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Set sail and let the wind do the rest

International Love

About a dozen regattas held in the Croatian part of the Adriatic are international. Most of them are sailed between Italian and Croatian towns, like the famous Rovinj-Pesaro-Rovinj Regatta. There are also dozens of sponsors’ regattas and a unique ladies’ regatta – Teuta – sailed just off of Zadar. If you want to feel like you’re “gone with the wind”, choose one among the widespread offer!

The All-Nighter

Among such demanding regattas with a long history is also the day-and-night Galijola Race, which sails from the town of Opatija to Galijola, an islet with a lighthouse at the southern end of the Bay of Kvarner. First enjoy the view from the sea and then from the lighthouse!

The Demanding One

Also demanding is the Jabuka Regatta, which is sailed in mid-November from the town of Vodice to the 45-mile distant magical volcanic island of Jabuka – a rocky cone in the middle of the Adriatic, and back. The start of the regatta is before midnight, and the target island must be reached within the ten-hour limit. Sounds like a real challenge, doesn’t it?

The Professionals

If that isn’t enough for you, we have two even more demanding courses that are aimed solely for professional crews, both starting from Split. The first is the Sušac Regatta for two-person crews, who must sail to a small island between Vis and Lastovo and back. The other, regarded by sailors as the most challenging, is the Sv. Nikola (St Nicholas) Singles’ Regatta. In honour of this patron saint of sailors, one-man crews sail on the route to Palagruža, an island closer to the Italian than to the Croatian coast, and then to the near-mythical fishermen’s port of Komiža.

Mr. & Ms. Popularity

Split is also the starting point of the two most popular regattas in Croatia. One is Mrduja, open to all possible types of sailboats. The winner is the boat that first turns around the island of Mrduja in the Gate of Split and gets back to Split. The other most popular race is the Vis Regatta, a 70-year-old race from Split to the island of Vis.

The Ultimate

Their popularity and massive participation is only matched by the Fiumanka Regatta of the city of Rijeka. It is a series of smaller introductory regattas lasting for a week in June before the city shoreline, topped by the main race on Saturday, in which over a hundred boats take place. What a view to enjoy from another sailboat, the coast, or the air!

The Rock Stars

Don’t forget about the Lošinj and South Dalmatian regattas and their long histories. The first day of the Lošinj Regatta is a navigation race from the city port to the island of Susak, then to the island of Ilovik and back, while the second day is a race around the ports within the almost two-mile-long port of Mali Lošinj. The South Dalmatian regatta is exclusively navigational and sails in three stages – on the first day from the town of Orebić in the Pelješac Peninsula to the village of Pomena on the island of Mljet, on the second day to Prožura, the southernmost port on the island, and on the third day to the city of Dubrovnik. This tour sounds better than any band tour, if you ask us!

The Best for Last

There are two more regattas that are worth special mention. One is the Easter Regatta, which attracts the best-known Croatian sailors and comprises several races and stages over three days in front of the shoreline of the town of Hvar. The other is the Krčka Jedra Regatta, organized by the oldest sailing club in this part of the Adriatic, the Plav of the town of Krk, founded in 1876. You can literally sail through history with this one!

Now comes the tough question – which one will you choose?

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10 Wooden Boats That Would Make Even Noah Jealous

Falkuša – Vis

A falkuša is a traditional fishing boat used by fishermen from the town of Komiža. About 7-8 metres in length and 3m across, the falkuša’s distinctive feature also contributes to its name, two removable wooden side strakes called ‘falke’, which protected the boat out in the open sea, and were removed to ease the fishing process. There are a couple of beautifully restored falkušas in Komiža today, available for charter and a chance to relive those voyages of yesteryear.

Betina Gajeta

Betina, near Murter, is another famous home to traditional wooden shipbuilding, in the form of the gajeta from the 18th century. A solid cargo boat with Latin sails, it was used to transport goods to other islands and along the coast. This famous vessel is honoured every year in Betina with an annual wooden ship regatta. There is also a wooden shipbuilding museum in the town, where local families have donated a number of artefacts. The business runs in the families here.

