"If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik. Because the beauty there will leave anyone breathless." George Bernard Shaw
Crotia, the land of 1,000 islands, is an absolute paradise for sailing. Taking a Gulet along the Croatian Coast is a truly unique experience. Sailing around the Croatian islands includes typical Venetian villages with ancient bell towers, baths, medieval fortresses, quaint taverns and some of the clearest water and pristine beaches in the Mediterranean.
Dropping anchor in one (or ten) of these spectacular Croatian islands during your sailing trip around Croatia is definitely a highlight of the coastline. You’ll discover secluded coves inaccessible from land, bathe at sunset in spectacular waterfalls and savor delicious local food and wine in the taverns of some of the most beautiful hidden islands.
There are more than one thousand Croatian islands. All vary in size from small tree-covered rocks to some of the larger islands in the Mediterranean.
Croatia’s islands offer everything from stunning national parks, nudist beaches and 24-hour party pontoons. Each island has its own unique personality, attractions and sights.
But which Croatian islands are the best? Well, it’s incredibly difficult to narrow it down, so we’ve done our best to bring you a list of the top 10 best islands to visit in Croatia.
Officially, Croatia has 1778 kilometres of Adriatic coastline. However, it’s actually around three times that if you measure every single twist and turn, because over the millennia the wind and the waves have deeply eroded the brittle limestone to create a spectacular shoreline. Thanks to the forces of nature and Croatia’s vibrant history, the country has one of the most richly varied coasts anywhere on the Mediterranean. Craggy karst cliffs give way secluded bathing beaches and charming little port towns with rows of red tiled roofs nestling in the folds of the coats.
More than 100 Croatian beaches have earned blue flag status for their remarkable purity on land and in the sea.
Much of this is thanks to the white pebbles that cover most beaches in the country, keeping the water a clear, jewelry-grade tone of turquoise.
Inside nearly every curve of the Croatia's coastline, from Istria in the north to Dubrovnik in the south, lies a fabulous Adriatic beach where you can play
Set in a natural limestone arena, sheer tufted walls of rock all but encircle the smooth, sunken, white pebble floor, with the only break at the 16-foot wide "cliff gate," which opens the beach to the sea.
The unusual formation, thought to be the result of the collapse of an ancient cave, could easily serve as a heavenly Hollywood vision, or at least a refuge for the Mother of Dragons from "Game of Thrones."
Kamenjak National Park, Istria
Croatia's most exciting beach can be found at the southernmost tip of Istria, on the Kamenjak Peninsula, a national park, which dribbles into the sea for nearly four miles before ending in 70-foot high cliffs.
From here, daredevils leap into the sea.
Its protected status keeps both land and water pristine for the passing dolphins and Mediterranean monk seals that frequent.
Dinosaurs also loved this area, leaving fossils and footprints in the limestone, some of which can be seen on "The Dinosaur Path" near Penižule beach. More recently, humans have added the kitsch, with life-sized dinosaur models.
Oprna Beach, Krk
With more blue flag beaches than any other island in Croatia, Krk offers spectacular swimming and sunbathing around almost every bend of its shoreline.
But Oprna Beach is undoubtedly one of its stand outs, as well as one of the hardest to get to.
The calm, clear waters and long shallow shoreline here make it a favorite for snorkelers and divers.
Plus, its remote location means the beach remains quiet and relaxing throughout the summer.
As with many wild beaches Croatia, reaching it requires navigating a narrow path down a slope.
While you're there, you can also take a boat out to 16th century Franciscan monastery on Košljun, a tiny island within the island of Krk.
Zlatni Rat, Brač
Croatia's most photographed beach extends like a "golden horn," as its name translates, south from the island of Brač.
A Mediterranean pine grove fills in the bell side, but the mouthpiece is naked beach, with golden pebbles so fine, they actually feel like sand.
Punta Rata, Brela
Along the Makarska Riviera, stretching south along the rocky coast from Split, some of Croatia's most famous beaches spread out against the backdrop of the Biokovo mountain range.
