This June, I had the unique opportunity to sail down the coast of Croatia in a privately chartered Gulet. A Gulet is a traditional design two-masted sailing vessel, originating from the coast of Turkey, and can now be found throughout the Eastern Mediterranean.
There are many ways to visit Croatia, but with over 1,200 islands to visit, I believe that by sea is the best way to explore. We motored down the coast, from Split to Dubrovnik, stopping in many of the beautifully fortified islands along the way. The history of the area is apparent, as you can easily see how the walls of these cities and islands have protected them over the years. There were 4 crew for our group of 13 and the service and hospitality were second-to-none. The wonderful crew attended to our every need, shuttling us back and forth between the boat and shore. Breakfast was included on board every day, along with either lunch or dinner depending on the day’s schedule. The food that was produced out of that tiny kitchen was incredible, and they paid special attention to one of our guests who had specific dietary requirements. Our happiness and safety were always their priority, and having the advantage of their “local knowledge” of the area took us to places that we may never have otherwise seen.
Dubrovnik was a surprise as I’d been warned of the tourist mecca that is has become. But spending a few nights there, versus spending a day there while on a cruise, provides a completely different perspective. Once the crowds have departed, Dubrovnik becomes a magical place and you can finally see why people started visiting in the first place. The city walls, which have protected the city over the centuries, provide a dramatic backdrop to the maze of alleys that make up the city center. Musicians set up in the streets, and locals come out from hiding while the city completely lights up after the sun sets.
We spent a day in Montenegro, where we explored the stunningly scenic Bay of Kotor. Dramatic mountains, fortress cities and monastery islands make up the landscape of this somewhat unknown little country, and it provided an easy escape from the daytime crowds of Dubrovnik.
Croatia has something for everyone. It’s full of beautiful food, delicious wine, friendly people, a rich and ancient history, and the clearest sea water I’ve ever seen. We ate oysters straight from the sea, swam inside a Green Cave, and even enjoyed a “farm to table” experience. There’s almost no crime, so anyone can feel completely at ease while exploring, and anyone who watches Game of Thrones will thrill at recognizing some of the locations where scenes from the show have been filmed.
A Croatian Gulet Charter is perfect for a large family, or a group of friends traveling together, as it’s a much more intimate scenario than with a normal cruise. It’s a unique experience that can only be found in a few places on earth, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it.