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You’ve dreamt of sailing Croatia since you first heard about its magical deep turquoise waters, and the enchanting landscape that is the Adriatic coast. We know, because that was us too. Croatia has discoveries across every inch of land and has one of the most interesting archipelagos in the world.
The absolute best way to enjoy Croatia is to set sail. There are a few things to consider before setting sail on your Adriatic adventure.
After sailing Croatia a few times ourselves, we’ve prepared this guide to help you plan your unforgettable Mediterranean sailing experience.
When Is The Best Time To Set Sail
The sailing season in Croatia is April – September and the best period to enjoy your Adriatic sailing experience, depends what type of holiday you’re looking for.
May And June
Winds are predominantly westerly in the summer, so if sailing is your primary interest then Croatia is a place for you during the early summer and spring with light to moderate winds.
July And August
Periods of calm prevail, therefore it’s ideal for those who like smooth waters. Perfect for for enjoying water sports, or relaxing with the family.
September And October
These months are just right to set your sails and trim your jib with prolonged periods of Bura (strong northerly wind) and the Scirocco (humid east-southeast wind). While the Croatian wind at this time of year can make sailing challenging, you’ll be in great hands with an experienced skipper. Just be sure to charter a vessel that has good heating and prepare yourself for strong winds and rough seas.
October To April
During Winter, while you can’t sail Croatia, there are still plenty of things to do in Croatia on the mainland. We recommend visiting the Zagreb highlights, or take part in Advent in Zagreb or why not visit Istria for the White Truffle festival.
What Vessel Is Best For You
There are 4 types of vessels available for charter in Croatia. They include sail boats, motor boats, catamarans and gulets. When we took our first sailing trip along the Adriatic, I was unsure of the type of vessel to charter & found it difficult to decide.
Understanding what each type of vessel offers and matching those to the type of sailing experience you want, is essential to having the very best vacation.
If you plan to spend most of your time on the water meandering along the Adriatic Sea and being comfortable with plenty of room is important to you, then you need to charter a sail boat.
Sail boats are typically big and have comfortable cabins, they’re equipped with a kitchen and are designed for you to lounge around and to be relaxed.
Sail boats, consume far less fuel than a motor boat as they harness the power of the wind. A sail boat allows you to sunbathe, and sip cocktails while slowly making your way to your next point. Keep in mind that since sail boats are not as fast as motor boats, you should only charter one if you don’t need to make too many stops or if you have lots of time set aside for exploring the Croatian coast and her 1000+ islands.
Managing to sail at all times (rather than using an engine) requires skill and experience. So you’ll need to hire a skipper when sailing Croatia, if you are not an experienced sailor and don’t hold a license.
If you charter a sail boat along with a skipper, you could also use the experience to gain a few skills, whilst you help to raise the sails and tie knots. Although if you are like me, you’ll want to just sit back and relax while your skipper takes care of it all.
Sail boats often have between 2 and 6 cabins. Keep your eyes peeled for the big brands to charter such as Beneteau, Jeanneau, Dufour Gib, Bavaria, Grand Soleil, Feeling, Elan, Hanse Salona, & Sas.
If you want plenty of space to stretch out and call your own while cruising and you want speed, to get you from one island to the next, then chartering a catamaran for your perfect sea holiday is a must.
Catamarans are much more stable and also faster than a sail boat, with a spacious deck and cockpit, everyone can enjoy their own space. Usually cabin accommodation is set at the ends of the hulls & a big lounge space allows you all comfort and privacy from your fellow travellers. Chartering a catamaran means an abundance of open space are are highly recommended for larger groups and those with children.
Since a catamaran is not tilted more than 5 degrees, it is stable in the water making it an excellent choice for those who have little navigation experience. Catamarans can be set for automatic steering on long routes, leaving you without the need to hire a skipper. A catamaran also gives you good access to smaller bays, which provides more choice to explore hidden coves and smaller beaches along your Mediterranean holiday.
Manufacturers such as Lagoon, Fontaine Pajot, Nautitech & Outremer can all be found in Croatia for charter.
Motor Boats / Motor Yacht
The 3rd option for vessel charter in Croatia is a bareboat or a skippered motor yacht. Chartering a motor boat will offer you the most exciting sailing adventure.
If you are short on time, or want to explore every inch of Croatia’s coast, you should consider a motor boat charter. You can hire a skipper, or if you have the experience you can pilot the motor boat for yourself.
Motor yachts can be chartered from all of the big marinas in Croatia. Sunseeker, Princess, Fairline, Azimut, Pershing, Sea Ray, Bayliner, Sealine, Maiora or Benetti are all brands that will make sure you enjoy the Adriatic Sea in style.
Originally designed for fishermen, you’ll also hear these being called ‘caciques’. Having changed their purpose and style, a gulet has become a popular choice for vessel charter in Croatia.
Gulets have huge, open decks which make dining and relaxing ideal. A gulet is best used to cruise, rather than to sail, due to the maximum cruising time of around 3-4 hours per day. Chartering a gulet along the Croatian coast, means you can lounge around or make use of the on board equipment such as jet skis, windsurfers, & kayaks. Because you’ll be anchoring in bays, instead of constantly moving, you’ll have plenty of time to snorkel and swim.
Gulets will anchor in a port depending on your preferences, which means exploring Croatia’s old towns and villages or eating in the many restaurants is easy. However as professional crew including a chef is included when chartering a gulet, you may not want to leave your own piece of luxury.
Where The Marinas In Croatia
Croatia has 50 marinas on the coast with over thirteen thousand moorings in the sea & many thousand more on the mainland. These are available all year, however only a select number of marinas are charter bases. You can start and end your Croatian sailing adventure in, Pula, Rovinj, Losinj, Zadar, Sukosan, Biograd, Sibenik, Primosten, Trogir, Kastela, Split, or Dubrovnik. All of these Marinas have good road & airport access.
What You Can Experience Along The Way
Beginning in the North of Croatia, close to Rovinj or in Croatia’s ‘Pearl of the Adriatic‘ also known as Dubrovnik you’re blessed with a big range of choice as to where to sail, and where to stop along the way.
With this Sailing Croatia holiday guide, we’re sure that setting sail in Croatia will be easy!
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