The coast of the Adriatic Sea ranging from the western point of the Istrian peninsula to the southernmost point of Dalmatia hides many miracles s of nature due to its specific location. This beauty with a thousand faces is a favourite destination for lovers of the sea. The 54 marinas offer you the safest mooring and protection. As they are located proportionally, they are only a few hours from each other, and they lie in a wonderful Mediterranean environment and in a direct neighbourhood of towns full of historical and cultural values. It can also be attractive that you can meet sailors from all around the world here. This is a destination you should not miss if you are a sailor who wants versatility and adventures.
In this article, you can read about why it is so good to sail on the Adriatic Sea and in Kvarner region.
- Sailing in Kvarner-bay: Sailing season, winds and weather
- Ports and islands of Kvarner bay – and ideal environment for sailing
- Sailing in Kvarner-bay: A one-week route proposal for Kvarner bay
The sailing season of the Adriatic Sea lasts from April to October. During the hot days of August, you often have calm periods with no wind, but the coastal wind (burin) may ease the heat in the evening and the sea wind (mistral) during the day. There are three kinds of major winds on the Adriatic Sea. Bora arrives from north-north-east and it is of Arctic origin. It is a cold and immediately strong wind coming from the Dinaric Alps with a speed of min. 30 knots. Yugo is a warm southern wind originally from Africa that gets stronger for several days and finally sweeps along the whole Adriatic region making great waves. The longer it lasts, the stronger it becomes. Mistral originates from the Atlantic ocean and blows from the north-west on the Adriatic Sea with an average speed of 15-25 knots.
Tips for sailing
Locals say that a Yugo is always followed by a bora and it lasts half the period of the Yugo before it. Both Yugo and bora are able to create great waves in the wide Kvarner bay. However, when you plan a one-week journey, you can easily plan it to catch the wind always in the right direction. Kvarner region is touched by weather fronts still in June and already in September. You can have thunderstorms and refreshing showers more often in those months, than in more southern regions of Croatia. The high mountains surrounding the bay will hold the Cyclones back. Bora is more frequent in Kvarner bay than mistral.
Calm and clear water, ideal climate, long season
The Adriatic Sea is one of the calmest and cleanest seas of the Mediterranean with a pleasant climate. It is the favourite of sailors who prefer weaker winds. The coast is a karst region, the most broken shoreline of the world. There is a wide range of islands, reefs, and bays. There are plenty of mooring opportunities, which makes it possible to do longer and shorter routes, thus offering a safe sailing area also for beginners. Even in case of a spontaneous route change they can choose from countless mooring spots.
Kvarner Bay is Croatia’s largest internal sea with a 40-mile wide sea surface. Its islands are the most beautiful in the Adriatic region. Compared to other regions the distances between islands are smaller and you have more sandy beaches too.
Without aiming to be perfect, here are some islands of the region of the bay that we think you shouldn’t miss.
Unije is an external island of Kvarner region, a silent village without cars and tourists with reasonably priced restaurants. You can bind your ship to the pier or get moored in the wide bay. The coast is covered by fine sand. It is only suitable for daytime swimming because it is completely open from the west and north. But if you are caught by a bora or Yugo, you can find temporary shelter there. The Great and Small Srakane islands lie under Unije.
Mali Losinj island
Losinj island is 15 miles long. The largest town of Losinj Mali Losinj can be found in the bay that you find about in the middle of it. You can moor your boat at the piers starting from the main square or in Losinj Marina, which is at the Losinj bridge. It is opened twice a day, at 9 am and 6 pm, but you must count on the channel’s stream when you pass through. The pleasant inner city is only a 15-minute walk from the port. You can see middle-class villas on the coast and colourful houses on the hill. You get a beautiful view towards Rab and Pag islands and the Dinaric Alps from the top of the town. Mooring is forbidden in the northern edge of the Losinj bay and in neighbouring Cikat bay, in other bays you are free to do so. Artaturi bay and the dents of the island’s south-western end are popular bays.
Beautiful sights in Mali Losinj
The light of a red lateral buoy will lead you into the fjord-like Bay of Veli Losinj after darkness, while its separately standing church tower will guide you during the daytime. This small town has a picturesque view. The houses at the little bay show various colours. On small islands like this, you can have ice cream during the day in the shadow of a park with the noise of cicadas.
The 100m high Susak sand island is a geological miracle. It is covered by freshwater reed. You can walk from its tiny port (or ride on a mule) to the huge lighthouse on top of the island. This is one of the highest elevated lighthouses of Croatia. The sandy beaches and shallow waters of the island are suitable for mooring and swimming during the day.
Two beautiful islands around Mali Losinj
Ilovik is the island of flowers because the main road of the village and the road leading to the cistern and well are all decorated with flowers. It is separated from Losinj by a half a mile wide channel. The Saint Peter ruin fortress covered by palm trees is very spectacular. You have a baker, shops, romantic restaurants, but no crowd.
Premuda is a small island with 50 residents in the winter and 350 in the summer. It is bordered by reefs in the west and you can also sleep on the set of buoys. The islands of the reefs are excellent for swimming, snorkelling, and scuba diving. There is also a restaurant on the coast and on the top of the hill.