The arrow-shaped Punta Rata beach flashes more bling than most and is often rated among the best beaches in the country, if not the world.
Its crown jewel is the "Brela Stone," a giant boulder just off shore miraculously sprouting pine trees.
Sveti Jakov Beach, Dubrovnik
What's could be more cinematic than swimming under the walls of King's Landing in "Game of Thrones?"
As every fan knows, Dubrovnik loaned its inimitable visage to the series, and remains every bit as impressive in person as it is on screen.
The city's main beach, Banje, rolls out an attractive enough pebble carpet.
But the wilder Sveti Jakov, a 20 minute trek away, keeps the Dubrovnik backdrop while adding quiet, privacy, shade, snorkeling, and excellent sunsets.
For a taste of Game of Thrones architecture without the massive crowds of Split or Dubrovnik, Šibenik stuns with medieval majesty. The town is filled with alleys that crisscross white stone structures and towers, begging visitors to get lost among the cobblestone nooks, hidden gardens, and secret food stalls. Climb the remains of St. Michael’s Fortress (originally constructed by the Venetians to protect against the Ottomans) for a bird’s eye view of the town including red tiled roofs, the domed 15th-century basilica, and sunsets over the sea.
Odysseus Cave, Mljet Island
According to legend, after being shipwrecked on Mljet, Odysseus found refuge in this cave where he met the nymph Calypso and remained under her captivity for seven years. While the myth was later attributed to the island nation of Malta, the fact remains that this hidden spot provides one of the most striking swimming caves in the world. It requires a 15-minute hike down a steep cliff, but visitors are rewarded with calm, neon-blue waters filled with iridescent fish and few tourists. For the most intense experience, arrive midday when the sun’s rays produce a spectrum of electric colors that illuminate the cave.
Kornati Archipelago National Park
ornati is located in the central Adriatic Sea and the northern part of Dalmatia. It is comprised of around 130 uninhabited islands, reefs, and islets. The Kornati islands, with their incredible natural beauty, diverse rocky coastlines and well-preserved, rich marine ecosystems, were declared a National Park back in 1980.
The Kornati islands are becoming increasingly popular with the international sailing community. This is having a significant impact on their development, with top-quality shoreline restaurants popping up in every available cove.
These islands are perfect for hiking, kayaking and re-connecting with nature among Kornati’s beautiful vineyards, olive groves and fig trees.
Pag, the large island in northern Dalmatia, stuns with a rocky landscape more closely resembling the moon than the Adriatic coastline. With 8,000 residents and 30,000 sheep that wander throughout quiet villages, visitors will find respite from the loud holiday crowd. The one exception is Zrće Beach, which has become a pulsing nightlife hub for 20-somethings in recent years. The main draw is calm Adriatic waters that make for perfect swimming or a leisurely row around the coast. And of course, the island produces paški sir cheese, a hard variety made from the distinct milk of the hearty sheep. For those who love abandoned sites, the old town offers a dusty landscape of sea views along with the remains of an old monastery.
Turkey – the amazing meeting point of east and west – a land of history, culture and mythology inherited for more than 5,000 years, offers a holiday for everyone; nature lovers, archaeologists, sun worshippers, photographers, sports enthusiasts and sailors will be fascinated by the beauty and tranquility of the local waters.
The friendly and hospitable people, excellent climate, fascinating culture, history and archaeological sites, clean coasts, tasty food, beautiful crafts and safe environment for travellers are just some of the points that make Turkey attractive.
In Turkey you will experience an incredible diversity in nature, culture, history, beliefs and ideas. This is why people sometimes describe the Turkish landscape as a “symphony of sounds, smells and people in the most unlikely combinations”. You are welcome to discover these amazing diversities.
