We divide the eastern side of Adriatic in 4 main sailing areas. From the north towards the south these areas are:
- Istria and Kvarner – cities Pula and Rijeka
- North Dalmatia – Zadar and Sibenik
- Central Dalmatia – Split
- South Dalmatia - Dubrovnik
ISTRIA AND KVARNER SAILING REGION
Biggest cities: Pula and Rijeka
Istria as Croatia’s largest peninsula has two faces for sailors. Its western coast, from Kanegra in the north to the promontory of Kamenjak at its southernmost point, it is adorned by centuries-old towns, characterised by tall bell-towers rising above the sea. It is a coast of age-old communication with the Italian ports of the northern Adriatic. The eastern coast of Istria right up to Preluk is of a more mystical character, less densely inhabited and more rarely visited. Navigation through these waters is not so frequent either because the customary nautical route from the southernmost point of Istria leads to the islands of Cres and Loπinj and further on down the string of islands towards the southeast. Going back to the lighthouse of Savudrija, and sailing past it, the usual route is straight into Umag - making a wide sweep around the shallows that stretch up to half a mile from the shoreline.
The islands of Kvarner and the Velebit area — Krk, Cres, Losinj, Unije, Srakane, Ilovik, Rab, Pag and many other smaller ones, as well as the shores of the mainland, have two faces. All the way to Preluk, where the mainland bends sharply, at a right angle, in the south-easterly direction, the land is covered by lush vegetation, but as soon as we pass Rijeka the coast becomes bleaker, furrowed by coves into which glittering pebbles have been deposited through water-worn-ravines, and where waters have carved solitary beaches. The northern sides of the islands of Cres, Krk, Rab and Pag have been whipped barren by strong bura, while their southern faces - where most of the settlements are located - are mellower and have much more vegetation. However, this same wind weakens considerably before it reaches the island of Losinj and the two smaller islands of Susak and Ilovik farther out to sea, which allows for far more greenery on their northern shores.
During the peak season numerous sailboats and yachts ply the channels lying between these islands, either heading south or returning from it. The coast is dotted with coves, inlets and anchorages. It is enough to make mention of Punta Kriza, Marasol, Artatore, Ilovik, Krivica, in order to conjure up a vision of rows of safely anchored boats. There are several modern marinas in the area.
More about sailing vacation in Istria: Istrian vacation planner [PDF]
NORTH DALMATIA SAILING REGION
Biggest cities: Zadar and Sibenik
When our southbound sailing brings us to Premuda, Silba and Olib, we have entered the waters of Zadar, which encompasses many other islands. The southern half of Pag also falls under the waters of Zadar, but we have already sailed it with the northern isles. Here again we meet with a low-lying and fertile coastline with some of the oldest urban agglomerations on the Adriatic. These include Nin, Zadar and Biograd, packed with history. Off the coast is another string of islands: Dugi otok, Iz, Ugljan, Pasman, Vrgada and others. If we are looking for small island settlements or are seeking the backcountry, or if we are looking to anchor in bays such as Pantera or Telascica, which enjoy the status of nature reserves, we will find it all on these islands. Here again there are many modern marinas.
The coastline and the islands of the waters of Sibenik differ from those of the Zadar area we have just sailed. It is still a low-lying shoreline, but much more indented, with numerous harbours and bays carved into the mainland. Here too there are many modern marinas. The closest islands are joined to the mainland or almost touching it, and have large settlements, while those further away from the mainland have but few houses used only on a temporary basis, or small fishing ports and hamlets in the fields. The crown jewel of the waters of Sibenik is the Kornati archipelago - a group of islands unto their own which many would sail here for, if for nothing else.
Biggest city: Split
The shoreline and the islands that surround Split are deemed by many to be the most beautiful in the Adriatic Sea. And whether you agree with them or not - because the other parts of our seaboard are truly magnificent - the islands of Solta, Brac, Hvar, Vis and the many smaller ones, and the coastline from Cape Ploca to the estuary of the Neretva River, offer yachtsmen countless sailing challenges, as well as many fascinating towns established back in the Antiquity to visit. Sailing along this part of the coast, especially during the summer months, is very pleasant. There are a number of large and excellent marinas in this part of the Adriatic, mostly in Split and its environs, and a number of good harbours. The distance to the islands is not great - it is less than five nautical miles to the closest of them, Drvenik, Solta and Brac. Sailing out of Split there are some twenty miles to Hvar and thirty to Vis. The channels between the islands and the coast stretch parallel with them and are pleasant places to sail, especially during stable summer winds.
The weather conditions in this part of the Adriatic in the peak sailing period from May to October are, for the most part, favourable and are characterised by a regular pattern of change of prevailing conditions. In the first part of the nautical season the southerlies are dominant, followed by a period of stable winds from the northwest, while with the end of summer there comes a September calm. Attention must be paid to the bura, which is at its strongest beneath the mountains along the coast, to short summer squalls, less frequent here than in the northern Adriatic, and to passing cyclones.
There are four marinas on these Dalmatian islands, but yachtsmen are also attracted to the waterfronts and the deep and safe bays and coves. The waterfront in Vis, a town whose roots go back 2400 years, the fishing town of Komiza, sunny and Dionysian Hvar and Stari Grad (Old Town) whose name itself suggests its roots in the Antiquity, Vrboska and Milna on the island of BraË, nestled far back into deep bays, and Pucisca, the home of the greatest masters of stonemasonry, are only some of those to which yachtsmen flock to from early spring to late in the autumn. And just a few miles out from any one of those towns there are coves which still retain the image and scents of times when few yachts sailed these waters, and in which dropping anchor is a pure pleasure. Stoncica and the Budihovac lagoon on Vis, the coves of the Paklinski otoci (Hell’s isles) or the harbour at Stari Grad on Hvar, Bobovisce, Povalje or LuËice on Brac, and Necujam on Solta are numbered among the most appealing in the Mediterranean. And we have mentioned only a part of what this coast offers.
Biggest city: Dubrovnik
The waters of Dubrovnik include the coastline south of the mouth of the Neretva River, the Peljesac peninsula and the entire coastline to the Prevlaka peninsula together with the western side of the entrance to Boka kotorska, as well as numerous islands: Korcula, Lastovo, Susac, Mljet and the Elafiti archipelago which lies closer to Dubrovnik and encompasses Jakljan, Sipan, Lopud, Kolocep, Daksa, Sveti Andrija and Lokrum. Needless to say, all of these islands are a challenge to every yachtsman.
Stretching deep into the sea, but almost parallel to the mainland coast is the second largest Adriatic peninsula, Peljesac, and on the mainland shore there is Dubrovnik - a city that was the heart of the Republic of Dubrovnik which for centuries preserved its independence and liberty between the Ottoman empire and Venice. A city in which science and the arts flourished thanks to the maritime activities and trade.
It is an area open to the Strait of Otranto, in which southern winds prevail, but pleasant for sailing in the nautical season.
We will head out from Ploce and the mouth of the Neretva River, yet another of the rivers bringing fresh water into our sea. Here one mostly comes across small local boats, often used to navigate the backwaters of this large river, and from Ploce to Metkovic, to Opuzen and Komina, moor at Blaca, Duboko and Klek. Along the coastline, passing Neum, Bosnia & Herzegovina’s exit to the sea, and the Bistrina cove, one sails the route to Mali Ston and the largest shellfish farms in the Adriatic Sea. You can get there on a motorboat or a sailboat with a small draught, and moor for a moment at the waterfront in Mali Ston, where there is room and depth only for two or three larger vessels.