With a magnificent coastline, clear waters and splendid beaches, Croatia lures increasing numbers of visitors for sailing vacations each year. But where to go and what to know? Here, Alexander Coles, CEO and senior broker with Bespoke Yacht Charter, gives us the inside scoop on Croatia’s yachting and boating scene. Coles, who has seen a 20 percent annual uptick in the number of Croatia charters since 2013, says that sailing this part of the Adriatic “more than matches up” to cruising Europe’s legendary rivieras. “The islands, over 1,000 of them, are the real selling point—they’re unique in the world. The coastline is relatively unspoiled and has the feel of the French Riviera in the 50s or 60s. It’s still possible to find quiet anchorages, even at the height of the season.” Here are his recommendations for planning a great trip.
1. Where to go if you only have a week: “I would recommend cruising from Split to Dubrovnik or vice-versa. This allows you to see all of Croatia’s most celebrated islands and the fabulous cities of Split and Dubrovnik. The distances involved are short, so usually there will only be an hour or two of cruising each day and plenty of time to enjoy each destination.”
2. If you have two weeks: “Start farther north in Zadar and cruise south to Kotor in neighboring Montenegro. This is a truly fabulous cruise.”
3. Best months to sail: “The yacht charter season in Croatia starts in May and runs to October. Weather is usually fantastic, with beautiful sunny days. While the sea starts off pretty cold, it gets warm by early July and is at its warmest in late August. The best month of the year to charter in Croatia is September—yachts are 15 to 20 percent cheaper than in July and August. The weather is still amazing, the sea is warm and the crowds have reduced.”
4. Sailing yacht or motor yacht? “Sailing yachts are a great option for Croatia. As there is so much to see while covering relatively small distances, I tend to recommend either a sailing yacht or slow, stable motor yachts. Fast motor yachts are not especially popular in the Adriatic. The important thing is that the yacht has a lot of outdoor space and is comfortable at anchor. Yachts in Croatia tend to spend more time at anchor than in ports.”
5. Is sailing Croatia affordable? “Absolutely! Groups of up to 12 people could charter a small, 40-to-50-foot day boat for €2,500 per day to explore the islands, which is very reasonable.”
6. Why Split is a good place to start your cruise: “The second largest city in Croatia and in the middle of the Croatian coast, Split is the best place to start a charter as the most famous islands of Korčula, Hvar and Brac are just a short cruise away. Split and the surrounding area are also home to most of the largest marinas in Croatia, so this is where the majority of yachts are based. Split itself is a fabulous city with an amazing history. It is like a living museum, walking around the old city and Diocletian’s Palace. There is an international airport in nearby Kaštela (close to Trogir) with flights to all major European cities.”
7. And why Dubrovnik is too: “Like Split, Dubrovnik in southern Croatia is also a great place to begin a charter as it, too, is just a short cruise to Croatia’s famous islands. Dubrovnik is one of the most attractive walled cities in the world with beautiful pedestrianized streets to walk around. Take the cable car up the mountain at the back of the city for stunning views over the old town and the coastline. There is an international airport with flights to all major European destinations.”
8. In Dubrovnik don’t miss: “There is a superb restaurant called Nautica on the ramparts of the old city that everyone should visit, as well as an amazing nightclub called Revelin, which is located in a 15th century fortress.”
9. Hold off on Dubrovnik when the large cruise ships are docked there. “Some of these vessels hold 3,000-plus passengers who fill the streets making it ridiculously crowded. A yacht’s captain will know when these ships are in town.”
10. Why you’ll want to sail the Istrian peninsula and Kvarner Gulf: “Istria has an Italian flavor due to its history. Pula, the region’s capital, is a stunning town with a fabulous Roman amphitheater that hosts concerts and events throughout the summer. The surrounding countryside is covered in vineyards producing some great wines; food in this part of Croatia is superb. The seaside town of Rovinj is also beautiful and very worth a visit.”
11. The most coveted marinas: “Chartering a yacht in Croatia is often more about the anchorages than the ports, but I would definitely recommend spending nights in Hvar, Korčula Town, Trogir and Dubrovnik. Berths are relatively easy to obtain, the toughest being Hvar—the St. Tropez of Croatia—in July and August as it’s where everyone wants to be.”
12. The not-to-miss beaches: “Dubovica on Hvar; Lovrecina and Zlatni Rat on Brac; and Proizd Island near Korčula Island.”
13. For nightlife, head to Hvar. “It’s the center of nightlife with famous clubs and performances by top DJs, but there are also great clubs in Split and Dubrovnik. Those who like to party will not get bored in Croatia. Every August there is a famous music festival called Sonus that takes place on Pag Island and our charter guests often visit.” (This year the Sonus Festival runs August 19-23rd.)
14. What to eat and where: “The food throughout Croatia is fabulous—lots of fresh fish and Mediterranean flavors, making the most of all the local ingredients. Every region has its specialities and for great food I wouldn’t say one stands out more than the others. In the north, [the cooking] is very influenced by Italy, so lots of pasta and truffles. In the south, there is a strong focus on fresh fish, especially squid, prawns and octopus, as well as amazing, local-cured hams and cheeses. The wine is also superb throughout the country. Ask local residents for their recommendations. Most of the yachts we charter have at least one Croatian crew member who will advise on the local specialities and arrange tours for charter guests to nearby food producers and vineyards. Must-try dishes include Black Risotto made with squid ink, and local roast lamb. The lamb is usually slow-cooked in pits in the ground, often overnight.”
