Sailing in Croatia: The Adriatic Alphabet - E Is For...

By 16 January 2018

In this week's feature of our alphabet series, a tribute to exotic animals and early mornings on January 16, 2018


Don't you just love the poetic names given to some of the Croatian archipelagos? In the first feature of our alphabet series, we mentioned the Apsyrtides, a common nickname for the archipelago of Lošinj which originates from the legend of Jason and the Argonauts. Look further south, and you'll find the Elaphites - an archipelago located close to Dubrovnik which consists of several islands. They get their name after elaphos, the ancient Greek word for deer, as they used to inhabit the archipelago in large numbers. The name was supposedly first coined by the Roman author Pliny the Elder who mentioned the islands as the Elaphites in his Naturalis Historia in the 1st century.


Lokrum island

Šipan, Koločep and Lopud have a combined population of 850; other islets are mostly unpopulated, save for an occasional lighthouse. The most notorious member of the Elaphites is the island of Daksa which is believed to be haunted since the brutal massacre in 1944, a terrible event that shrouded the otherwise idyllic island in a veil of unease that makes it impossible for the owners to sell the property on the international market. Come to think of it, the Elaphites really have it going on on the mystery front, as the island of Lokrum is also said to be cursed - read the thrilling story here. Bad juju aside, the whole of Elaphites represent a pristine Mediterranean paradise, their lush vegetation and dreamy beaches proving irresistible for tourists year after year. No need to worry about the curses, as they supposedly affect only those who attempt to buy the islands - as long as you don't have a couple of extra millions to spend and just want to take a dip in the southern Adriatic, you should be fine.



From deer in the south to elephants in the north, the Adriatic is a wilder ride than one would expect. If you hear a mention of an animal that seems too exotic to be associated with Croatia, it probably resides on the Brijuni islands off the coast of Istria. As you probably know by now, the National Park Brijuni used to house the summer estate of Josip Broz Tito, including a curious selection of animals gifted to Tito by foreign statesmen and political leaders. Apart from llamas, zebras and zebus, the population included two Indian elephants: the more famous one, named Sony, was gifted to Tito by Indira Ghandi in 1970 and has greeted approximately 4 million tourists in the following 40 years. The beloved Sony passed away in 2010, leaving behind his mate Lanka who still resides on the island. After an initial bout of depression caused by Sony's passing and sudden loneliness, Lanka seems to have spruced up. Here she is, enjoying a summer dip:

Early to bed and early to rise...

...makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Good advice on how to live life in general, but... In the context of a summer holiday on the Adriatic, another take on the popular saying comes to mind, courtesy of the legendary Animaniacs: early to rise and early to bed makes a man healthy but socially dead. Who would want to waste their vacation time sticking to early nights and early mornings? Cocktails! Dinners! Festivals! You're going sailing in Croatia and you want to rest and enjoy yourself, not set your alarm clock at 6. In fact, you don't want to be setting your alarm clock at all.

However... making an effort to get up early at least once will be more than worth your while. The sea is never as still and divine as at the crack of dawn; save for an occasional boat gently stirring the surface, you'll be met with such tranquility, the world around you will resemble a mirage. Make yourself some coffee, bask in the mellow sunrise, and enjoy the silence.




Charter a yacht in Croatia, and you'll be informed of the exact time you can board - usually around 5 in the afternoon. Every yacht crew will tell you the majority of guests ask to board early, and while the request is not unreasonable - who wouldn't want to start their sailing adventure as soon as possible? - it's hard to comply with. Clients tend to forget that the previous guests left the boat just hours earlier, leaving the crew with a very short time window to get the yacht in a pristine state for the coming guests to enjoy. "Linen heading out, new linen coming in, stock arriving, stock being put away, the inside of the yacht being cleaned and completely remade and the outside of the yacht being scrubbed from top to bottom... it is all happening." Take a look at this piece to get some insight into what it takes to prepare a yacht before the guests can embark, and watch a snippet of the process in the video below. And please, don't ask to board early - "if your boarding time says 5 pm, trust that it says it for a reason."


