1. The Budget and holiday expectations
First book a yacht charter that suits your traveling style and budget. You can opt between sailing boats and catamarans that are available for rental along the Adriatic coast.
In general, sailboat yacht delivers the most genuine and exciting cruising experience with sailing pleasures beyond compare. When you rent catamaran in Croatia you expect extra comfort, space and more privacy on board. Catamarans are generally 50% more expensive than sailing yachts.
2. Bareboat, skippered or fully crewed yacht charter?
Bareboat sailing in Croatia is certainly the most affordable and flexible option with most privacy on board. The only condition is, that someone on board has a corresponding boat license. If you are a day skipper, you can also opt for very popular flotilla holiday in Croatia.
If you don't own a valid boat license and a VHF station certificate, then a skippered yacht vacation is the best opportunity for a relaxing and genuine sailing trip with completely flexible itineraries.
Croatia catamaran holiday experience already includes a local skipper and sometimes a hostess. Not only they know best sailing areas, bays and top restaurants, but they are a treasury of useful internal tips. High rollers can go for luxury yacht charter, with fully catered exclusive on board services including the captain, stewardes and chef.
3. Choosing the right destination
3.000 miles of a stretching coastline between Istria in the north and Dubrovnik in the far south you have abundance of beautiful spots that you can explore. Over 1.200 islands and 8 marine national parks surrounded with crisp-blue Adriatic sea enssure some of the most unique sailing itineraries for a yacht vacation in Croatia. Ther are 4 major yacht charter destinations in Croatia from where you can start your sailing odyssey: Pula, Zadar, Split, or Dubrovnik
Croatian coast with Pula archipelago and Istrian peninsula is highly concentrated with iconic Venetian towns (Vrsar, Rovinj, Poreč). Italian influence on this county is immense, but the true charm of this region lies in its remarkable diversity. This region reflects Adriatic at its best; Well protected natural habitats on one side and rich cultural and historical heritage on the other.
A complete contrast to the buzzing streets of Pula city, Rab town or Pag is a secluded Kvarner bay. Where the crisp-blue seas meet lush-green unspoiled islands and a leisurely pace of picturesque ports and island villages reflects a distinctive Mediterranean charm. It is a true heaven for the sailors in search for peaceful surroundings. Here, you will get an excellent chance to witness the most beautiful sunsets relaxing any enjoying in a glass of best Malvazija wine.
The World-known Istrian gastronomy basing on traditionally prepared culinary delights served with best Croatian wines is another excellent reason for discovering this area. Rent skippered or bareboat sailboat at Pula yacht charters
Sailing from Zadar county and experiencing the impressive Kornati islands and their lunar landscapes from a comfort of a sailboat charter is an adventure beyond any compare. Central Dalmatia is definitively the most colourful region in Croatia. With abundance of natural parks, secluded sandy beaches, vibrant towns and a unique philosophy of local people, Zadar county is top sailing destination in Croatia. Numerous charming small islands, reflecting a genuine heartbeat of a laid-back Croatian coast, are perfect for family sailing holidays
Zadar archipelago is the densest island area in the Mediterranean counting near 500 small and mostly uninhabited scattered islands. Soothing "meastral" wind guarantees ideal sailing conditions assuring your to explore the islands at a relaxing pace. Here you can always find well-protected bays and coves where you can moor your boat.
Be sure to explore vibrant towns like Zadar, Vodice or Primošten or even sail up river passing Šibenik town to reach one of the natural wonders in Croatia the 7 majestic waterfalls of Krka national park. You can find a safe berth in Skradin town and taste some of the most impressive Croatian culinary works of art. Such as grilled bream, sea mussels, octopus or a veal under the bell. Sail the Central Adriatic charter itinerary by hiring sailboat in Zadar city or large marina Sukošan.
The world-known UNESCO heritage site Split is the heart of Dalmatia. Famous islands Hvar, Brač, Vis and Šolta are quite likely the most frequently mentioned destinations in tourist guidebooks. You can rent sailboat in Split or charter sailboat in Trogir old town.
Notorious Hvar is world-known as one of the sunniest places in Europe and the same-named town as being the busiest and the most hedonistic of all the island villages in Croatia. 3-hour sail from Split, and you are there. The diversity of Hvar is simply breathtaking.
