Sailing in Croatia: 10 Highlight Anchorages in Central Dalmatia

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June 2nd 2018, to say a top 10 list for anchorages along the Croatian coast is an arduous, if not impossible task (and let’s be real, no sailor is going to give away all their secrets); but after many frequently asked questions by visitors, Ana Matulić gives us her top 10 anchorages and recommendations for Central Dalmatia.

There are many reasons why visitors, especially sailors and yachtsmen, choose the Croatian coast to spend their summer vacation. Croatia boasts more than 1,200 islands, islets, rocks and reefs. More than half of them are uninhabited, making them perfect for sailors to enjoy lovely beaches and untouched nature.

After personal experiences and many FAQ from guests at Marina Frapa, I was inspired to write a list of (what I consider) some of the best anchorages in the central part of Dalmatia.

I could write endless stories about these bays and destinations but I just wanted to highlight the most important facts for each destination for sailors and charterers. Hopefully, this will be useful for some of you.

So, if you have selected Central Dalmatia this year as your sailing/yachting route, here are some tips and a list of the best anchorages for Central Dalmatia

  1. Krknjaši – Blue Lagoon (Drvenik)

Krknjaši, also called Blue Lagoon, is a stunning bay located less than 13 nautical miles from the port of Split (around 24 km from the port of Split). According to the Lonely Planet list of the most beautiful anchorages, Krknjaši took the top spot among all anchorages in Central Dalmatia. Krknjaši lagoon is located on the eastern coast of the island Drvenik. The bay is perfectly protected with two smaller islets called Veli Krknjaš and Mali Krknjaš (Big Krknjaš-Veli Krknjaš and Small Krknjaš-Mali Krknjaš). Here you can enjoy the crystal clear blue sea water while you swim, scuba dive or just relax and sunbathe. The coast is accessible by boat. On the island of Veli Krknjaš you can find two traditional Dalmatian taverns offering their guests very simple but tasty fish and meat dishes. The taverns also offer a long list of wines, including white and red wines from different parts of Croatia. The taverns open only during the peak season, from early June to mid-September.  Krknjaši lagoon is very close to the old town of Trogir, less than 10 nautical miles. The lagoon is a very quiet and peaceful place, perfect for spending hot summer days and catching fjaka (Dalmatian state of mind and body, easy to catch and difficult to explain, fjaka is “slowing down” rather than laziness).

Anchorage fee: free of charge

Fuel stations: Split, West Coast (13 nautical miles) and Trogir (10 nautical miles)

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Photo credit, Tamara Matković

  1. Porat Bay

Porat is located on the island of Biševo. It lies on the northern part of the island and it is an administrative part of Komiža, on the island of Vis. It is located less than 5 nautical miles from the island of Vis. It is a place completely separated from civilization, almost uninhabited. According to the last population census of Biševo there are only 10 people living there. Porat bay is located on the most popular and beautiful pebble beach on Biševo. There is one cafe bar decorated in traditional Dalmatian style with wooden chairs and tables and one restaurant. The restaurant and the cafe bar serve food and beverage from the end of May to mid-September. By boat, from Porat bay, you can visit 26 caves that are situated on Biševo, including the Blue Cave and Monk Seal Cave – the most popular. Keep in mind that only for the Blue Cave (one of the most well-known attractions), you have to pay entrance, 70kn in pre-season and post-season and 100kn in July and August (peak-season). Porat bay is an ideal place for families with children because of its beautiful pebble beach with shallow water. Boat anchors are not recommended nearer than forty feet from the beach. There is enough space to anchor around ten boats. The bay is situated beneath cliffs, perfect shelter from the winds. The coast is accessible by boat. Porat cove is also popular with its pine tree forests where you can hide from the intense summer sun.

Anchorage fee: free of charge

Fuel station: island of Vis, port of Komiža (5 nautical miles)

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Photo credit, Tamara Matković

  1. Stončica Bay

Stončica is a small pebble beach located on the northern part of the Island of Vis. This place is perfect for families with children due to shallow water and a sandy bottom. A place to anchor is in the middle of the bay, where the depth is around 7m. The bottom is sandy, so the anchor needs to be well entrenched (in sand, a ‘fluke’ or an anchor with a larger surface area is preferable). Staying on the anchor always has the potential to be disturbed by winds, so if you are anchoring in sand be sure to double-check it has a good hold (dive down if you need to). Still, Stončica has good shelter from all winds, including bura wind (northwest to north-eastern Katabatic wind on the Adriatic Sea) and first choice for sailors and yachtsmen who want to enjoy and relax and still be close to the civilization. There are about 15 houses in Stončica bay, a mixture of locals and rentals. There is charming restaurant Tavern Stončica (Konoba Stončica) in the bay.  Konoba Stončica offers a wide range of fresh dishes prepared on the grill and dishes prepared under a baking bell (peka), often there is a daily catch and you can choose between meat or fish dishes. Stončica bay is gourmet Mecca surrounded by pristine nature, visited by boaters and sailors. Keep in mind that Konoba Stončica is the only restaurant located in Stončica bay, so if you plan to dine here, it is good to reserve your place in advance.  Read about a day spent in Stončica bay here.

