With over 1.000 islands and its long mainland coastline, Croatia offers more than enough for yacht owners, charter guests and crew to explore. Each island in Croatia has its own distinct charm, making exploring it not just enjoyable but also ensuring everyone finds their favourite spot. All it takes is knowing where to look.
If you are planning to spend the Mediterranean season in Croatia, these are the spots to look out:
1. Mljet Island: Exploring the Unspoiled Nature
Mljet is one of the greenest islands of the Adriatic. It's also home to the Mljet National Park which covers the entire north-west part of the island. Keep in mind that, since this is a National Park, the use of Jet Skis is not allowed.
The park is known for Veliko and Malo Jezero, two linked salt lakes, with a cafe that once was a 12th-century monastery, located on an islet in Veliko. The neighboring Polace provides picturesque views, while the island's heart shelters the captivating blue Odysseus cave, a beautiful blue limestone grotto accessible by boat; where Odysseus allegedly met the nymph Calypso who nursed him back to health on the island.
2. Hvar Island: Home of Jet Set and Nights Out
From British aristocracy to Hollywood royalty, Hvar has been luring A-listers for more than a century. Hvar is both name of the island and the town of Hvar which is sometimes compared to St. Tropez in a way that it's a small fishing town turned into a restaurant and nightlife hotspot.
Hvar Island is covered in ancient olive trees, fields of lavender and vineyards and it's the sunniest island in the Adriatic, which helps it have one of the best wines around. For a private day of swimming and fun, it's a good idea to spend the day at Crvene Stijene (Red Rocks). It's a hidden spot accessible only by boat, with an impressive vertical red-coloured limestone cliff.
3. Paklinski Islands: Best for relaxing after a busy day
Just opposite the famous Hvar you will find a series of little islands and bays, perfect for relaxing after a busy day in Hvar. These islands are known as Paklinski islands and the most famous of them is Sveti Klement. St. Klement, the largest of the islands, is home to Palmižana, a bohemian bay dotted with art installations, vibrant botanical gardens and chic restaurants.
You can also enjoy a day in Uvala Tarsce, a perfect swimming spot where you can tie stern to the rocks and explore the turquoise waters. If you are looking for some beach fun during the day and all-night parties after dark, definitely try the 'Carpe Diem' Beach on the island of Marinkovac. This is where you will find the craziest all-night parties.
4. Korcula: A Green Island With a Town Known as "Little Dubrovnik"
Korcula is an island rich in vineyards, lush pine forests and olive groves and it harbours an old town dotted with medieval squares and houses. Often referred to as 'Little Dubrovnik,' Korčula offers an equally mesmerizing blend of history, culture and natural beauty, all on a more intimate and relaxed scale. The heritage of Korcula is celebrated each week with the traditional Moreska Sword Dance.
From Korcula, it's easy to pop over to the lovely Badija Island - an island inhabited only by a monastery and herds of deers that will often let you feed them.
5. Krka National Park: Magical Waterfalls Near Sibenik in Dalmatia
Krka National Park is one of Croatia's top attractions and offers stunning waterfalls cascading into emerald pools where swimming is allowed. Yacht tenders are not allowed in the National Park so the tour has to be arranged and guests can be accompanied by yacht crew.
The closest you will be able to come to the park will be Skradin, which is a town just at the entrance to the National Park area.
6. Kornati: Archipelago of Lunar Landscapes
Kornati Islands are an archipelago consisting of 140 uninhabited islands and islets, 89 of which are part of the Kornati National Park. This number of islands spread over 300 km2 makes it one of the densest groups of islands in the Mediterranean; meaning there are lots of places to hide and enjoy the peace and quiet of the lunar landscape and deserted bays.
Since there are no sources of freshwater, the islands are mostly barren and riddled with cracks, caves, grottoes and rugged cliffs. The whiteness of the islands against the deep-blue Adriatic makes for an eerie and wonderful sight on your Croatia cruising itinerary.
7. Brijuni Islands: Private Retreat of Yugoslavian President Tito
Brijuni is a National park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that served as the private retreat of the Yugoslavian president Tito. Here he hosted many world rulers who would sometimes gift him animals. You can still see antelopes and mountain zebras roaming around. Among his visitors was also former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, who presented him with two elephants, one of which still roams the main island today.
The island is today covered with meadows, parks, and oak and laurel forests making them a great place to relax, enjoy nature and some light recreation. It also hosts tennis courts in the deep shade of century-old pines and a golf course that provides a unique experience, sometimes in the company of deer, hares and peacocks.
8. Lastovo Island: Remote Island Ideal for Stargazing
Lastovo is Croatia's most remote inhabited island with a population of less than a thousand so it is ideal for by those looking for peace, quiet and nature. It's an absolutely beautiful island and a good spot to spend the day swimming, relaxing and having fun with water toys.
Its remoteness allows for very little light pollution so this is an especially good place for stargazing. If you are visiting in mid-August, you might be lucky to see the yearly meteor shower called 'Suze svetog Lovre', which is a great experience to enjoy peaceful or romantic surroundings.
9. Vis Island: Rural Charm and Hidden Treasures of the Mamma Mia Island
Vis is a beautiful unspoiled island where Mamma Mia 2 was filmed and where you can find some of the clearest water you've ever seen.
The island was cut off from foreign visitors from the 1950s right up until 1989 due to military activity so that helped preserve the island from being spoiled by development. Its military past left behind a hidden 110m submarine tunnel that you are actually free to sail in with your tender. The tunnel is carved out from a Vis hill and is located in a bay north of Vis town.
Another hidden, but slightly more popular place for those yachting in Croatia, is Stiniva Beach, a unique beach that's hidden away in a sheltered cove. Just next to Vis is also Bisevo Island where you will find the Blue Cave, where sunlight reflects through a hole under the surface to bathe the cave in a vivid, aquamarine light.
10. Dubrovnik: Timeless Adriatic Charm
This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers an enchanting blend of historical charm and modern luxury, perfect for yacht owners seeking a unique blend of culture and relaxation. As you approach from the sea, you're greeted by the awe-inspiring view of terracotta rooftops set against the shimmering turquoise waters of the Adriatic, all framed by centuries-old fortified walls.
In the well-equipped Port of Gruž, you'll find excellent marina facilities including secure berths, refuelling services and maintenance support.
Just opposite Dubrovnik is Lokrum Island, an oasis of tranquility in the Adriatic Sea. This island with lush botanical gardens and inhabited by peacocks and rabbits, is a paradise for nature enthusiasts.
11. Rovinj: Italian Charm and Fine Dining
Rovinj is a little colourful medieval town build by Venetians so it offers a good portion of that Italian charm. Most of the old town is situated within little peninsula so this is a good place to walk around old town's cobbled narrow streets and Venetian buildings.
Rovinj is also a home to a Michelin-star restaurant Mulini, hidden in the streets of the old town.
If you are looking for a meal with a view, you can book 'La Puntulina' restaurant right on the rocks next to the sea for a more relaxed romantic vibe, or 'Cap Aureo' restaurant overlooking the old town Rovinj for a more sophisticated feel.