I have always dreamt of going to the Maldives. The beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters are paradise, but a paradise that comes with a hefty price tag. Unfortunately as a student I don’t have money to burn so searches for a cheaper alternative lead me to find Croatia.
Similar to the Maldives, Croatia’s coast is scattered with hundreds of stunning islands, varying from tiny and uninhabited to large and wealthy islands, boasting ancient towns, natural reserves and a myriad of sporting activities and a healthy nightlife.
One of the highlights of visiting Croatia is hopping between the islands. These varied islands offer everything from sailing to 24-hour parties, wine tasting, canoeing, natural reserves, skinny dipping and scuba diving. During my 8-day sailing trip I visited only a small handful of Croatia’s islands but there are definitely some you can’t afford to miss out.
Hvar is the Monte Carlo of Croatia. It’s by far one of most luxurious islands, and is known as the party island for the rich and famous. During the summer months expect crowds of party lovers and non-stop beach parties. For a party paradise experience, head over to Carpe Diem to enjoy an unforgettable night. Party until 2am with people of all ages and from all over the world. If you’re still standing catch the boat to the Carpe Diem beach and party until sunrise. The boat ride takes around 20 minutes from Hvar and a return ticket costs around 40kn (6 euros)
During the day wander around Hvar’s marbled streets and take a walk up to its fortress for a great view across the harbour. It’s even better at sunset. Hvar boasts both shallow sandy beaches in the north and small pebbly beaches in the south. All beaches are within easy reach of the main old town part of Hvar, but wherever you go the water will be exceptionally clear and in the summer months the shallow sandy bays the water will be quite warm too.
Nicknamed ‘mini Dubrovnik’, the Old Town of Korcula has a serious medieval feel. Its narrow streets and high walls were designed to shield the town from high winds, and a step outside the walls and you will quickly how effective they are!
The small old town is buzzing with ice cream parlours, outside restaurants and a market perfect for buying your souvenirs, if you have a pirate-themed party planned this is the place. There are stalls that sell everything from personalised pirate t-shirts, to plastic swords, eye patches and hats! For great views climb the Marco Polo Tower at the Marco Polo Museum, believed to be the true birthplace of the Venetian merchant.
Korcula also has its fair share of beaches, with the best beach said to be around Lumbarda. Although it has to be said there are plenty of secluded hidden spots too that are worth seeking out for a more private beach day.
For nightlife don’t miss out on the Cocktail Bar Massimo, my favourite bar on the island. Touristy as it may be this small quirky bar is located at the very end of the old town on the tip of the peninsula. Accessed by a ladder (one way up one way down! and a bit of fun when you’ve had a few to drink!) the top of the bar has great views across the bay and the old town and is built as part of the tower that was once part of the old city walls. The best part is the drinks arrive by a dumb waiter (not an actual dumb person) but a pulley system. My only tip would be to get there early or make a reservation as it’s a pretty small bar, and make sure you bring a jumper as it can get a bit chilly with the evening breeze.
The story goes that Odysseus was detained in a Mljet cave by the nymph Calipso for 7 years, and its easy to see why he may have been hesitating to leave!
Mljet is one of the largest of Croatia’s islands but it’s also the most beautiful and probably my favourite! Home to quaint little villages, pine forests, vineyards and secluded saltwater lakes this island is by far the greenest island of them all. The island is well known for its white and red wines, its olives, fresh seafood and its famous national park on its north western end.
While most people flock to the National Park for its unspoilt nature, Mljet has a host of beaches to visit too, with the most popular being at the eastern end ‘Saplunara’. This place is well known for its sandy beaches. Its name roots from the Latin word of sand ‘sabulum’. Saplunara’s bay is around a kilometre long and its crystal waters are very warm due to its secluded position. Take a stroll along the shoreline and you’ll find some of the more secluded spots are reserved for a little bit of nudist sun tanning.
For an alternative to sandy beaches take a dip in one of the two salt water lakes in the National Park. Veliko and Malo Jezero (large and small lake) are both connected to the sea via a small narrow passage and both lakes can get quite warm during the summer months making them great for swimming. You can also visit the 12th Century Benedictine Monastery on St Mary’s Islet.
The summertime nightlife plays host to nightlong beach parties and waterfront discos but for the most part people often prefer to relax over a glass of wine and take the time to be consumed by the islands natural surroundings. And of course, to sunbathe in the glorious sunsets.
Reasons to Go Sailing in Europe with Top Deck…
As if you needed any more inspiration, check out this video from our partners Top Deck and see why it would be a very good idea to book your sailing adventure with them!