Marinas in Croatia
There are currently fifty classic marinas in Croatia targeted to providing permanent and transit commercial berthing for sailors. There are 16000 berths in water and 5500 dry berths at these marinas. Marinas being constructed in recent years provide a growing number of berths for large and mega yachts. The construction of a large number of new marinas is in the works so that this offer is seeing constant expansion from year to year. Besides these marinas, sailors are also offered the option to berth at the many jetties, sports and municipal harbours and waterfronts organised and equipped to accept small and large vessels, including mega yachts.
As a rule, Croatian marinas are very well constructed and located in excellent locations. The majority of these were constructed in the last thirty years. They are located either in larger cities or beautiful island coves, mostly in the immediate vicinity of the most interesting and favourite aquatorium of sailing enthusiasts. It is difficult to find fault with them, except maybe in regards to their proportionally small number of berths for large yachts. However, this situation is rapidly changing because in all new marinas a large number of berths constructed are for yachts from thirty and over meters in length, while a number of existing berths are being adapted for these ships. Berths in marinas are safe, constructed so that they can withstand bad weather conditions which occur through out the year and they are maintained by experienced, trained and well equipped seamen. Special care is paid to the state of the underwater parts like anchors, chains and mooring-posts.
Once, in comparison to other Mediterranean marinas, especially French, Italian and Spanish ones, our marinas trailed behind in regards to offer. However, this status has changed radically in the last ten years. Along with quality berths, slipways, derricks and trawl lift facilities, there is an ever increasing number of excellently equipped services carrying out all necessary work on ship maintenance, that is electronics on yachts, service and repairs of motors to maintenance and repair of hulls. In the marinas there are numerous restaurants and cafes, nautical equipment stores and shops, and this offering is increasing every year. Numerous marinas also have the prestigious Blue flag, which means they are environmentally conscious. Much is being done on the renovation and maintenance of existing marinas, so that the quality of berths and security are constantly increasing.
For sailing enthusiasts it will not be difficult to choose a favourable and safe location for an overnight or many day stay; for the most part there is little more than ten nautical miles between two ports or anchorages.
The marinas are most densely distributed on the western coast of Istra and in the region from Zadar to Vodice. They are rarer on islands. Most of them are open all year round, but a smaller number are open only during the summer season. The services they offer vary from those basic ones (Piškera, Žut) to extensive offer which will satisfy even the most demanding sailing enthusiasts (Umag, I?i?i, Hramina, Frapa, Rijeka Dubrova?ka).
Twenty-one Croatian marinas are owned by ACI Club, a unique company in the Mediterranean. Sailing from one marina to another in this chain one can tour the entire eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. Most of the other marinas are independent operations with the exception of the Dalmacija and Borik marinas in Sukošan and Zadar and the Tribunj and Kremik marinas in Tribunj and Primošten, under single ownership.
The prices of daily and annual berths vary depending on the category of the marina, its location and the time of year. You can count on a one day stay for a vessel of 11 to 12 m length costing from 25 to 55 euros, while a one year berthing for a vessel of this type ranges from 2300 to 6000 euros. A one day berthing for a vessel 15 to 16 metres in length ranges from 50 to 75 euros a year, while a one year berthing for a yacht of that size would come to between 4000 and 8500 euros.
An alternative to entering a commercial marina can in places be a sports or municipal marina. Although they are, as a rule, taken up by their own boats, there are always free spots to be found for boats in transit. This option is available in Veruda in Pula, around Rijeka (the small port of “3. maj”), in Zadar (the Vitrenjak marina), at the Zenta and Špinut marinas in Split, which are in no way different from commercial marinas. Prices at these locations range from about half those in real marinas and up. And while many small sports and municipal harbours were built by volunteer labour and contributions from members, they too are, with the odd exception, of very high quality. If there is a difference in a fewer number of sanitary facilities, this is made up by the warm local atmosphere you can find there and often a larger availability of service stations than in classic marinas. The majority of berths at these small harbours are taken by club vessels, but they all have berths targeted to commercial use. Besides, many of the club vessels leave harbour in season so that a free spot can be found there even when seaborne traffic is at a peak.
During summer there are also berthing places in small harbours of sailing and fishing clubs in which, during summer, one can find a free space being hired out, so you would do well to look for a berth in Orsan in the Dubrovnik port Gruž, in Arbun in Makarska, in the small harbour Žurkovo in Rijeka or fishing club Delfin in the port Veruda in Pula. When you sail in it is necessary to report to the seamen in charge of club berths to see if there are any free places. Those who berth here will definitely save money. Here you will pay only thirty percent of what you would pay for a berth in a marina.
Many sailing enthusiasts find local small harbours, which have preserved their original ambiance, more charming than marinas. There are many such waterfronts along the Adriatic and the most popular ones are definitely in Cavtat, Gruž in Dubrovnik, Korcula town ( see ACI Marina Korcula page), in the town of Hvar and Stari Grad on the island Hvar, in Vis and Komiža on the island of Vis, Trogir, Primošten, Šibenik, in Zlarin on the island of the same name, Sali on Dugi otok or to the north in Mali Lošinj on the island of Lošinj and in Istra in Rovinj, Vrsar, Porec or Novigrad.
Berthing in them is a real experience as along with boats of old seaman or hired boats, there are often super-luxurious yachts on which world ‘celebrities’ enjoying the still possible privacy in Croatia. Such waterfronts are usually equipped with everything you would need for a safe and comfortable stay. Nearly all have water and electricity connections, moorings and alongside them restaurants in which you can find fresh fish, cafes, open air markets, fish markets. It’s just a pity that they fill up really quickly. Here too of course you have to pay as well (according to the length in metre, for multi hulls usually double), but prices are somewhat lower than in marinas – usually between 2 and 4.5 Euros per metre length of the boat. In some places, even though we have to admit more rarely, in smaller island settlements you can still be pleasantly surprised with free berthing at the waterfront or pier.
Other than in marinas berths can also be found in numerous moorings which in recent years are built on the islands. The majority of these are set up in smaller island localities or well protected coves, like Kukljice on Ugljan or Omišlja on Krk. Such moorings are equipped with only part of the facilities classic marinas have. However, their charm lies in the ambiance they offer, a smaller number of boats berthed and of course lower prices associated with them.
Even in Croatia when sailing into a marina, the good old custom of announcing your arrival over channel 17 also applies. It is also necessary to announce your arrival in municipal small harbours. In this way you can find out if there are free berths and after your announcement a seaman will greet your boat at the gate.
Regardless of how well-equipped the marinas, municipal ports – small and large – are, there is not a sailor who during his or her sail would not want to spend a few solitary nights at anchor in one of the many charming coves. Opportunities for this abound in Croatia.
We have already said that there are some 1500 bays on the Croatian Adriatic that offer anchorage, and of that about 200 that qualify as anchorages for twenty or more vessels. To facilitate and make anchoring safer, buoys have been anchored as moorings for yachts in many of these bays. As a rule, concessionaires run these anchorages and mooring to a buoy is payable. Notice to this effect is, as a rule, posted on shore, and at your request the person collecting payment for mooring must show you their authorisation to collect payment. The price of this kind of mooring as a rule comes to between one and one and a half euros per metre of ship’s length. Concessionaires at these types of anchorages as a rule procure basic provisions for sailors and dispose of garbage from the boat.
However, regardless of the level of equipment and comfort in marinas, municipal Croatian marinas have their own association which is part of the Croatian Association of Nautical Tourism. The majority of marinas also have their own web sites.