Before you go sailing in Croatia, you need to ask yourself one thing: How much do you love the colour blue?
You see I thought I loved the colour blue, but I had no idea how much until last week when four other Travelettes and I met up to sail to the islands on the country’s Dalmatian coast. I dare say you would have the same realisation should you find yourself spending a week surrounded by that emerald-tinged azure of the Adriatic underneath you and the bright, vibrant blue of a cloud-free sky above you.
But the sea, the sky and the fifty shades of blue we were surrounded by were only a small part of why our sailing in Dalmatia experience with Sailing.hr was so special.
Sailing.hr: The Lowdown
Founded in 2009, Sailing.hr is a Croatian-based company that runs island-hopping sailing holidays setting off from Split on the Dalmatian coast. You can find the full details on their website, but in short, a week on one of their boats combines stunning scenery and hedonistic partying. Each week in the summer months, a fleet of sailing boats leave Split and sail to a number of islands, stopping each night so you can explore different fishing towns and marinas and then party all night long. Sailing.hr advertise themselves as “the ultimate partying experience” and as I type this, still yawning two days after returning from Croatia, I’m inclined to agree with them.
One of the most spectacular party experiences we enjoyed with Sailing.hr was the boat raft where all of the 25 boats in our fleet were arranged in a circle and tied together in a cove off one of the Hell’s Islands. Believe me when I say that Hell’s Islands are a really inappropriate name for this part of the world, especially as the champagne started to flow, the music started to play and we perfected the art of dancing in the sea – yep, it was heavenly. Your trip will also likely take in a few stops on Hvar and Vis islands.
All trips begin and end in Split, which has regular flights from lots of European airports, and you can travel in groups or even as a solo sailor.
Travelettes United: The Lowdown
Our week with Sailing.hr was most special because five of us got to spend a week together. Believe it or not, because we’re all based in different cities – and we all can’t keep still for very long – many of us haven’t actually met. We are SO GRATEFUL for Sailing.hr changing that. They brought us together in the most spectacular, adventurous (read on below!) and memorable way.
We’re happy to say we got on fantastically and we’re still sharing stories and photos of our trip in a private WhatsApp group just to try and beat the holiday blues.
So now you want to know what it was like? Well, here we go.
How our week with Sailing.hr played out…
We arrived in Split on Saturday. After spending the afternoon exploring the beautiful old town and enjoying a pretty fabulous late lunch we eventually prepared for a week at sea with two trips to the supermarket. This is essential as the weather may mean you don’t know when you’re next near a supermarket. We then unpacked, shared a few drinks on the deck of our boat and went to bed, all a little nervous to be sleeping on a boat for seven nights.
We set sail on Sunday morning and within less than an hour we saw dolphins cross our path.
“Wow!” we all coo-ed, thinking we would see them again and again. Unfortunately this wasn’t to be the case, but hey, it DID happen once.
On our way to Hell’s Islands the weather turned a little and we were unable to make our raft (see below) with the other boats in our fleet so we instead headed to Stari Grad in Hvar where we docked for the night.
We had a good few hours to explore this cute fishing village, getting lost down alleyways and stumbling upon a cocktail bar with a rooftop terrace. Don’t you just love it when that happens?
We then grabbed our bikinis and made our way to the beach for a sunset swim, which was definitely one of my personal highlights of the trip. We’ll let you in on a little secret – the Adriatic is really warm at this time of year!
That night there was a party at a seafront bar on the opposite side of the marina and we enjoyed a lovely long walk home along the waterfront afterwards.
After coffee and croissants at a bar near the marina, we set sail back to Hell’s Islands where the weather was much kinder and we marveled at how the skippers expertly pulled 25 boats together to form this party raft. That is where we stayed all day and all night.
