Written by Missy Johnston
Board your private charter yacht in Rovinj. Watched over by the Patron Saint Euphonia, who washed up in her crypt in the 1100’s on the harbor shores. Today her body and crypt is in the church on the top of the hill a statue of the saint on top of the bell tower that point out to sea in fair winds for the fishermen to head out to cast their nets and into town, in foul winds when fishermen should stay home, and stay home they do. Wander the winding walking streets of Old Town up to the top of the hill to view the sarcophagus of Saint Euphonia in Church
Scuba Diving in Istria, northern Croatia:
Fraskeric: An excellent spot for divers of all abilities, Fraskeric has four tunnels that start at three meters deep and descend to 16 meters. Rays of light break through gaps in the tunnels, creating a special ambience. The location is well-known for night diving and a full moon gives the tunnels a silvery glow. Seahorses may also be spotted.
Baron Gautsh: Right off of Rovinj is the Baron Gautsch an Austrian ship which sank after hitting a mine in 1914. It was carrying the families of the Austrian officers on the Boka Kotorska on the Mali Lošinj – Trieste route. In an attempt to shorten the voyage, the Captain attempted to pass through a minefield 9nm from Rovinj and hit a mine amid ship portside, sinking in just a few minutes, taking hundreds of passengers down to the bottom as the worst sea tragedy of the Adriatic in WWI. Today to scuba dive on the site, it must be done with a local dive company with special permits to enter the wreck.
Other shipwrecks in the area are
- Lina: 1879 iron steamship built in Great Britain wrecked in a storm off of Cres Island.
- Coriolanus: a Royal Navy Battleship Minesweeper of Great Britain sunk in WWII in May 1945 off of Novigrad from hitting a mine.
- Hans Schmidt: German Cargo Steamship carrying armaments blown in half and sunk by a mine in 1943.
- Guiseppe Dezza: Italian Minesweeper cut in half by a British air missile at the end of WWII.
- SS Luana: An amazing wreck to SS Luana. 49 meters below the surface, the Italian cargo vessel is relatively intact due to its sinking quite recently in 1974. This wreck is on the north coast of the country.
- Josephina: At 41 meters deep, this vessel is quite broken up but has great visibility. The wreck dates back to 1915 when the vessel hit a mine.
- Flamingo: This Austro-Hungarian vessel was a torpedo boat that sank in 1914. The wreck of the Flamingo is one of the best wreck dive sites for colorful sea life and sponges.
Pula Roman Arena
Photo Credit Missy Johnston
After breakfast cruise to Pula, anchored by the largest intact Roman Arena still standing. Walk up to the Arena for a stroll around the interior, being sure not to miss the underground rooms, where the animals and gladiators prepared for battle, which is one of the few excavated and open rooms of this sort open in existence open for viewing. A private museum quality guide can be arranged if wanted.
Photo Credit Missy Johnston
This might be the day to head inland to Livade, the truffle center of Croatia, as both black and white truffles are hunted in the surrounding woods. If wanted a private one hour truffle hunting exhibition can be arranged to head to the woods on a little private train, to meet one of the local truffle hunters with his dogs. Truffles have been planted for the dogs to find, and the walk through the woods is on semi cleared trails, as otherwise, it would be impossible to walk through the undergrowth or know if a truffle would be found or not to see the truffle hunting dogs at work, but this is an opportunity to see how a true professional truffle hunter works with his well trained truffle hunting dogs. After lunch at Zigante Restaurant of – what else dishes with fresh truffles is an excellent opportunity to enjoy a fresh truffle meal at an excellent value as truffles in Croatia have not yet been priced at higher values found elsewhere.
Perhaps enjoy a local winery, for a wine tasting, honey, olive oil or even donkey milk tasting. For a taste of very fresh seafood for cocktail hour, stop in Lim Bay at the Restaurant Viking for fresh raw oysters, from the shell farm at the bottom of the hill, and steamed wild cockles, mussels, and clams from Lim Bay.
Remains of Roman Villa on Veli Brijun Island
Stop in Brinuji National Park, a group of 14 islands of extraordinary green beauty. One of the reasons to visit the Brijuni islands is the connection with antiquity, as the beauty of these islands has always been recognized. The islands were inhabited in the neolithic era, and then fell under Roman rule in 177AD. Upon the collapse of the Roman Empire, the islands first were ruled by the Ostrogoths and then came within the Byzantine Empire until 776AD. The Franks and the Aquilean patriarchs were the next rulers and in 1331 fell under the rule of the Venetian Empire. Be sure to stop on Veli Brijun Island to see the very well preserved ruins of the Roman villa.
Cruise to Cres Island to scuba dive the Lina, ending the day in the village of Mali Losinj. Once the island of sea captains, today, this is the health island where it is said that every herb for one’s health grows wild and the aroma can be smelled on the wind.
Mali Lošinj, the largest town on Lošinj Island, is quaint and beautiful. Set at the head of a long natural harbor ringed by gently weathered Mediterranean colored town houses and green hills, the town overlooks both coasts on the narrowest section of the island. A string of imposing 19th-century sea-captains’ houses lines the seafront in front of the historic and charming Old Town.
Anyone wanting to know more about the natural species that grow wild in Croatia and on the island can visit the Garden of Fine Scents on the southern edge of town where over 250 native species are grown amidst stone walls, along with 100 exotic species. Also sold there are salts, liquors and other items made from the native species.
