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The capital of Dalmatia, Split is both a fantastic port of departure for a yacht charter vacation on the eastern Adriatic Coast and worthy of a visit in its own right.
Split first came to prominence in around AD 295 when the Roman Emperor Diocletian ordered a palace built there. Diocletian's Palace remains an important part of the city to this day even after a number of other empires have ruled over the city over the last two Millennia.
The Venetians owned Split over the city for more than 350 years, then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the French and then of course Tito’s Yugoslavia until the late 1980’s. Diocletian’s Palace remains an important part of the city, untouched in the civil war and the destruction of Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s. As such this historic port is an almost unspoiled Mediterranean port that is worthy of a stay for a day or two, even before heading off on a luxury yacht charter.
You can sail to Brac Island and Solta Island that lie an easy few hours sailing away from the ACI Marina Split, and can give you a taste of the best the Adriatic has on offer shortly after leaving port and an easy shakedown cruise on the sailing yacht. Another historic port on the Dalmatian Coast is Trogir, again a short day sail from the city along the bay.
On a typical sailing vacation you can mix and match between cities and towns, laid back anchorages and busy marinas as you go, taking in everything from barbecues on deserted beaches to full blast nightlife the feeling takes you.
Thanks to its position in the middle of the Adriatic Coast, Split is a great place to start a yacht charter heading south through the islands and along the Croatian coast towards Dubrovnik. Many a yacht charter up the Adriatic Sea is a one way trip, taking in the islands to the west as you hop from port to anchorage on your journey.
Captained and fully crewed yacht charters also follow this route, with you just a passenger while taken by sea to some of the best spots known to those running the boat.
The vacation hotspot of Hvar is just a couple of days’ sailing from Split too. You will encounter the best nightlife in the region as well as some fantastic beaches. On an itinerary such as this you would loop back to Split at the end of your trip.
Heading north, Kornati Island is a national park with unique geology and wildlife, and are worth a visit for a day or more.
Around 50% of the marinas in Croatia are run by the state-owned ACI Marina company. These are of a good standard, though you should be aware that on some of the remoter islands shore power and water might be limited. ACI Split is where most sailboat charters leave from, though Trogir Marina is not far from Split Airport – you can include Split as part of your planned itinerary from there.
Where you can sail to or rent a boat to travel in the nearby area
If you have an eight day yacht charter (Saturday to Saturday) then you can head south to Dubrovnik and loop back or north to the Pula peninsula and return.
On a bigger, faster vessel like a motor boat or superyacht you could visit much of the coast of Croatia from north to south – it isn’t a very big country, though there are 2,000 islands to visit!
There are regular flights from several British airports to Split.
Travel routes to get there.
From the UK you can fly direct from Bristol, Belfast, Glasgow, London (Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton), Newcastle, and Manchester. It is also possible to fly to Venice and then on to Split from there.
The airport is 23km from the main city and a taxi costs around $30 for the trip. There are shuttle buses into the city center from the airport too – these can save you money but you will still have to get from the bus station to the ACI Marina Split for the sailboat charter.
Broadly there are two ways you can take a charter out of Split. The first is a one-way trip south to Dubrovnik, taking in the islands and coastline as you go.
The second is a loop route. Heading south over 6-8 days it is possible to head down to Dubrovnik and then island hop north via Vis island, Hvar Town and Stari Grad, either staying on a mooring buoy or going alongside at a town quay as you head back to Split.
Heading north you can take in the Kornati Island national park and head as far north as the original Dalmatian capital of Zadar before looping back south.
Trogir Marina is a little closer to Split Airport than ACI Split so you could include the city as a stop on similar routes north or south.
A typical day’s sail could be up to 35 miles though can be as few as 15. On a sailing monohull this would amount to 3-7 hours sailing daily though on a quick motor yacht you can cover a greater distance and spend more time exploring ashore.