The Aegean and the Mediterranean – these two seas surround the west and south coastline of Turkey. Both seas and their shores were the birthplace of civilizations. This is why they are known as “the seas of gods and goddesses”. The remains of Pagan, Roman, Hellenic, Greek, Arabic and Ottoman civilizations and cultures welcome you not only on land, but also underwater.
The Aegean offers history and archaeology, as well as the infinite beauty of nature. Here nature is still so untouched and colourful. Silent bays, secluded beaches, the hot Mediterranean sun and the green landscape merge into a harmony of colours and sounds.
Kusadasi – Ephesus : Kusadasi is a major holiday resort and a popular port with its own marina. Ephesus, an important city of antiquity, is always a highlight of any visit to Turkey. In addition to the rich remains of the city, the House of the Virgin Mary, St.John’s Basilica and the Museum are all in the area.
Didyma : The Temple of Apollo was one of the most famous sacred places of antiquity. Milet (Miletus) and Priene are two of the other ancient sites that are well worth visiting.
Gulf of Hisaronü : A peaceful area containing Selimiye, Keçibükü, Bencik and Bozburun. Marti Marina in Keçibükü is surrounded by only natural beauty.
Datça-Knidos : The Carian city, Knidos, was once famous as a centre of art and culture. The city dedicated to the beautiful goddess Aphrodite is a very popular stop for yachts, with its two harbours and rich remains.
Marmaris : A calm bay ideal for mooring and a great town for restaurants, shops and night life. One of the biggest marinas of the Mediterranean, the Netsel Marina, is located in this town. Marmaris is an excellent starting point for a blue voyage, as you can take two different routes.
Dalyan-Caunos : An excellent mooring place for your yacht. You can take an excursion to Dalyan where you can see the ancient harbour city of Caunos, the rock tombs and also the sandy beach which is a nesting place for the “caretta caretta” sea turtles.
Göcek : Göcek is a very popular cruising area, as there are many coves and inlets, the islands, and the well-equipped modern marinas located in the town.
Fethiye : Fethiye is another popular resort along the Turkish Coast. Daily excursions to Telmessos, Xanthos, Letoon, Saklikent Canyon, Kayaköy and Ölüdeniz can be taken from here
Gemiler Island – Ölüdeniz : On Gemiler Island, Byzantine ruins including a church with beautiful floor mosaics lie among the pine trees. You can explore the beautiful Oludeniz (Blue Lagoon) where the calm, crystal clear water is ideal for swimming and water sports. From Mountain Babadag you can paraglide into the Blue Lagoon.
Kalkan : Kalkan is a small authentic town with narrow streets lined with souvenir shops and that lead to a pretty marina. Again, tours to Xanthos, Saklikent Canyon, Patara and Kaputas are organized from the town.
Kas – Kekova : Kas is another cosy town providing a nice stop over on the way to Kekova. The “sunken city” on the northern shores of Kekova Island is fascinating! The houses that sank into the sea after an earthquake can be seen under the crystal clear blue waters. Simena, Kaleköy Castle, offers a bird’s-eye view of the bays, inlets and islands. Demre-Myra : In the ancient Myra, many carved rock tombs overlook the magnificent Roman theatre.
Finike : Another fine marina with all facilities is located in Finike, which is a small town surrounded by mountains.
Kemer : A resort town surrounded by high mountains and with a nice fully-equipped modern marina. Phaselis and Olympos are two sights that can be visited from Kemer.
Antalya : Turkey’s major resort and the biggest city on the Mediterranean. There are two marinas that would welcome you after a long cruise in the turquoise waters of Turkey. Besides the Roman and Ottoman remains in the town, the ancient cities of Side, Perge and Aspendos should not be missed either.
from Corfu or Levkas
The Ionian islands off the west coast of Greece are surprisingly lush and green (they have more rainfall than England – happily, only in winter), the sailing conditions are generally a gentle force 2 to 4 – not much wind. Ideal for the less experienced, or if you just want to take it easy and it’s great for kids – short distances between islands so no time to get bored.
