Last August I was lucky enough to cruise the Croatian ‘Dalmatian’ coastline on a vintage motor-sail boat. To experience Croatia’s beautiful aquatic seas, national parks, old towns and sample the progressive nightlife scene, bubbling there.
Arriving in Split (direct from London Gatwick) I decided to make the most of the morning and discover as many parts of the city as possible. To my pleasure and surprise Split is a beautiful place and is a real joy to walk around. The old town is a real treat for people (like me) who enjoy small streets and hidden corridors, that open up to wide squares and architectural gems.
After catching the historical highlights, I strolled along the modern promenade to find my boat, Oroa [translates to Eagle] to meet the crew of four and 18 other fellow party passengers. We casted off around 13.00pm, and it didn’t take long on a relatively small boat, for us all to be on first & nickname terms with each other.
Our first sea plunge was on our way to the coastal town ‘Makarska ‘. After an hour of lilo wars and bad diving, the winds were put back into the sails, and we pushed on. As we approached Makarska, the sun was just retiring onto the harbour buildings, giving the city a spectacular golden glow. All extremely hungry, new friends in tow, we bounced off the boat to indulge in the local cuisine and eager to discover the renowned Makarska nightlife. It certainly lived up to its reputation, with some of my fellow passengers waking up on the top deck of the boat. Deep club has to be experienced, starting around mid night and finishing around 6am. http://www.deep.hr/
This was only day one! And the holiday became progressively better! Sunday morning. I woke to another perfect spot in paradise….the Island of Mljet. We were offered options for water rafting, scenic boat tours, hiking and cycling…..I choose for the latter, and set off with five other new friends into the Mljet National Park. Needless to say the bike ride was spectacular & after an hour on the bikes, we stopped and dived off the rocks into the crystal blue waters to cool down.
In the late afternoon, taking our bikes in the opposite direction – we pushed on together, to catch the Island from another perspective. As the sun climbed down, and a cool breeze began to guide us along the quiet island roads – we all fell into silence, soaking up the moment and savouring the sights that kept unfolding in front of us.
Monday morning, we sailed to Slano – for a quick orientation of a picturesque town, giving the crew chance to re-stock the fresh food and re-fill the boat. We had approximately 2.5 hrs there to relax on the beach, swim off the boat or venture into the nearby countryside & charm one of the local mountain snakes.
Finally, we arrive in Dubrovnik, one of the most prominent tourist destinations on the Adriatic, a stunning old town, guarded by a castle boundary, which juts out into the gorgeous turquoise blue Adriatic Sea. From the castle ramparts you can look over hundreds of pretty
red bricked roof tops as well out to the many neighbouring islands. On the evening, we were fortunate to discover the East West beach club, a trendy Saint Tropez-style beachfront club, overlooking the most spectacular view of the Old City of Dubrovnik. http://www.ew-dubrovnik.com/
We were particularly taken with the elegant décor and relaxed atmosphere, and decided to stay and dine at the restaurant. The menu was a fusion of Mediterranean cuisine with typical Dalmatian flavour, and surpassed my expectations, as did the impeccable service.
As the sun evaporated once more, i marvelled at the purple glow coating the fortified walls. Truly spectacular…sealing Dubrovnik’s reputation, as being one of the romantic cities in the world. After another deep relaxing sleep in my private cabin, I rise for another splendid breakfast, continuing the journey towards the birth place of Marco Polo (the famous world-traveler and writer)…’the Island Of Korcula’…..Before reaching the main island, our captain stops at another secluded bay for swim time, tan topping and coastal excursions.
After studying the local map, I decided to get off the beaten track and try and discover my own little bay on the other side of the island (only a short 4km hike)…..it’s amazing how short 4 km walk becomes, when your crossing vine yards, traversing across coastal rocks & following narrow foot tracks to hidden bays.
That afternoon, we harboured just outside the Island’s main town, also named Korcula. It is a typical medieval walled Dalmatian city, with its round defensive towers, clusters of red-roofed houses and romantic small streets. I instantly fell for this small-but perfectly formed town.
Personally, I adored the pace of Korcula, the slower tempo, fine restaurants and polished stone streets. As for the panoramic views & the stunning sunset ! Well this is something that will stay with me forever.
If you want to discover South Croatia, you can’t possibly miss Hvar…….this was our Wednesday destination, and was only a short sail from Korcula.
In the day, we competed in the Lilo Surf gymnastics….although not represented in the Olympics, I can assure you its a very tough and competitive Croatian national sport :)
Later, we swam to neighbouring boats, made new friends and we managed to rope a new set of willing explorers to find the other side of the bay.
On the evening, we took the winding hill path to Hvar Castle.
Although, the walk looks to be promisingly painful (the castle sits high above the town), I can assure you its not and you’re instantly rewarded by one of the best views in the south Dalmatian.
On Thursday we reached one of Croatia’s most famous beaches ‘Zlatni rat’ (Golden Cape) , on the Island of Brac. The beach stretches itself 500 metres into the sea, switching direction according to the strong sea currents. (Picture above – far right).
On shore, i was pleased to discover that there was a nearby hike, where one could trek 778m above sea level to the top of island’s highest mountain.
With time and sunlight not on our side, we hurriedly walked out of the Bol (the main town on Brac Island) to begin the 2 hour climb.
Around 19.30pm, we summited ‘Plisko’ standing directly above the ‘Golden Cape’ beach, hands stretched wide in a spiritual fashion. Undoubtedly, my holiday highlight.
On my final day…i woke with a saddened feeling…..”Friday already”!! I really couldn’t believe this was my last day & the journey of a life time was cruising to an end…….and I was so getting used to my new daily routine of:
A light breakfast, cup of tea, a refreshing plunge into the sea, shower on deck, dry in the sun, sun bathe up top, take an afternoon adventure, back for the prepared fresh lunch, more swimming & tan topping, then discovering another gorgeous town to meet the friendly locals.
The Journey returned us to Split, where we stayed together for one last night, making our farewells, swapping hotmail addresses and thinking about how many pictures we were going to have to share on facebook. Undoubtedly, this holiday was like nothing else I’ve ever done and meeting so many like minded people, made it all that much more special.
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