Cruising? For a long time I thought that wouldn’t be for me. Until I got in touch with Sail Croatia, a boutique organization that offers different cruises from Split to Dubrovnik, in Croatia. From luxury elegance cruises and active explorer cruises to cruises that are all about hiking and cycling. In a small group (maximum 25 pax) you cruise on authentic boats along the beautiful islands along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. One of the most beautiful areas of the country! Read everything you want to know about a Sail Croatia one-week Explorer cruise in the next article, including the itinerary, the beautiful islands, medieval towns and the cruise life.
- A cruise along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia
- Itinerary: Split – Dubrovvnik
- Day 1 : Split (1) – Makarska (2) – mainland of Dalmatian coast of Croatia
- Day 2 : Makarska – Stari Grad (3)
- Day 3 Stari Grad – Hvar town (5), most populair island at the Dalmatian coast of Croatia
- Dag 4 Hvar – Vis (7)
- Day 5 Vis – Korcula (8)
- Day 6 Korcula – Mljet (9), National Park along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia
- Day 7 Mljet – Dubrovnik (11)
- Everything you want to know about a Sail Croatia Explorer cruise
- Life on a Sail Croatia Explorer cruise
- Daily swim stops along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia
- Sleeping on a Sail Croatia cruise
- Which Sail Croatia cruise suits you best?
- Meals on the Sail Croatia explorer cruise
- How much time do you need for a Sail Croatia cruise along the Dalmatian coast?
- Best travel time for a Sail Croatia cruise
- What to bring on an explorer cruise along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia
- More information
A cruise along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia
Because I like active travel, we soon find out that the Sail Croatia Explorer cruise along the Dalmatian coast in Croatia suits me best. During this Sail Croatia explorer cruise you have plenty of time to go out and do activities on your own. My cruise is called the Sail Croatia Almissa and sails in 7 days from Split to Dubrovnik in Croatia. As the date approaches, I notice that I am quite excited. What is cruise life like in Croatia? Would I get seasick? Will It be boring to spend so much time around a cruise? Is it very intense with a small group or just a lot of fun? Read more about my experiences and journey with Sail Croatia along the Dalmatian coast in my review.
Itinerary: Split – Dubrovvnik
The map is color coded as follows:
Red: places and destinations
Day 1 : Split (1) – Makarska (2) – mainland of Dalmatian coast of Croatia
On the first day you are welcomed on the Sail Croatia cruise in the port of Split from 10:30. Split is hysterically crowded with people. It is high season and walking with a suitcase through the small tourist streets is quite a task. For a long time, therefore, I haven’t felt like such a tourist. Yet I surrender because it’s only a short walk to the harbor and I think it’s nonsense to order a cab all the way there.
Once in the harbor, it takes a while to find the Sail Croatia Almissa cruise because there are so many boats. But my contact person knows exactly where I can find my home for the week. Unfortunately, it immediately starts raining cats and dogs. Not a good start for a cruise, you might think, but since it is a pleasant temperature, I let it go. A representative of Sail Croatia is waiting for us and before I know it I am installed on the Sail Croatia Almissa.
The Sail Croatia Almissa
We get a brief introduction about the Sail Croatia Almissa and meet the 6-man crew: the captain, two assistants, the chef, the cool bar girl and the tour guide, who will talk us through the trip every day. All super friendly and enthusiastic. Over a three-course lunch, everyone briefly gets to know each other. There appear to be 22 guests on board, from the USA, Australia and several European countries. A nice mix of nationalities and ages.
And then we start sailing. I love the sight of sailing out of Split and enjoying the views of the mountainous coast.
The weather is still not looking too good but somehow it clears up completely, during our first swimming stop. This is a small sandy beach, Lovrecina, on the island of Brac. And wow, what a beautiful bay this is. If this is the case every day, it promises to be a beautiful trip along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia!
After a few more hours of sailing, we arrive at our first overnight location around 6 pm: Makarska. Makarska is a town on the mainland, at the foot of the Biokovo Mountains. It is part of the Makarska Riviera, a stunning coastline along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. And you have all evening to explore the town because the departure time is not until the next morning.
There is a central square with a pretty church Katedrala sv. Marko. Around it, there are numerous small streets with restaurants and stores. And if you’re lucky, the locals put tables and chairs outside for a local performance.
It is also worth walking to the monument, of St Peter, on the other side of the bay. From here you have a nice view over Makarska. Especially in the evening, when you see the numerous lights.
Looking for a place to drink and party in a unique location? Club Deep is a club in an open cave on the beach. Even if you don’t like going out, it’s definitely worth having a drink here.
