Croatian Harbors and Marinas Discover the Charm
On the turquoise Adriatic, Croatia’s gorgeous coastline totals over 3730 miles, including the 1000 pine-scented islands, rocky islets, and reefs. Here we provide insight into The Croatian Harbors and Marinas.
When sailing here, you’ll find many historic harbors and modern marinas where you might explore, dine, or overnight.
Venetian-era Harbors | Croatian Harbors
The Croatian coast spent over three centuries under the Venetian Empire, from approximately 1420 to 1797. Unusual for occupiers, the Venetians never tried to extend their territory inland. They just wanted a string of harbors, for servicing their galleys, on their voyages to the East and back.
Today, these harbors, with stone quaysides, paved piazzas, elegant Baroque churches, and sturdy fortifications, are among Croatia’s top cultural attractions. The most beautiful include the grand mainland ports of Split, Trogir, Sibenik, and Zadar. And the islands’ beautiful harbors are Korčula Town, Hvar Town, Rab Town, Cres Town, and Krk Town. In addition, to Stari Grad on Hvar.
If you arrive by early evening, you can moor up on the centuries-old quays, practically in the towns’ historical centers. Enjoy a sunset aperitif in the cockpit, watching locals partake in their evening promenade, then step ashore to dine out.
Afterward, wander romantic cobbled alleys and steep stone stairways under a starlit sky for a magical nighttime adventure. The following day, have coffee as locals do, at a waterside café, before setting sail to your next destination.
Docking on quaysides is often cheaper than mooring up in marinas. The price depends on the boat size and the services available – most offer electricity and water.
Besides its charming historic harbors, Croatia has around 60 marinas. Of these, 22 are owned and run by ACI, the Mediterranean’s largest chain of marinas. They run down the Croatian mainland coast and islands, from Umag north to Dubrovnik south. Many yacht charter companies are based at ACI marinas.
They offer excellent service, including berths with electricity and water supplies, lifts, cranes, boat maintenance, and repairs. Facilities include fuel stations, toilets and showers, a laundromat, ATM, recycling bins, and most have a decent grocery store. Some even have excellent restaurants (such as Zrno Soli in AC Split) and extras such as bikes for hire. ACI marinas have received various awards.
The most celebrated is ACI Dubrovnik, hidden away up the River Dubrovacka inlet 4 miles from Dubrovnik’s medieval-walled old town. It has won the Flower of Tourism Quality for Croatia competition several times.
ACI was founded in the 1980s when Croatia was still part of Yugoslavia and tourism expanded. Originally called Adriatic Club Yugoslavia (ACY), it had 16 new purpose-built, fully-equipped marinas. Following the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1994, it was privatized and renamed Adriatic Croatia International (ACI).
ACI marinas are spaced so that you can spend each night in a different cultural destination. You might visit the historic mainland port cities of Rovinj, Pula, Split, Korcula, or Dubrovnik. Or escape to the blissful islands – Cres, Lošinj, Rab, Pag, Brac, or Hvar. Or explore the rocky archipelago of Kornati NP, the waterfalls of Krka NP, or the saltwater lakes of Mljet NP.
Private Marinas | Croatian Harbors and Marinas
Due to the increase in sailing tourism, in addition to ACI, there are now dozens of new private marinas. Two of these have received Gold Anchor awards from the Yacht Harbour Association.
The first is Marina Punat, in a sheltered bay on the island of Krk. Punat is Croatia’s oldest and biggest marina, founded in 1964, with 850 berths. The second is D-Marina Mandalina in Sibenik, with its excellent contemporary design hotel, D-Resort Sibenik.
In 2022, the Martinis Marchi Hotel & Marina on Solta received the prestigious Flower of Tourism Quality for Croatia award as the top small marina. Also worth a mention is one of the newest marinas, Marina, Korkyra, in Vela Luka on Korcula, which opened in the spring of 2020.
Anchorages and mooring buoys
Of course, while sailing the Adriatic, you can drop anchor overnight if you find a sheltered bay. Alternatively, you might use an official buoy field, then come ashore by dinghy. You’ll still have to pay for this facility, but it is cheaper than mooring in a harbor or taking a berth in a marina. But you will not have access to electricity or water supplies.
In national parks, anchoring is generally chargeable and paid to The Mooring Inspectors, who carry identification cards. Some waterside restaurants have moorings out front – often free of charge if you dine there. Some excellent examples are in Kornati Nature Park, such as Restaurant Festa on Zut and Restaurant Robinson on Kornat.
In conclusion, the Croatian coastline is a paradise for sailors, yachters, and anyone seeking a seaside escape. With so many stunning harbors and marinas to explore, visitors will surely find their slice of Adriatic heaven. From the picturesque old towns to the crystal-clear waters, Croatia’s ports offer an unforgettable experience for all who visit.
Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a landlubber looking to dip your toes in the water, a trip to experience the Croatian harbors and marinas is a must-do. So why not start planning your Croatian adventure today?