Brac is the longest and most elevated island in central Dalmatia. The island is 48km long, 14 km wide, covering 394 square kilometres. It has an extensive and fascinating history as it has been inhabited since Neolithic times. The island is known for its olives and olive groves. The olives are of a rare variety called buhavica and there's over a half-million trees. Island's other claim to fame is its beautiful white marble which has been exploited since ancient Roman times. 1,700 years old Diocletian's Palace in Split was built from Brac stone which is still used in the construction of buildings worldwide. But Brac is not all about olives and marble - it's also about exquisite scenery and Adriatic's best known beach - Zlatni Rat on island's southern side. Zlatni Rat is popular with everyone, windsurfers, para-gliders, sun worshipers, yachties as well as those who enjoy more traditional feel of adjoining Bol village.
While sailing around Brac, keep your eyes peeled for old submarine hide outs, quiet bays and coves accessible only by boat and unspoiled, traditional fishing villages.
Hvar and Pakleni Islands are a definite must! Hvar island is 68 kilometres long, and only 10.5 kilometres at its widest point. It covers an area of 297 square kilometres and is the 4th largest of the Adriatic islands by area. It's coastline length of 254.2 kilometres offers more than enough to explore. Hvar's claim to fame is its reputation of the 'Sunniest place in Europe' with an average of 2,800 hours of sunshine annually. The Pakleni islands are located off the southwest coast of the island of Hvar opposite the entrance to the Hvar town harbour.
Hvar town is also known as St. Tropez of Croatia, and is one of the most popular tourist spots, without being over-crowded. Its seafront promenade is lined with trendy bars and restaurants, while the harbour is popular with yachts of all shapes and sizes. A medieval castle sits atop the hill above the town and is well worth a slightly steep climb up the hill. You will be rewarded by most spectacular view, and if you time your climb right, you could be rewarded by the most enchanting sunset.
The rest of Hvar offers many secluded bays, coves and beaches, all perfect for a swimming stop as you sail along. Perhaps look out for Dubovica or head out to Milna beach.
Before you leave, make sure to buy some lavender Hvar is famous for!
Vis is is another island often listed on 'must see' lists. It is a typical Dalmatian island, dotted with fishing villages and surrounded by the incredible clear blue sea. It is much smaller than Brac and Hvar, but it is further out in the Adriatic.
Its claim to fame is that it was the set of Mama Mia 2 movie and ever since loved by the super star cast. There are a few spots not to miss: Komiza is a traditional fishing village with pristine beaches and the freshest sea food offered in the sea front restaurants. Second one is definitely The Blue Cave, in the nearby Bisevo island.
Before you leave this stunning island, make sure that you visit the secluded beach Vala Stiniva. There are many places like this in Croatia, but the one on Vis is the most famous. Hint: you will need a dinghy to get there!
By the time you cover all these islands and attractions, you will have covered a substantial sailing ground. Below chart is for illustration purposes only but we have sailed from Split to Bol (Brac), then to Hvar town and Pakleni Otoci, from there on to Vela Luka in Korcula, onwards to Komiza and Bisevo, back towards Split with an overnight at anchor at the eastern tip of Solta and then back to base. For illustration purposes, the distance from Split to Bol (A to B below) is approximately 23NM.
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