We’d found out it was our skipper’s birthday so we stuck some candles in a watermelon and sang him Happy Birthday! The sun went down and at some point in the evening we stopped dancing and went to bed. Don’t ask us what time that was…
On Tuesday we shook off our hangovers, went for a morning swim and disconnected ourselves from the boats next to us, not fully knowing when we’d see them next. As it happened, it felt like we went through A LOT before we did see them again as the wind kicked in and gave us choppy high seas that rolled our boat side-to-side and sprayed us with salt water every five minutes. It was definitely an adventure, and possibly the day we all felt worst in terms of seasickness. Unfortunately, we were in for a bigger adventure as our boat couldn’t dock by land in our next destination, Komiža, on the island of Vis. This meant our boat, the Red Rooster, was going to spend a night rocking and spinning around tied to a buoy a good 100 metres or more from shore. Let’s just say, the two sisters didn’t stay on the boat all night and I had to take my maximum dose of medication to keep me from following them. (Thank you to the good Croatian people who helped Sophie and Alex find a place to sleep that night! If you’re ever in Komiža, go have a coffee or a beer at Corto Maltese on the waterfront – they are lifesavers!)
I think it must have been the lovely walk through the town – very quaint, traditional and picturesque – and a delicious dinner of pizza and red wine that prepared me for the night. And in the morning we were happy to find a hot shower and a bakery serving local cakes for breakfast – don’t judge us, seasickness sucks!
We left Komiža at lunchtime and headed to Vis town on the opposite side of the island. Our skipper Goran warned us that the weather would be bad again, so we prepared ourselves for the worst. As it happened, we actually enjoyed this day of sailing more despite the waves getting as high as five metres.
Another round of applause should go to Goran for also being persistent in spending over three hours trying to find us a landside spot to dock in the very busy port of Hvar town back on the island of the same name. This meant not only less rocking but we also didn’t have to get taxi boats to the shore. We could walk off the boat and up to the brilliant party held in Fort George, an old fort on top of a hill that is now a restaurant and club. We’re not sure what got into us that night, but let’s just say that the next day a group of guys we didn’t recognise shouted out to us “Hey, it’s the dancing girls!”. Hey, Travelettes are dancers too!!
On Thursday, the boat set off before we’d woken up and it was relatively smooth sailing to Palmižana, an uninhabited island that is only for visiting travellers. It has a large marina for boats and a few guest houses for those who want to stay longer. There is also a beach and that’s where we spent our afternoon. After quick showers and outfit changes, we were whisked away by speed boat to Hvar town on the island of the same name. There we watched the sunset at Hula Hula Hvar, a popular beach bar and the best place to watch the sky turn pink on a summer’s night. After that we strolled into the town of Hvar and found ourselves chatting away with a mixture of people at Kiva Bar, where we stayed nearly late enough to see the sun rise.
When we woke on Friday, we realised with some sadness that our week was drawing to a close. We had a quick moan about this – and our hangovers – over coffee and breakfast before it was time to get back on the boat for Split… but not before one final raft party, of course!
We sailed back to Split in silence, watching the sun sink and feeling an impending sense of sadness that we had to say goodbye to each other, to the Red Rooster, to the sea, the sky and the sun, and hardest of all, to Croatia.
We ended our week by going out for a meal and treating Damir and Goran, two of Sailing.hr’s skippers who had really helped us out during the week to a big feed. (It is customary for you to pay for or prepare your skipper’s food during your week sailing). As we drank our last €1.50 Croatian beers, we laughed about all the happy memories we shared that week.
So, that was our week. Are you tempted to have the same experience? Well, here are a few things to bear in mind.
Warning: This is a SAILING holiday!
If you’re completely unfamiliar with sailing holidays – as we were – we feel it’s worth highlighting a few things.
The weather rules
Sailing holidays are, of course, dependent on the weather. Sailing.hr’s skippers are experienced, competent and professional and know how to deal with bad weather and poor sailing conditions. Their first rule is to look after their crew – that’s you! – and our experience was that they definitely do this, but they can’t stop you from feeling seasick. If you’re prone to getting this (which I am) be prepared. Two of us Travelettes took the antihistamine Cinnarizine which worked well for us, but be sure to visit your doctor before you go.