15. What it costs: “The range of charter yachts on offer in Croatia includes something for everyone, from a bareboat 40-foot sailing yacht to huge super-yachts. As far as charter fees are concerned, prices are comparable to other destinations in the Med, but activities ashore, restaurants and ports are, for the most part, a lot less expensive than other charter destinations. We only do crewed yacht charters. Our starting point would be a yacht of around 80 feet, sleeping six, from €30k per week, plus fuel and taxes. The majority of yachts we charter in the Adriatic are 100-foot plus with 5 cabins, sleeping 10, for around €100k per week.”
Catherine Sabino, Forbes
When it comes to cruising catamarans, 45ft is the most popular length, according to Yann Masselot, director at Lagoon Yachts. Its two biggest sellers are the 450, of which it has built 600 in the past six years, and the 42, of which it has built 200 in the last 18 months alone. All of which points to the new Lagoon 50 as an intelligent model to plug the large gap between the existing 450 and the 52, while the similarly styled new 40-footer coming out this autumn will replace both its 39 and 40 models.
Designed by VPLP and Nauta, these new models stand out for their strong horizontal lines, accentuaded by the large hull windows that are recessed into the topsides. Both yachts feature square-top mainsails, large furling foresails and self-tacking jibs – an easily managed sailplan on a rig with a short boom.
The 40 is available with three or four cabins and two to four heads. The 50 can have between three and six cabins.
Shows: Cannes, Genoa, Barcelona
Yachting is one of the main types of marine tourism in Greece and is popular amongst both Greeks and foreign visitors. Encompassing many different types of sailing and boating activities, the yachting industry in Greece has always enjoyed a competitive advantage compared to other countries and has made Greece an ideal place for marine tourism of every kind.
Greece’s healthy and sunny Mediterranean climate; the variety, beauty and pristine state of her seas; her 6,000 islands and islets; 16,000 km coastline and her warm and friendly people have created a perfect environment for enjoying and experiencing the sea. Visitors to Greece have many options for yacht chartering and boat cruises. Daily and multi-day tours and trips are offered on sailboats, catamarans, luxury yachts and motor boats which are chartered by yacht rental companies and private owners. A vast and varied selection of boats are offered for charter throughout the country, with or without crews, and with added services and amenities to match the full range of budgets.
Throughout the world Greece is known to be a totally safe destination for tourists, visitors and for the development of tourism related businesses. A favorable investment climate now exists that guarantees a level playing field and a healthy competitive environment for the profitable development of marinas and maritime tourism infrastructure, even compared to other countries with a longer history in this field. Marine tourism first appeared in Greece in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but it wasn’t until the 1980s, after the formation of the corresponding institutional framework through Law 438/1976, that the industry started to flourish and grow rapidly.
The Greek fleet of professional recreational boats consists of approximately 4,800 sailboats and motor boats and is the largest in the Mediterranean in terms of the number of vessels. Approximately 70% of the vessels in the fleet are sailing boats and the remaining 30% are motor boats. All of these vessels, irrespective of whether or not they are crewed, must carry the Greek Flag registration. The majority of these vessels are licensed for and capable of accommodating between 6 and 12 people.
Currently, the number of tourists participating in yachting in Greece represents approximately 0.9% of the annual total number of tourist arrivals. For example, out of the 30,000,000 tourists who visited the country in 2017, on an annual basis, some 270,000 participated in yachting. According to historical data the highest tourist arrivals take place during the months from April to October of each year.
With regards to yachting and the marine tourism sector, the market for chartering small and large sailing and motor boats has shown a steady upward trend since its inception. Proof of yachting’s importance and potential in Greece is the fact that the total number of charters over the past five years for which data are available has shown a cumulative increase of more than 40%. According to global industry trends and market estimates, the growth in the number of annual charters in Greece is forecast to continue. Pre-requisites for the sustainable future growth of Greece’s marine tourism are favorable market conditions in conjunction with concerted efforts by all stakeholders to develop the sector.
The Sun Odyssey marque is one of the success stories of production yacht building and a key reason for Jeanneau being the world’s lagest builder of sailing boats from 40ft to 64ft. An astonishing 17,000 Sun Odysseys, produced in 48 different model designs, have launched over the last 27 years.
The unveiling of the SO 440, which is nominated for European Yacht of the Year 2018, and SO 490 this summer, marks the eighth generation of this immensely popular family cruising line. The entrylevel SO 319 with a choice of fixed of variable draught keet types was also annonced in early September and will be built in collaboration with the Delphia shipyard in Poland.
Sun Odysseys are known for being practical, reliable all – rounders but they are also continuously updated. THE 440 and 490, in particular, could be the most innovative new Sun Odyssey yet. Designers Philippe Briand and Jean-Marc Piaton have borrowed hull lines from the latest offshore racing yachts including powerful, wide bow sections, full-length chines, twin rudders and integrated bowsprits. This new hull shape creates extra volume in the forward master cabin.
And there are plenty of other new ideas – above and below decks. These are the first production cruisers to have truly unhindered walk – around decks – the side decks slope down to meet the cockpit sole in the quarters, negating the need to step over the coamings. The coamings, meanwhile, are not structural so can fold down to form sunbeds. “I tried to use every wasted space and make it a part of life on board”, said Philippe Briand, whose work with Jeanneau spans over 45 models and four decades.
SO 440: Cannes, Southampton, La Rochelle, Annapolis, Barcelona
SO 490: Cannes. Genoa, Barcelona
SO 319: Amsterdam, La Rochelle