Date of stay: August 2005
Travelled with: Friends
Tour or pre planned: Tour
To be honest, I hadn’t heard all that much about Croatia as a tourism hot spot until shortly before departing. I wasn’t going to go, due to my ever climbing mountain of credit card debt at the time, but after a bit of arm twisting I decided at the last minute to hop on board and bite the credit card bullet. Oh boy am I glad I did.
Croatia is a paradise. Maybe not quite up there with the Caribbean or the Maldives, but it’s a paradise nonetheless. Located in Central and South Eastern Europe, it is nestled between Italy, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Hungary, and to me the culture there felt like a mixture of all of these places. It feels a little less Eastern-European though, and more like a pumped up hedonistic Italy on steroids (along the coastal cities of the Adriatic anyway).
Our group booked a 7-day cruise through Sail Croatia, who run different cruises along the warm waters of the Adriatic Sea. We started out in Split, then made our way to Makarska-Mljet-Dubrovnik-Korcula-Hvar and then ended up back in Split again.
There are several routes you can take, but I’d say this is the most popular due to the stunning towns Korcula, Hvar and Dubrovnik being on the list.
Now things may have changed a bit since 2005, but there are a couple of things I beg you to consider before setting foot on your boat:
- Book a boat with a bar and drinks on board. You’ll have a never ending supply of ice cold beer at cheap prices. If you book a BYO boat, you’ll be drinking warm beer and will eventually be stuck out in the ocean with a case of the dry mouth having run out of beer.
- When you first step onto the boat, push everyone else out of the way (women and children included) and ensure you get a cabin as far away as possible from the engine room. Not only will you sleep longer due to less engine noise at 5am, but you’ll breathe in O2 instead of diesel fumes.
The best part about the cruise is the cruise itself. It is literally the most relaxed and coolest time you’ll ever have with your mates. When the sun is beating 30 degree rays down on you while laying in a deck chair and listening to someone playing the guitar while sipping on an ice cold beer, right there and then you know you made the right decision to book your spot on the boat.
Several times during the cruise you’ll also stop and have a swim in the ocean, which is warm and just so damn refreshing. Cruising between the towns you visit is a definite highlight.
Our boat was called the ‘OMLADINAC’. The rooms on the boat aren’t exactly what you’d call spacious, but there’s enough room for two and seriously, what do you expect? At the end of the day, you’re on a boat. Take a good hard look because you’re sailin’ on a boat.
The Captain was a laugh, even though he couldn’t speak a word of English. And ‘Chito’ the Chef was a genius, whipping up many brilliant varied meals day in and day out that the punters eagerly lapped up. There are of course many different boats with different crews so someone else’s experience may have been different from mine, but I can tell you that our trip went perfectly, and without any hitches.
They do have different boat types now, some with ensuite rooms too. Check the Sail Croatia website for more info.
In terms of the actual towns themselves, each place you stop at is quite different than the next so you’ll experience something new and exciting at each port, even though you’ll be sad you left the previous place. Between the awesome introduction to living along the Adriatic in Makarska, the charming little Mljet, the impressive fortress that is Dubrovnik, the pumping nightlife in Hvar and the stunning Korcula, you’ll never stop short of something to do and see.
Here’s a quick summary of the stops:
We didn’t spend too long here, but there are plenty shopping bargains to be had and sights to see such as all the roman architecture and in particular, the Diocletian Palace.
Cobblestone streets, fantastic beaches and many bars/restaurants lining the water front. You cannot go wrong here. A guaranteed good time.
This is a great place to chill. There is a National Park to visit should you want to, or you can just hang back and have a cheeseburger at the best cheeseburger bar in the world (which doubles as an outdoor disco for the locals). If you’re lucky like we were, torrential rains will suddenly pour down and completely soak you, forcing you to run back to your boat and commence a sudden impromptu pirate party, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Blackbeard’s 30th birthday.
Dubrovnik is a definite highlight. Walk the cobblestone streets and climb the city wall. Plenty of bars around and good seafood to be had here. Make sure you visit a bar called Café Buza, hidden through many narrow windy streets. It has magnificent views of the cliffs and sea, and there is a spot where you can swim in between sips of your coffee.
Birthplace of Marco Polo, this is one of the most beautiful towns. It has a great relaxed vibe to it. Watch for the mangy cats though. Many nice pizza places are here, as well as a very cool cocktail bar at the top of an old turret. Ask around and you’ll find it, as it’s very popular.
Do you like to party? Then welcome to Hvar. You’ll find the best nightclubs along the Adriatic here. A place called Carpe Diem is fantastic, although their door policy is strange, picking people out of crowds at random to let them in. Another is situated in an old Monastery up the hill, which in my opinion is the best of the lot. Nightlife aside, Hvar is another really beautiful town. Take a short walk up to the hill fort for a stunning view over the town and ocean.
As a now married man let me just say that, from a purely observational perspective, that the women in this part of Croatia are the most incredibly beautiful women you’ll ever come across. Seriously, it’s insane. For you female readers, I’m sure the guys were all lookers themselves, but to be honest I never really paid attention to them.
In terms of food, the most popular dish here seemed to be ‘mixed meat’. I saw that on every menu, and that’s pretty much what I ordered every time too. I don’t know what was in the mixed meat, but I do know what it tasted like. Like damn good meat.
Along with the usual drinks you’ll also find anywhere else you’ve been, a popular local drink is herbal brandy. Just be warned that it packs one hell of a punch.
Once again, if you have any questions or anything for me, leave a comment in the box below.
Points to highlight:
Overall, for a 7-day half-board trip it’s relatively inexpensive, and you’ll have one of the best times of your life. Depending on who you go with, you can have a crazy time, a chilled out super-relaxing time, or a good chunk of both. If you’re not on the boat or in the water, you’re spending time looking at one of several incredible sunsets you’re bound to experience along the way, and chilling on the waterfront surrounded by bars, restaurants and beautiful people. It’s just a brilliant trip all round.
Would you recommend this destination: Yes
Would you recommend your tour: Yes
Would you recommend your accomodation: Yes
Overall rating: 5/5