Pag island’s major town Pag is only accessible through the infamous Velebit channel that can be hit by boras in four months of the year. On the western side of Pag, only Novalja is suitable for mooring. You have a party life in Novalja, it is a favourite place of young people. Those who love scuba diving could find the peak of Pag interesting. The delicious Pag cheese can perhaps not only be enjoyed on Pag, but roast lamb may be the best on this island.
The capital of Rab island is more beautiful from the sea than when you arrive from the mainland. But this yacht port will fill up soon. You must arrive in time or reserve a place through the internet. The rubble stone walls from the Middle Ages, the multi-ranged pedestrian streets, the renaissance bell towers, wide squares and parks of the peninsula are all amazing. From four towers you can climb into two to admire the fantastic view. The silent port Supetarska Draga in the north of Rab and the sandy beach of Lopar are both worth mentioning.
Krk island and its capital share the same name. You can moor in the heart of the town and eventually walk among its walls dating back to the Middle Ages and in cool alleys. In Punat bay, you also find a port with shower and toilet for the night. You can take a taxi to Krk town from the marina. If you take a water taxi, you can visit Kosljun island in the middle of the bay. You can visit a special collection in the monastery that is almost a thousand years old. The town of Baska int he south-eastern Bay of Krk is a holiday resort with palm trees and an excellent beach. If you have no bora, you can sail under Krk bridge (1.5 km long, internal heights: 54m and 67m) that connects the island with the mainland.
Cres is the largest island of the Adriatic Sea (just like Krk), but its coastline is less broken. You can moor on the external pier of the main square of Cres’s capital Cres that has many colourful houses. The town of Osor is an artistic place with artists who paint in the streets. They also have music festivals in July and August. The bridge of Osor connects the islands of Cres and Losinj. The bridge is opened at 9 am and 5 pm every day. You can cut your journey through this bridge when you discover the islands.
Opatija is Croatia’s Riviera. Mediterranean plants, palm, lavender and laurel parks, posh aristocratic villas. The town was built on a hill, which gives you a nice view, but if you don’t like climbing up, you can also opt for the long beach promenade Lungomare. The neighbouring Volosko is also worth visiting.
If you moor in Medveja bay, you can water slide from the beach.
The recommended route is a round trip, thus, you can start in either direction depending on the wind.
Starting from Opatija:
1st day the island of Cres
It’s a long spreading mountainous geographical formation. The coast is very indented here with many hidden gulfs and pebbly beaches. It has several diving centres, and you can rent a jet-ski or go skydiving as well. The main sight of Lubenice is the Blue Cave. You can swim into wonderland from the seaside. Spend the night in the port of Cres.
2nd day Mali Losinj
Explore astonishing wonders of nature in the Gulf of Kvarner. Lovers of the sea and sailing can engage in their passion in a safe environment. Meanwhile, wherever you land you can enjoy the Mediterranean atmosphere and vegetation, gastronomy, historical towns, and cultural treasures.
3rd day the island of Unije
The largest inhabited island around Mali Losinj is a world of silence, calmness, and sunlight. Unije is known for the Vnetak lighthouse. It’s worth renting diving equipment since the water is very clean in the gulfs. You’ll find a huge, long pebbly beach on the island, which is the most known section. Spend the night in the port of Susak.
4th day the island of Susak
The island only has one small village, Susak. Here you’ll find a beautiful smooth sandy shore just like all over the island. Since Susak is a sand island, the wine here has a completely different flavour compared to the ones raised in stony soil. Islanders speak their own dialect, which other Croats might not understand. They also wear a unique traditional costume at the time of festivities. Many don’t even know about the existence of the island, so don’t miss the discovery of this hidden gem! Spend the night in Ilovik or Veli Losinj.
5th day the island of Pag
The capital of Pag Island, Pag, would only be accessible from the Velebit canal which has the danger of bora in one-third of the year. On Pag’s western side only Novalja is suitable for mooring. Novalja has a great nightlife full of parties, it’s the favourite place of young people. For those who like diving, the peak of Pag could be interesting. Spend the night in the port of Pag.
6th day the island of Rab
Many call it the most beautiful island in the Gulf of Kvarner. It’s full of picturesque gulfs and gorgeous beaches. Try diving near the Cape of Sorinj, where you can view the cargo of a sunk ancient amfore boat. Enjoy the charming, rich greenery and pine forests of the island. You can meet deer and muflons as well. Several small islands are near to Rab such as the Golits and Grgur. It’s a huge experience to discover them. Spend the night in the town’s port.
7th day the island of Krk, then back to Opatija
Krk is the second largest settlement on the island. It has a charming view with little houses built closely together. It’s a Mecca for lovers of water sports and sailors. They usually explore other sights of Krk island from here. Spend the night in the town’s port.
Read more about Marina Admiral Opatija
Kvarner Bay is not only perfect for sailing from a nautical perspective, but its islands and towns offer an amazing view from the sea. It is a great adventure to discover them all from the sea. Opatija is an excellent choice if you want to admire nature’s beauties, but also feel safe near the coast and relax by enjoying the wonderful dishes of Croatian cuisine. Stop every day in a fishermen’s village or in a hidden bay or on a tiny uninhabited island to discover hidden gems of the region.