If you want to experience the magic of Croatian Adriatic you should choose a cruise – on a yacht, a motor yacht or one of the many traditional sailboats, a gullet.
The following are sailing destinations you should not miss, from Istria to Dubrovnik, where everyone can find something suitable for them. One thing is for sure, each of these places will leave you breathless. Enjoy the silence, the scenery, the scent of the sea and romantic walks. You can marvel at the natural phenomena and historic heritage, while the mountaineering will take you to fantastic viewpoints. Dive and discover the secrets of underwater, cycle to explore the beauty of numerous islands and taste domestic food and wine, in the pleasant atmosphere of Mediterranean restaurants and taverns…
Rovinj and Belle Epoque
Rovinj is a charming historic town in the idyllic archipelago, which offers great entertainment and lots of summer fun. It is the nautical centre of Istria, with excellent marinas, sports facilities and scenic cycling and jogging routes. A diving devotee will not miss a firs class diving site near Rovinj. It is a passenger ship Baron Gautsch, 84 meters long, and nearly 12 meters wide, which clashed against an underwater mine and sank into the sea near St. John’s lighthouse. This happened on August 13, 1914 and the ship sank in just a few minutes. Out of 300 passengers, 130 drowned. Today Baron Gautsch lies at a depth of 40 meters, in the upright position, and its bow is intent towards its destination, the safe harbour of Trieste it had never reached. The upper deck starts at 28 meters, and the bottom deck is at a depth of 36 meters. The scene is picturesque, if one can say this concerning the consequence of such a tragedy. The wreck has been so well preserved that you can really feel the atmosphere of the Belle Epoque period. With a little bit of imagination, one can almost see the ladies walking down the promenade deck, the gentlemen drinking cognac, smoking cigars and pipes and socializing in the smoking lounge… Baron Gautsch now belongs to the inhabitants of the sea depths. The picarels are swimming in the lounge, the conger eels are living in it and the greater amberjacks are walking along the ship bridge… And after this memorable diving experience, in Rovinj you can find the current Belle Epoque: the daily Sunset Beach Party in holiday resorts Amarin, Polari and Rubin Villas, with chill out, lounge, Latino music and stunning sunsets on the beach. Numerous discotheques such as Monte Bar, Valentino on the Red Island, Eva or Monte Molino will provide excellent nightly entertainment.
Pantera bay and Veli Rat
Pantera bay, a safe anchorage surrounded by on the north-western side of Dugi otok (Long Island) is reminiscent of the southern climate and lagoons. After you berth your yacht, have a swim in the crystal clear sea, and take the dinghy to the pier at the NW part of the port, and take a walk through the alley of one century-old pine trees that were planted here by the old Austrian lighthouse keepers. After a ten-minute walk through a leafy cool shade you will see the high seas and a magnificent building – Veli rat, the oldest and the highest lighthouse in the Adriatic. It is 42 meters high, and its light can be seen from as far as 18 miles, and here, it has been guarding the northern Dalmatian gate for the last 160 years. The legend has it that the builders had put 100,000 egg yolks in its yellow thick walls, in order to make them strong enough to withstand the weather, the winds and the sea. In the courtyard of the lighthouse there is a votive chapel of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of seafarers, in which a Roman Missal of 1869 has been preserved. This is where generations of lighthouse keepers had been praying, getting married, and baptized their children. Even today, romantic weddings are sometimes organized here.
Telašćica bay and Salt Lake Mir
Telašćica is one of the safest, most beautiful and largest natural ports in the Adriatic. There ate berths in the Mir bay, as well as a restaurant, but due to numerous tourist boats in high season it is advisable to anchor your yacht and go ashore by dinghy. Telašćica is a Nature Park where you can enjoy the harmony of 400 plant species some of which are very rare and even endemic. In the underwater you will find red coral which is also becoming rare, and carnivorous sponge. You should visit the beautiful salt lake Mir (Peace). Here the mud is used in arthritis treatments and it is also appreciated by healthy people. It only takes several minutes of climbing to the top of the 200 meters high cliffs which slope to the sea, to the depth of 90 meters. Side by side, you can see a calming view of the sea and a wild gorge where peregrine falcons are nesting.