Scuba Diving around Mali Losinj:
Underwater Museum, Mali Lošinj: Croatia was once a part of the Roman Empire and today, its Archaeological Park contains extraordinary amphorae and a Venetian cannon as well as many other pieces. The replica Apoxyomenos statue is the main attraction, which will one day form an artificial reef. The original 2000-year-old statue was discovered in 1996 and has since been restored to its former glory for exhibition on dry land. At only 12 meters below the surface, the underwater museum is an entertaining day out for beginner-level divers and those looking for an easy dive and an opportunity to learn about Croatia’s history.
Margarina Reef, Susak: This is a canyon reef dive in 5 meters of water until the canyon drops to 17 meters, which contains the remains of a wreck. Nearby are several dozen ancient amphorae lying on the sea floor.
Cathedral, Premuda: Diving through the caves and holes when they are illuminated by sunlight is said to be like passing through a magnificent stained-glass window. There’s also a wreck lying at 67m for more experienced divers.
Dugi Otok, Mezanj Island: Entered from the beach, at the depth of 12m. pass through a small opening into a spectacular cavern with walls encrusted with sponges and bryozoans.
Cruise to the Kornati Islands, an archipelago of 140 islands in a 35 kilometer area; the most southern of these islands are part of a national park. This is a gorgeous undeveloped area, offering any number of anchorage choices, all with beautiful water. George Bernard Shaw fell in love with the group of islands and said, “On the last day of Creation God desired to crown His work, and thus created the Kornati islands out of tears, stars and breath.”
The area of the national park protects the underwater world which is plentiful, particularly with octopus and starfish. A unique archipelago, quite devoid of water and mainly limestone, there are underwater caves, and canyons and blue holes. Above the water line, the topography is for the most part beautifully stark with a few pockets of greenery, and areas of prehistoric history, and Roman ruins. This is an area where private anchorage are easy to find and where it is easy to escape the world.
Scuba Diving Sites in and around the Kornati Archipelago:
A special Park permit is required for all scuba divers to dive in the Kornati National Park. Among striated boulders and along ledges, and inside grottoes and caves, you’ll find lobsters, crabs, and other crustaceans in abundance. Massive swathes of red gorgonians thrive at depths from 25 meters to beyond recreational diving depth limits. Wrasse, blennies, and other colorful fish thrive against a backdrop of sponges, tunicates, and corals; starfish, sea urchins, and other echinoderms are abundant as well. As you explore, keep an eye out for nudibranchs in various brilliant hues, and watch for the octopuses, which are plentiful but adept at hiding themselves in crevices.
- The Dome: 15 miles from Murter; underwater rock dome where the ceiling is covered with bright sponges and soft corals. Usually a big school of swallowtail seaperches. Probably the best dive spot in the Kornati Archipelago
- The Stuka: WWII German Plane shot down and just found by fishermen in 2014.
- Francesca: 9 miles from Murter; shipwreck, a scout plane found Francesca in front of Kaprije island, with an engine break down, fully loaded with ammunition for the troops in Africa. After the attack of fighter bombers a part of the ammunition exploded, and Francesca sank. Today considered one of the most beautiful wrecks in Adria, covered with sponges and soft corals surrounded by schools of fish. Because of the depth, only for experienced divers.
- The Lightfire of Kamicac: is opposite Slanica. Anchor in the shallow part in the NE of the island as close as possible to the drop-off. The wall is nicely structured, octopus, nudibranchs and lobsters hide in the cracks.
- Rasip: A wall covered with sponges, corals and bryozoans and surrounded by an extraordinary variety of fish. Although the wall drops to 70m, it’s a fish paradise at much shallower depths.
Zadar Historic Architecture
Cruise through the Kornati Archipelago towards Pasman Island and Zadar. The channel between Pasman Island and the mainland is a great location to swim as the waters are exceptionally clean due to the constantly changing currents. Between Pasman Island and Zadar is the naturally heart shaped island of Galesnjak, called the island for lovers, a fun location to stop and perhaps anchor for lunch. Continue to Zadar to overnight to explore all there is to see and do. The ancient fortified city of Zadar has remnants from the Roman era, visible in both the Cathedral of St Anastasia and the Church of St. Donatus. The church of St. Donat, the symbol of the city, is a must to include in any itinerary, as well as the museums of Zadar: the Archaeological Museum (est. in 1830), one of the most important in Croatia, with about 80,000 exhibits from the Stone Age to the late Middle Ages, the National Museum with the Art Gallery and the Department of Natural Sciences, as well as the Permanent Exhibition of Sacral Art with about a thousand valuable exhibits from the past centuries, known under the popular name The Old and Silver of Zadar.
Cruise back towards Sibenik, stopping to overnight on anchor at Zlarin Island, one of the islands in the Sibenik Archipelago. An island of fishermen, Zlarin was well known as a center for crafting jewelry out of the local red coral, the fishermen gathered. Fear of decimating the remaining red coral triggered the government to shut down many of the artisan shops in the 1960’s, however there is still red coral jewelry to be found, and a museum about red coral and how to work with this local natural coral. This is a very sleepy island, nicknamed the “Golden Island” due to the natural beauty. There is one very traditional little village and a great long sandy beach.
