This week, we meet with Klazien again! After giving us her best advice for a successful cruise in the Ionian Islands, she today presents her best free anchorages in Croatia! She fell in love with Croatia since 2019, when she started sailing from Aprilia Marittima in Italy.
In this article, you will know more about her experience in Croatia and discover her selection of the best free and secluded anchorages in Croatia for a peaceful and cost efficient cruise! All aboard captains!
Croatia, a booming sailing destination!
In 2019 we bought our own sail yacht, a Wauquiez Centurion 40 (12 meters), located in the home port of Aprilia Marittima in Italy. This marina is only about 30 miles away from Istria Croatia, so we started to explore this country with its hundreds of islands. Croatia is an Eldorado for charter boats as there are over 50 marinas (with up to 5150 available boats), of which many can easily be reached by car or plane. The islands are close to each other, the wind conditions in summer are moderate (with the exception of the Bora) and therefore Croatia is an excellent country for one- or two-week sail trips. Furthermore, Croatia has invested much in the infrastructure for yachties and beside the many marinas in many bays one finds buoy fields.
Which comes with its price…
Depending on the islands and bays visited, the anchor (and tender) never needs to be used. The downside of this almost “over sail tourism” is the price, the crowdedness and often a loud noisy party atmosphere. Hanging on a buoy may cost up to €60* for one night and in some bays (example Uvala Stupica on the island Zirje) there are more than 100 buoys, which can be all occupied every evening during high season. Marinas can be up to €130* per night and for national parks an extra fee is needed with up to €150* per night. In addition, comes the price for the sail permit and tourist tax. If a boat is chartered the latter two may be paid by the charter company but boat owners need to pay themselves.
But we have a solution for a enjoyable and cost-efficient cruise in Croatia!
As we wanted to explore Croatia during a longer period (up to 20 weeks) and did not want to spend too much money on marinas and buoys, as well as avoid the crowded and extremely hot high season, we decided:
1) to sail in Croatia in May-June and later in the end of August-September,
2) find as many bays as possible without buoys where anchoring is allowed,
3) find affordable marinas, and last but not least find tranquil, secluded bays without “ramba zamba”.
Our favourite anchorages in Croatia, and why we chose them
The anchorages I present here, were visited during May-June 2022 and are chosen because they are not the first destinations typical charter boats are going. In most of them there are no restaurants (which is why charterers do not like them too much). In some places one can hike, which we like as a possibility to move our muscles in an alternative way.
Furthermore, some of the spots are on the mainland, they may not look attractive at first sight, because they are not on islands, but we found them very fetching and good alternatives if one wants to avoid crowded places. In all the anchorages described we did not pay anything and needed the tender or SUP board to reach land.
Finally, all the anchorages I describe had very good holding and were well protected against the prevailing winds. One warning needs to be made.
As in many of these places we were the only sail yacht during the night, this may be because we were sailing outside of the high season. I cannot guarantee that during the summer season these anchorages are as secluded as we found them.
Best free anchorages in Croatie with Klazien
Istria West, Luka Dajla
After entering Croatia from Italy, one needs to clear the boat in one of the closest harbours. For us this is Umag. Instead of staying in Umag on a buoy for one night (€20*) one can sail 5 sea miles to the south and stay on anchor in the beautiful bay of Dajla. In May the restaurant was not yet open, so it was calm as can be! There are some buoys (free of charge in May but not in high season) but anchoring is also allowed at any given time.
Istria West, Pula, North Bay
This is a great place to anchor and visit Pula with its Colosseum and old town, where you’ll get familiar with Croatian history.
At first one may be irritated by the industry around, but it is an interesting and surprising place with its lighting giants during the night. We really enjoyed this place in the end!
Istria West, Uvala Paltana
On the way south from Istria towards the Croatian islands one of the last overnight stopover in the south of Istria can be Uvala Paltana. Although this may not be a very picturesque bay, it is a good alternative to the expensive Uvala Soline just 1-2 sea miles north of Paltana.
An alternative to Paltana is Uvala Burle in the bay of Medulin. it offers very good holding in a mud seabed and is well protected from swell and wind. In conclusion, the perfect starting point while heading south to the islands or north towards the Kvarner area.
Unije, Uvala Vognisca ⚓
Coming from Istria heading south, Unije is often the first island on your path to visit. On the east side of the island there are the 3 largest bays, but anchoring is allowed only in the most northern one. It is worth spending a day on Unije and walking over the island and its high hills towards the small picturesque village (1-1.5 hours).
The view over the Kvarner area with the islands Cres and Losjin is amazing. At night, one hears the call of the scops owl, the smallest owl in Europe. The call ressembles a sonar signal (and can last for hours). We encountered this beautiful sound in many of the bays we visited along our cruise in Croatia.