Day 2 : Makarska – Stari Grad (3)
The next day there is breakfast between 8 and 9 am. Simple but tasty! Then we sail for a few hours and stop in a lovely bay for a swim. The water is blue and so clear! These stops become a daily ritual. What I like about the swim stops is that in almost all cases you can swim to a rocky outcrop or beach somewhere, for a little walk (think about water shoes). If you don’t feel like doing this, you can float in one of the floaties around the boat or just sunbathe on the deck.
Stari Grad (3)
Today the Sail Croatia explorer cruise docks in the port of Stari Grad. Stari Grad is located on Hvar and is the less visited part of the island.
Immediately I fall in love with this little town, so friendly and pretty, and everywhere you look you see flowers. Also here you have time to walk around the numerous alleys, take pictures, shop in delis like Za Pod Zub Gourmet and walk into a small art space. Do not forget tto visit St Stephen’s Church and Tvrdalj, the former home/castle, of writer Petar Hektorovic, from the 16th century.
If you feel like going for a nice walk, you can hike to the Glavica – hill, the highest point of Stari Grad, within 20 minutes. Here is a large cross with a chapel which offers beautiful views over the Adriatic Sea and Stari Grad. Along the way you see butterflies, hear lots of crickets and in my case also a snake flashed by. So pay attention!
Wine tasting Hora Stari Grad (4)
Sail Croatia offers different tours every day, and today a wine tasting is on the program. The area around Stari Grad is known for its good wines. We visit Hora Stari Grad, a vineyard that was once built by the Greek colonists and is still in use. The area is even on the UNESCO World Heritage List, because of the ancient Greek farming system. The vineyard is a short 10-minute drive from Stari Grad and the peaceful environment makes you want to stay here. There are fields of grapes, olives and lavender from which the most delicious olive oils, wines and aromatic oils are made.
During the wine tasting you will be introduced to four different wines, two white wines, one rosé and one red. And these are accompanied by tasty snacks consisting of cheeses, olives, meat and fish, all from the nearby region. Between wines you have time to walk through the fields, visit a small museum or enjoy the views while listening to a concert of crickets.
Restaurant tip: Looking for a nice restaurant in Stari Grad? Antica, located in a small alley is known for its good cuisine and delicious wines. You also have the opportunity to enjoy a captains dinner on the Sail Croatia Explorer cruise, where the crew prepares a delicious BBQ for you.
Day 3 Stari Grad – Hvar town (5), most populair island at the Dalmatian coast of Croatia
Today we stop at the Pakleni Islands, a small archipelago off the island of Hvar, along the Dalmatian coast with crystal clear waters. From the Sail Croatia Almissa we swim to Carpe diem. During the day a chic beach club, where you come for a nice lunch or to relax on a beach bed, and in the evening after 00.00 a lively after party place.
Want to visit Carpe Diem at night? Special boats depart in the evening, from the club Carpe Diem that is located on Hvar. Within 15 minutes you will be across the water and in the Carpe Diem afterparty club across the water.
Hvar Stad (5)
After a three-course lunch on the Sail Croatia cruise, we depart by water cab for Hvar town. Hvar is one of the most popular islands on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast and it shows immediately. There are gigantic yachts in the harbor and it is crowded with all kinds of tourists.
Hvar, then, is magnificent. The small winding streets that run up the mountain, the St Stephens Cathedral with the central Trg Sv Stjepana square, the Benedictine and Franciscan monasteries: Hvar exudes history on all sides.
One of the highlights is a visit to the large 16th century fortress, which is located high above the town. From here you have a great view of Hvar.
Hvar is full of bars and restaurants. In the small streets around the square you will find many options. An absolute must visit is the wine bar Teraca on the right at the top of the square up the stairs, and restaurant Passarola where you can enjoy the traditional fish stew Gregada. One of the hotspots along the promenade, for a sunset cocktail, is the popular Hula Hula beach bar
Dag 4 Hvar – Vis (7)
This morning we leave early, at 5.00 am. So any partygoers (which Hvar invites to because of its many bars, cafes and clubs) should be back on time.
Blue Grotto (6)
Today we sail to the Blue Grotto, on the island of Biševo. A visit to this special blue cave should not be missed during a visit to the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. However, you should prepare yourself a little bit for this. It is crazy busy. Because our Sail Croatia explorer cruise crew has our best interests at heart, we leave so early that we arrive at the cave around 7:30 am. This ensures that we can buy a ticket at 8 am (at that time we are already number 90) and therefore only have to wait about 15 minutes.
In a small rubber boat (max 10 people) you sail to the entrance of the cave. Entrance is a big word because when you see the opening you cannot imagine that a boat would fit through it. Everyone bends forward in the boat and on the waves we bob along. Inside, of course, it is breathtakingly beautiful. The underground light fall that creates the special color blue is fascinating. Unfortunately, a visit is short. You sail around and before you know it the next boat is already sailing in. The cave is very small so it is certainly enough to get an impression but preferably you just want to spend half an hour here on your own.
