When somebody says Croatia, most people think of Dubrovnik, which is not surprising since Dubrovnik is one of the best known and most loved ancient cities in the Mediterranean.
It's been rightfully nicknamed 'The Pearl of the Adriatic', for it's beauty, history and culture. More recently, it gained even more in popularity thanks to the location scouts of The Game of Thrones who chose it for one of the locations for the popular series.
Dubrovnik is a city that will both surprise and impress you. The city itself is spectacular enough for a week's holiday, with abundance of you historical architecture, cultural event and beaches to explore. Add spectacular islands near by to sail around, you are guaranteed holiday of a lifetime!
The islands of central and southern Dalmatia, near Dubrovnik, are among the most beautiful in the Adriatic. July and August are busiest season for tourists so expect crowds and limited availability of both yachts and accommodation, unless you are a very well organised early bird and plan well in advance.
During the summer, winds are calmest which brings us to our recommendation to book your sailing holiday outside of the high season. Spring and autumn sea and air temperatures are moderate and there is moderate amount of wind for sailing. The region is less crowded too which makes exploring easier and more enjoyable.
We have selected a Lagoon 380 Catamaran for this trip and were much impressed with how comfortable and spacious she was with four double cabins and two heads. From the moment we saw her in Slano marina, we knew we were in for a good time. We don't plan our sailing routes in advance - even though sailing is our job, we still like to take our time and go wherever the wind takes us. Some days we don't move at all, but stay at anchor instead and swim, eat, read and just enjoy the sunshine. You should not be surprised to find out that we did only about 140NM this time, but we thoroughly enjoyed the boat and ourselves!
Having arrived quite late in the evening on a Saturday, Sunday morning was taken up by provisioning and just organising ourselves. Our sail was only 9NM to Lopud. Lopud is famous for its sandy beaches, which are not very common in Croatia overall. We highly recommend Sunj bay to drop the anchor and spend the afternoon swimming and frolicking.
From Lopud we decided to sail 16NM north to Ston, a town located on the Peljesac peninsula. You wouldn't just stumble upon this settlement but being food and wine lovers, we knew of this place and went in search of it. The entrance to the city from the sea is quite spectacular. We dropped an anchor and went in search of Baca od 1878 restaurant. We knew that it was good, but the food, house wine and friendly service exceeded all our expectations. Our late lunch turned into a long day at this place so we decided to spend the night on our boat.
After substantial amount of coffee the following morning and a few refreshing swims, we set sail towards Zuljana. This 23NM long sail along the southern coast of Peljesac peninsula was extremely enjoyable. The water is the clearest and bluest we have ever seen, and we have seen abundance of wildlife on our way. We made a lunch stop about half way there in a deserted cove.
Once in Zuljana, we dropped the anchor and went in search of more fresh food. Fjaka (Croatian slang for disinterest or melancholy) restaurant was an experience opposite to its name. There we had probably the best meal of our entire holiday.
On the fourth day of our sailing holiday, we set east to Korcula island, some 15NM from Zuljana. In the south of the island we found the city of the same name. It is the perfect place to spend a few hours on land knowing the history of the country. Korcula has a fourteenth-century cathedral, a monastery of the fifteenth century and palaces and medieval walls. Korcula was also a birth place of Marco Polo!
Korcula is the sixth largest Croatian island offering plenty of opportunities for aimless wandering around, knowing that there are many historical, architectural and cultures treasures to be found. We tied up to the city quay so we can take in as much of this amazing town as possible.
Some of us would have happily spent the rest of our holiday there but the group decided that we would head south, towards Lastovo. We sailed around the eastern tip of the Korcula island and then some 20NM south until we got to one of the designated nature parks - Lastovo archipelago.
Lastovo is small mountainous island surrounded by deep water and offers a beautiful Mediterranean landscape. The island is generally not as busy as larger islands which are closer to mainland so you can enjoy the tranquility, watersports and a unique cuisine.
We settled in the Zaklopatica bay and went in search of Lastovo's famous cuisine. We landed
in Restaurant Aragosta which fed us an excellent meal which we washed down with some excellent home made wine.
The next day we decided to do our longest sail of the holiday and head towards Mljet. Mljet is the southernmost and easternmost of the larger Croatian islands. The National Park includes the western part of the island, Veliko jezero, Malo jezero, Soline Bay and a sea belt 500 m wide from the most prominent cape of Mljet. We have sailed by the national park and continued south towards Saplunara bay, at the south-eastern tip of the island. We would have loved to go swimming in the salt lakes which are part of the National Park at the northern tip of the island, but our sailing holiday was coming to an end and we had to plan for return to base. Maybe next time...
As our sailing holiday was drawing to a close, we had to head back to Dubrovnik. It was a distance of some 25NM of very enjoyable sailing in moderate winds. We used this time to reminisce whether we liked this sailing area or our Lagoon 380 more. It was a draw.
The boat has provided us with more comforts than we needed and the area we sailed was out of this world - stunningly beautiful, full of interest and many choices of where to go and what to do. There is more than enough for another holiday or two in this region to see, experience and explore. We loved the hospitable people, the cuisine, the scenery and the rich history. Since we sailed in the third week of September, we still got plenty of sunshine but no crowds - it was truly a memorable experience.
After an easy and swift check out, we headed back to see a little bit more of Dubrovnik old city before heading back to the airport. This fortified city is well worthy of its nickname - a true Pearl of the Adriatic and we will definitely be back!
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