Croatia Yacht Charter: Cruising the Adriatic Sea from Istria to Montenegro
Jacques Cousteau wrote that the most beautiful body of water as he knew it is the Adriatic Sea. This magical coastline has become increasingly popular with yachting enthusiasts. Modern marinas with excellent facilities make historic harbor towns easily accessible. Protected islands and sea waters make escaping civilization, at least for a day, a must. Wherever you choose to navigate in Croatia, your charter vacation will be breathtakingly beautiful.
The Istrian Peninsula
From high atop the city walls of Piran you can’t quite see Venice, just 50 nautical miles across the sea, but you can feel her presence in every coastal town. Rulers from the Most Serene Republic of Venice (697-1797) vied to outdo each other’s contributions of magnificent art and architecture.
Off the shores of Pula, divers can explore the ruins of an ancient Roman temple, sunken ships from World War I and II, and expansive caves. Emperors, presidents, and celebrities have rejuvenated on Istria’s 14 Brijuni islands, one of Croatia’s spectacular National Parks. The vibrant harbor at Pula, popular with seafarers for 3,000 years, fronts an architectural melange of Roman ruins, Gothic churches, a Venetian fortress, and modern residences. A tip for foodies: Most top-rated restaurants offer a degustation menu that often includes flights of local wine.
Kornati, Krka, Šibenik
Cruise the Kornati archipelago, between Zadar and Šibenik, where limestone cliffs drop straight into a dark blue sea. The National Park is a dream for yachtsmen, divers and nature lovers. Photograph the cascading waterfalls, graceful birds and historic buildings of Krka National Park.
The Krka River opens into the Adriatic Sea at Šibenik, the oldest native Croatian town on the eastern shore. Climb ancient stone steps to reach the picturesque town of twisting streets and narrow alleys. In the main square, people go about their daily lives beneath the watchful frieze of 71 sculpted faces of village men, women and children that peer down from St. Jacov’s Cathedral. On the plaza, outdoor cafes feature cheese ripened in a lamb sack and pastries stuffed with olives and figs.
You could spend an entire yacht charter meandering around the island of Hvar. Explore traditional seaside villages spread along the jagged coast. Trek into a countryside thick with pine forests, olive groves and vineyards, perfumed by wild herbs, oranges, lemons and lavender. Discover a World Heritage landscape, dating to 4th century Ionian Greeks.
The party town of Hvar is renowned for exclusive nightclubs, upscale restaurants, boutique shops and internet cafés, lodged in eight centuries of distinguished architecture. Walk to the top of the fort for stunning views. Jump in the harbor, and you can see the bottom through 40 feet of gin-clear water. In the main harbor, join celebrities and A-listers at trendy club Carpe Diem chic, exclusive, and just steps from your aft deck.
The island of Brac hosts sun worshippers, windsurfers and kite boarders on the most famous peninsula of powder white sand in the Adriatic, Zlatni rat in Bol. For guests with a passion for culture, the quaint town of Milna is home to generations of fishermen, and farmers producing wine, olives and almonds for centuries. The village of Murvica, rolling up the southern slopes of the island, organizes music, culture and folk festivals throughout the summer.
Explore the jagged shoreline around Korkula: protected bays, pocket beaches and secluded coves are perfect for a private picnic lunch, snorkeling off the beach and splashing about on the yacht toys. On the island’s western end, explore Vela Luka’s Centre for Culture, located in a former 19th century schoolhouse, which includes an Archeological Museum, Art Gallery, and performance space for Vela Luka’s Folksingers group (Klapa) concerts, and native music and dance recitals. Dine on the local fish specialty, brodetto, paired with a pošip cara dry white wine.
The town of Korkula, on the eastern end, is a dense patchwork of red-tiled roofs and ancient cobbled streets. Just beyond the colorful arc of waterfront bars and restaurants lies Old Town. Gothic and Renaissance churches, palaces, and piazzas, all built from fine local stone, comprise a grand inheritance from centuries of Venetian rule. Stroll back in time. The compact center can be explored in an hour.