It is well worth stopping to visit ashore on the island of Zlarin to see the red coral jewelry shops and the local jewelry makers, many of whom have made red coral jewelry as a family tradition handed down from father to son, just as diving for red coral has been handed down from father to son. Greek legend says that red coral is the blood gushing from the head of Medusa. In Christianity it symbolizes the blood of Christ. Red coral has been attributed magical powers and healing properties and is seen as protection against evil. Pregnant women believe that red coral can protect their unborn child and every Zlarin pregnant islander can be seen wearing red coral.
Photo Credit Missy Johnston
Sibenik is the oldest Croatian town on the Adriatic, which is unique because of its extraordinary location in the picturesque and wide bay that the mouth of the River Krka. It lies on the slopes of the hills in the northern part of the bay, surrounded by three fortresses: St. Michaels, St. Johns, and Subicevac. In the old part of the town, the houses are made of stone and built closely together. The streets are narrow and winding with lots of steps and vaults. The dome of Sibenik Cathedral of ST. James, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, towers over the main port. Come in quay side to explore the little walking streets of Old Sibenik along with the Cathedral. Here in Sibenik damage done by bombing during the recent war can still be seen, along with repairs made to the damage. In the older area of Sibenik, there is no shortage of steps to climb up and down for those looking for exercise, and around every corner is another little bit of the old town to discover. After exploring ashore, head back on board, to cruise up the estuary, towards the town of Skradin, perhaps stopping at the dock of a shell farm to purchase fresh oysters and mussels just plucked from the water. Overnight on anchor.
Krka National Park Krka River Waterfall
Cruise further up the estuary of the Krka River to the Krka National Park headed by beautiful waterfalls, the color of which is highlighted with visual effects from the natural deposits of calcium carbonate. The estuary opens before the waterfalls into a massive clear natural pool. Within the national park are the ruins of unpreserved fortresses, some dating back to Roman times and the lovely little island of Visovac, which is home to the medieval Visovac monastery. This is a great location to relax and enjoy the lovely water and natural scenery of Croatia. On arrival in Skradin, all must transfer to a National Park river boat ferry to continue up the Krka River to the National Park landing location to explore. The Fall can be crowded however stick to the less traveled walkways, and be sure to stop at the little re-created village to see a demonstration in weaving, blacksmith forging and the river “automatic” washing machine, all normal part of life in this area until the early 1900’s. Later, in the afternoon cruise back down the Krka River to Pvric Island just outside of the mouth of the Krka River and in the Sibenik Archipelago. Pvric is under the protection of the Croatian Ministry of Culture as the island is considered a very important island of cultural heritage. Anchor overnight around Pvric Island near Sepurine, a lovely little traditional village filled with old stone buildings and walking streets.
Fortified Walls of Trogir
Cruise from Sibenik to Trogir, also, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Old Town of Trogir is actually located on a small island and is a jewel of a medieval walled village, connected to the mainland via a bridge with a protected harbor. First established by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC, Trogir has had continuous urban settlement for the last 2300 years. Trogir is considered one of the best examples of a Romanesque-Gothic Medieval walled city still in existence in Central Europe. Before dinner on board, take a stroll through Trogir along streets originally laid out in the Hellenistic time period. After dinner are several ice cream shops on the quay and other cafes to enjoy, or sit on the aft deck of your yacht to watch the world go by.
Be sure to explore Trogir, and perhaps visit the open market on the other side of the island on the mainland; easily recognized by the many little tents set up next to the bridge. If you would like, a tour guide can be arranged, or you can explore on your own, but be sure to look for the following:
- The core of the ancient city inside the walls with about 10 churches and many other buildings from 13th century
- The 13th century Duke’s Palace
- The 13th century Cathedral of St. Lawrence featuring the Portal by Master Radovan considered a masterpiece by created by this Croatian artist
- Both of the 15th century big and small palaces Cipiko
- The 15th century city loggia
- The 15th century Fortress Kamerlengo
- The 17th century city gate and the 15th century city walls
Nearby the Cathedral of St. Lawrence, you may be treated to a group of Klapa Singers that gather quite often in this location to sing Croatian folksongs in the morning from 8:00am to 10:00am.
Croatian Men Klapa Singing
Diocletian’s Palace Roman
Cruise to Split to visit Diocletian’s Palace for an hour or two. Built at the turn of the 4th century AD, approximately 1600 years ago, by the Emperor Diocletian as a retirement palace, the location is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Diocletian designed this palace to be located along the crystal clear waters of what is now the Croatian coastline as a lovely seaside home far from civilization. The town of Split grew up within and around the palace walls, as this was a structure built originally for 9000 inhabitants. Over the centuries, locals continued to create their homes within the palace walls and now today there are still homes and shops that are anchored into the structure and there to stay. Now, the Palace of Diocletian is in the literal center of the town of Split, with one side along the sea. The other three sides remaining were built as heavily fortressed walls. The ruins are one of the most complete remains of a Roman Palace in existence. The Palace was built with several different levels, including a subterranean level with fully vaulted ceilings. The seaside façade, which was the main residence of the Emperor, retains the feeling of a villa, while the rest suggests a military camp. After the Romans abandoned the structure the locals remaining moved into the fortified walls for protection, thus establishing the long history retained today of a living ruin, still vibrant with homes shops, bustling with day to day life.
During the many years after the Romans abandoned the palace and today, Christianity made its mark with a church built in the interior of the palace ruins, along with a bell tower, crypt, and a side chapel built into the ruins of a temple.