The Symphony of Kornati
The most impressive description of Kornati archipelago is that written by Bernard Shaw: “On the last day of the Creation God desired to crown His work and thus created Kornati Islands out of tears, stars and breath.” Today’s hedonists would add: this is a truly unique paradise for all senses – sight, hearing, smell, and especially for taste. For, nowhere in the world, in such a magical environment, are there so many places where you can enjoy the original and natural slow food cuisine. In the bays of Kornati islands there are about 20 excellent restaurants and taverns offering local specialties: fish, lobsters, squid, cuttlefish and octopus, mussels and lamb. These dishes are prepared the old fashioned way, on the domestic hearth, under a baking lid, or grilled, with spices that grow at arm’s length. The wine that is served is mostly local, red and white, along with the aperitifs, also homemade, usually travarica (herbal brandy), prepared according to ancient recipes. And you can enjoy them under the shade of vine pergola, with the views of the sea and sunsets and the most beautiful symphony of scents of sea, stone and Mediterranean herbs: sage, myrtle, wild thyme, lavender, oregano, immortelle…
The Magic of Pakleni Islands
Pakleni Islands is the most beautiful part of the Hvar riviera. The islands are low and wooded, and the colour of the sea is azure. There are lots of secluded beaches, stone terraces and coves. The largest island is St. Clement and that is where Palmižana is, a hidden cove surrounded by pine forest, fragrant heather, rosemary and exotic plants. Above the marina, in the wooded garden there is a famous restaurant known as Dagmar’s which is also an exhibition of artwork (restaurant Palmižana). It is a Meneghello family property, which originated in a love story of a diver from Hvar and a journalist and an artist who came here 50-odd years ago, and stayed. The story got a sequel. Two years ago a secret wedding was organized at Palmižana. The daughter Tarin Meneghello married Nicola Bongiorno, the son of a famous Italian TV presenter Mike Bongiorno. It is obvious that Palmižana is a magical place for love. The marina is usually crowded, so you can anchor your boat on the other side of the island, in a deep sandy bay Vinogradišće, but not when the southerly winds are blowing. Here you can also find a beach and two restaurants, and you can walk to Dagmar if you like. If you need a ride to Hvar you can take a “sea tram”. In addition to a historical charm, this city lures with popular nightclubs and parties.
Bol and Zlatni rat
Zlatni rat (The Golden Cape) is half a kilometre long pebble-stone cape surrounded by transparent, clean sea, and a beautiful beach that changes shape and position, depending on the winds and the currents. The place is windy and ideal for surfing. Therefore, you can enjoy both swimming and surfing. If you prefer other forms of entertainment, you can visit Bol, the oldest coastal settlement on the Island of Brač. There are many tennis courts, and you can also play beach volleyball or learn to dive. If you are in search of a gourmet experience, the best choice would be a fish restaurant “Fisherman’s cottage” situated on the beach east of town. Make sure you taste Bolski plavac wine. What about the evening? You can choose between a romantic walk along the sea, a play which is staged in the main square of Bol, or a fashion show. Amongst numerous bars, cocktail bars and night clubs, the most popular are cocktail bars Varadero and Aquarius, where the surfers gather. When the bars close, you can go to discotheque Faces, which has a dance floor for 2000 people and during the whole summer well-known musicians and disc jockeys perform here. Take some time and energy and climb Vidova gora, the highest insular peak of the Adriatic (778 m), and you can enjoy a stunning view of Gargano in Italy. In a small restaurant on top of the mountain, make sure you order veal prepared under the baking lid.
Marko Polo, wine and Moreška
The city of Marco Polo and the ancient folk dance Moreška is a genuine sailing paradise of the Adriatic, especially since a modern marina was built here. You can berth the boat and take a walk through the town. During your stay in Korcula, you may wish to explore several attractions, including the stone pillar in honour of the Trojan hero Antenor who, according to an ancient legend, founded Korcula. The Land Gate and the Revelin will take you to a small square, the first one to be paved in this city (in 1569). Visit the Town Hall, the Rector’s Palace, Mali Revelin, Zakrjan and Bocar (Barbarigo) towers, Prince’s Small and Big Palace, the Tower of All Saints (Rampada, dating from 1493), the church of St. Michael, the Cathedral of St. Marco, the Arneri and Gabriellis palaces with the Town Museum. Continue your tour through the Sea Gate, visit the Chapel of Our Lady of the Snow and Our Lady of Lourdes, the church of St. Catherine, and of course the house of Marco Polo. The Forteca – the English tower Fort Wellington (1813), above the city on the top of the hill, gives an unimpeded view of Korčula and Mljet archipelago. Make sure you see Moreška, 400 years old game about the eternal struggle between good and evil, which is performed in Korčula about 50 times a year. As for the refreshments, take them in one of the following restaurants: Gradski podrum, Adio Mare, Kanavelića dvori, Liburnia or the taverns Morski konjic, Marinero, Lanterna. Enjoy the dessert in Cukarin cake-shop where excellent traditional pastries of Korčula are served. Visit the tourist resort of Lumbarda, which is only 5 kilometres away from Korčula, and see the town of Renaissance-Gothic architecture and rich archaeological sites, have a swim at the large sandy beach in the Pržina bay, visit one of the restaurants, Zure, Maestral or Taverna, order the octopus in sauce and taste the domestic Grk wine, or Pošip Čara and Maraštin.
