While sailing around Zadar, be sure to stop off at the lush green island of Silba — an enchanting paradise. Known as the "Gateway to Dalmatia", there are no cars here, just small tractors that supply local stores. And in the centre of town, wrapped in a winding staircase is the "Tower of Love", a monument to a legendary love story recounted by generations. It's also the perfect starting point on a voyage through northern Dalmatia.
Where is the island of Silba?
The island of Silba is one of the North Dalmatian Islands, located in the northwestern part of the archipelago. It neighbours the island of Losinj in the Kvarner archipelago and the island of Olib, just 3.2 NM away. This means you can easily combine a visit to Silba with a voyage to other North Dalmatian islands, which still remain off the radar to most tourists. The islands of Olib, Premuda or Ilovik are located in close proximity to Silba and are also worth a vist.
The Tower of Love: the legend of the old sea dog and the beautiful Domenika
At the beginning of the 19th century, in the romantic and harsh backdrop of Silba Island, Captain Petar Marinic fell in love with the local beauty Antonija Mauro. Before setting sail on one of his voyages, he made a promise to her: “When I return, we’ll get married, plant a garden around our house, and build a tower there to look out to sea and over the entire island”. Setting off to make his fortune, he travelled the harsh oceans of the world for 20 long years. On one of his many voyages he commanded the Melania, transporting coal from Šibenik to Venice, as well as ships that sailed during the difficult times of the Crimean War. When he finally returned home, he discovered that his love had gotten tired of waiting and had married another man, with which she'd had a baby girl.
When Petar learned of this, legend has it he exclaimed, "If I can't have you, I shall marry your daughter." And indeed he did. Petar waited patiently for 20 more years and married her equally beautiful daughter, Domenika. Fulfilling the promise he had once made to her mother, he built a tower in his garden, overlooking all of Silba and with a view to all the incoming ships.
The house still bears the inscription: "This tower was built in 1872 as a symbol of love and loyalty. It was built by the old sea dog Petar Marinić." He died on Silba on 9 August 1897 at the age of 81 and his wife joined him 15 years later.
A visit to Marinić's Tower, as it's also known, is an absolute must — you won't find a more breathtaking view from its viewing platform or a more irresistible sunset.
However, this love story is not purely a legend — Petar was a truly important and inspiring personality, a successful captain and schooner owner. It is said that his restless spirit can be seen at night, pacing up and down the attic of the house.
More tips on destinations:
Which sailing route to take to Silba Island?
Silba Island can be reached by boat from Zadar, Sukošan or Biograd na Moru. If you are sailing north, you can also set sail from Pula. No matter which you choose, adventure awaits on the neighbouring islands of Susak, Premuda or Ilovik.
- Biograd Na Moru – Pasman (Zaklopaca Bay) – Vrgada and Artina islands – further northwest along Pasman – Iž island – island of Ugljan – island of Sestrunj – island of Zverinac – island of Molat – island of Premuda – island of Ilovik – island of Susak – island of Silba – Dugi Otok – NP Kornati
YACHTING.COM TIP: Are you planning to sail to Croatia and not sure where to go? Join us for dolphins, diving, beaches and UNESCO sites. Check out our article — Where to sail in Croatia: find the best sailing route for you for three fantastic 7-day itineraries. One of them leads from Pula directly to the island of Silba and Premuda.
Where to moor on the island of Silba?
- Silba has a breakwater and a small marina, although it stopped operating a few years ago. There are a few moorings where you can take refuge, however we don't recommend anchoring here when the Bora blows due to the powerful waves.
- The local innkeeper also looks after the moorings. The restaurant is truly his passion, so you should definitely try it out, although the quality fluctuates at times.
7 reasons to visit the island of Silba and its surroundings
- There are no hotels on Silba and cars are prohibited, making it is blissfully peaceful.
- Silba is one of the sunniest islands, there are few places on the Adriatic where the sun shines so long.
- The coast of Silba is dotted with pebbly and sandy coves with lovely beaches.
- The whole archipelago in the Zadar area is considered a yachting paradise and there are relatively small distances between the islands. Look forward to unspoilt nature, clear waters, fishing villages, hidden coves, pine-shaded beaches, karst caves, stone lighthouses and forts, and the ever-present scent of herbs and cypresses.
- The forgotten island of Premuda, with its low forests, olive groves, fig trees and vineyards, is also close to Silba. There are fantastic diving and snorkelling spots on the south-western coast — the underwater cave at Cape Lopata, the colourful underwater wall abundant in fauna in Siroka Bay, the submerged wreck of the Istvan, and the beautiful multicoloured rocks.
- In the south of Olib lies a beautiful sandy bay, and even here time has stopped a little.
- Food and drink connoisseurs will undoubtedly find something to excite their taste buds here.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Croatia offers sailors more than 1,000 islands to explore. Scattered in coastal waters and not far from one another, you won't have to sail long distances. From densely populated islands with bustling resorts to sleepy isles with unique dialects and cultures, the Adriatic islands are incredibly diverse. Whilst some are practically barren and unwelcoming to life, others resemble glorious floating jungles. No matter whether you're a diver, foodie, sightseer, animal lover or nudist, Croatia truly has an island for everyone.. Find out which ones are worth a visit in our article — Sailing in Croatia: the 14 best islands to drop anchor
So, are you off to discover the Adriatic's most beautiful sea for yourself? The enchanting and magical Silba will keep you coming back for more.