Chartering a Yacht in Croatia, and sailing to the Island of HVAR

Chartering a Yacht in Croatia, and sailing to the Island of HVAR

The island of Hvar offers destinations and variety for a whole trip

They come in the summer, every year, yachts as big as ferries. Glass and stainless steel glisten magnificently in the blazing sun, while remote-controlled whirring of polished gangways from rear garages. Nimble stewards in white polo shirts with ships’ names embroidered on them lay floor mats on the marble slabs of the old harbor pier. Only then do the prominent on-board guests step through the tinted patio doors of the air-conditioned salons: Prince Harry, Roman Abramowitsch, the King of Jordan, Brad Pitt, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, the Klitschkos, Hugh Grant, Ralf Schumacher. He could name many more famous visitors, Georges Buj from the Hvar Tourist Board will tell us later.

Hvar is the St. Tropez of Croatia, but people don’t like to hear that here. “Hvar is Hvar”, Georges will say, “this is not a former fishing village. The nobility and culture were at home here, politics was made here and history was written here, and the city has a long seafaring tradition.” But the port of Hvar is not built for palaces at sea either. Like stranded whales, parked with the cunning maneuvers of their captains, the mega-yachts attract attention every summer, even without celebrities on board.

Chartering a Yacht in Croatia, and sailing to the Island of HVAR

Hvar is an epicenter of Croatian tourism

“Hvar is like a dish,” Georges continues, “nautical tourism is the main course, everything else comes with it.” And that’s quite a lot, “we have everything except sex tourism.” Game fishing, free climbing, hiking trails, diving schools, Mountain bike tours, parties, history, naturism, concerts, processions. The tanned marketing professional talks a lot and quickly describes examples and explains that the “Hygienic Association” was founded in 1868 to promote tourism. Hvar – the epicenter of Croatian tourism, the jet set, water sports?

We want to get to know the island, not just the place. Our charter yacht comes from Marina Kastela near Split – dark blue, ANITA, five years old. A charter boat like many, only the route is different. No round trip including Brac, Solta, Korcula, and Vis – no, there is only one island on the itinerary: Hvar. It wasn’t long before the crew complained before the start of the trip: One week for one island, wouldn’t that be boring? Are there enough goals? Is sailing not neglected? Why should someone do this?

One reason could be to slow down the vacation. No rushed checking off of supposed area highlights, more calm drifting along. In order to discover places and atmospheres that are hidden, at least away from the usual transit destinations. And if you take a closer look, the nautical chart and area guide at hand, you will find that the plan to circumnavigate the island of Hvar is a lot, but not far-fetched.

Hvar tourists


Hvar: 40 nautical miles long and 80 destinations

The first destinations on Hvar are a good 20 nautical miles from the nearby charter bases on the coast, the island itself is almost 40 nautical miles long. With indentations and crosses, this trip quickly adds up to 150 nautical miles, around Mallorca it is hardly more. Five port locations, a marina in a natural bay, a few landing stages, plus bays, depending on the area handbook, over 70! There are more destinations than in Ibiza, Elba, or Menorca. Why, so the counter-question, should Hvar only be a transit station and not a cruise destination?

Day one of the trip is a Sunday in the first week of September, which still means a high season in Croatia. The approach to Hvar leads between the islands of Solta and Brac. The barren, rocky coasts are covered with green maquis, the passage is not half a mile wide. Behind our sailing yacht ANITA, an Oceanis 393, has to cross. The wind is whistling in the Hvarski Kanal parallel to the coast from the east-southeast, the sun is burning, Stari Grad in the north is the destination. The last nautical miles are well protected through a deep, fjord-like incision, Starogradski Zaljev. In the northern part, close together, there are five incisions, collectively called Luka Tiha.

No road leads here, the bays are lonely and undeveloped, the water is deep and dark blue. Places like this – sometimes with shady pine trees, sometimes with rock plateaus for sunbathing – there are many around Hvar. Ideal bathing stops that turn into undisturbed private bays in the evening. Including a starry night sky, chirping crickets, and wafting rosemary scents. Like almost everywhere around the island, there is free anchoring in Luka Tiha, there are no mooring buoys, no closed nature reserves, no cashing in at the anchorage.

