Written by Missy Johnston
What is the key to taking the perfect holiday? The Croatians, specifically the Dalmatians, would say it’s fjaka—which means a “deliciously lazy mood of utter contentment.” We’d have to agree. Croatia is an excellent private yacht charter destination for a relaxing summertime vacation. With clean fresh water, an abundance of islands (1000 to be exact), and TONS of remote anchorages, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy the beauty and relaxation of a yacht charter vacation in Croatia. Below, we share a list of 13 of the best destinations in Croatia and ways to enjoy your vacation.
1. Pakleni Islands
Southwest of Hvar Town lie the Pakleni Islands—a speckling of islets that are covered in pine trees and are abundant with little coves that are perfect for swimming. Many yachts anchor in the Pakleni Islands for charter guests to enjoy swimming in the clear, crystal blue waters between catching a few Z’s. The chic Carpe Diem Beach is located here as well. By day, Carpe Diem Beach is perfect for sunbathing and swimming, and by night, the beach turns into a glowing nightclub. There is also a wide selection of restaurants to choose from in the various coves sprinkled throughout the Pakleni Islands—our recommendation is Zori Restaurant, which is very chic while maintaining a casual feel.
Hvar Island Town in Croatia
2. Hvar Town
Perhaps Croatia’s trendiest island destination is Hvar Town. This town wraps around a sheltered harbor on Hvar Island that is usually packed with yachts and is overlooked by the ruins of a castle. The castle, accessed by a great hike, offers a great opportunity for scenic photos of the town below. Hvar Town is filled with chic shops and boutiques, along with trendy restaurants. It is often referred to as “the San Tropez of Croatia.” Evening fun starts at Hula Hula Bar on the edge of the harbor where sundown is celebrated with the drink of your choice. After a few drinks, move on to a restaurant for dinner, stop into one of the shops, or enjoy the evening piazza life at an outdoor cafe. Night life begins in earnest at midnight, when Carpe Diem Nightclub in Hvar Town opens and other bars switch to nightclub mode.
3. Dugi Otok—Kornati Archipelago
Dugi Otok, which means “long island in Croatian,” has both space and peace and quiet for visitors—something to offer any vacationer at the peak of summer. With part of the island in the Kornati National Park, the waters are very clean with plenty of fish and great anchorages in which to relax. Anchoring here is truly an opportunity to get away from it all and enjoy the beautiful blue and green hues of the sea in Croatia.
4. Brač Island
Anchorage on Brac Island, Croatia
The island of Brač appeals to adventurous travelers and is an excellent location for water-sports, hiking, and cycling. One of Croatia’s top windsurfing destinations—Zlatni Rat beach—is located on the island near the harbor town of Bol. Brač is also referred to as the “Stonecutter’s Island” with many quarries for lime and sandstone, the cut blocks of which are used all over the world in buildings. Most significantly, the stone was quarried by the Romans to build Diocletian’s Palace on the nearby mainland.
There is also a nice little family olive oil museum which has been owned by the same family for generations. The family still makes olive oil nearby in more modern facilities. With advanced notice, a family member will provide a tour of the original olive oil press used until the early 1900’s and a tasting of the various olive oils that the family produces today. Their olive oils include herbed olive oils and are sold on site. There is also a small museum of antiquities found nearby the olive oil museum—perfect for after an olive oil tasting.
5. Vis Island
Croatia’s furthest island is most easily visited by charter yacht. After anchoring in Vis Town harbor, head ashore to feast on fresh fish at Villa Kaliopa or Pojoda. For the more adventurous eater, head inland to Roki’s for octopus slow-cooked in the old Dalmatian style of cookery under a Peka Bell (a metal domed-lid buried under glowing embers). Komiza town is also not to be missed. It is the lobster fishermen’s town where lobster pots can be seen piled on tiny lobster boats in the harbor. There are several excellent lobster restaurants, such as Konoba Bako, where the fresh catch is always available.
As the most western island in Croatia, Vis was a hot spot during WWII as the frontier for Yugoslavia and the Resistance. Tito, a famous Yugoslavian hero, is perhaps one of the most well-known names from this time.WWII tours are available on the island, including visiting old abandoned submarine bunkers and the cave where Tito is said to have hidden. Vis Island was closed after WWII as a military island until 1980. Once opened, military gear, fortifications, and bunkers were left behind in situ where all can still be seen today.
6. Korčula Island
Korcula Old Town walls and quay
Sitting on a Peninsula, Korčula Old Town on Korcula Island is a true gem of a medieval walled town. Stone stairways, noble palazzi, and a Gothic-Renaissance cathedral, all within the fortress walls, can be seen when approaching by sea. One of Croatia’s most famous citizens, Marco Polo, was said to have been born in Korcula Town. The town has hardly changed since he embarked on his voyages to the Orient. The inner town was built on a unique “fish skeleton” plan, with the main street along a top ridge and side streets heading out at an angle to cut the velocity of the Bora Winds when blowing. On the other end of the island in Vela Luka, is Gulin Farm, where, with advance reservations, a farm lunch or dinner is prepared under the Peka Bell. Enjoy farm-raised meats and vegetables and fresh-caught fish or octopus from their farm shores.
