Croatia has to be one of my favorite countries to date. With a majority of the country being on the coast and with over 1000 islands, sailing seemed like the perfect way to see it. There are a heap of companies that do sailing adventure packages such as The Yacht Week, Busabout, Sunsail and plenty more. I however, chose to go with Sail Croatia, loving their itinerary and price.
What is Sail Croatia?
Sail Croatia is a company specializing in week long sails through the Croatian islands, leaving from either Split or Dubrovnik. You can choose from small party boats with shared bathrooms, to medium sized en suite boats or luxury relaxing boats. You can choose the type of Sail you want to do. Here’s a quick run down of those options:
Navigator Cruise: are for the under 35’s who want to party. Excursions on islands can be purchased by Sail Croatia reps.
Explorer Cruise: these are for young professionals, couples and people who want a bit more luxury. Multiple onshore excursions are included.
Elegance Cruise: for the ultimate comfort and luxury at sea. Airport transfers included.
Active Cruise: choose a more adventurous experience and choose a Cycle Croatia or a Hike Croatia. Every day, each stop includes a hike/cycle or they have an ‘Adventure cruise’ for off peak sailing season.
Croatia Yachting: grab a group of friends and sail on a whole yacht to yourself (well with a professional skipper of course). An option for a Yacht week experience. You can book as a single traveler too.
There are three types of itineraries available. Split – Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik – Split or Split – Split (round trip). I chose the Split to Dubrovnik route for a few reasons. One being, it stopped at the most places and the second being that it worked well with my plans to continue on to Montenegro afterwards.
If you do the Dubrovnik – Split route, they spend the first night in Dubrovnik (which I see as a waste as you probably already spend a few days there before starting your Sail). This means that you miss Omis, a small but beautiful coastal town. On the Split – Split route, you skip Stari Grad, spend two nights in Dubrovnik and then also miss Omis.
We hopped on board our ship, Mlini by 12pm and were off to sail by just after 1pm. We met our crew and our Sail Croatia rep, who is there to give us details on each destination and help with optional extras, but not act as a tour guide as such.
We went for a swim and lunch stop off the coast of a cute beach-side town before arriving at our first port for the trip, Omis.
Omis was a small town, with a small port but giant cliff faces right up against it. There is a fort on top of one of these rocky mountains that you can hike up to or you can enjoy the beautiful water at the Big Beach. Although the sand was quite rocky, it was the ‘sandiest’ beach we would see all week.
We then had a barbeque dinner organized by the chef on board, which was at an extra charge of 100 kuna ($20 AUD, which we weren’t told the price until later). It was a plate full of about five different meats, so much so that most people couldn’t finish it. I however, licked the plate clean! Yum.
Then time for drinks on board, running up big bar tabs already. It was a great place for the first night, as the quiet town didn’t have much going on. We went to one bar but it was just our ship and a few locals.
You are unable to bring your own drinks on board, but the on board bar was reasonably priced. 15 kuna for a beer ($3 AUD), spirit mixes starting from 20 kuna ($4 AUD), cocktails for 35-40 kuna ($7-8 AUD) and bottles of wine for 80 kuna ($16 AUD).
Early breakfast (from 8-9am) then we had the morning to explore more of Omis if we wished. Then off we went onto Makarska, with a swim stop and lunch on the way of course.
Makarska was one of my favorites. The port was just beautiful with a beautiful beach close by with jagged cliffs along the coastline in the background. There were markets everywhere and a heap of outdoor restaurants to enjoy as well as a seafood market on the street at night (although I don’t know if we got lucky on that day or if it happens every week).
At night we went to the famous Deep club in town, which is actually situated inside a cave. Pretty cool huh? And whats a party in a cave, whilst sailing without a pirate and sailors party?
We left in the early hours of the morning en route to Stari Grad, a small town on the popular island of Hvar. A swim stop, then lunch before we went into port. It was the birthday of a set of twins who were on our boat, so we all decided to do the optional extra of a wine tasting. 150 kuna ($30 AUD), but definitely well spent as it was a beautiful afternoon.
Onward to the main town on Hvar Island, Hvar town. The second most popular tourist spot in Croatia after Dubrovnik.