Olive Oil Museum
Photo Credit Missy Johnston
Cruise to the lovely island of Brac, said to be the “Stonecutter’s Island”’ due to the extensive quarries of white limestone and marble found on the island, both of which are perfect for building and sculpting,
The oldest settlement on the island, Skrip, is actually inland, as often was the case in earlier times, so as to be hidden away from the coast and pirate raids. Housed in a 16th century Radojkovic Tower, the Museum of Brac is located in Skrip which if open when you are there is worth a visit. Also, in Skrip, visit the Olive Oil Museum and Tasting Room which is a restored family olive oil mill that first opened back in 1864. With an advance call, a family member will explain the olive oil pressing process as was done for centuries with the traditional olive oil press in the museum, and after provide olive oil tastings of various oils, including herbed oils, and also vinegars. Close by the Olive Oil Museum is a small but very interesting museum of Antiquities excavated on the island.
Brac Island is a hiker’s paradise, with trails running across the island through fields where wild herbs grow with abandon. The most popular hiking trails are from Bol to Vidova Gora summit, Murvica to Dragon’s Cave, Nerezisca to Blaca Hermitage, Farska to Blaca Hermitage, and from Sumartin to Planik. The beach of Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn), a promontory that is only beach sand, is a well-known landmark on the island. This is a great spot to anchor off, and set up a lovely beach picnic. Aficionados of the sport feel this is an excellent place for windsurfing on either side of the Horn.
With the massive amount of limestone and marble on Brac, wineries on the island are producing some excellent wines, with grapevines planted into the limestone adding that little bit of extra to the grapes. And if you happen to visit the Franciscan Monastery in Bol ask to taste their homemade dessert wine Prosek, Stop at Brac Island and explore ashore to see the more traditional side of Croatian life when cruising on a private yacht charter.
Scuba Diving around Split, Brac and Hvar Island:
Cave Lucice on Brac Island: All around this area off of Brac Island are friendly dolphins that frequent the area. An opening at three meters leads to a cave with two chambers, the larger of which reaches a depth of 37 meters and the smaller one a depth of 42 meters. Within these chambers, divers will discover stalagmites and stalactites from a time when the caves were above sea level. The walls are covered in red coral while vibrant orange sea plants offer camouflage for the marine life living at these depths.
Te Vega Sušac Island: Drop into a small hole above the water level and follow the tunnel to the Te Vega sea lake. Parrotfish and goby swim along the bottom and high sea walls reach more than 30 meters above sea level. This is a very impressive dive and considered one of the top scuba dives in Croatia.
The Dragon’s Eye cave on Island Brač: within the cave on land an extremely unusual set of reliefs decorates the walls which are believed to have been sculpted by an imaginative 15th-century friar; including angels, animals and a gaping dragon in a blend of Christian and pagan symbols. Underwater is a large cave about 30 meters wide, with very good visibility.
Pakleni Islands: The wall dive on the Pakleni island of Stambedar is felt to be stunning. With a maximum depth of 45m, the wall is covered in gorgonians themselves covered in Dalmatian Doris nudibranchs and fire worms.
Island Šolta – Wreck Ribolovac: once one of the largest fishing vessel in this part of the Adriatic, now lies at a depth of 28 m on the sandy seabed at Pt. Pelegrin on her starboard side. A helm rudder and propeller are to be found at her stern and inside the wreck is a refuge for a variety of underwater life– scorpionfish, damselfish, cuckoo wrasse and lobsters, as well as a variety of plant life.
Hvar Town Center and Castle
Photo Credit Missy Johnston
After touring Trogir, leave for the island of Hvar. Sitting in a strategic trading location, Hvar has been a natural stop for seafarers throughout seafaring history, with each civilization leaving a mark on the face of this island reflected in many of the historic buildings and ruins still remaining. Cruise into Hvar Town on the island of Hvar, once home to a major naval base belonging to the Venetian Empire. Dominating the skyline and overlooking the town are remains of an extensive castle. A tour guide can be arranged for several hours for a tour of Hvar Town, or you can wander through town on your own, hiking up to the castle for a great view of the surrounding area. The island of Hvar has long been settled and is very fertile with fields of lavender and grapes, along with fruit and nut orchards. Lavender tussie mussies are readily available at little stands for purchase, and lavender honey is a great treat from this island to try on top of a local cheese. Hvar is known for wine production, producing several labels of distinction.
Hvar is also known as the cosmopolitan spot of Croatia, where the European jet setters congregate for nightlife especially at Hula Hula, Carpe Diem and Carpe Diem Beach. Hvar center is marked by upscale shops, however if a quiet night is of interest, visit Hvar town during the day and head out to a quiet anchorage around the island for a lovely dinner on board under the stars.
Day 3: Spend the day on Hvar Island, where there are many things to do. Perhaps head to Carpe Diem Beach Club on the nearby Pakleni Islands, or swim, and enjoy water sports in the very calm harbor of Hvar Town. Perhaps have a tour of two excellent wineries on the island in the afternoon.
Wine has been produced on this island since before the Greeks laid out Stari Grad Plain, now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the ancient nearby town of Stari Grad. The Plain was laid out by the Greeks into small plats and the stone walls outlining each plat are still in existence and used as demarcation lines today.
The first stop will be Zlatan Otok Winery; an award-winning winery located on Hvar Island in Sveta Nedjelja. Near Stari Grad, with vineyards planted on the sunny coastal slopes around Sveta Nedjelja, the location on the water of this winery is spectacular. Grapes are also grown in Makarska and Sibenik, Croatia. Some of the wines produced are aged in a cellar 70 meters under the sea where there is always the perfect constant cool temperature. The under-sea level cellar is within the Zlatan Otok restaurant, Bilo Idro.