Early bird sailing deals

For the last early-inspired item, a friendly reminder: if you were planning to charter a yacht in Croatia this year, you might consider booking a sailing holiday these days. Most charter agencies offer early bird sailing deals for the upcoming season, and you will likely be granted a generous discount if you act now instead of waiting for spring. Nautika Centar Nava has already come out with a line of special offers you can see here, same as Croatia Yachting Charter; there's also a good chance you'll be offered an early bird discount if you email charter companies directly. Don't wait too long: a survey conducted by the Boating and Watersports Holiday Show in London has shown that this past weekend was the busiest time of year for Brits booking summer holidays, and close to 50% have stated they plan to travel to European hotspots such as Croatia, Spain, Portugal and Greece. It's going to get crowded - act fast!


Euphrasian Basilica


Set your course for any part of the Croatian coast, and chances are you'll bump into a UNESCO-protected site. The Euphrasian Basilica in the Istrian city of Poreč has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997, and for a good reason: the majestic episcopal complex is an incredible example of early Byzantine architecture on the Mediterranean, with the site housing multiple historic layers. The earliest basilica dates back to the 4th century and was dedicated to Saint Maurus of Parentium, while the present basilica was built in the 6th century and named after Bishop Euphrasius. As the church is dedicated to Mary, it's also known as the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of Mary, but Euphrasiana remains a far more popular nickname. The entire complex also includes a baptistry and the Bishop's Palace built in the 6th century, a bell tower, a colonnaded atrium and a memorial chapel, but the best known feature of the basilica are its stunning 6th-century mosaics on the triumphal arch and the vault of the apse. Learn more here.




A sailing holiday is a perfect occasion to set your smartphone aside and give social media a rest. However, we can't all afford to get off the grid for days, and even if you manage to resist the urge to entice envy on Instagram, there's a good chance you'll have to check your email every now and then. While most destinations on the coast have great reception, some of the more isolated locations can present a bit of a problem. Wi-fi is hard to hunt down on remote islands such as Lastovo or Palagruža, and having data on your phone won't help either - reception is often non-existent. If you don't want to risk it, consider getting a RoamFree Ninja, the Croatian-made mobile hotspot that will enable you to stay in the loop regardless of how secluded your destination is. Take a look at this piece about its impressive features, and learn more about the Ninja here.


Eggs and ostrich omelettes of Šolta


The island of Šolta houses an extraordinary venue and some interesting residents alike: in 2009, OPG Vuletić opened an ostrich farm in Stomorski gaj. The family takes care of four ostriches, three ladies named Crna, Tena and Justa, and a gentleman named Mate. According to the owner Ivan Vuletić, the animals are cuddly and like company - being left alone can lead to a premature death. Who knew?

The restaurant doesn't serve ostrich meat, as venturing into serious production would call for a large-scale operation. Instead, they've built their name on serving delicious dishes featuring ostrich eggs: they use them to make homemade pasta and whip up omelettes that can feed 5-6 people. Hard-boiling a single ostrich egg takes up to an hour - if you want to put this fact to the test, you can buy an egg at the farm at a price of 150 kuna a piece. Read more here (in Croatian), and click here for more bewildering stories of Croatian islands.


Entertainment - Adriatic style!

Sailing the Adriatic coast doesn't stop at diving into turquoise waters and gazing at the pristine scenery from a yacht deck. There's so much to do, and it would be a shame not to immerse yourself in the vibrant summer atmosphere. Music fan? There's plenty of festivals at your disposal: Seasplash, Outlook and Dimensions in Pula, Ultra Europe in Split, SuperUho in various locations in Dalmatia; film and theatre buffs are also sure to find a manifestation to their liking. In case party animals aren't your crowd of choice, aim for folk festivals instead: every single town, village or island on the coast has a feast day dedicated to their patron saint, and you won't have a problem tracking down some vivacious festivities - delicious cuisine and authentic ambiance included. And finally, if you're willing to set some time aside for recreation, the Adriatic offers plenty of fantastic locations for hiking, cycling, trekking, running, diving, and kayaking. The only issue you might face is not having enough time to check all items off the list - you can never get enough of the Adriatic. See you next summer!