Croatia

Charter Masterclass

Croatia’s Adriatic coastline looks like it might have been engineered specifically with yacht charter exploration in mind.

From Italy to Montenegro, the west-facing shore runs south in stratified ranks of coastal landmass, generating not just extra shelter for charter yachts but also more interesting seascapes, more private and secluded cruising regions and a virtually inexhaustible supply of lovely anchorages. In fact, in addition to more than 1,200 islands and one of Europe’s sunniest climates, this hallowed region of olive groves and vineyards offers so much potential for yacht charter spontaneity that sticking to an itinerary is really not necessary. But if you want to see the best this seafaring nation has to offer, these southern charter destinations ought to be high on the list.

Propped up against a mountainous backdrop, the ancient architecture of this exuberant city is thrilling – not least in the form of the 4th century palace of Roman Emperor, Diocletian. However, modernity also plays its part inside the ancient walls, with plenty of classy bars, shops and restaurants. Split is often used merely as an access point to the exotic charms of Croatia’s Adriatic archipelagos, but it is a great urban destination in its own right, with one of the most engaging waterfronts in Europe.

The buzzing tourist hub of Hvar is one of Croatia’s most memorable islands. It sits at a very useful spot for access to outlying islets, sandy bays and sheltered anchorages and the port of Hvar itself is a great example of antiquity turned chic. It has the suave, upmarket character of the Italian or French Riviera, complete with elite shops, upmarket restaurants and an infectious feel-good nightlife. In fact, it has all the ingredients of a legendary yacht charter destination.

Perched right in the middle of the Dalmation Archipelago, the tiny island of Bisevo deserves attention for three very compelling reasons. Firstly, its shores offer some of the best fishing in this part of the Mediterranean; secondly, Porat Beach is about as good as a Med beach gets; and thirdly, the steep limestone cliffs of the eastern shore are home to the Blue Grotto – a sea cave accessible only by boat that glows blue as the sun rebounds off the white seabed.

 

The slow, rural tranquility of traditional Croatian island, Korcula, is wonderfully calming. Like so many parts of this region, the land is awash with vineyards and olive groves and the main port city is so idyllic, it feels almost beyond credibility that it exists. With its blend of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, swaddled in vast anti-piracy fortifications and jutting out into the sea, this imposing coastal citadel is a striking treat on any yacht charter itinerary.

Mljet is apparently the island that captivated Odysseus for seven years of his ten-year voyage – and at the national park region in the west, it’s not hard to believe. Though it looks unremarkable from a distance, there are lots of fine anchorages here, not least at Pomena and Polace, enabling you to gain easy access to the island’s saltwater lakes. Explore these by tender, take a leisurely swim and enjoy the on-site restaurants; or head further east to dive one of Mljet’s famous shipwrecks.

Described by Lord Byron as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, Dubrovnik is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Inside those vast city walls, thousands of years of architectural heritage and cultural colour create an atmosphere unlike anywhere else. Whether you drink local wine at a harbourside eatery or feast among the ramparts at a world-class restaurant, simply being here is a rare and special pleasure. Nearby Lokrum Island offers anchorages with fine city views but few visitors to Dubrovnik are content to stray so far.

TOP TEN CROATIA ATTRACTIONS

  1. Dive the famous Greek shipwreck off the coast of Cavtat.
  2. Swim with turtles and dolphins off the island of Vis.
  3. Pick one of Korcula’s perfect anchorages and bask in Dalmatian bliss.
  4. Enjoy a special meal on the city walls at Gil’s of Dubrovnik.
  5. Explore the 4th century palace of Roman Emperor, Diocletian, in Split.
  6. Swim in the lovely saltwater lakes of eastern Mljet.
  7. Launch a tender and visit the astonishing Blue Grotto in Bisevo.
  8. Investigate the extraordinary Roman amphitheatre in Pula.
  9. Stop at Lovisce Inlet in the north of Scedro for a swim at anchor.
  10. Enjoy a lazy alfresco meal in gorgeous Korcula Town.

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