Croatia has the largest yacht charter fleet in the world and is equally popular with full time cruisers. This is in part due to its interesting culture, fascinating history & glorious food. However it’s attraction is mostly due to the 602 islands and islets that pepper its Adriatic coastline. We had planned to spend a few months in Croatia this year, however on January 1 2023, this small Baltic country was accepted into the Schengen visa waiver group. This was going to severely limit the amount of time we would have in Croatia as we had already planned to spend all 3 months of our Schengen time in Greece this year.
The Schengen visa waiver agreement allows non EU citizens to travel freely in member states for a total of 90 days in a rolling 180 day period. Thankfully there are still a handful of Mediterranean countries that are not in the Schengen group where we can stay/hide out without using up Schengen days. The cruising community call this the Schengen Shuffle.
That said, we had a parcel being delivered to Dubrovnik and we decided that we could afford to use up 10 of our Schengen days. So this is our 10 day, smash and grab, see as much as we can, visit to beautiful Croatia.
Of course we couldn’t visit Dubrovnik without doing a walking tour of the UNESCO listed, distinctively fortified old town. Built in the 16th century, the town has survived fire, devastating earthquakes and countless attacks. The most recent being only 32 years ago when Serbian troops mortared the town during the Yugoslav Wars. The old town (and in fact the modern parts) of Dubrovnik are well worth a visit.
The Island of Lopud
Being situated close to Dubrovnik, Lopud caters for day trippers as well as long stay holiday makers. The town is a less than spectacular mixed bag of new hotels, seaside bars and cafe's, a strangely positioned yet delightful botanical garden, narrow meandering alleyways, holiday accommodation and even a condemned hotel that looks right out of chernobyl. There are many signs directing to the walking track that takes you to the beach on the South side of the island. This beach would seem to be the main attraction.
Okuklje Bay on the Island of Mijet
This gorgeous little bay is way too small to anchor, however it is surrounded by small taverna’s, each with their own moorings. So long as you eat at the taverna, the mooring is free.
Pomena on the Island of Mijet
We stopped in Pomena for two nights to hide from a strong Southerly wind. It’s the same deal as Okukje. You can tie up to the taverna if you eat at the taverna. (this is very common in Croatia and is much cheaper than paying for a marina). Pomena is situated in the Mijet National Park and is gateway to the stunning blue water lakes of Mijet.
The island of Korcula is famous for its historical ‘old town’ for which they claim is the birthplace of Marco Polo. Even though there is absolutely no evidence to prove this other than word of mouth handed down over generations. As you would expect, the Venetians disregard this claim completely. After spending a day at Dubrovnik, the Korcula old town was a bit of a disappointment. The narrow streets were bland and lifeless and we felt we had seen it all in about 20 minutes. Its redeeming quality was in it’s restaurant promenade that surrounded the fortified walls of the city. We stopped for a cheeky little seaside pizza, scooted back to the boat and started heading back South again.
Heading home to Montenegro
We stopped at three more anchorages before checking out of Croatia. All three were intended as explorations into safe harbour should we hit bad weather when we return next year. Each one is lovely in its own way, however none of them are extraordinary. We really enjoyed our short stay in Croatia and are very excited to spend much more time there next year.