Sailing holidays aren’t as glamorous as you expect; at least not all the time. Cabins are small and you’re likely to be sharing, which means you will lose clothes, walk in on your friends naked and bang your head on the low ceilings (I did all three on a nearly daily basis – sorry cabinmate Kathi!). Take minimal luggage, don’t bring a suitcase as there’s unlikely to be space to store it and secure valuables or breakables in a cupboard because when the boat rocks, things go flying.
It’s an adventure! Leave the hair straighteners at home!
We often likened our sailing experience to camping, as although there was a shower on board, we had a very limited water supply and we had to wait until we were at a marina before we could get a proper hot shower.
As I already mentioned, the weather rules, and because of choppy weather and an unexpected storm one day, we ended up spending 3 nights in a row away from a marina with showers so we had to be… err, creative… about how we washed and how good our hair looked. Personally, I don’t mind “roughing it” like this for a few days but I appreciate some people will find this hard.
Besides, you will also have limited electricity on board your boat and of course phone reception isn’t everywhere once you’re sailing. Embrace the fact that your phone won’t work all the time and just enjoy the view!
So what should you bring?
In addition to our original packing list, we could have really done with the following:
- Goggles for swimming in the sea.
- Clothes pegs – You don’t want to know how many bikinis five girls on a boat need to try at any one time. And make sure you secure them – I lost a bikini to the sea because I was a bit lazy about how well it was fixed.
- Flags – Sailing.hr will fly them from their ropes so everyone knows where you’re from.
- Inflatables – For the boat parties and for when your legs are too tired from keeping afloat.
And another warning: This is a PARTYING holiday
As we’ve mentioned above, this is almost as much about partying as it is sailing. Due to the weather and other unavoidable complications (arriving in destinations later than planned or being anchored away from the shore), it’s very possible that you won’t get to a port or destination until later in the day, meaning you may only have a few hours to explore new places in daylight and after that, well trust me when we say Sailing.hr always has a party organised for you. If you’re looking for a more relaxed island-hopping adventure where you can spend longer periods of time exploring the sights etc. you may want to try a different kind of sailing tour.
That said, if partying in the sun is something you long to do and you’re not afraid of a lack of sleep or dancing in your bikini then this is definitely the holiday for you.
And a final warning… YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE
You will fall madly in love with so many things…
With Croatia. With the sea. With the sky. With the fifty shades of blue.
With the quaint fishing towns. With their narrow alleyways. With the taste of freshly caught seafood.
With swimming in the ocean every day. With the way sea water pulls your skin tight. With the feeling of the boat rocking you to sleep (yes, really!).
With the way the boat can tackle five metre waves. With the way you can stare at the horizon for hours and lose yourself in your own thoughts.
With the Croatian people who are friendly, welcoming and accommodating, despite a constant flow of tourists to their towns in the summer months.
With the way a warm shower after two days at sea is the BEST FEELING in the world.
With how good it feels to jump in the sea again and again and again and again, as though you’re suddenly five years old again.
With the small specks of salt glitter the sea’s spray leaves on your sun-kissed skin.
With the way you can see fish swimming all around you in water so clear you can see ten metres deep.
With the way sailing makes you feel; free, wild and at peace with the world.
At least, that’s how it was for us….
HUGE THANKS to Sailing.hr for inviting the Travelettes to spend their fifth birthday with one of their fleets. And a special thank you to Goran our skipper, who looked after us even though we weren’t much help on the boat. Yeah, okay, we may have fallen a bit in love with him too…
Words by Frankie. Photos by Frankie, Kathi, Marie, Sophie and Alex.
This post was written by Frankie Thompson who was a Travelette from 2012 – 2015. Originally from London, UK, Frankie was nomadic for several years before settling in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she lives with her Australian partner and baby boy. She spends her time buying vintage dresses, riding a rusty old bike around the canals and writing books inspired by her travels. Frankie blogs about travel, writing and motherhood at As the Bird flies blog.Tweet