Korčula Gajeta

Another famous home of the gajeta is the island of Korčula, whose shipbuilding traditions are thought to date back to Illyrian times, while the earliest written records date back to 1214. No wonder Marco Polo found it so easy to go travelling!

Batana from Rovinj

Batanas are flat-bottomed boats protected by UNESCO due to their longevity and traditional construction method. They can still be seen around Rovinj today. This is the reason why the Batana House Eco Museum was established, but you’ll get to know them best if you take a ride. Or two, three!

Bracera

Also known as Brazzera, these typically single mast sailing boats are the most common on the Adriatic coast. They were so popular that the Austro-Hungarian fleet register had 800 of them listed from Dalmatia to Istria. There is debate about the origins of the name, which some claim is derived from origins on Brač, while others say the name refers to the use of oars using manual power (in Italian “Forza di braccia”). The most important truth is that they are a delight to see!

Condura Croatica (Nin)

With its famous saltpans and the world’s smallest cathedral, Nin has plenty to offer tourists, including its own boating heritage. The Condura Croatica fleet had their heyday in the 11th century, and it was rumoured that King Tomislav had some 20,000 rowers on Conduras at his disposal in Nin. You can visit one of these at the Museum of Nin Antiquities.

Leut

Widely used throughout the entire Adriatic region, the Leut was both a fishing boat and a coastal freighter, with a speciality for bluefish fishing and the use of the ‘trat’, a net attached to the stern which was pulled out of the sea at the appropriate moment.

Trabakul

Once the mainstay of coastal shipping, this wooden freight ship dates back to the 15th century when it was used as a Dalmatian-Venetian merchant vessel, taking its name from ‘trabacca’ or tent, after the boat’s sails. Slow, reliable, and made of oak and larch, a typical trabakul was 20 metres in length, had two masts and a large rudder, and a crew of 10-20 ‘trabaccolos’.

Dubrovnik Galijun

The best ship of its era, the Dubrovnik Galijun’s (English galleon) prime time coincided with the golden age of Dubrovnik, from the 16th – 18th centuries. Solidly built and extremely flexible, the Galijun was used for long merchant voyages, as well as a warship when required. An essential part of the Dubrovnik fleet, which brought such wealth to the city.

Dubrovnik Karaka

The largest sailing vessel in Dubrovnik from the 14th – 17th centuries, the Dubrovnik Karaka was used mostly for cargo, and was a sign of the quality of Dubrovnik shipbuilding. The city had a booming shipbuilding industry of karakas and galleons, with the name ‘Argosy’ becoming synonymous with a quality trading vessel, even being referred to by Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice. A boat, Dubrovnik, and Shakespeare? This just screams romance!

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A Thousand Islands, a Thousand Things to Do

Find Your Beaches

Where to start? Beaches of course. From the iconic Zlatni Rat in Bol on Brač to the delightfully hidden Stiniva on Vis, which was voted the best in all of Europe, Croatian islands shine with their beach selection. Thought there were no sandy beaches in Croatia? Discover the sandy heaven on the island of Susak – a whole island covered in sand. And for those naturists among you, choose the beach where naturism began with an abdicating British king on Rab in 1936, or perhaps CNN’s top FKK beach in the world on Jerolim island.

Explore the Legends

Don’t forget to explore the legends of the Croatian islands, for here both St Paul and Odysseus were shipwrecked on Mljet. And while you’re there, take a look at the stunning national park! Or go to Lokrum, just a stone’s throw away from Dubrovnik, and find out more about local tales of mermaids, fairies and pirates!

Taste the Wine

Let’s talk about the wine and Croatia’s famed 130 indigenous varieties. Many of them are island specific, including Grk on Korčula, Vugava on Vis, Bogdanuša on Hvar, Dobričić on Šolta and Žlahtina on Krk. You just need to learn one word: živjeli (cheers)!

Enjoy the Mediterranean Diet

Of course, the plentiful fruits of the Adriatic ensure that fish plays a large part on the menu, and it is said that a fish swims three times in Croatia. First, in the pristine Adriatic, then in olive oil during preparation, and finally in wine, as it is consumed. It is not without reason that the Mediterranean diet has been listed as an intangible UNESCO heritage. But the islands too have their own traditions and recipes such as Viška pogača (Vis pie), vitalac on Brač, and the edible dormouse festival on Hvar… Try not to try them all!