According to Homer, Odysseus stayed with Calypso on Mljet during his return from the Trojan War. Go ashore to discover picture-postcard villages, ancient vineyards, bucolic farms and fragrant forests. The western third of the island is Miljet National Park, popular with locals and visitors for paddle boarding, windsurfing, kiteboarding, and canoeing. Divers can explore a third century Roman wreck and a German WWII torpedo boat.
The Irish writer George Bernard Shaw said, “Those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik and find it.” Indeed. Dock your charter yacht against ancient fortress walls that protect the confusion of shops, restaurants, bars, galleries and businesses of the Old City. Stroll high atop the city walls. Shop the Stradun, Dubrovnik’s polished limestone walking street, where talented Croatian artists’ and designers’ boutiques share the elegant promenade with Gucci and Chanel.
Away from the main thoroughfare things get progressively even more interesting. Stop at an alley shop counter to try a coffee, a glass of wine, or sample a local cheese. Fans of Game of Thrones can take the two-hour Game of Thrones walking tour to view scenes that will be familiar. In the evening, partake in a dose of decadence at exclusive and extravagant club Nude Noir, which made DJ Mag’s list of top 100 night clubs in the world.
The scenery from your charter yacht deck is astonishing. The waterways of Montenegro’s majestic fjord snake beneath thickly-forested mountains, wind past ancient buildings afloat on tiny islands, and lap the picturesque medieval towns of Risan, Tivat, Perast, Prcanj and Herceg Novi. Kotor, inhabited since the third century, has an easy temperament that feels authentic, timeless and slightly exotic.
The Byzantine fortress that protects the quietly elegant Old Town is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wealthy Venetian and Austrian rulers bestowed an astounding number of medieval and Renaissance churches to the town. Pleasantly lacking the glitz and glam of Dubrovnik, this is a comfortable place of stately stone buildings with wrought iron balconies and colorful window boxes, uniformed school children playing on sun-splashed plazas, and couples quietly conversing at outdoor café bars.
Porto Montenegro can provide a bit of the glitz and glam if that’s your preference. Located in the town of Tivat, this award-winning, five-star, superyacht marina complex with exclusive shops, restaurants and upscale amenities, is just a tender ride away from the historic atmosphere and cultural charm that make Kotor so endearing.
Summer is the best time to charter for balmy weather and water, however expect crowds. The Dalmatian coast has become popular with everyone from A-listers to backpackers to cruise ship crowds. Nonetheless, Yacht Captains agree, this is a top charter destination.
Some of Our Favorite Places:
Korcula Town Museum, Palace Gabrielis, Old Town central square. 15th and 16th century residential architecture with Korcula cultural history exhibits from prehistoric times to the present.
Maksimilijan Lounge and Beach Bar, a relaxing spot with lovely views. Good cocktails, food and the Memorial Collection of 20th-century painter Maksimilijan Vanka, plus temporary exhibitions by renowned Croatian artists.
Mljet National Park, a special and unique experience for all fans of nature, culture, old traditions and the Mediterranean air.
Dubrovnik Summer Festival, July 10-August 25, 2018, open-air concerts, ballet, and theatrical performances around town. Check festival link for calendar schedule.
D’vino Wine Bar, Old Town, intimate and elegant, with an impressive selection of fine domestic and imported wine available by the glass, bottle, and in tasting servings.
Buza Bar, a little private corner of Dubrovnik where you can enjoy the beautiful view, cold drinks, have a snack and take a swim in the Adriatic sea. This is a cliff diving destination popular with the 20-30-something crowd.
Contact Select Yachts today. We would love to share our expert advise about where and how to charter a yacht in Croatia (or any port on the seven seas). View our selection of luxury charter yachts available in the Adriatic Sea.