If you have sailed throughout Croatia, you will find it hard to decide which sailing route you like best. They are all unique in their own way and each will give you an experience you will never forget.
Our journey of Croatian discovery wouldn't be complete, without setting off from Zadar and letting ourselves be lead by the wind. Expectations we had of this journey were somewhat different than perhaps sailing from Split, as this time we had four adults and three children on board. We were not interested in spending every evening in bustling and busy coastal towns, but hoped for a quieter and slower evenings, with exhausted children fast asleep in their bunks and adults sharing a dinner and a couple of bottles of wine on deck, perhaps even going for a midnight swim.
But let's start at the beginning... Being Irish, we are reliant on flights for all our foreign travel, and this is a major consideration, especially when travelling with children. Zadar proved itself an excellent choice since it is serviced by an airport which is less than 30 minutes taxi ride from the marina. A low cost airline got us there on time, and a friendly and helpful taxi driver gave us some valuable tips about the places to visit and see.
We have selected Bavaria 46 Cruiser for this sailing holiday and she did not disappoint. The base staff were extremely polite and efficient - after a very quick check in, at which they handed brand new, perfectly sized life jackets to our youngsters (these were requested with our booking), they took us to a well appointed and well equipped yacht in pristine condition. Our flight arrived mid-morning and we picked up some provisions on our way from the airport. The base staff checked us in early, just after lunch, without extra charge. All in all, we couldn't be happier with how things were going and were bursting with excitement.
Having checked in early, we decided to set sail straight away and sail some 15 NM to Vrgada. Vrgada is a very small island known for its luscious pine forests and golden beaches. Most of us were in the crystal clear, warm water for the first swim of the holiday seconds after we tied up to the mooring buoy we found. This was an excellent spot for our first night.
The following morning, we decided to head north-west towards Dugi Otok (Long Island). The clue is in the name as this island is over 40km long and is known for its dramatic towering cliffs on its western side. This reminded us of the cliffs in the west of Ireland, just with better weather. Our 15NM sail brought us to the charming town of Sali. We docked in the local marina there and went about exploring this lovely town. We found an open air market where we stocked up on fresh local produce and a few souvenirs. The children spend more time swimming and snorkeling and us adults simply enjoyed the natural beauty of the place and watching our children enjoy themselves.
Our sailing holiday from Zadar wouldn't be complete without visiting the Kornati National Park, which is just south of Dugi Otok. In order to visit the National Park, you will need to obtain a permit. We bought a three day permit for 1,200 HRK, which amounts to approximately €150.
The National Park has a modern and well equipped marina with 120 berths, grocery store, restaurant and other facilities which is useful to have as a base while exploring this incredible archipelago.
Kornati National Park is a true sailor’s paradise. With it’s tranquil, uninhabited islands and pristine waters, it is no wonder why the Kornati Islands are the most popular archipelago to visit in Croatia. You will find byzantine ruins and ancient artifacts. You can also get a glimpse of the abundant local flora and fauna both above and below waterline of your yacht.
We have spent an entire day discovering small coves where we swam, paddle boarded and snorkeled. We also found a few local taverns that offer jetties to make a stop for lunch or dinner. Local specialties include grilled lamb and seafood. Local markets supplied us with olive oil, home made jams and essential oils. The whole Kornati experience is something we have enjoyed immensely.
Some of the other yachties we met were heading to Skradin, near Sibenik from Kornati. We have decided against this, since our previous sailing holiday in Croatia started in Sibenik and we visited Skradin and Krka river waterfalls then. Instead, we decided to sail south towards Zlarin.
Zlarin is an island in Sibenik archipelago, where you can tie up along the town quay or pick up a mooring buoy. We arrived early to find a spot along the town quay which served an an excellent base for the rest of the day and the night. There are no cars on Zlarin and most residents get around on either bicycles or Vespas.
The island is very green and fragrant thanks to abundant pine forests and vineyards. Zlarin is also famous for its corals, which make this island very attractive for divers and snorkelers. Those interested in the history and culture of Zlarin can visit the Coral Museum or take a walk to one of the two historic churches.
After Zlarin, it was time for us to start heading back to base, as hour holiday was closing to an end.
This was going to be the longest sail of the holiday, but we felt it was well worth it. So we set sail early, and sailed past some of the islands we visited on our last trip. We made a short lunch stop at the southern tip of Pasman island and then continued on towards the area known as Zdrelac. Once we got there, we anchored between Pasman and Ugljen islands and settled for the night.
Our last night at anchor is always a good opportunity to summarise the trip. As always, the consensus was that we found exactly what we came for - natural beauty, excellent cuisine and endless entertainment for the children. Doing it on a beautiful yachts is a bonus! We probably could have traveled and explored a little bit less and still have a fantastic sailing holiday but this region is full of natural wonders and we would have missed out if we did less.
We have spent our last day just resting, swimming and doing not an awful lot in this beautiful spot, until it was time to head back to the charter base.
Once we were back in Zadar, it was time to head out to see (and hear) the famous Sea Organ. The Sea Organ was designed by Croatian architect Nikola Basic and is an architectural sound art object and an experimental musical instrument, which plays music by way of sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps. Sitting on those steps and listening to the music created by the sea, was a magical experience for all of us.
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