Hvar fuses only the best from the Croatian coats: pure intact nature, secluded sandy beaches, busy town promenades, stylish beach bars and restaurants and welcoming atmosphere. That is why Split is among the most popular Mediterranean sailing destinations.
Lush-green Šolta islet is often off the tourist maps and a complete opposite to Hvar. Intact emerald bays, stony villages and culinary delights are still waiting to be discovered. The charming towns of island Brač are known for their laid-back pulse and unique architecture. Sailing to the mystical island Vis, only to discover its spectacular cavity and epic history, should be on every sailor's bucket list.
Sub-tropical climate of Dubrovnik province and the surrounding island attracts masses of tourists recently. That is why it is recommended to visit this stunning Dalmatian pearl in off season. Old town's citadel is beset with impressive fortified walls from the 15. Century. Narrow paved streets and houses, all made of shiny white marble, reflect this town's unique charm. Ideal getaway from this town's hustle and bustle are lush-green Elafiti islands where you can anchor your sailing yacht in a peaceful cove. Which is actually the best way to start your Dubrovnik sailing trip.
Densely forested island Mljet together with intriguing Lastovo island are known as the most beautiful national parks in Croatia and among best preserved marine areas in Croatia.
Explore Mljet's saltwater green lakes and curved bays, unique flora and fauna of Lastovo and snorkel in crystal-clear water far away from the buzzing metropolis. Here you will find some of the best local family-run restaurants. Freshly caught John Dorry or Scorpio fish is always on the menu.
If you prefer more vivacity, explore lively promenades of iconic Korčula town, where you can visit the birthplace of the Marco Polo and learn about the impressive history of this Renaissance town. Korčula island is filled with pine forests, vineyards and olive groves, providing a stunning backdrop while you take advantage of the clear water. Some of the best Croatian wines originate from these fruitful landscapes.
Generally, if your dates are flexible, take a sailing trip in June or September. Prices are lower, there is less marine traffic and crowds visitng the coastal cities. Yacht rental prices are lowest in shoulder season (April, May, October). The chance of variable weather is slightly higher in Fall, when the weather systems are moving faster over Europe. But it usually stays warm and pleasant until November. Including the sea that stays around 20o (68F).
Spring time in Croatia is glorious with pleasant weather and warmer air temperatures. Despite the low sea temperatures reaching 20o (68F) from middle May, sailing is a pure pleasure until mid. June.
High summer, starting from the last weeks of June, might be busy, but the weather is near perfect with fair winds and air temperatures often over 30o (86F). If you like summer heat, then book your sailing vacation in July or August. Croatia yacht charter prices in peak season months July and August are highest, but you can always find a affordable yacht charter in Croatia.
In August, most of the popular marinas are overcrowded with Italians crossing over and occupying the marinas until the evening. So it is better to play it safe with an early bird and catch your mooring early in the afternoon. The sun is shining 315 days a year at the Croatian coast, and you can consider yourself unlucky if you have a single rainy day within a 2-week vacation.
If you compare the prices in general, Croatia is still good value compared with Greece, Italy and Turkey. Charter prices are at their peak from mid. July till mid. August and most marinas add 10 to mooring fees. In June and September, expect 20-30% lower price that you pay in the peak season. In April, May or October, the rental prices can be even 50% lower.
A Sailboat or a catamaran?
It is also important what type of a yacht you rent. You need to be realistic about your expectation. There are numerous yachts for rental down the coast that provide several levels of comfort. From economy line sailboats to high-end luxury catamarans.
Your final decision depends on how far your budget can reach. Best option for a first-time sailor in is to book a yacht with skipper, while the high rollers can go for a crewed yacht charter.
Luxury yachts already include the hostess, chef, skipper and a full board service. The vessels are equipped with en-suite bedrooms, power, cooking gas, usually ample kitchen space, comfortable cabins and plenty of room on deck to socialise or bask.
4 destinations and 50 Marinas along the Adriatic coast
4000+ vessels are available in 50 marinas along the Croatian coast. From Istria in the north to Dubrovnik in the far south. Hire private yacht charter to discover Croatia from top destinations:
It is difficult to explore everything within a week, so focus your sailing vacation in Croatia on a single region and experience only one area at a slow "Dalmatian" pace. Follow my recommended Split sailing itinerary for newbies and set sail on the Best Croatia Sailing Tour
Sea you in Croatia!
Written by Susan Dempsey, Dublin IR