After lunch and a swim stop in the bay along the island of Vis of the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, it’s time to dock on the island. You can choose to explore the town of Vis or take one of the Sail Croatia tours on the island. Vis used to be a Yugoslav military base and closed to visitors until 1989. The British also played an important role over the centuries. On a tour, you’ll dive into the interesting history and visit a submarine base and several secret military installations.
The town of Vis has its own unique charm. It is less visited than the surrounding islands so you experience a relaxed atmosphere. The center consists of two parts, the 19th century Luka (the port) and the medieval Kut, separated by a promenade.
Facts & Figures: Did you know that the movie Mama Mia was shot in Vis? In the open Air Cinema, located on the boulevard you can watch the movie on a weekly base.
An absolute must, is a visit to Fort George, located on a mountain just outside the center. It is not an ideal hiking route because you walk on the road but the views along the way are stunning. Within about half an hour from the center you reach the fort. You can walk around, enjoy the views and have a drink in the fortress restaurant while gazing out over the sea! The best time to do this is of course during sunset.
Tip: Don’t forget to have an ice cream at Pa Ti Odoli, one of the best Ice Cream stores on the island with numerous distinct flavors.
Day 5 Vis – Korcula (8)
From Vis to Korcula it is a 6 hour sail and therefore we have another early departure scheduled, at 6 am. Fortunately, when you are in your bed, you notice little or nothing of the early sailing.
Tip: Our Sail Croatia guide often organized a yoga session on the roof at 7:15 am. I personally did not participate in this because I enjoyed the evenings too much. But if you are an early bird, you should absolutely give it a try.
Again this day we stop in a beautiful bay for a swim. After lunch, it’s a few more hours of sailing before we anchor off the Dalmatian coast of the island of Korcula. We sail to the island by small boat and ride in a van to the medieval town.
In Korcula you just want to walk around the medieval streets and take in the atmosphere. The old town is conveniently laid out in the form of a fishbone. And this is for a reason. The streets in the West were built so that the inhabitants could enjoy a summer sea breeze and the streets in the East were protected from the cold winds in the winter period.
Het is de moeite waard om de St Mark klokkentoren te beklimmen voor een mooi uitzicht. Ook mag een bezoek aan de cocktailbar It is worth climbing the St Mark clock tower for a nice view. Also, don’t miss a visit to the cocktail bar Massimo, located on the old city wall. A great place with fine cocktails!
Since Korcula is also known for its wines, we decide to visit the beautiful village of Lumbarda, for a wine tasting at Vitis. While enjoying delicious wines and snacks, we enjoy a great view of the surroundings.
Day 6 Korcula – Mljet (9), National Park along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia
Something I had been looking forward to all week was Mljet. Mljet is an island with one of the most beautiful national parks of the Dalmatian coast of Croatia: Mljet NP. I love visiting historical cities but a beautiful natural area on the program makes me very happy.
The Sail Croatia cruise arrives in Pantona, on the island of Mljet Croatia. From here it is possible to rent a bike, one of the best ways to explore the park. Since I actually prefer hiking, I decide to rent a bike but go for a combination of walking and cycling. You can go for a nice walk around the Malo Jezero (the small lake). You just leave the bike at the starting point and pick it up later.
The Veliko Jezero (large lake) is best explored by bike. Along the way you can stop and hike to a viewpoint, take a dip in the azure water, rent a kayak or take a boat trip to the former monastery on St Mary’s Island. You’ll also pass a number of small villages where you can have a drink. It is an area where I could stay for days. A place to definitely come back to!
On the cruise, we enjoy a late lunch before making a swim stop and continue our journey to the small island of Sipan. In the small town, with only a few hundred inhabitants, it seems as if time has stood still. And that is what makes it so unique. You will find a small church with surrounding olive, fig and citrus plantations and along the boulevard there are some nice restaurants.
Tonight a big farewell dinner and party will take place on the Sail Croatia explorer cruise. Tomorrow we arrive in Dubrovnik and the last evening everyone usually goes their own way.
Day 7 Mljet – Dubrovnik (11)
It is already the last day. After breakfast we stop for our last swim stop and lunch at Lopud along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, near Dubrovnik. Our final destination for this week.
Around 2 pm we arrive at the port of Gruz, a fifteen minute drive from the old town. Immediately we notice that Dubrovnik is a busy tourist destination. And that takes some getting used to after all the idyllic spots of the past week. Nevertheless, Dubrovnik is a cool city to discover. You can walk extensively over the 1940meter long city walls, take a cable car to the top of the mountain for fantastic views and stroll for hours through the center looking for small quiet streets and nice bars.
