Croatia has become a sought-after sailing destination for enthusiasts worldwide, owing to its breathtaking coastline and picturesque islands. Nonetheless, this popularity has its downsides, such as the heightened demand for berths in coastal bays and harbours during the summer months. So, what considerations should be on your mind as you plan a Croatian sailing adventure this upcoming summer season?
To ensure a smooth sailing, we recommend booking your berth in advance for the coming summer. It's almost upon us! In this guide, we will be giving you useful tips and links to websites and booking apps for sailors planning to anchor in Croatian marinas this year.
Why book a mooring spot in advance?
Reserving a mooring in advance is recommended and actually necessary for several reasons. Booking guarantees you a place in the marina or at a buoy, which is a must especially in high season. July and August are generally the busiest months, especially the period from 15 July to 15 August. Booking a place in advance will then allow you to better plan your itinerary and ensure that you can visit the places you want to see. Last but not least, booking early can save you money as many ports offer discounts for early booking. And that brings us to the next point — when should you book your spot?
When to book a mooring spot?
The main sailing season in Croatia lasts from June to September, so it is advisable to book a berth well in advance, especially for this period. Some marinas offer online bookings up to a year in advance, so if you know your sailing dates, it's best to book as early as possible. Summer events and festivals are widespread in Croatia at this time of year (check out our article about them here) and this only adds to the number of visitors.
In particular, the summer festival in Split and other larger events cause a significant increase in demand for berths, so it is better to plan your holiday and voyage with these in mind.
Three types of moorings in Croatia and how to book
There are three basic systems or types of mooring in Croatia. Each has its own specific pros and cons.
- Firstly, there are moorings under the administration of the port authority (e.g. Sali, Vis, Komiza, Stari Grad, etc.). There is no reservation system for these moorings, with the first-come, first-served rule applying. In general, we recommend that in ideal weather, and if you are not in a hurry, you should arrive at your desired mooring by 4pm. However, if there is something going on, such as an event or festival, it is better to arrive even earlier, ideally by 2pm. If the weather is bad or the forecast for the next day is unfavourable, don't be afraid to arrive by noon. If you need to replenish your water or food supplies, refuel in the morning when other boats are leaving the harbour and staying anchored for less than two hours makes the charges minimal.
- The other option is to anchor in marinas such as ACI marinas, Martinis Marchi (Maslinica), Korkyra (Vela Luka), Frapa, Ilirija, Marina Shangulin and so on. Here the system is fully organised and in most cases there is an on-line booking system, which can be accessed via the websites of the individual marinas. Here you can find out the conditions and how to book. In some places you don't pay any booking fees in advance, while in others you pay for berths and bookings online in advance. You must then arrive at the location according to your scheduled arrival time, otherwise your reservation may be forfeited. Again, it's worth booking a berth — especially in busier marinas like Korcula, Skradin or Palmižana — up to a week in advance.
- The last option for mooring in Croatia is moorings and buoys near restaurants. Mooring at these places is very popular and works mostly on the principle of trust and communication with the staff or owners. But be aware that the experience of mooring here varies from restaurant to restaurant! You can find the location, along with contact information for each restaurant, on the Navionics website or app, where the cost of the mooring is included in the price of the meal. Also check for electricity and water availability and remember that some bays may have problematic winds, making anchoring more difficult or dangerous.
How to make an online booking — TOP 5 apps
Booking a mooring online will help you save worry and time, especially in peak season. And both are extremely important for your holiday to go according to plan. Fully occupied buoys, moorings and marinas, especially in bad weather, are every boater's nightmare. Modern booking apps are a fantastic help.
ACI Marinas, the largest marina chain in the Mediterranean, is an operator that focuses on Croatia and offers a high-quality service. ACI Marinas has hundreds of berths, dry berths and fantastic facilities all along the Croatian coast from north to south. In addition, each marina is typically nestled within a city rich in history and teeming with tourist attractions. You can secure a mooring spot directly through their website or via their dedicated application.
Another attractive Croatian online booking system is Porthop. The user-friendly, intuitive and above all free app has a huge database of marinas, ports and anchorages. In addition, it is regularly updated and with smaller moorings.
Apart from Croatia, the MySea app also focuses on Turkey and Greece and is a wide-ranging yachting guide. You will find information on supermarkets, petrol stations, beaches and tourist attractions, but there are also moorings. This online system guarantees your spot in the marina after making a booking.
The fourth app is Marina Reservation, which is also not only focused on Croatia, but has up-to-date, accurate and clear information, including a booking system for marinas and moorings. In addition, you will also find the possibility to book mooring assistance, hotel accommodation, parking and other additional services for your stay. Their customer support in English, French, Spanish and Italian is also an advantage.
And finally, the Navily app, which is very popular among sailors headed to Croatia, also made it into our Top 5. As well as information and booking moorings, there are important phone numbers, and valuable recommendations on what wind conditions a bay or marina is suitable for.
An aerial view of luxury yachts and speedboats moored in the harbour. Pula, Croatia
YACHTING.COM TIP: Here are some useful links directly to booking systems in Croatia. They are all free and each has its own specifics:
www.aci-marinas.com — one of the largest and most comprehensive databases offering top-notch services in Croatia.
Porthop — an intuitive, well-organised application.
www.my-sea.com — a wide range of additional services that you can use during your trip.
www.marinareservation.com — round-the-clock customer support in several world languages
www.navily.com — is available in both free and paid versions. For a fee, you can find quality weather forecasts or sailing route suggestions. Quality references.
Most apps are not just a booking system, but are supplemented with useful information for sailors, such as weather reports. However, we always recommend comparing multiple apps to get a better overview.
In addition to the apps mentioned above, it is also worth mentioning the NIS - Nautical Information Service Croatia app. Although it isn't directly a booking system, you can find an email for reservations here as well. We are adding it to the overview because it contains valuable information about navigation regulations (vessel equipment, radio service, navigation marks...). It is published by the Croatian Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure and is available in 12 languages.
Check out more articles about Croatia:
Prices, infrastructure and berth locations
Price is undoubtedly a key consideration for everyone. The cost of a mooring spot can differ significantly based on the marina's location and the time of year. We advise comparing prices across different harbours and capitalising on any early bird discounts for moorings. Be cautious though, some harbours might add extra charges for amenities like electricity and water hook-ups, so it's wise to confirm these details before making a booking.
When reserving a mooring spot, it's crucial to research the facilities on offer at each harbour. The range of services can differ substantially from one marina to the next, with some providing more comprehensive amenities, including power and water hook-ups, shower facilities, and laundrettes. It's also worthwhile to look into the operating hours of the marina and their check-in protocol to facilitate a seamless arrival process.
Another important factor is the location of the port, also with regard to whether accommodation is available. Some marinas are located in bustling cities, while others are in more remote locations. It's worth considering what you want to see and do during your cruise and choosing a marina that is conveniently located for your itinerary and activities — some sailors may prefer marinas that are close to popular tourist destinations or islands. It is also a good idea to have at least a basic understanding of local regulations, such as speed limits and mooring rules, to plan your itinerary.
For any sailors planning to sail to Croatia in high season, booking a mooring spot in advance is essential. As we've mentioned, there are several booking options available, including online platforms, marina apps and direct booking through marina websites. While it may seem like a daunting task at first, with the right information and tools it can be pretty simple. Being a bit ahead of the game, comparing prices, and getting the lowdown on the facilities and services at each marina can seriously upgrade your experience. With these tips and tools in your arsenal, you can enjoy smooth sailing in one of the world's top spots for boating. And don't forget to stay on top of the weather and get to know the local rules and regulations.
Remember, it's never about the destination, it's about the journey.