Does spending your days floating on the Adriatic Sea, visiting medieval towns and exploring pristine national parks sound like #lifegoals? Do nights sipping cocktails by the sea, hitting up wicked bars and dressing as a pirate float your boat? If your answer is yes and um, YES, then you’ve come to the right place! Sailing along Croatia’s Dalmatian coastline has almost become a rite of passage for a perfect Eurotrip, so here is everything you’ve got to look forward to as you prepare to have yachts of fun and sail into the best week of your life…
Croatia has become one of the hottest summer destinations in Europe, and rightly so with its incredible natural beauty, UNESCO heritage listed architecture, plethora of pristine islands and sparkling blue water to take a dip in. Although the central hub of Split is appealing in its own right, splitting away from the mainland will give you a much greater appreciation for the country and culture. Though the sail’s itinerary can sometimes shift due to weather, these islands are perfect no matter which order you visit them in.
Jumping aboard a sail is the best way to see a mix of bustling tourist hotspots and quaint, quieter islands that you might otherwise miss, like the relaxed little ports on Stari Grad or Omis, where you can experience the local island life free from the hustle and bustle. Similarly, you can explore the tiny island of Korcula in about an hour, then have a beverage on the rooftop of Massimo Cocktail Bar, which happens to be in a 16th century tower overlooking the ocean and mountains of the neighbouring coastline.
If you’re a nature lover, you can rent a bike and recharge in Mljet’s national parks and flawless lakes. Meanwhile, super yachts, fancy people and amazing food awaits in Hvar, the playground of the rich and famous. The equally lovely and lively Dubrovnik is a must for breathtaking views and sunsets from the city walls. After the sun goes down, Makarska is the where the party’s at - get ready to dress as a pirate and rave in a cave club. So. Much. Fun!
As cliché as it is, after spending a week on a boat with two dozen people, sharing lazy swims, mealtime chats, exciting adventures and too many in-jokes to count, you really do start to feel like a huge family. The tan will fade, but the memories will last forever (speaking of forever - after my Croatia sail, many of the group got ‘Nikola’, the name of our boat, tattooed on their feet. That’s commitment!).
The sail accommodates for the perfect amount of people onboard. It’s intimate enough that everyone can easily form one big group and get to know each other, but also big enough that there’s always someone who is interested in doing the same thing as you at any given time. It’s nice to know you’re guaranteed company whether you want to have a drink at a bar, sunbake on the boat’s rooftop, go shopping at the local markets or hike to the nearest viewpoint.
What’s better than one boatful of Busabout buddies? A whole fleet! During the sail, you’re not just confined to the people on your own boat, as all of the Busabout boats dock together at night, allowing you to mingle and party with everyone. The staff also don’t shy away from getting involved or take it for granted that their ‘office' is our holiday destination. They’re there to get the games night started, show you around the islands, and just generally keep up the good vibes. They’re also super knowledgeable travellers themselves, so they can give advice on forward travel plans and help book any Busabout tours or activities while on board. Legends!
Finding the perfect balance between comfort, practicality, the airline’s baggage limit and Insta worthy outfits can make packing a nightmare. When it comes to clothes and shoes, comfort is key. Guys can get away with shorts and singlets/t-shirts pretty much everywhere, but may want to bring a few button up shirts for the clubs and dinners. Girls should lean towards lightweight, practical clothes, like t-shirt and shorts combos or dresses/playsuits that can be worn over swimmers, for a day exploring, or at a restaurant. A couple of light long-sleeve layers are great as sun protection and in case it gets chilly.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time in swimmers, so pack a couple of pairs of bikinis or board shorts that you can alternate between for the regular swim stops. When it comes to accessories, a hat and sunglasses are a must. Colourful printed scarves are versatile as a sarong, to keep you warm, and to jazz up those #holidayenvy pics. Shoes take up so much room, so limit them to the essentials. I’d recommend slip-on shoes for on the boat and comfy sandals or sneakers for exploring the islands.
Aside from clothes, handy additions are a quick dry travel towel, multi-plug powerbank, portable phone charger and some spare cash (kuna, not euros). Some islands don’t have pharmacies, so essentials to get before departing are sea sickness medication, painkillers, electrolytes and sunscreen - better to be safe than sorry! If you want to be prepared for the activities, pack your best pirate outfit and a float of your choice to laze around in at the swim stops. Bear in mind, there’s no laundry on board, so if packing super light and needing to recycle outfits during the week, some laundry soap is great for a quick bathroom sink scrub.
Whether you’re on a luxurious 2-week vacation to Europe or a solid 12-month backpacking trip, there is a Busabout sail that will fit into your budget and timeframe, as the trips are fairly customisable. Once on the boat, accommodation, onboard meals and some activities are covered. Common additional costs are the boat’s tab, group dinners and drinks most nights, and entry fees to the national parks and tourist attractions of your choice on each island, though they are all totally optional.
Alcohol is not permitted to be brought on board, so the bar is your go-to for drinks, and runs on a tab system that’s paid at the end. Drinks often take up a lot of the weekly budget, depending on how much you have and how many times you ring the bell on board (which you means you shout the whole boat to a shot… roughly a 450 kuna investment in getting the party started!). If you’re on a tight budget, stick to the free water provided.
It’s difficult to give an exact figure for how much you should budget for your sail. It will vary greatly depending on how much you eat, drink, buy and do. Including dinners, sightseeing, spending money, a tip for the crew (500 kuna is standard) and compulsory taxes (roughly 300 kuna), allow for an extra 1500 -3000 kuna for everything you may spend on board during the week, though it can definitely be less if you are really aware of your spending.
Busabout’s boats set sail between May and September each year, giving you the choice of the cooler weather at the end of Spring, the scorching mid-summer days, or the shoulder season as summer winds down. If you’re looking for the ideal month to book, most would recommend June, as it’s warm enough to enjoy the water, but cool enough that you can enjoy exploring all the new sights.
Croatia is known for its out-of-this-world festivals and it seems every city and island gets into the party spirit in June! Music lovers can rock out at INmusic Festival, or dance the night away to non-stop EDM at Hideout Festival, complete with open air clubs and swimming pools. For something a bit less music orientated, try Rovinj’s Salsa Festival or Opatija’s Firework Festival for a fun night out.
Celebrate all that Croatian culture has to offer at the best street festival in Croatia, Cest is D’Best, or find vintage vibes at Dolce Vita Festival, ancient finds at Kantuni Festival, Zagreb’s mystical history at Secrets of Grič, roman civilisation at Pula Superiorvm, and theatre performances at Rijeka Summer Night’s Festival. Food and wine is also a huge part of Croatian culture, so get a taste of the freshest Fazana seafood at Sea On The Table Festival, try out the weird combo at Rijeka’s Sardines & Cherries week, or smell Hvar’s signature flower in every form at its annual Lavender Festival.
Aside from all of these fun ways to live your best life, June also allows a nice balance between deserted stretches of island and beaches all to yourself, while the major tourist hotspots like Dubrovnik and Hvar will be much more comfortable without the long lines, overcrowded streets and people in the background of all of your Insta pics (#priorities). Realistically, there’s never a bad time to sail on the Adriatic Sea and explore all the beautiful towns and islands along the Dalmatian Coastline. My advice is: book your ticket, pack your bag and seas the day!