Ranging from a 50 metre-plus fully crewed superyacht to a 15 metre bareboat, motor cruisers are a comfortable and fast way of getting around the coast and islands of Croatia. The larger ones will have all manner of toys from jet skis to racing yachts aboard, and plenty of entertainment space to enjoy sunsets (and sunrises!) in good company.
### Monohull sailing boat
The workhorse of the sailboat charter fleet, monohull sailboats do the job in comfort – though not at a ripping pace. Better at getting to windward than a sailing catamaran, you’ll likely find yourself under sail more often on a loop route than on a cat. Don’t expect to get anywhere in a hurry, but that’s part of the fun of sailing! Available for as little as $120 a day at the basic end you can have a great sailing vacation for a group of six adults at a good price – though you can pay a lot more for extra comfort and space.
Much quicker downwind than a monohull, sailing catamarans can be fun and fast – but extremely comfortable and spacious at the same time. Expect en suite heads in every cabin and plenty of entertainment space below. The twin engines will more than make up for the leeway that makes these less handy to windward.
Not for spending the night on, speedboats are still a fun way to explore the Croatian coastline and islands. You can rent one for a day or half-day and blast about the sea, enjoying the sunshine and cool sea breezes with the wind in your hair.
If you are on a captained or crewed yacht charter you do not need a license to charter a boat out of Split. You also don’t require a license for smaller speedboats. However if you are on a bareboat charter you will need a license of sorts. Accepted licenses include:
ASA 104 Bareboat certificate
International Proficiency Certificate
Intermediate Cruising Standard or Advanced Cruising Standard
The sailing vacation season in Split runs from April to October. Marinas charge around 20% extra in July and August and can be very busy – if you can avoid these months then it will be cheaper and quieter.
It can be very hot in the summer months too with the odd day in the high 30s or above. The sea is very warm in August, getting up to 25 degrees C.
Weather can change quickly so do keep your wits about you. As always be aware of the local forecast for the coming 24 hours.
Expect occasional rainy days but temperatures between 22-28C and up. Winds will be NW, 10-20kts
Very little rain if any. Temperatures from 26C and up to the mid 30s. Wind NW 10-20kts
It rains more in October and the temperature falls away to 10 degrees C as a minimum, though it can get up to 20C on an autumn day. Winds can get up to 20kts
A motor cruiser can cost from $400 a day for a 12 metre boat though this can reach $600 a day in summer. If you have $37,000 a day you can rent a superyacht that comes with crew, tenders and toys.
Catamarans will cost from $500 a day in low season up to $5000 a day for a luxury end one in high season.
Monohull sailing yachts can cost as little as $120 a day though in high season the same vessel will cost $200 or more.
Speedboats with no sleeping cabin can cost as little as $50 for a half day.
The main points to consider are what is your budget, have you got the necessary sailing experience and qualifications to manage the boat if it's not going to have a skipper, whom you are taking sailing, where exactly you wish to go and what will the weather be like on the proposed dates of your trip.
You will typically pay 50% up front on booking the yacht hire and the balance on arrival. You will either pay a security deposit with your credit card on departure or can get insurance covering damage in advance. In some cases (such as the recent Covid situation) charter companies may be more flexible but this depends on the individual charter companies themselves.
If you are at sea and in danger, call MAYDAY on VHF Ch16 or ring the coast guard on your phone if you have reception. If you have a mechanical fault and can make it to or are on a mooring you will be able to phone a help line number given by the boat charter company.
You should consider do you have the experience to handle the yacht charter or boat rental before you book and where do you want to go along with what the weather will be like. Bring warm weather and cool weather clothing if it looks like the weather can be cool as well as warm and remember at sea it can be cool on most evenings.
If you want to sail without a captain then you will need relevant qualifications like RYA Day Skipper/International Certificate of Competence (ICC)/ASA 104 Bareboat certificate or the US Sailing Certificate. For small 'day boats' or if you choose to have a skippered on board your yacht charter you typically don't require licences.
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