Published on 02 september 2014 at 0h00
Imagine: 6000 kilometers of coast, bordered by some 1200 islands, most of which are uninhabited, and all this in a warm sea tinged with turquoise. Yet here you aren’t in a lagoon on the other side of the world, but on the Adriatic coast of Croatia, a magic destination for your summer holidays!
Croatia’s history has merged with that of Europe since...ancient times and even before, as Stone Age remains from over 300,000 years ago have been found here. Lovers of history, archaeology and art will therefore be delighted to discover this land with a thousand different facets, which developed following the throes of Europe and its conflicts. For 100 years, this region was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, of Yugoslavia, then became Croatia in 1991, and will soon be joining the European Union...
Croatia is a real sailing paradise, with three large cruising areas: Istria – the biggest Croatian peninsula, Kvarner, and its wild coasts, and the famous Dalmatia, with hundreds of islands, less than fifty of which are inhabited. From Zadar in the north of Dalmatia, to Split then Dubrovnik in the south, you will discover an incredible area, steeped in history (Zadar was founded 3000 years ago) and treasures classified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
George Bernard Shaw often repeated that “people looking for paradise on earth should come to Dubrovnik.” Let’s follow his example then, and go and discover Croatia, but in a catamaran - the best way. But be warned, there is so much to see and do in Dalmatia, that in eight days, you will only scratch the surface of what the destination has to offer you. Most of the charter companies have bases all along the Dalmatian coast, which is moreover well provided with modern, practical marinas. You will therefore easily be able to alternate between wild anchorages and evenings ashore, depending on the crew’s choices and wishes. Whatever you do, you must not miss:
Playing at Robinson Crusoe: the Kornati Islands.
The Kornati Islands national park is made up of 89 small and large islands, which are like little rocks thrown by the hands of the gods into the Adriatic. On these desert islands, rounded in some places, with steep cliffs in others, there are just a few fishermen’s houses. Here we find protected flora (more than 700 varieties) and incredible fauna, with falcons, eagle owls, buzzards and a seabed covered with crystal-clear water.
The golden island: Brac
Situated about twenty miles from Split, the island of Brac offers some wonderful beaches, such as that of the Zlatni Rat, and lush vegetation of Aleppo pines, scrub, olive trees... It’s a big island which has remained rural, where rocks are omnipresent, giving hilly country, perfect for walking. There are several little harbors, amongst which we remember Pucisca for its quarry of white stone, with which Diocletian’s Palace was built, as well as the White House in Washington, Povlja for its excellent anchorage deep in the bay, and also the charming Milna, where you can fill up with fuel.
The trendy island: Hvar
Hvar is one of the most beautiful islands in Croatia. It is really surprising: on the one hand the remarkable Hvar harbor, and its fashionable night life in summer, and on the other, its deep-rooted traditions of cultivating lavender, vines and olive trees. And steep hills everywhere, plunging into the blue of the sea.
The secret island: Vis
Situated far from the mainland, Vis is an island which has been forgotten by the tourists, to the great delight of boat crews and divers, who love its rocky coasts, the blue cave at Bisevo, its secret villages, and its unspoiled scenery.
At both Kut and Vis, the island’s two villages, you will find some excellent restaurants and numerous shops, as soon as you arrive ashore, at the quay, on a buoy, or at anchor. You simply must taste and stock up with the island’s excellent wines, which you will find easily as you stroll round the narrow streets of the two villages.
Pelješac, the gastronomic peninsula
The Pelješac peninsula stretches over nearly 62km, between Dubrovnik and Korcula. Authentic and well-preserved, it lives off fishing, vines, salt flats and oyster farming. The vineyard produces some of the best Croatian wines: the famous dingač and the maraština. Pines and palm trees, orange trees and exotic plants grow in this climate blessed by the gods.
Korcula, the wild island
Known above all as the birthplace of the famous navigator, Marco Polo, the fortified village is nicknamed ‘Little Dubrovnik’, thanks to its picturesque narrow streets and its mediaeval atmosphere. Although Korcula village is busy, the rest of the island is steep and wild, and is ideal for walking. The air is fragrant with the scent of wild aromatic herbs. Korcula is considered to be one of Croatia’s most beautiful islands.
Mljet, the wooded island
The arrival at Mljet will certainly be one of the most delightful moments of your cruise.
It is the most heavily wooded island in Croatia. 70% of the island is covered with fragrant forests of Aleppo pines, cypress and olive trees. Part of the island is classified as a national park: here you will find a monastery built on a small island in the middle of a salt lake, wild, rocky hills, an indented coastline with crystal clear waters...a real paradise. The island offers a wide choice of anchorages, two of which, Pomena and Polace, allow quick access to its salt lake.
Lastovo, the secret island
This is the most isolated of Croatia’s islands, a real haven of peace, and a protected national park.
Attractive anchorages and turquoise waters are guaranteed at Veli or Mali Lago, close to the amazing boat bunkers, cut out of the mountain.
You can let yourself be tempted by another pleasant anchorage, with the added bonus of a very good restaurant/mini-marina, Konoba Porto Rosso. For quiet meals alone by the water’s edge, or with the family, you won’t be disappointed...
It is worth renting a scooter or quad bike for at least half a day to visit the interior of the island, and especially the village of Lastovo, on the higher slopes.
The twenty or so islets which surround this green island are favorite places for coastal cruising. Walkers will find paths shaded by hundred year old pines and unforgettable panoramas here.
There is nothing easier than getting to Croatia, with international airports at Split, Zadar and Dubrovnik. You can also get there by ferry, from Italy. A valid passport is needed to enter Croatia.
Croatia offers an ideal climate for cruising between April and October; the summer high season is quite obviously the most pleasant. It is hot, the water is pleasant (average 22°C) and the winds are light in the morning, with good breezes in the afternoon, and calm nights. The very small tidal range (30 to 60 cm) allows easy cruising and anchoring...
Official language: Croat, but English and German are spoken everywhere.
Currency: Croatia’s official currency is the kuna (1 euro = 7.56 kunas) Visa and Mastercard are only accepted in the big towns.
To charter a boat in Croatia, you must hold a cruising license in your home country, validated by the Croatian naval ministry. It is essential to find out, on the web site www.mmpi.hr, if the documents in your possession allow you to skipper a boat in Croatia.
To enter and anchor in the national parks (Hvar - Kornati) you must possess a permit valid for two days and one night, which will cost around fifty euros. A night in a marina costs between 25 and 80 euros, depending on the size of the boat and the services offered.
Diving with tanks is strictly controlled, and to dive from your catamaran, you must purchase a license, which costs 2500 kunas per year (330 euros).
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