Losjin, Uvala Lisky ⚓
Our next destination is on the island of Losjin. The anchorage of Uvala Lisky located in a magnificent wild bay, offering a calm and relaxing atmosphere. Indeed, well protected from the southerly winds and with a seabed of good holding, it offers a very comfortable anchorage.
From the coast of the island, we advise you to walk for about an hour to reach the village Cunski leaning against a hillside. A small restaurant, a shop and a beautiful panorama await you there.
Ilovik, Przine Beach ⚓
Instead of mooring to one of the many buoys in-between Ilovik and Otok Sveti Petar, one can anchor in the south of Ilovik in the large bay of Przine.
The bay is well protected from northern winds, but open to the south. During summer there is a beach bar, but in May it was closed and we were the only yacht at anchor, enjoying a beautiful and peaceful moment!
One other alternative to the buoy field, is the nearby bay south of the island Otok Vele Orjule and east of the island Male Orjule. The anchorage features clear blue waters and except for some tourist boats during the day, it is very quiet and secluded! Well protected against northern and eastern winds, you’ll enjoy a comfortable stopover there!
Ist, Uvala Siroka ⚓
This beautiful anchorage is located in the south bay on the Island of Ist. From the southern part of the village facing the anchorage, one can walk up to the highest point of the island (around 30-45 minutes) and enjoy a stunning view over the island and its surroundings.
A walk to the northern part of the village and northern bay is also recommended. In the village we had the opportunity to buy a part of a conger eel, almost 3 meters long! The meat is greasy but when prepared on the grill it’s delicious!
Mainland, Uvala Mirine ⚓
The bay of Mirine has a main anchorage, directly facing the wall of Ostricia where many boats anchor. You can also choose to anchor in the nearby bay, without a view on the wall, but more secluded and intimate.
The walk to the wall is only a few minutes away. It is an amazing landmark and one keeps on wondering how it once was built and if it was of any help to protect the area behind the wall against whatsoever.
Hvar, Luka Vrboska ⚓
Luka Vrboska bay is quite large but still offers a fine shelter on the island of Hvar. Although there may be some noise disturbance from coastal hotels, we found this anchorage peaceful and relaxing. From the coast it will take you 30 minutes to reach the village of Vrboska, also accessible by tender. Vrboska offers local cuisine in a few restaurants and several small shops for supplies. Further east you can reach the beach, pass the nudist camp. In summary, a good anchorage for visiting the island and the village of Vrboska, or that of Jelsa, also accessible from the bay.
Hvar, Luka Pokrivenic ⚓
We found this gorgeous bay more by coincidence then active researching. While heading south, the wind dropped and we decided to stop here. It is a most amazing place in-between steep rock formations featuring a large cave on the northern side which can be visited. Many bats are living in the cave and come out during the evening.
Once again, we were the only yacht in the bay and enjoyed absolute silence except for the calls of the scops owl. Further outside on the south side of the bay there is a somewhat expensive restaurant which seems to deliver food to your boat, which we however did not try.
Rab, Palit ⚓
This anchorage is definitely one of the favourite places we visited in Croatia. Indeed, when it comes to an anchorage near a city/village, it’s the best experience we had. The old town of Palit is only 30-40 minutes walk away from the anchorage.
There is lots of space for many boats and the view towards the town of Palit is breathtaking. It is a good and comfortable place to stay for several nights if needed. 100% recommended!
Rab, Plaza Cikanga ⚓
To be honest, the bays of Plaza Cikanga and its neighbor Plaza Luria attract many boats during the day. Nevertheless, in the evening we experienced a calm anchorage, with only a few boats at anchor to enjoy this magnificent place.
The beach is beautiful and the protected bay is an invitation to a good Paddleboarding session! Good times in a magnificent setting, it is an anchorage that we warmly recommend!
Istria East, Uvala Prklog
This absolutely splendid bay located in the east of Istria, offers you calm and protection against the winds blowing from the west to the east from the north. The wind can blow from the south during the day, but generally drops in the evening.
On one side of the bay, where all the small motorboats are moored, you can access the village of Duga Luka. It is a small, charming local village with no restaurants or shops. The Bay is very wild surrounded by thick woods from which the songs of the birds escape. A peaceful and natural anchorage, to end in style this tour of our favorite anchorages in Croatia.
Although I am aware that many, many more beautiful free anchorages can be found in Croatia, of which I am confident to find them with the help of Navily during our next trips to this country, I hope this first selection is of help to all of you looking for free, secluded, relaxing and hopefully less crowded anchorages.
Fair winds Captains,