Anchorage fee: free of charge

Fuel station: island of Vis, port of Komiža (6 nautical miles)

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Photo credit, Tamara Matković

  1. Stiniva bay

Ok, Stiniva bay isn’t where you’d anchor overnight due to its popularity and low protection from winds but, it is worth anchoring to swim and enjoy one of Europe’s best beaches for an afternoon. It is located on the northern part of the island Vis, beneath majestic and almost surreal cliffs. The unique formation is a result of a collapsed cave ceiling many years ago, which left a stunning high rocky entrance to a beautiful pebble beach. In 2016, Stiniva gained its accolade as the Best Beach in Europe, which has naturally doubled the level of interest and visitors.

Regardless, it is still a special piece of the Croatian coast, it is accessible by foot only for those brave enough to hike down a steep and narrow path, otherwise, it is a boater’s haven. It is perfect for a swim-break, boats can anchor just outside the gate (cliffs) and access the beach by tender or simply swim through the azure blue water to soak up some sun on the beach. There is one small snack bar on the beach where homemade light meals and drinks are served. Jumping from the cliff-tops has become an attraction but be aware that this is very dangerous, also, during high-season, with so many boats flooding this tiny piece of paradise, it means there are many propellers to be cautious of when swimming. While the sheer number of visitors to Stiniva now may make it less attractive to many, we couldn’t very well avoid speaking about it, but for a small dose of the reality, read this account from 2017.

Anchorage fee: free of charge (for now, there are rumours that soon there will be a fee)

Gas station: island of Vis, port of Komiža (7 nautical miles)


Credit, Waterworld Croatia

  1. Budikovac Bay

Budikovac bay (lagoon) is located on the south-eastern part of Rukavac- a town on the island of Vis. The bay is located in front of the islet Budikovac (pronounced Budihovac by the locals). According to the last population census, there is only one person who has been living there all year long- Mr. Andro. He has a concession and runs a little restaurant. Mr Andro also has small animal farm and vegetable fields. If you plan to have lunch or dinner at this place, reserving a table in advance is a good idea. On the island there is no accommodation provided. It is possible to anchor in the bay, but just be aware that the area is under concession. Anchorage is very shallow, around 2m. The bay is very attractive due to its special sea colour and beautiful pebble beach. This small bay is very safe and well protected from the open sea and offers shelter for many boaters and yachtsmen who love to spend their summer vacation in this area. This place is perfect for snorkelling, so if you plan to visit Budikovac bay do not forget to pack some goggles. Be careful when swimming in Budikovac bay as there can often be jellyfish, and sea urchins are not uncommon on the crystal-clear seabed floor. Read more of an ode to Budikovac here.

Anchorage fee: free of charge (keep in mind that buoys are under concession)

Gas station: island of Vis, port of Komiža (10 nautical miles)

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Credit, Slaven Starčević

  1. Palmižana- Pakleni Islands

Palmižana is part of the Pakleni islands, a lovely chain of islands located less than 2,5 nautical miles from Hvar. Palmižana is a village resort on the island of St. Clement. Palmižana is home to the well-run nautical marina, ACI Marina Palmižana, on the northeast side of the island, St Clement. The marina has 180 fully-equipped berths, with water and energy supply. The marina is very well protected from the open sea and from all winds. It is open from mid-March until the end of October.  Palmižana is well known for its wide gastronomical offer, serving fresh and healthy delicacies. Palmižana restaurants are a symbol of fine dining, especially for yachtsmen and boaters. A short walk south from ACI Marina Palmižana leads you down a winding path, surrounded by nature towards a gorgeous bay (good for anchoring, except during the southerly winds) with a few fantastic restaurants.

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The longest-serving restaurants with the greatest traditions are undoubtedly restaurants Meneghello and Toto’s beach restaurant. Professor Eugen Meneghello first began with tourism in 1906 and this story was continued by his grandson Eugen Toto and his iconic wife Dagmar – who is the heart and soul of Palmižana (read more about Dagmar’s 50 years of life, art and tourism here). Both restaurants have waterfront locations and are surrounded by lush nature, their fresh food, combined with their long-lasting heritage have made these restaurants desirable for day-trippers, sailors and yachtsmen.