Fall in Love with Nature

And for all the stunning natural beauty – the sensational Blue and Green Caves on Biševo, the heart-shaped Galešnjak and more – there are also man-made wonders, which are fascinating to explore. Not to mention that wildlife lovers have plenty to enjoy, including the unique griffon vultures on the island of Cres and dolphins in the Lošinj archipelago!

Man-Made yet Breathtaking

Visually it is hard to beat the tiny islet of Baljenac near Šibenik. Just 0.14 km2 in size, but with a staggering 23.36 km of immaculate dry stonewalls. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stari Grad Plain, the magnificent Blaca Monastery, complete with a piano carried manually by nine monks, who consumed an alleged 56 litres of wine on the way, the mysterious Dragon’s Cave on Brač, and the military caves of Vis are all outstanding man-made highlights.

Join the Tradition

From the Lastovo Carnival to the Jelsa Easter Procession, Croatia’s islands excel in celebrating their heritage, and so be sure to check with your local tourist board what festivals are taking place during your visit, for Croatia’s history has deep roots on Hvar – it is where you find its oldest town. Organised tourism in Europe began on the Croatian island of Hvar in 1868 with the founding of the Hvar Health Society, and the recuperative powers of its temperate climate continue to this day. The island of Lošinj is also known as the island of vitality, with good reason to claim so.

Travel by Boat

And how to capture as much of this vast selection as possible on your holiday? Croatia has a well-integrated system of maritime transport, with major inhabited islands connected throughout the year. Private speedboat providers can bring additional convenience to your trip, and with proper planning, it is possible to explore the maximum of Croatia’s rich island diversity as you choose.

The only question that remains is – which Croatian island experience are you looking for?

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One Man’s Fear is Another Man’s Thrill

Ziplining

Let’s kick off with a first in Europe, the very first zipline over the sea at Crikvenica, one of several zipline experiences which you can enjoy by a UNESCO World Heritage Site at Plitvice, over pirate country, and one of Lonely Planet’s top 40 experiences on the Cetina, as well as Pazin in Istria, and Konavle to the south. Ready, steady, zip!

Rafting

The Cetina River is the focus of much of Dalmatia’s adrenaline tourism. Once a hideout for the feared “Pirates of Omiš”, today there are other thrills such as white-water rafting and extreme diving at the source of the Cetina, where no diver has ever reached the bottom.

Bungee Jumping

Perhaps a bungee jump or two? New opportunities exist on some of Croatia’s most iconic bridges, near Dubrovnik and Šibenik, while Maslenica is perhaps the best known, and no party on Zrće would be complete without some extreme jumping. Jump, jump, jump around – all over Croatia!

Hiking

Croatia’s sometimes rocky terrain and plethora of national parks makes it ideal hiking country, as well as a picturesque haven for rock climbers. There are numerous sites all over the country, but perhaps none as unique as hiking on the Premužićeva Trail, which is located in the Northern Velebit National Park*, and rated as the best one in all of Croatia!

* Northern Velebit was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe”, which makes beech tree forests in Northern Velebit and Paklenica National Parks in Croatia a new world heritage site.

Škraping

In Croatia, locals do things differently, and it is perhaps no surprise that locals have invented their own peculiar event on Pašman, called škraping, a rather bizarre race held each year over a terrain which Dalmatia offers in abundance – rocks. The race is increasing in popularity each year, and involves contestants racing over rocky terrain, some of which contains razor sharp edges. Are you ready for the hardest track EVER?

Slacklining

A true adrenaline destination inspires its visitors of course, and Croatia’s adventure portfolio has recently expanded to include slacklining, initiated by a group of Austrian tourists slacklining over the famous Red Lake of Imotski, just weeks after a Frenchman became the first person ever to successfully dive to the lake’s bottom.

Kite-surfing, wakeboarding, cycling, scuba diving, kayaking, the list goes on and on. Now you just need to figure out – which one is your adrenaline addiction?