Wine tastings are available in the under-sea level cellar which has a glassed window through which to view the sea bottom. While the cellar is a spectacular location for a wine tasting only, additional wine tastings in the restaurant should not be overlooked as fresh fish are delivered every morning to the restaurant kitchens. These fish are cooked over an open wood fire in the restaurant and delivered right to your table to enjoy in conjunction with Zlatan Otok wines. Reservations are recommended, and there is a cost depending on whether a simple wine tasting, or wine paired with foods in the restaurant overlooking the sea is of interest. This would be a great location for afternoon tidbits with wine. There are 16 wines currently being made by Zlatan Otok winery, including 3 dessert wines. The grapes used are usually a blend of grapes grown in their vineyards on Hvar Island and elsewhere along with grapes that might be purchased from independent grape growers.
Dubokovic Winery is located in Jelsa on Hvar Island, this tiny boutique winery makes several different white wines, and red wines, including a wine named “2718 Sati Sunca u Boci” which translates into “2718 Hours of Sunshine in a Bottle”. Also produced is a rose, and several dessert wines. This is a family run winery overseen by the patriarch, Ivo Dubokovic. Visit this winery for wine tastings, which are usually provided by Ivo Dubokovic with reservations and at a cost. The setting for wine tasting is by candlelight in the wine cellars, a lovely venue, and tastings are accompanied by foods picked that complement each wine being tasted. This is a true boutique Croatian winery recommended not only for the quality of the wines to be tasted but also for the genuinely personal family experience provided by Ivo and the Dubokovic family when presenting their wines. Also enjoy olive oil tastings of several locally produced olive oils, along with olive oils that have been flavored with macerated herbs and chilis. All wines and olive oils are available for purchase.
In the evening relax on board on the top deck with all of the harbor activity around or head ashore for a drink on one of the main square cafes.
Komiza Lobster Pots on the Quay
Photo Credit Missy Johnston
Cruise to Vis island well known for excellent shipwreck diving. One of the largest islands in Croatia, Vis is located the farthest west of all Croatian Islands and is the frontier island on the western edge of Croatia. Vis was an important island during WWII, due to being the western maritime outpost of Yugoslavia. WWII buffs might enjoy a guided tour of WWII landmarks on the island. Others will enjoy the quiet lifestyle, lovely little villages and seafaring feel of this island filled with lobster fishermen. Those in search of ancient history will not be disappointed, and as always there are beautiful anchorages and beaches in which to enjoy fun in the sun and the clear blue green waters of Croatia.
The island of Vis has, throughout history, been ruled by various civilizations along with being at one time its own nation. Past ruling civilizations have been the Greeks, Liburnians, Venetians, Italians and Austrians up until this island became a part of Yugoslavia in 1920, and is now a part of Croatia. Remnants of the various civilizations under which Vis was ruled are reflected in the local language, culture, architecture, and ruins found today on the island. For any WWII buffs, Vis is the island where the general headquarters of Marshal Josip Broz Tito were located; the leader of the Yugoslav Partisan resistance movement which, with the help of the British, liberated the island from Italian and then German rule during WWII. It is probably being part of Yugoslavia that has made the most recent impact on the island, as Vis was a Yugoslavian military base and until 1989 was off limits to any foreign visitors, leaving the island frozen in time for decades so that today the island is devoid of modern development.
There are two main towns on Vis which are Komiza and Vis Town. Komiza remains a very picturesque village, where many of the island’s lobster fishermen live. Piles of lobster pots can be seen on the quay ringing the town harbor. Two excellent restaurants, Jastozera and Bako, featuring lobster, which is the same lobster species fished for in Maine, are in Komiza, where a scrumptious dinner of lobster is always available, along with other menu items for non-shellfish eaters.
In Vis Town, located in an Austrian Fortress built in 1841, is a terrific archeology museum, with the largest collection of Hellenistic artifacts in Croatia. The artifacts include ancient Greek pottery, jewelry and sculpture; with the highlight piece of sculpture being an outstanding 4th-century BC bronze head of the goddess Artemis. And don’t miss the displays of relics retrieved from shipwrecks excavated around the shores of the island, as Vis was a very busy shipping island throughout history.
As with all Croatian islands, Vis has many boutique wineries whose wines are served in the local restaurants and wine bars. While there is much to see and do on this island, one can also relax, and enjoy the beautiful water and beaches while sipping beautiful Vis Island produced boutique wines when visiting Vis on a crewed yacht charter.
Scuba diving around Vis Island:
Punta Ploce: A small island with a lighthouse on the edge of a deep wall, on the northeast shore of Vis Island. A wall dive with a huge concentration and variety of nudibranchs The wall is at least 60 meters deep.
Teti: A cargo ship that sank in 1930 and now standing in a downward position between 10 and 34m of depth. The shipwreck is full of life especially conger eels, scorpionfish and giant hermit crabs. Even if I didn’t see any of this, it seems many divers go diving on the Teti for a hug with the congers.
Bisevo Island: This can include the tour of Bisevo Grotto for a quick visit to see the beautiful blue color of the water in the Grotto. Bisevo Island. We dived a long sea cavern called the Seal Cave or Medvedja Špilja. It is safe and open to recreational divers as you can ascend any time to breath fresh air. We didn’t see any monk seal, but this dive was an exciting one as you progress between the rocks. From halfway inside the cavern, no light can enter anymore, and you find yourself doing a night dive.