Toto’s has a more botanical vibe while Meneghello’s has a strong focus on presenting art. From Toto’s, you can enjoy a view out over the bay and smell rosemary, sage, lavender, basil, mint, pine trees, mimosas, orange trees and lilies. The botanical garden is a “must see” at Palmižana and reflects the hard work of the Meneghello family over the years and generations.

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Credit, Tash Peričić, The beautiful setting in Meneghello Restaurant


Credit, Official Toto’s Page

Where the palm trees dominate, overlooking the Palmižana bay, there are two more restaurants. Bacchus restaurant is a family-run restaurant opened in 2007. It is located within its own olive grove and serves homemade specialties made with love from the baking oven. In addition, they also have a wide range of freshly prepared homemade dishes.

Another attraction on this magical island is Zori restaurant & lounge bar. Zori has 60 years of tradition in preparing and serving great food. Zori restaurant & lounge bar represents a jewel of Croatian dinning and so far, has gained prestigious clientele from all over the world. Stunning sea view with professional service and creativity in food preparation are the main reasons why this place has been frequented by regular visitors. Zori is very popular because of its unique food minimalistic presentation made by the famous chef Iva Tomlinovic, master of Mediterranean cuisine.

For a perfect experience, I recommend visiting Laganini lounge bar & fish house. Here you can take in the sunset, while you sip a colourful cocktail and enjoy fresh seafood delicacies. For over 50 years, Laganini Lounge and Fish House has become a favourite among food-lovers. It is a symbol of chilling, fine dining and relaxation all wrapped up in one neat parcel (another place where fjaka can easily be caught). The lounge is modern with a rustic feel, the bar is made of wood with comfortable sun loungers set by the sea for guests to enjoy. You can reach the bar by boat and it has its own moor/pontoon where you can berth for free if you plan on dining or drinking there. Keep in mind that the pontoon is too small for sailing or mega yachts, but there are numerous buoys which can be used.

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Photo credit, Tamara Matković

Last but not least is Restaurant Marina Palmižana, located in ACI Marina Palmižana. It is a family business run by the family Rakar, opened in 2001. If you want to spend your vacation in peace and quiet, surrounded by pine trees, olive trees, rosemary and lavender, this is the place you’ve been looking for.

In my experience, prices in all restaurants in Palmižana are affordable. The most expensive is Laganini lounge & fish house. Bacchus restaurant has the lowest prices. If you are sailing during pre or post-season (March-May or mid-September to October), no special reservation is required but during high-season, a reservation is definitely recommended.

Fixed buoy fee: from 4€ to 8€ per meter for vessels up to 15m

Fuel station: Island of Hvar, port of Križna luka (2,5 nautical miles)

  1. Carpe Diem Beach, Stipanska Bay – Pakleni Islands

Carpe Diem Beach is located on the northern part of the island Marinkovac (part of Pakleni islands) in the Stipanska bay. Carpe Diem Beach is less than 2,5 nautical miles from the island of Hvar. It covers an area of 2,500 square meters. This is a remarkable place, quiet and peaceful during the day with the best parties during the night. This well-known area includes a restaurant, lounge bar, cafe bar, cocktail bar with many other amenities including sport facilities such as diving school and a volleyball court. The complex is made of wood with large comfortable sundecks (large cosy beds, for renting) and umbrellas made of palm trees as well as a pool. There is also a special area reserved for massages. Marinkovac island (Carpe Diem Beach) is covered with pine forest. If you want to experience pure fun in the true sense of this word, Carpe Diem Beach is the right choice for you. Carpe Diem Beach hosts almost every night another DJ and they also organize a popular party called Full Moon party. For more information about the exact party dates, visit their website here.

The coast is accessible by the boat.

Anchorage fee: free of charge

Fuel station: Island of Hvar, port of Križna luka (2 nautical miles)

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  1. Ždrilca- Pakleni Islands

Bay of Ždrilca is situated on Pakleni islands, famous for its numerous natural pebble beaches and intact nature. Several restaurants are situated in this beautiful bay. Ždrilca bay is located on the western part of the island of Marinkovac, less than 2,5 nautical miles from the town of Hvar. The most beautiful surprise in Ždrilca bay is restaurant Patak (in English – duck). Why Patak (duck)? The legend says that Anthony Dujmović (the owner) was a little boy when he was given a gift from his father, and the gift was a little duck he loved so much. Then he got the nickname Patak from his family and friends. The restaurant is surrounded by indigenous plants including cacti, palm trees, lavender, pansies, geraniums and many more. The restaurant has a beautiful terrace with a breathtaking sea view and also has special area for kids with a playground and sea trampoline – making it great for families. There is also one cocktail bar offering a wide range of summer cocktails. Like many, the restaurant offers a wide range of fish and meat dishes, including some lighter options for snacks or those watching calories.