Hvar Map

Stari Grad is the former capital of the island

Even in the high season, Stari Grad still has free berths at six in the evening. Is that because of the unfavorable location for transit travelers? It can’t be at the location itself, the second largest on Hvar. Because it is beautiful, the oldest on the island, even one of the oldest in Europe: founded by Greeks from the island of Paros in 384 BC. We stroll through the labyrinth of alleys, admire the natural stone facades of the Renaissance houses, the beautiful museum Piazza Skor, the Tvradalj fortified castle of the poet Hektorovic. In a backyard, we meet a local who builds ship models out of root wood. The place is also considered the island’s artist meeting place, sailors are its tourists. “Cool here,” says an Austrian teenager from the neighboring ship.

Day two “From now on we’ll always do it like yesterday”, suggests crew member Jan, a teacher from Freising. “Sail and swim during the day, then drive to a place.” No problem: south of the western tip of Hvar, very close to the coast, lies a chain of islands, the Hell Islands, together about five nautical miles long. Bathing islands within sight of the town of Hvar. Everything is here except the location, cars, and permanent residents.

On the north side, in the Bay of Palmizana, there is a fully equipped ACI marina, an alternative port for the chronically overcrowded city port. To the east, surrounded by nothingness, there is Carpe Diem, one of the trendiest discos in the whole country. Alfresco house and R&B roars all night to Anchorage, but during the day the place is a cozy lounge bar with a pool. In the south and in the island garden in the middle, there are several anchor bays, completely lonely or with a restaurant at the apex.

On the north side, in the Bay of Palmizana, there is a fully equipped ACI marina, an alternative port for the chronically overcrowded city port. To the east, surrounded by nothingness, there is Carpe Diem, one of the trendiest discos in the whole country. Alfresco house and R&B roars all night to Anchorage, but during the day the place is a cozy lounge bar with a pool. In the south and in the island garden in the middle, there are several anchor bays, completely lonely or with a restaurant at the apex.

Our charter yacht ANITA glides peacefully through the narrow passages of the small island labyrinth in the evening. “The port of Hvar must be full by now,” I suppose. The choice, therefore, falls on Vela Garska to the west of the city, “a bay with mooring buoys and restaurant”, as the area guide promises. A young Croatian with blond curls, sideburns, and a mustache is standing in front of us in his motorboat and hands us one of his ten mooring lines. In the back of the bay, we see a small stone pier and a renovated house, on top of the hill a sign: “Konoba Marena Welcome”. Grilled vegetables and anchovies with capers are served as a starter at the rustic wooden tables, with a choice of lamb or sea bream for the main course. “Very good food,” says fellow sailor Martin from Cologne, “a great shop, in an idyllic location, very friendly.”

Stari Grad Hvar

Hvar town is full of history

City visit Hvar. “The richer the families were, the more ornate the facade is,” says Jasna Bozdar on a tour of the city. “Most of the buildings are built with local limestone, some with marble from Brac,” the city guide reports in perfect German. Greeks, Romans, Austrians, Venetians, Austrians – the island has been in many hands over the centuries. Under the Venetian rule between the end of the 13th and the 18th century, Hvar experienced its heyday, becoming the capital, an important port, and a transit center. Again and again, there were riots between the people and the nobility, and in 1610 there was a permanent peace agreement with equality, “it was also decided to build one of the first public folk theaters in Europe.”

We marvel at the stunning views over the old town, harbor, and Hell’s Islands from Spanjol Fortress high above the town, meet Georges Buj from the tourist office, stroll together through the crowded streets and across the town’s white marble-slabbed main square, Trg Sv. Stjepana, the largest in Dalmatia. “In order to develop tourism, the city fathers first had to solve the water problem,” Georges tells us. “Since the 1960s, our drinking water has come from the mainland through a pipe from the Cetina river.” This is how the island can now supply its approximately 450,000 annual visitors, “43 percent of whom come in August alone.”

Hvar Town from air

A city port with cult status

On the harbor promenade, in the shade of mighty palm trees, we look at a fully occupied pier: historic motor sailers in a pack, swanky motor yachts, the masts of the charter yachts close together, a catamaran ferry, plus fishing and excursion boats. “We want to remain a public port with a mix of large and small boats, we do not give preference to anyone,” says Ante Buzolic from Nauticki Centar Hvar, who is responsible for managing the port. “The best thing about our port is the clear water and the anchorage that holds well,” explains the sporty port worker. “In the high season, the ideal time to get a berth is around noon. Otherwise, there are mooring buoys opposite or the anchorage in front of the harbor.