Palestro: One of the most armored ships of it’s time the Palestro took an unlucky shot to the ammo magazine and exploded during the 1886 Battle of Issa and sank in seconds, taking with it 227 out of its 250 man crew.
Ursus: One of the first casualties of WWII in the Adriatic. It’s well preserved interior and armaments offer an interesting glimpse to all those able to dive in the tough conditions surrounding it. Notable: The ship was bombarded by the British submarine Rorqual, impact sites can be easily seen on the wreck. A lucky shot to the ammo magazine sent the boat fast to the bottom. Diving conditions can be very challenging, and the site is suitable only to experienced divers capable of diving in high currents and open ocean.
Re d’Italia: This Ironclad Frigate sank in 1866 and is one of the most important historic wrecks in Croatia. Special permits are required from the Croatian Ministry of Culture to dive on this wreck.
WWII Airplane Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress: Sunk November 1944, and looks like it landed untouched near the coast of Vis island. A must do dive for all wreck enthusiasts and worth getting a Trimix license for. Notable: One of the best preserved WW2 airplane wrecks in the world, due to the depth and challenging dive conditions it has been preserved better than some museum specimens.
Peka Bell Cooking at Gulin Farm
Photo Credit Missy Johnston
Cruise to Vela Luka on the island of Korcula to anchor for a hike inland to the Gulin Farm for a “Homestead” meal at the farm. This is an event that your Captain must reserve in advance. Unique to Croatia, local family farms open for hospitality and home cooked traditional Croatian food of fresh wood grilled fish, home grown vegetables and meats cooked with herbs under the traditional Peka lid covered with cinders and sealed with hard wood ash. This is a taste of local real Croatia including fresh baked bread, farm pressed olive oil and farm wines.
After lunch the family provides a Klapa singing demonstration of typical Dalmatian folk songs that the men in the family all learned as part of their upbringing on the farm in order to Klapa sing at night as a family and with others at important celebrations.
Korcula Old Town Medieval Walled Village
Cruise to Korcula Old Town to explore this traditional medieval walled city, which is one of the largest medieval walled cities still in existence today. The whole of Korcula Old Town is surrounded by 14th century medieval thick stone walls including towers that were used for defense of the town during past centuries. The inside of the walled area, which was built on an oval shaped raised area of ground was built with a main road along the highest area of the ground with small roads off on either side, so that the interior area outlay of roads is often referred to as a fish skeleton. This layout of the town in a somewhat herringbone pattern allowed free air circulation but protected all inside from the strong local winds. The interior streets are all walking streets and are all stepped, which further retains the Old Town for pedestrian traffic only. Inside the Old Town are shops, restaurants, cafes and a museum in the house considered to be the birthplace of Marco Polo. Indeed, both Marco and Polo are common first and surnames in this area. Be sure to walk inside the Old Town as well as around the outside to see the old fortifications and towers, perhaps stopping in the little café in one of the towers where drinks are hauled up to the top by rope.
Just off of the coast of the island of Korcula, part of the Korcula Archipelago and the resort island for the inhabitants of Korcula, is the island of Vrnik, which offers great secluded swimming locations with beautiful clear blue water, and on land, there are many deep stone quarries dating back to Roman times. Overnight in a lovely anchorage on Vrnik.
Polace with Roman Palace Ruins
Cruise to the very green island of Mljet, 95% of which is a National Park to the little town of Polace, so called for the ruins of a Roman palace (polace) which cut right through town. This is a lovely anchorage, with a little town rimmed with fish tavernas, and is a favorite of yachtsmen. Because the waters surrounding Mljet are mainly a national park, the waters are full of fish, shellfish, and squid which are daily fished by locals for great seafood meals. Take a look at the back docks of the various shore side tavernas, each of which have a small cage suspended under the dock harboring lobster, fish and mussels to be plucked right out of the water and into the pan for dinner.
The area surrounding Polace is filled with hiking and bicycle trails. Bicycles are available for rent as well in Polace. Enjoy cycling or head out hiking on one of the trails or National Park roads, for located within Mljet National Park are two lakes, Veliko and Malo Jezero (Large and Small Lake) with buildings from the old Benedictine Monastery on Islet Melita in the middle. These lakes once were fresh water and are now salt water. It was the Benedictine Monks that changed the very nature of the lake waters that surrounded them, by building a canal from the lakes out into the sea. This changed the lake fresh water to salt water forever. Today the monastery building is a café restaurant, and you can explore the various buildings and hike around the little island. Overnight in the anchorage in front of Polace.
Scuba Diving around Korcula, and Mjlet:
Boca in Trstenica Bay: After running aground on Pelješac in the Bay of Trstenica in 1984 the wreck of the ‘Boca’ now lies in shallow water. The wreck although it has been salvaged, there is still plenty to see with the two propellers, main and spare, with large sections intact, enabling some swim throughs. With an abundance and variety of marine life colonizing this artificial reef.
Garda off Korcula: an old steamship that sank on the south side of the island now lies in 23 meters on a sandy seabed making this a very light dive. The wreck is now very flat, but hiding a good variety of marine life under the plates and is well worth diving.
Point Kneže: A sloping wall of rocks with some recognizable pieces of terracotta amphora leading into a small sandy bay with a vertical wall and a very colorful cavern. Look out for the ‘Silver Rain’.