With beautiful seaside restaurants, cool bars and some nice swim spots, Hvar town had it all. Climb the fort for amazing views, go on tours to the blue and green caves, or just simply grab a cocktail and watch the boats pull in.
The nightlife in Hvar is also great, especially on Wednesdays as most Sail Croatia boats and other companies alike dock there that night. We headed to Nautica Bar, then one of two clubs in the area; Pink Champagne. Both were a lot of fun. We would have liked to go to Carpe Diem; a club on a small island nearby, but as you need to get a water taxi there and the water was too rough, it was closed.
Leaving early due to bad weather, we sped on to Korcula, getting in quite early without a swim stop, but more time to explore.
A town often dubbed ‘Little Dubrovnik’, it’s easy to see why. The romantic walled old town is filled with skinny streets, cute restaurants and stunning views of the bay. You can head to Massimo, a cool bar on top of a turret of the old town wall. Climbing up is tricky, but the view is worth it. Order an overpriced cocktail there and they will deliver it by pulley trolley. Pretty cool!
By day, we got coffee and ice cream in town then sat on the small beach nearby. By night, we headed to some super unique places.
We went out to a bar called Dos Locos, and loco was correct indeed. The area inside was quite small, but out the front provided much room and entertainment. They had a camera inside, and the real time footage was projected onto the wall opposite the club, for some prime time entertainment. All we needed was popcorn. Then onto a club in the middle of nowhere, suitably named Boogie Jungle.
Disaster struck for me on day six. Okay so that may be a mild exaggeration…
My room was a below deck room with port holes that needed to be closed when sailing, as water could get in. That morning we left port just before 6am, and I wasn’t up to close the port hole. Water went all over my two cameras. Over $1000 worth of technology ruined in a matter of minutes. I was upset but wasn’t going to let it ruin my last days on board. Let it be a lesson for all you future below deck sailors.
Today we went to the island of Mjlet. The island hosts one of only three national parks in Croatia which include two beautiful lakes, the largest with an island… on an island.
The lakes in the national park were a radiant blue and were connected to the sea by a man made channel. The island on an island also hosted a monastery and it was a great place to explore by bike.
On to our last port of Dubrovnik. We had the afternoon to explore and then back to the boat for our last night. We went to Sky Bar, which was a pretty decent club and partied on til the wee hours.
Then it was time for goodbye. Thank you to the amazing friends I made and the incredible staff on Mlini.
But what is a review without some numbers?
Couldn’t have picked a better route and our Captain was so knowledgeable on the area to find some amazing stops.
Our Captain, sailors, chef and bartender were all impeccable. Nikola, our waiter/bartender became our best friend on board and him and the chef would joke around with us a lot adding to the experience.
The reason this isn’t a 10/10 is because of the Sail Croatia rep we had to begin with. I won’t use his name, but he seemed uninterested in our group and the places we went to. He recommended really expensive places and then told us a lot of things were ‘okay’. He didn’t come and take us out the first night with all of the other boats (even though he told us he would) and then on day two he didn’t show up to sail with us also as promised. Day three we were given a god send in Carolina, who took care of us after the male rep ‘went home due to illness’ (although we heard rumors he was fired).
Immaculate. The staff did not stop cleaning.
The rooms were a bit small, but we were on a boat so I couldn’t expect much less and the en suites were great. This isn’t a high rating due to the poor WiFi on board. We were told we would have 2GB a day shared, which was fine but 90% of the time it wouldn’t connect at all. I didn’t mind switching off and unwinding internet free for a week though.
When I found out breakfast and lunch were included, I was expecting sandwiches and a piece of fruit. But no. For lunch we had amazing three course meals every time and they were divine. Something I would expect at a nice restaurant. Breakfast was less exciting, bread with jams, cereal, coffee etc. Although we would get eggs or a selection of meats on some days and you could pay 30 kuna ($6 AUD) for a cooked breakfast
Drink prices weren’t too bad, but because we weren’t allowed to bring any alcohol on board, it got expensive. The spirit drinks were never strong either and we only got 1 liter of water free a day, which wasn’t ideal in the Croatian summer time.
Overall, Sail Croatia was an amazing experience I would happily do again. An experience so unique, in one of my favorite countries on earth to date. Go ahead and read all about it and book one at sail-croatia.com.