As everywhere in Greece, it’s packed with culture and history, easy to find if you look, from the Venetian city of Corfu to the legendary island of Ithaca, to which Odysseus finally returned after his 11 years of wanderings. Like many, these are the first Greek waters we ever sailed, so the area retains a special something and rewards going back to, many times. For really enthusiastic sailors, we have other ideas.
SARONIC & ARGOLIC GULFS
When you look at a map, the Saronic & Argolic gulfs, just south of Athens, look too close to “civilisation” for comfort; too many crowds. Not necessarily. Aegina island is clearly seen from the city, it’s a two hour sail and we know a quiet little port there with the best freshly caught seafood anywhere in Greece (it’s called Perdica) and there’s room in the harbour for all of a dozen yachts, if you’re friendly. The island is dominated by the temple of Aphaia, one of the most important in antiquity (from where the view is wonderful). Many other remains attest to its history, back to the mists of time around 3000 BC. Other gems of the region include the islands of Poros, Hydra & Spetses, none more than 10 miles apart.
Sail up into the Argolic gulf and take the short trip to Mycenae or into the small port of Epidavros in the Saronic for the nearby classical remains of the same name. Spirits of ancient times are everywhere. Down the coast of the Pelloponese, notable anchorages include Yerakas, with its fjord-like entrance hiding a shallow lagoon with a Byzantine church keeping watch, and Monemvassia with its ‘sugar-loaf’ mountain houses a mediaeval village and streets just wide enough for donkeys. The wind in these gulfs is seldom fierce, but good sailing breezes of force 3 to 5 make for swift passages and, because of the nearby mainland’s topography, the sea is usually pretty flat – arguably the best kind of sailing. You’ll never see all of Greece, but this is a great place to start.
from Athens or Lavrion
For many, the idea of classical Greece means white houses, blue roofed churches, little old ladies in black and the barren islands of the Cyclades (Greek for ‘circle’) in the middle of the Aegean. Magical islands, so close your next port of call is always in view (you’ll have the best charts and pilots aboard, but basically this is easy, just look where you’re going). Easy to reach from Athens (but stop at the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion first) and everything you’ve heard is true.
It also comes with a warning for sailors, it’s called the Meltemi, the wind that blows from the north in July & August, reaching force 6 to 7 often, force 8 and more often enough. To enjoy this area in summer you need to be an experienced sailor, something of a sportsman, or be in a good skippered or crewed yacht. Outside of this two-month period (though nothing is that predictable where the sea is concerned) it’s a different story and you can sail there in more relaxed fashion. It’s worth the journey. From the mosaics on the island of Delos (ancient, holy place from Mycenaean times, you’ll need a guide) to the windmills of Mykonos and the crater of Santorini (also called Thira, whose volcano blew it apart a couple of millennia ago and gave rise to the legend of Atlantis). Everywhere is a feast for the eye.
from Rhodes or Kos
The eastern Aegean islands of the Dodecanese (the name sells them short, there are more than twelve) are like rough hewn pearls of every shade against a dramatic backdrop that is the land mass of Turkey. It’s here that east meets west, before you actually step into Asia, as these islands have been inhabited alternately by the Greeks and Turks – among many others, notably the Knights of Malta who built the magnificent and still completely intact old town of Rhodes in the 12th century – and the culture of the islands reflects these two predominant influences strongly.
The climate can be surprisingly mild, so far south, the islands vary from barren rock to cultivated green and the wind evolves from the Cycladic northerly, coming from the east in the northern islands, backing west towards Rhodes at the southern end of the chain, blowing an average force 4, maybe 5. Nothing to fear, here. The seas are not too big, distances between islands not great and there are ports of every kind, from bustling tourist centres like Kos to specks in the ocean like Arki, east of Patmos, which has about 27 inhabitants, one taverna, and the clearest, cleanest turquoise water it will ever be your pleasure to throw yourself into. There are no ferries here, without your own boat you can’t go.