We took marina Mandalina in Šibenik as a starting point for this area. There are a couple of reasons for that. Marina Mandalina is a home of a large fleet of 190 boats, it is open to the attractive archipelago of Šibenik with island Žirje in the west and island Murter in the north. The popular Trogir area is also easily reachable from Šibenik, as well as famous town Skradin and the National park of the river Krka. Even if we get our boat at 6 pm we still have time to sail to one of the closest spots (4-5 NM), island Zlarin. The route we propose is the following:
Once we arrive at Zlarin we can moor on the main pier (Nova Riva) or on the outside of the inner piers. There are moorings with water and electricity connections, but it is also possible to anchor by the western side of Zlarin bay. We have chosen Zlarin, not only for being the closest spot but to get the know the place that is famous for harvesting and processing red coral since the 13th century. Zlarin is a quiet island. It has a 20 km long road, but the car traffic is forbidden. It has crystal clear sea and it is one of the sunniest islands on Croatian coast (around 2700 sunny hours a year). Since it is a weekend, the beaches are probably going to be crowded with tourists and locals from Šibenik that visit Zlarin frequently. For that reason, we are going to find a more isolated place on the west coast of island Murter on our way to Betina.
At lunchtime, we'll look for some quiet place to anchor and to swim. The most popular beaches are most crowded because they are easily accessed from the mainland and there is an auto camp in Kosirna. Beach Čigrađe is full of sea urchins which means a clean sea, but a difficulty in swimming. We are going to choose rocky Koromašna with two pebble beaches and leave beach Slanica for tomorrow. We are going to spend the night and moor in Marina Betina which is now mostly empty because many charter boats left the marina on Saturday so it is easy to find a spot. Betina is the cradle of Croatian shipbuilding and this tradition is cherished and present even today. If we want to find out more about the history of shipbuilding we can visit a newly opened museum that works Sunday’s as well, from 10 am until 10 pm.
Off we go to island Žirje, the farthest island of the archipelago. Summer mistral should allow us to cross this distance sailing ‘mezzo nave’ in 3-4 hours. The time of departure and the time of sailing, in general, will depend on the place we want to reach on Žirje. Island Žirje has 29 bays and we can find buoys in Velika and Mala Stupica and Tratinska bay. Other bays such as Muna, Koromašna, Mikavica, and Pečenja are big enough for one boat. There are great spots for diving and fishing everywhere. You can see Roman traces on this island, and if you are keen, you can visit the old Roman fortress on the hill above Velika Stupica. Don’t forget that Žirje is known for good wine and delicious lamb.
Rogoznica is a small town that offers a variety of events during the summer season. We will moor our boat in marina Frapa, one of the most beautiful marinas on Croatian coast that offers many facilities like three restaurants, shops, boutique, hairdresser, tennis court, beach, disco, and even night cabaret gentleman's club. The most interesting part is, of course, the Dragon's cave, a bar located at 15 m of sea depth. You have the impression that you are in the aquarium because you can see many fishes through small windows around you. If we decide to take a walk to Rogoznica, we will encounter many cafes and small shops, but also fresh fish in local fish markets. The beach next to the marina is full of sea urchins and the one in Rogoznica is too crowded. However, we have a boat and we can sail away to find another perfect spot somewhere between Primošten and Grebaštica.
Before approaching to island Krapanj it is necessary to study the pilot book because the island itself is surrounded with many rocks and shallow water. It is known for producing of natural sponges. The boat can be moored in front of the new hotel Spongiola (the side that is facing mainland). There are 25 moorings for boats up to 25 m with water and electricity connections. The price for the boat 13-14 m is 70 Eur. It is also possible to moor in the small port. There is a Franciscan monastery from the 16th century that holds the valuable selection of sponges, amphoras, anchors, and corals collected by divers from Krapanj.
We continue our journey to the north and we pass under the arches of Šibenik bridge. We are now on lake Prokljan and this is where the river Krka meets the sea. In front of us, there is a small picturesque town Skradin. Skradin is 23 centuries old and even the old Romans used to hide their boats in this bay. In the summertime, it is not unusual to see swans swimming between the boats and welcoming them. There are plenty of restaurants and taverns serving fresh fish which doesn't surprise us because many owners are fishermen themselves. We can hear the Krka waterfalls in the distance. It is possible to visit them by bike or on foot. We can even take a swim in the places where it is allowed. If we want, we can visit the falls with a boat, but not our own one. The fun fact worthy of mention is that the world's second hydropower plant was built on this river in 1985 thanks to Nikola Tesla, and only two days after the first one, the one on Niagara Falls. Not only that but Šibenik was the first town to receive the alternating current. While we are here, we want to try the famous smoked ham, dried in Bura wind, but we need to be careful and mind the time because we need to continue to Zaton (5 NM) while there is still sun.
Why Zaton? Because after enjoying the smoked ham, cheese, lamb, fresh fish, squid, octopus, and different clams along our way, we want to try something else from this brackish water, and those are škriljuni (something like freshwater shrimps), golci (small transparent fishes), bižot (small conger), small cuttlefish or only few cm long squids. Let this be our last dinner on our cruise. The tavern is called – Porat.
There is 6 NM to get to marina Mandalina and, in order to get to check-out on time (before 8 am), we need to get up early. However, we are happy to know we made the best of our trip and we enjoyed every minute of it.