The secrets of Mljet
Mljet is the most densely wooded Adriatic island and a National Park. Anchoring is permitted only in the coves near Pomena and Polače. In the Pomena bay there is the Odysseus Hotel and the berths for yachts. Nearby are the famous Veliko and Malo jezero (Big and Little Lake). These two lakes are now saltwater lakes, but since their formation, 10,000 years ago, until the Christian era – they were fresh-water lakes. With their unexplored mysteries they both still attract many scientists from all over the world. On the islet of St. Mary in the middle of the Big Lake there is an ancient Benedictine monastery with a church, a trademark of Mljet. Around the lake there is a 12 km long cycling and walking route. Bicycles can be rented in Pomena. The history of Mljet goes back to the Illyrian times. In Polače bay there is a Roman palace with a fortress and an Early Christian basilica. The natural beauty of Mljet includes centuries-old trees and forests, caves and pits, and salt lakes that periodically become dry. In some of them eels had been caught and marsh birds had been hunted for centuries. The legend has it that in one of the caves on Mjet Odysseus stayed for seven years, and that this is where a nymph Calypso bewitched him on his way home from Troy.
Lastovo is an offshore island of exceptional beauty, isolated, forested and wild. The sea abounds in fish, lobsters and corals. Make Zaklopatica your base, a quiet and sheltered bay on the north side of the island. In front of the restaurants and taverns, Triton and Augusta Insula, there are the piers, but their depth is only 1.5 to 2 m. However, it is here where one should experience fishing, diving, or taking a tour of this extraordinary island by bicycle or scooter, provided by the owners of apartments and restaurants. Traditional fish dishes are prepared in restaurants, the fish is local and fresh and the cuttlefish risotto is delicious, as well as the culinary “innovation” – raw fish in lemon juice. Lastovo town can be reached by a road, 2 km into the island, and in Ubli there is a discotheque. One should pay attention to the unique architecture, especially the characteristic Lastovo Fumars (chimneys), each one each one an original and authentic design. The starting point of your tour can also be Skrivena luka (The Hidden Port), the largest bay of the south coast, which is perfect for swimming, walking and jogging. On the highest cliff there is an attractive lighthouse Struga. The story says that at the beginning of the last century, fishermen had caught a huge 40 pounds heavy lobster and sent it straight off to Vienna, as a gift to the Emperor Franz Joseph. The lobster was delivered to Vienna alive and in return the Emperor sent the fishermen a trunk full of sugar and coffee. There is also another record: under the stone cliffs of Struga, which descend into the sea to a depth of 50 meters, the local coral divers had found a 100 pounds heavy coral.
Starry skies through the eyes of a dolphin
Dubrovnik is a cult place for sailors from all around the world, whether they come by mega yachts or modest sized 10 meter sailboats. You can berth your ship in the ACI marina in Komolac, rent a safe and fast day cruiser and take a tour of this attractive destination. In addition to Dubrovnik, you should visit Lokrum, Koločep, Šipan and Lopud islands. Šipan is the largest of the Elafiti Islands, the most famous restaurants and taverns are Marko and Taurus. One should taste the shrimp a la Marko, lamb cop, rustic filet and drink Plavac wine. Koločep (Kalamota) is famous for its corals. Here you can experience the magical night dive in four shallow submarine caves with high ceiling and sand-gravel bottom at a depth of only 12 meters. Watch the starry skies through the eyes of a dolphin. If you’re visiting Dubrovnik during the Dubrovnik Summer Festival you will certainly attend one of the plays in the atrium of the Rector’s Palace or the Sponza Palace, on Gundulićeva Poljana or in the towers of Revelin and Lovrijenac… Unless you are passionate about casinos, do not expect to find nightclubs in Dubrovnik, because the city sleeps at night. Still, Dubrovnik Golden Sun Casino is the best-equipped casino in this part of Europe, with a cocktail bar and live music entertainment.
Written by Mladen Gerovac Photo: Mladen Gerovac, ACI archives, www.dugiotok.hr, Barbara archives