Did you know? Dubrovnik was the setting for the popular HBO series Game of Thrones. Sail Croatia offers some fun tours where you visit the coolest movie locations. A great thing to do if you are a connoisseur and enthusiast!
And then the last night on the Sail Croatia Explorer cruise approaches. The next day is early check-out time. I could have continued this life for days more and I can tell everyone is thinking the same. How we are going to miss this! But it is also nice to be able to put digest all the amazing impressions of the last week.
Everything you want to know about a Sail Croatia Explorer cruise
Life on a Sail Croatia Explorer cruise
The Sail Croatia Explorer cruise consists of 4 levels, a lower and an upper deck with several cabins, a deck with the restaurant and an upper (sun)deck with sun beds. In the restaurant you will find a bar that is open daily until 11 PM. Breakfast and lunch are also served in this area, which you enjoy with your fellow travelers. In front of the restaurant is a lounge area where you can sit in the shade and socialize with your new friends. Also on the sun deck, you can have a nice chat. But if you want some time to yourself, you are totally free to do that too.
The good thing about the Sail Croatia cruise is that there is enough space. Therefore the hours you spend on the boat are really enjoyable. Every day at the end of the afternoon, you arrive at a town and you can go out by yourself or with the group.
Daily swim stops along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia
These became my favorite moments of the day. Every day you stop in the most beautiful bays along the Dalmatian coast for an hour or more, to swim around the boat, to a beach or cave. From the boat you dive right into the water and enjoy the surroundings around you. Moreover, these are the bays that you don’t get to so quickly by car. For me this was the ultimate cruise feeling.
Sleeping on a Sail Croatia cruise
This I found quite exciting prior but is a fantastic experience! It is so much fun to take your room with you to a new destination each time. Where you normally move from hotel to hotel, your room now moves with you from place to place. At night you always sleep in a harbor and when the Sail Croatia cruise starts sailing early in the morning, you hardly notice it.
The cabins are simple but fully equipped. There are 1, 2 or 3person rooms consisting of one large bed or two twin beds. And the beds are nice! You have your own shower and toilet and there is hot water. However, the cabins are small so make sure you take this into account, in terms of carrying luggage. If you travel as a couple you can both take a suitcase but that’s about it. The good thing is that you do not need much during your cruise!
Which Sail Croatia cruise suits you best?
This depends entirely on your own interests and way of traveling. Sail Croatia offers 5 types of cruises of 7 days along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. With the hike cruise, the most beautiful hikes are on the program, with the bike cruise you go out on your bike every day. The elegance cruise is all about luxury and with the navigator cruise the focus is on party. The Sail Croatia explorer cruise offers a nice combination of activities and comfort and fits best with my way of traveling and interests.
Meals on the Sail Croatia explorer cruise
Depending on the type of Sail Croatia cruise you book, meals are offered. On the Explorer Cruise, breakfast and lunch are included. Therefore, the chef prepares an extensive three-course menu for you every day, consisting of soup, fish, salad, fish, risotto (and meat/chicken for the lovers). It was a surprise every day. You can also participate in a captain’s dinner, where the crew prepares a large BBQ or other festive meal.
How much time do you need for a Sail Croatia cruise along the Dalmatian coast?
Most cruises along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia last a week, starting in Split or Dubrovnik. I would advise you to arrive at your destination at least the day before you check in on the Sail Croatia cruise, and leave again the day after you check out on the Sail Croatia cruise. Just to get some rest. Of course it is even better to plan some extra days, so you have plenty of time to explore your starting destination (in my case Split) and final destination (Dubrovnik).
Best travel time for a Sail Croatia cruise
The best months to visit the Dalmatian coast of Croatia are from May through October. However, July and August are high season so be prepared for extra crowds. Also, the temperatures can be high then. In spring and autumn temperatures are often slightly cooler and sometimes more pleasant.
What to bring on an explorer cruise along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia
- Large bath towel (towels are available but large towels for the beach or deck are not)
- Water shoes (golden tip!). The coast is very rocky and there are also many pebble beaches. If you plan to swim from the boat to one of the beautiful beaches, you are going to be very happy with this.
- Water bottle (on the boat you can refill it with water indefinitely)
- Good shoes (mountain shoes are not necessary). There are several places where you can go for a hike hike.
- Bandage box for yourself, I (clumsy as I am) cut myself quite badly while climbing rocks.
- Flip flops
- Summer clothes
- Something warm for later in the evening and on the boat
- Money (tip for the crew)
Did you enjoy reading this Sail Croatia explorer cruise review? Would you like more information about cruising along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia? Then check out the Sail Croatia website. Would you like to read more about destinations in Europe? Then be sure to check out the Europe archive.