For guests arriving with their own boats (up to 15m length) Patak has provided five buoys. Larger ships (and other ships that are not restaurant Patak guests) can dock in Ždrilca with the responsibility to leave unobstructed space for the passage of maritime traffic. For yachts, mooring is secured to the pier in front of the restaurant. The restaurant is open from May until mid-September and peak-season (like everywhere) it is advisable to book a table in advance.

In a relaxing ambience, there are two more beautiful restaurants “Tri Grede” and restaurant “Mline” in the bay of Mline (next to the Ždrilca bay).

Anchorage fee: free of charge (5 buoys are under concession- Restaurant Patak)

Fuel station: Island of Hvar, port of Križna luka (2,5 nautical miles)

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Photo credit, Tamara Matković

  1. Hvar Town

As soon as you approach the town of Hvar you will be impressed by its unique architectural style. Hvar is popular as the most desirable destination in the summer, and it is estimated to attract around 20,000 people a day in the season. Once moored in Hvar waterfront you will be very quickly drawn to the shore. When in the town of Hvar, you have numerous options to spend your leisure time. You should start by strolling along the main square, St. Stephen square, explore sights including the Cathedral of St. Stephen from the 17th century, the impressive bells of the Franciscan Monastery, St. Mark’s church and the oldest Public European Theatre Arsenal. You can also go up the magnificent alleys which lead to the Fortica Spanjola (Spanish Fortress), a gorgeous fortress from the 14th century with a picturesque view over the Hvar Riva and Pakleni islands.  Hvar is bursting with great restaurants and bars, so it is very difficult to emphasise only one but a few worthy of note are Gariful, Giaxa, Passarola or for a more low-key but fun restaurant right in the heart of the square – the newly opened Hannibal restaurant. There are numerous beaches within walking distance from Hvar town and also, the (in)famous Hula Hula bar to catch the sunset with a cocktail in hand and DJ amping the crowd.

As already mentioned, if you are moored in Hvar town, you can catch water-taxis to Carpe Diem beach or across to the Pakleni islands if you want to spend a day, but don’t want to anchor over there. When taking a water taxi to the Pakleni islands be sure that it goes to the island you have chosen (Pakleni islands is the chain of islands and St. Klement is the most popular). Equally important, is to take note of taxi return times. There won’t be an easy way to get back to Hvar if you miss the last taxi boat.

Hvar town is around 23 nautical miles from port of Split (south).

Fixed buoy fee: 2€ per metre of vessel’s length

Mooring fee: 5€ per metre of vessel’s length

Fuel station: Island of Hvar, port of Križna luka

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Photo credit, Tamara Matković

  1. Pribinja Bay

Pribinja bay is situated on the northern side of the island of Hvar, less than 3km from the historical town of Hvar. The bay is famous as one of the most desirable places for boaters, yachtsmen and sailors, especially among sailors since the bay has very good shelter, protected from the winds. Pribinja bay is surrounded by pine tree forests whose treetops sing with the summer mistral, making warm summer days more enjoyable. The place is perfect for soaking up the relaxed atmosphere, breathing in the fresh air and fine dining. Pribinja bay is home to two pleasant taverns with sea view, opened in the summer season (June to mid-September), serving seafood specialties and an array of other dishes. The natural pebble beach dotted with pine tree forests is nothing short of amazing. In case you need it, private accommodation is provided at affordable prices.

Fixed buoy fee: free of charge (please note that buoys are under the concession and if you come here it is understood that you will use the services of one of the taverns)

Fuel station: Island of Hvar, port of Križna luka (2 nautical miles)

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Credit, Slaven Starčević

When sailing and anchoring in Central Dalmatia you should keep in mind that many of the anchorages are only suitable for use in settled weather and there are none where a yacht would be completely comfortable in strong winds as the islands are mainly low-lying and afford only moderate protection.

There is something indescribable about the sun reflecting over the crystal-clear water of the Mediterranean Sea. Boaters will know this feeling when anchored in a beautiful location, it is something to be seen and experienced, not described. Enjoy your sailing, be safe anchoring (check your anchor and weather) and mirno more.

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