Islands of Sestrica: Rocky reefs from 6 meters down to 18 meters. There are plenty of crevices and holes with an abundance of life. This site also makes for a good night dive.
Point Ražnjić, Korcula: Located at the eastern tip of the island. A ledge starting at 5 meters to 8 meters and onto a wall down to just over 30 m. This site also has a short canyon and a 13th Century anchor approx. 2.5 meters long. On the wall down from 12 meters is a curtain of Orange Gorgonian (Fan Coral).
Island of Majsan: A rocky reef at 8 meters with a wall going down to 32 meters with 13th Century anchors.
Duba, East and West: Wall dives, the East is over rocky ledges from 6 meters down to over 30 meters and the West drops down to 35 meters with Amphora wedged into the rocks. These two sites are either side of the Bay of Duba, Pelješac.
Veli Kneža Island: Located in the Pelješac canal offers a gentle wall dive down to 30meters. There are also some nice pieces Amphora wedged into the rocks.
Lučnjak Island: Gently sloping over sand bottom from 10 meters down to 27 meters with a vertical wall down to 35 meters covered in marine growth of fan corals, sponges and an abundance of marine life.
South side Cavern: A cavern in the Bay of Orlandusa. Rocky ledges from 8 meters and wall down to 35meters+ and a cavern at the end of a short canyon with the entrance to the cave at 18meters rising inside to the surface.
Lastovo Town Chimney Pots
In the morning cruise to the town of Lastovo on the main island of Lastovo. A military island until 1992, Lastovo was out of bounds to civilians and thus is completely undeveloped and spectacularly pretty. The lovely anchorage is well protected. A very quiet island where few visit, Lastovo is Croatia from decades ago. Head ashore where traditional stone buildings abound, all topped by terracotta chimney pots that seem to be mainly in use on this island, with more ornate chimney pots heralding the wealth of the occupants of the building that the pots sit atop.
Return back on board to cruise out to another part of the Lastovo Archipelago, all of which is a large national park and is one of the largest marine protected areas in Croatia. Enjoy lunch on anchor and swimming. Several days can be spent in this beautiful archipelago with 48 beautiful uninhabited islets and great scuba diving. Overnight on anchor.
Scuba Diving in the Lastovo Archipelago: As this is a national park a special dive permit is needed to scuba dive.
Islet of Bijelac: From the top, it looks like an island, but under the sea there are actually two separate parts reaching down to 60 meters. See gorgons, sea stars and corals decorating the walls and moray, lobsters or forkbeard roaming freely around the area.
Struga, Lastovo Island: Divers speak with passion about diving in the southern end of the island, beneath the rugged cliffs which crash into the sea at the foot of the Struga lighthouse.
Islet of Tajna: Beautiful underwater world around this islet in the archipelago
Islets of Skrivena luka, Glavat, Bratin
Peloro: Wrecked on 17th November 1918, just two weeks after the end of the First World War, when at the mouth of the Bay of Ubli on the island of Lastovo, it struck a mine and sank. Peloro lies in an upright position on the sandy seabed at a depth of 52 meters. Its hull is very well-preserved, although overgrown with crustaceans, a patchwork of sea sponges and diverse sea vegetation.
Ston Village with Fortress Wall
In the morning spend time scuba diving the various sites, ending in the anchorage in the small village of Ston, a famous salt producing location for centuries. This area of ocean water is felt to have the right combination of minerals that flow up through the seabed to create a lovely sea salt. In the 1800’s and up to the early 1900’s Ston was the sea salt producing center for Croatia. Drop anchor and head ashore. Nearby are the abandoned salt flats, and the old railway. There is little left of the salt production center, however if special Ston salt is wanted to be purchased the small building at what is left of the salt works will sell a small bag of what is being produced today. Take a short walk around the small village of Ston, with the protective fortress walls loaming behind what was once a very important salt production center. After return to the yacht and cruise around to perhaps Doli anchorage, anywhere that is a lovely anchorage where the van from the Bota Sare Restaurant can come to collect the guests for dinner. Before dinner have a relaxing swim. Anchor for the night.
Ston Bay is felt to have the perfect blend of salt and fresh water, that flows into the bay from the Ston River, for shell farming oysters and mussels. Bota Sare Restaurant, built into the ruins of an old castle, serves shellfish from their own shell farm plucked fresh from the water that day, bread baked in their wood fired ovens, vegetables grown in their gardens, olive oil pressed from their olives, and honey gathered from their hives. Dishes served reflect timeless Croatian recipes passed down in the family from generation to generation. There are non-shellfish and fish choices as well on the menu. Overnight on anchor.
Bota Sare Restaurant
Photo Credit Missy Johnston
Pile Gate of Dubrovnik
Walled Old Town of Dubrovnik
In the morning, head to Dubrovnik stopping in Sipan Island for lunch and a swim. After, continue to Dubrovnik, and anchor, weather dependent, in front of the Old Town. Take the ship’s tender into Dubrovnik to wander the old walled city, before returning for a last dinner on board on the aft deck. Dubrovnik, the “jewel of the Adriatic”, was an independent, merchant republic for some 700 years and has enchanted the wealthy, the powerful, the artist, and of course, the sailor, throughout its remarkable history. The old town, completed in the 13th century, remains virtually unchanged. Tall ramparts surround it and there are only two entrances to the old town which lead to the Stradun, the city’s promenade. In 1991, the Serbs shelled the city causing considerable damage, but thanks to local efforts and international aid, the old town has been restored to its former beauty.