Hvar City Port
Hvar City Port

The east of the island is beautiful and lonely

Days four and five of the voyage belong to the eastern half of the island, which here becomes long and narrow and is nowhere more than three nautical miles wide. The bays are becoming more open and are no longer cut so deeply into the massive rock massif of the island, which is over 600 meters high. We stop in Srhov Dolac, a bay with turquoise water, a small stone pier, a dozen houses, and even more fishing boats. It’s quiet and green, a fisherman’s family is sitting on the terrace of a half-finished house at lunchtime, we swim, sunbathe, and enjoy an anchor bay all to ourselves.

The mood in Pokrivenik Bay is similar, only a few island connoisseurs get lost on the beautiful pebble beach at the apex of the bay. In the steeply rising rock face of the western shore, you can scramble through a huge cave and have lunch in the restaurant next door with a view over the bay. “It’s hard to believe that it’s high season,” says Jan, considering the silence.

East side of the island of Hvar
East side of the island of Hvar

Even the choice of ports is large

There are also safe berths on the long way around the eastern tip. The anchorages and restaurants are popular on Scedro, a small island two nautical miles offshore. Or the port of Sucuray right on the eastern tip next to the lighthouse. The car ferries from the nearby mainland moor here, but the small town is much more than the transit station described in travel guides. Natural stone houses with red roofs, restaurants, a supermarket, a small square, shady palm trees, many colorful fishing boats, and a small wooden jetty with water and electricity for visitor yachts make the place “very cozy”, as Martin finds it.

Vrboska or Jelsa? “No question,” Georges had given us on the way in Hvar, “we also call Vrboska ‘Little Venice’, I’ll move there later when I want to have my peace and quiet.” We chug through a narrow, fjord-like incision at an ACI Marina to the city harbor, are assigned a mooring line, walk over small bridges from the north to the south bank and back and marvel at the massive fortified church of Sv. Lovro, is a Renaissance building built to protect against the Turks who destroyed the town during an attack in 1571. Good choice.

Conclusion: Croatia is compact on an island

Before returning to the charter base, we rent a scooter for the last day and race down winding mountain roads with the wind in our hair. Past sleepy villages, vineyards, orange trees and cypresses. We stop at a stall on the side of the road, buy rosemary oil, lavender soap and a bottle of Faros, the island’s red wine from the southern slopes.

The air alternately smells of thyme and sage, we jet past olive plantations, herds of sheep, and fig trees. And catch magnificent views across the green island to the deep, dark blue sea, discover even more secluded bays and later stop in the tourist town of Jelsa. “Hvar offers far too many destinations for one week,” says Jan, “we absolutely have to come back.”

Yacht Charter Company We Got the Yacht From

Many charter companies operate their bases around Split and Trogir, the largest fleets are located in the Marina Kastela between the two cities. Places like Trogir, Rogoznica, or Marina (which are mostly closer to Split Airport than Split itself) probably have a nicer ambiance as a port of departure. In addition to the well-known international fleet operators, there are also a large number of local providers with small and medium-sized fleets. All in all, one can say that standard and service enjoy a good reputation in Croatia.

The charter company Yacht For Charter Croatia has its base in Split, but without any problem, they’ll take you to any destination you want where your yacht is.

Base and fleet
A large fleet of yachts from 34 to 51 feet is available across the Croatian coast. around a third of which are catamarans. Unlike other charter companies, all additional costs such as dinghy with outboard motor, final cleaning, bed linen, and towels are already included in the prices.

If you want, you can also be guided through the area by a Yacht For Charter Croatia professional skipper. Or book other extras such as a SUP or a kayak.

Sailing with Yacht For Charter Croatia is also known for operating numerous flotillas, in which an experienced escort crew accompanies a whole group of yachts. From the starting ports across the Croatian coast, there are weekly departures throughout the season, including a Hvar flotilla

Further information and booking
If you want to charter a yacht from anywhere on the coast with this company you can get all the info here or simply make calls, or send a WhatsApp message:
Telephone: +38598822188

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