7. Šipan Island
The small island of Šipan, with a population of only 436, is part of the Elafiti Archipelago. Nobles built summer villas here in the 17th century, thus combining aristocratic culture and island escapism. Konoba Kod Marka is located in the little village of Sipanska Luka and is an excellent fresh seafood restaurant. On the other side of the island is a quiet anchorage home to the chic Bowa Restaurant—a new style restaurant perched right on the water. Individual pavilions are designed for long lunches of various courses which are paired with wine tastings and always the possibility of a refreshing dip between different dishes.
8. Mljet Island
Mljet in Croatia
The World Wide Fund for Nature has named Mljet Island among the last paradises in the Mediterranean. The northern third of the island is home to Mljet National Park, where two connecting saltwater lakes sit in the middle of a densely wooded area. The town of Polace, so named for the Roman ruins of a palace sitting right in town, is at the head of a lovely anchorage in the national park. Ringed by seafood and Peka Bell Tavernas, many restaurants serve a well-known Croatian dish of black squid ink risotto. As only locals are allowed to fish in the national park seas, the local waters are teeming with fish, squid, lobsters, and shellfish.
Much of the daily catch can be seen on the water side of the tavernas where fish, shellfish, and lobsters are caught and held alive in underwater cages, just waiting to be ordered for a very fresh seafood dinner. Mljet is also an excellent hiking and bicycling location, with many bicycle rental shops, along with miles of trails through the forests. Be sure to take the national park boat over to the old abandoned monastery, located on an islet in one of the two saltwater lakes.
9. Lošinj Island
Mali Lošinj is Lošinj‘s main town and sits at the end of a long narrow bay. The island, self-titled as the “island of vitality,” was once a busy seafaring island, home to many captains. The harbor, once filled with merchant vessels, is now home to yachts and ringed by 19th-century villas. Today, some are boutique hotels surrounded by luscious, green gardens. It is said that virtually every herb that grows wild in Croatia (of which there are hundreds) grows on this island. There are lovely herb-oriented wellness salons and spas in which to enjoy a renewing herbal-based treatment.
10. Pag Island
Pula- Roman Arena Exterior Walls
Pag, a unique Dalmatian island, sports an abundance of bare, pale-pink hills, creating a quiet, magical landscape that would rival any desert. The island was stripped of its forests by the Venetian Republic to provide timbers for their galleons. Today, Pag has a unique—almost lunar—landscape that has become popular for movie settings. A very popular product of Pag is Pag salt, historically created in big salt flats dried by the sun. Pag salt is now mechanically dried inside—however, the creamy and much revered taste remains the same.
Pag Island also makes Pag Cheese—considered a specialty throughout Croatia. Pag lamb is also very sought after due to the slightly salty flavor of the meat, as the sheep graze on grass tinged with salt by the sea breezes. Old Town Pag is crowned by the 15th century church of St. George. Within Old Town, the well-known, intricate Pag Lace is lovingly created by women whose skills have been handed down from generation to generation. On the other end of the island in the town of Novalja is Zrce Beach—a hub for chic nightlife featuring dancing on the beach to the music of world-renowned DJs.
11. Veliki Brijun Island
The Yugoslavian President Tito hosted many glamorous guests on the island of Veliki Brijun, including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Sophia Loren, and many foreign politicians and royalty. The island was his beloved private summer retreat from 1945 to 1980. Today, part of the island remains closed for Presidential use. Also part of the Brijun National Park, Veliki Brijun is the largest of the 14 islands in the Brijun Archipelago.
Pula sits on the Istrian Mainland and lies on a natural protected harbor, home to many civilizations for hundreds of years. Today, the center of Pula is marked by the almost-intact remains of a large Roman arena. This is one of the few arenas that have underground tunnels and areas open for visitors to see where animals and gladiators prepared for their spectacular fights. Pula Old Town still has several Roman gates standing along with part of the fortification walls and a splendid little Roman Temple.
Rovinj Old Town, Croatia
This lovely little fishing village is the gateway to Istria—where a day can be spent driving inland for a Truffle Hunting Exhibition in the forests. Follow the Exhibition with a lunch of excellent Black Truffle Pasta at Zigante Restaurant in Livade. After lunch, visit the medieval town of Motovun. Motovun is perched on the top of a tiny mountain with excellent views offered from within its fortified walls. Istria also is home to many wineries where wines, Istrian olive oils, and local honey can all be tasted. Stop for dinner at the Restaurant Viking on Lim Bay for fresh raw oysters and steamed mussels grown in shell farms in the bay, along with wild harvested bay cockles, scallops, fish, and clams.
Croatia is the place to visit this summer, and the best way to visit is by private yacht charter. There is an abundance of water activities, inland excursions, fresh seafood for those that have a seafood palate, and farm raised meats for those that do not. Travel in style as privately as wanted while aboard a crewed yacht charter and enjoy all that Croatia has to offer. Your private chef, captain, and crew are on board to accommodate your every need, making your trip seamless, relaxing and luxurious. Visit our website to learn more about a private yacht charter trip to Croatia.