Sailing in Northern Dalmatia

Croatia’s Dalmatian coast runs all down the country from just north of Zadar to south of Dubrovnik. Off the mainland coast there are a huge number of islands offering a wealth of places to explore.

Ravni Zakan: The two bays, possibly the smallest port of entry anywhere!

In fact Dalmatia offers so many options that I’ve divided the area in to three parts; north, central and south. The divisions are somewhat arbitrary but correspond to the popular sailing areas and natural breaks in the geography.

So I’m including in this section places south of a line drawn across the bottom of the islands of Pag, Vir and Premuda, and north of a line extending seaward from just north of Primosten.

The northern Dalmatia area includes the popular Kornati Islands, a national park, centred on the island of Kornat. On the mainland, the Krk national park with its impressive waterfalls is also well worth a visit. Park fees are payable but otherwise the main impact of the park designation (other than the sheer beauty of the places) is to restrict anchoring in a few places.

Novigrad: The village, overlooked by the 13th century Castle with local boats on the quay

With so many islands, you’ve a huge choice of destinations from small villages to large towns and even the odd city. As with most places in Croatia there are a number of marinas but with so many islands, there are also plenty of opportunities to moor in harbours or spend the night at anchor.

The area experiences several different wind systems, and this combined with the many islands can result in some interesting changes of direction, adding to the sailing interest.

Winds of F2-5 are common, sometimes a little more, particularly in the height of summer when it is definitely worth keeping an eye on the weather forecasts.

Skradin: Waterfalls in the Krka National Park

August also sees the arrival of the Italian invasion which can make more popular ports and marinas extremely busy. Fortunately, most seem to think a 4m wide yacht will happily fit in a 2m wide gap, so they don’t tend to rush to be the first in harbour!  If you prefer not to anchor, and you have to take your holiday in August, you may want to get in mid afternoon to be sure of a place.

There are several charter bases within the area, including Zadar, Biograd and Sukosan. The usual entry point for UK sailors is the small airport just outside Zadar. This has direct flights on Saturdays from London Stansted and Manchester.

If you’re coming from elsewhere, Split Airport has a better service and it’s about an hour and a half drive from there to Zadar, or Sukosan, 15 minutes less to Biograd and under an hour to Sibenik.

Statival: Tranquil waters in the anchorage of the sparcely populated bay

Alternatively, just outside the area to the south, bases at Kremik and a bit further away, at Trogir and Split, all served by Split airport can provide an alternative start point. For more on these bases see Sailing in Central Dalmatia.

For more about some of the many places to visit click here; Dalmatia (North): Ports (work in progress so please excuse the odd gaps). Alternatively, take a look at the pictures on this page: Dalmatia (North): Gallery