This summer, I got to spend a week sailing the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia with Busabout. They offer three itinerary options for sailing in Croatia (at affordable prices!): the Croatia Island Hopper (which starts and ends in Split), and two one-way sails, from Split to Dubrovnik, and Dubrovnik* to Split. They are all 8-day trips that go to almost all the same places, so choosing one over the other is more a matter of convenience for where you want to start and end up, rather than trying to figure out which itinerary has the best stops. My trip was the Croatia Island Hopper, and this post is an overview of the second half of our tour: Dubrovnik to Split. Check out the first half: my recap of Split to Dubrovnik.
*If you opt to start your trip in Dubrovnik, be sure you give yourself enough time to do the city wall walk and enjoy the sights before rushing off on your boat. Even with crowds of people in the height of summer, our day in Dubrovnik was still my favorite day of the week.
Leaving beautiful and bustling Dubrovnik behind, we headed north for Korčula and Makarska, which both beat Dubrovnik for adorable towns. On the way, we made a swim stop in front of a monastery. There were several scattered sailboats enjoying swim time in the sheltered waters, and the monastery and mountains set the perfect “I’m definitely not at home” background. The eye candy in every direction made it impossible to take a nap on deck under the sun because I couldn’t bear to miss any of it for the short time we were there.
None of us wanted to leave this spot, but after two hours of bliss, we moved on to Korčula, a town so tiny and perfect it almost didn’t seem real. We explored its narrow alleys, colorful markets, and lazy cafes under a tree-lined walk along the water before climbing to the castle-top bar. We actually had to climb a ladder to get all the way up to the top, and the view was breathtaking. We enjoyed cocktails in the gentle breeze, watching sailboats and windsurfers from up above, and eventually found our way down to the main plaza for a dinner of delicious Italian-style pizza. In case that’s not enough perfection for one day, after dinner, we watched the sunset over the harbor and returned to our boat for a night of sleeping in silence as the only boat on our dock (that was the only time that happened).
Makarska was a different story. Both the harbor and town were buzzing with boats and people. The rain that day meant we couldn’t do any of the water activities we thought we might do, but I actually found a delicious beer bar and indulged in a couple of Croatia’s best craft brews for the afternoon. If you get a chance, check out Zmajska Pivovara beer (both the Porter and Pale Ale are delicious), and the place I went to in Makarska was called Pivnica Pivac. I probably sat there for far too long, but I couldn’t help it. Topped off with a gorgeous sunset over the harbor, this was a beautiful day. Almost every other Busabout boat was also there that night, so we had a big party at a cave club – it literally was in a cave, right at the water’s edge. Incredible.
Day 6 of the Croatia Island Hopper sail was one of the most beautiful days (I feel like I keep saying that…). In the morning, we visited a picture-perfect town called Pučišća, with a quaint little harbor and a clock tower, and a stone masonry school (how cool is that!). The stonework from here is apparently used in the White House.
In the afternoon, we docked in the gorgeous little town of Omiš (okay, yes, they are ALLLLLL gorgeous, perfect little towns, seriously). We did a bit of wandering around the cutest alleys of its old town and then began our hike straight up the mountain to an old fortress (Starigrad). The views from the top were very rewarding, not to mention that six Aussie guys did a little photoshoot up there (two words: Budgy Smugglers). We ended the night with a Captain’s dinner on the boat with the group and the entire boat crew, dressed as pirates. Because why not.
We spent our last full day on the boat with a massive swim stop (and an impressively coordinated group jump-off-the-boat session) and that evening ended up pulling back into Split harbor, where we started a week earlier. We had a bit of free time. Some people dropped off laundry to be washed, some dealt with money exchanges and trip planning logistics, and I wandered solo up to a cafe on the hill overlooking the harbor. I had heard the view was nice, but it still blew me away. The rainbow was more than I could have asked for, putting the perfect touch on the end of a beautiful week. As I sipped my dark ale, I couldn’t help but smile. And when you smile when you’re alone, you know you really mean it.
This was our last night as a group, and we had become close enough over the last week that we actually wanted to have dinner together, and then drinks on the boat, dancing to our favorite songs from the week.
I was sad to see this trip end because sailing the coast of Croatia had been a goal of mine for so long, and suddenly I had done it. It was over, and just like that, I may never again see these people I had just spent a week of my life making memories with. But, I always tell myself (because I know this from experience), that you never know who you’re going to meet around the next corner. This was especially true for me at this moment, because the next morning, I was to set off on a bus overland from Croatia through Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria to Istanbul, Turkey, with a new group on Busabout’s Ottoman Trek. I knew I was in for a whole new adventure…
Missed the first half of the trip? Go back and see Split to Dubrovnik
Want to keep going? Skip ahead to Driving Through the Balkans with Busabout: The Ottoman Trek
You know what the best part of this trip is? You can do the exact same thing. This is Busabout’s Island Hopper Croatia Sail trip, and you can book it on their website! It doesn’t have to be a once in a lifetime trip either, in fact, it runs week after week every single summer. I might just bring my friends and do it all over again next year…
*This post is part of a collaboration, but as always, all opinions are my own.