The big open square inside Old Town is the Stradun. Here you will find the Onofrio Fountain, built in 1438. On the right is the Franciscan Monastery, with one of the oldest functioning pharmacies in Europe, in operation since 1391. At the other end of the Stradun, you will find the locals’ favorite meeting place, the Orlando Column, with the nearby Sponza Place and the baroque church of St. Blaise. Here is also the Rector’s Palace, built in 1441, which is now a city museum packed with valuable and historic exhibits. Opposite the palace through a narrow street is a square, Gunduliceva Poljana, which is the site of the busy morning market. In the same square is the Jesuit Monastery from the early 18th century. From here you can head for the little old town port and visit the city walls, built between the 13th and the 16th centuries, which encircle the city, and which have been remarkably preserved.
Scuba diving around Dubrovnik:
Tomislav: Off of Lorkum Island just 10 minutes from Dubrovnik, this sunken shipwreck is almost fully intact. Swimming through the surrounding area, divers can hope to see dogfish and tuna.
Lokrum Island: This small island 600 meters from Dubrovnik’s mainland contains a Dead Sea’; a small, hidden body of water believed to be haunted by evil forces and only accessible by swimming through an undersea passageway. Inside this desolate, beautiful place, you’re not likely to encounter much marine life.
Jabuka: This mini volcanic island, located just off the Dubrovnik mainland, is popular amongst all divers as it offers locations for both experienced and novice divers as the standard depth of the main dive is around 38 meters, but drops down to as much as 50 at a point. There’s another underwater cave accessible via a narrow channel, which holds a handy air pocket if you want to emerge and take in the impressive stalactites protruding from the ceiling.
Grebeni: This site is a good place for beginners, as it doesn’t require extreme depths or too much open sea. Begin by swimming along a narrow channel which will end up in the open sea after a sudden drop-off, but along the way a seam in the pass exposes a small, hidden cave which produces gorgeous light patterns thanks to the way the light beams through the cracks above. It’s like an underwater light show.
Just south of Dubrovnik is the southern line of Croatia which borders with Montenegro. And 40 miles away from Dubrovnik and up the Kotor Fjord and the head of Kotor Bay is the beautiful walled village of Kotor, with extraordinary defensive walls that stretch up into the hillsides behind. Cruise up the fjord, passing several small villages, marked by castles, stopping in the small village of Perast for lunch ashore at Konoba Skoji, for fresh seafood, or a Peka Bell meal.
St. George Monastery off of Perast
Photo Credit Missy Johnston
Just across from the little village are two man extended islets, that started as tiny rock outcropping, but through the determination of the villagers dropping rock after rock, both became islets, one today that houses a church and the other that houses a monastery. Take the ship’s tender to visit both after lunch.
Kotor Walled Village
Photo Credit Missy Johnston
With roots dating back to the 3rd-century AD, when the present site of Kotor was that of a Roman military outpost; the fortress city of Kotor became a Byzantine stronghold in the 6th century, with the well preserved medieval Old City of Kotor, as seen today, built between the 12th and 14th centuries. Today, Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A walking tour is a great way to see Old Town, which is crisscrossed with narrow streets between squares. On a walking tour visit the Naval Museum, housed in an 18th-century Baroque palace, the Cathedral of Sveti Tripun, a monument of Roman culture and one of the most recognizable symbols of the city, the Church of Sveti Luka (13th century), Church Sveta Ana (12th century) Church Sveta Marija (13th century), Church Gospe od Zdravlja (15th century), the Prince’s Palace (17th century) and the Napoleon Theatre (19th century) all of which are treasures that are part of the rich heritage of Kotor. After exploring Old Town, those that would like a vigorous hike should hike the Old Town walls by walking up the main steps and along the parapets. This is a vigorous hike, but rewarded by great photo opportunities from the heights of the fortress walls up in the hillside.
Scuba Diving Sites around Kotor and Perast:
St. Istvan near Herceg Novi: sunken wreck of WWI battleship sunk June 8, 1918 off Premuda. 89 sailors and officers died in the sinking, 41 of them from Hungary.
Blue Cavern: cavern walls are covered with cracks filled with sponges, sea fans, nudibranchs and other interesting marine life surrounded by the blue of the clear Adriatic Sea.
Twin Caves: a magical dive site composed of two similar but separated caves
Tihany: Austro-Hungarian steamship Tihany was built in Trieste in 1908 (length of 45.40 meters, width 5.75 meters and a gross displacement of 204 tons). Tihany was used as a transportation ship for engine oil and coal. On February 12, 1917 Tihany was stranded by bad weather and poor navigation. The rescue operation failed and the steamship sank near the Island of Mamula.
Fisherman Reef: located near Katic and St. Nedjelja Islands just in the front of Petrovac City. Beautiful reef walls with blue water surrounding. See moray eels, scorpion fish, octopus, different kind of starfish and perhaps few lobsters.
Pyramid: Reef with pyramidal shape and very interesting topography with two vertical tunnels plus underwater mine from WW1. Located on the outer side of St. Nikola Island.
Poseidon Cave: This dive site consists of series inter-connected tunnels and caves with numerous exit points through which sunlight penetrate forming a spectacular display with a calming blue glow. The cave walls are rich with nudibranchs. See shrimps, crabs and bristle worms.