Before June, I’d never heard of Sail Croatia and yet so many friends from my Contiki tour were doing it over the summer that it immediately went straight to the top of my to-do list. Sailing the islands of a country that I’ve wanted to visit for so long seemed like a brilliant way to see more than one place easily and also make new friends along the way. And from start to finish, it was a total blast.Sail Croatia Navigator cruises operate on circular Split – Split routes, as well as one way routes starting in either Split or Dubrovnik. On checking out flight prices, we decided to sail from Dubrovnik to Split, with two days in Dubrovnik beforehand to explore the old town.The view from the plane as we came in to land was incredibly stunning and the wave of heat that hit us when we stepped into Croatia for the first time was something else entirely! Luckily, transport from the airport was easy to find and we hopped on the bus to Dubrovnik for 40 kuna each (around £4). With takeaway mojitos, beautiful scenery and a crystal clear sea, it was a blissful two days but by Saturday, we were well ready to get on the boat and set sail.
Walking the Dubrovnik city walls Check in on our ship was easy and we left our luggage there for an hour before returning to meet everyone in time for our first lunch together and a briefing from the rep. In an incredibly strange twist of fate, the first people we met were two guys who were best friends with three of the guys from my Contiki. Weird and a pretty amazing coincidence.
Now, I’m going to get the negatives out of the way now. Before heading off on our trip, we’d been gorging ourselves on beautiful images of wooden boats, seafood and sun on the Sail Croatia Instagram. This didn’t quite go to plan. You definitely get what you pay for on these tours and our boat was more dated blue tin with mystery meat and a lot of bread. Comparing ourselves to the other boats – most of which had disco lights on deck to create more of an atmosphere – we did feel that we got the short straw.
We had two girls bathrooms and two guys – which got very sweaty as it was a tiny cabin with a toilet and showerhead very close together! – but with 33 of us and a ratio of 2:3 girls to guys, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. However, I will say that the crew did a great job of keeping the boat clean and considering a lot of us on our boat were ill at one point or another, the bathrooms stayed smelling pretty fresh.
We were unlucky enough to have storms on quite a few days of our trip which left us missing a few swim stops and there wasn’t really any alternative activities to do on the boat – a few card or board games would have come in handy here! But when we did stop, we all instantly jumped into the beautifully warm water; I think I was in the sea for a good two hours on our first stop!How could you not swim here?
On our Dubrovnik to Split route, we visited the islands of Mljet, Korcula, Hvar, Stari-Grad (Hvar) and Makarska. My favourite day of the trip Makarska, a gorgeous island to explore in the daytime with a beach, large market and lots of watersports on offer. In fact, when we were on our way in to dock, we spotted dolphins playing against the horizon. Happy sighs. Then at night, the famous pirate / sailor party was held and all the Sail groups headed to party at Deep – a nightclub in a cave.Drinks on the boat were priced decently and I took full advantage of the happy hour deals each evening – plus, the crew were happy to create new cocktails and drinks for us to try! On our day in Korcula, I was suffering with some kind of bug that left my stomach churning so I partied sober (at a club called Boogie Jungle, I kid you not) and still had an absolute ball.Sail Croatia meant that we were able to explore a new island each day and they were all varied enough to make each day completely different. Hvar was busier with a buzzing dock filled with superyachts……while Stari-Grad was quiet, relaxed and perfect to watch the sunset. When it went dark, you could see thousands of stars scattered across the sky.Overall, the week was filled with laughter, dancing and embracing the natural look – which I absolutely loved. Apparently sea salt does great things to my hair and I really miss not even thinking about applying makeup.
Highlights include sneaking onto an inflatable obstacle course in Makarska by swimming inland from our boat at a swim stop. We lasted 15 minutes before getting caught and having to do a speedy getaway back to the boat.Finding our stolen lilos on another boat and taking a drunken 3am mission with Jess and Briar to steal them back, all whilst holding a takeaway chicken sandwich. Read about it here -> The Lilo Mission.Swimming in the salt lakes at Mljet National Park. Rather than walking around the lakes, a few of us decided to swim across them – a truly memorable experience for the first day of our sail.And finally, meeting another group of awesome people. While a week together didn’t feel like long enough – there are so many people that I would have loved to get to know better – it was a brilliant crowd to spend an incredibly fun week with.I’ve already decided that I’m going back next year for round two! But I’ll be saving up for an en-suite bathroom this time…