Croatia, the land of thousand islands

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What to do when you are on holiday in a country that has more than a thousand islands? Right, get out on the water! Many Croatians living on the coast have a boat. Just like a Dutchman has a bicycle. A boat is indispensable on the Croatian coast. Fishermen take to the water early in the morning to catch fresh fish, which are then sold at the market. Other locals head out in their boats, looking for a quiet bay to relax. Croats don't need to go on holiday to another country. Why should they?

Blue lagoon Krknjaši

As a child, I used to go annually with my parents to the blue lagoon Krknjaši on the island of Drvenik. Friends of my parents have a holiday home there and every year on 15 August (bank holidays – Velika Gospa), we went there with a big group. We swam in the clear blue sea water and ate local delicacies throughout the day. My parents and their friends still maintain this tradition every year. 

These days, more water lovers have discovered this beautiful spot. Not surprisingly, you imagine yourself in a tropical paradise here, with a seabed (unusual for Croatia) of white sand and the sound of crickets in the background. From Trogir, it’s about an hour by boat. You can hire a boat for several hours, with or without a skipper, to sail to this beautiful spot. If this is not an option for you, you can also take the ferry from Trogir. It is best to leave on time in the morning so you can enjoy the relaxed island life all day. 

Bay of Maslinica

It’s great to spend the whole day on Drvenik and sail back to Trogir at the end of the day. Rented a boat and want to explore more nearby islands in one day? From the blue lagoon, you can take a nice trip to the town of Maslinica on the island of Šolta. After about half an hour of sailing, you will arrive at the beautiful Maslinica bay where you can swim or settle down on a terrace. Don’t forget to enjoy the deafening silence on this island, which is 11 kilometres from the mainland.

Konoba Duga

From Šolta, you can sail to Okrug Gornji, where konoba Duga is located. A konoba is a traditional restaurant; the food is pure and local and the menu is small. Duga is in a fantastic spot, overlooking the open sea. I highly recommend the dorada or ‘lignje na zaru’; a dorada or squid from the grill, served with potato and blitva (chard). These are typical dishes in this area, which I can enjoy immensely. After lunch, you can relax on the beach or take a siesta under one of the many olive and pine trees. 

View of the sea from Okrug Gornji beach, where konoba Duga is also located

Views of Split’s skyline

If, after a day on the water, you are back on the mainland and hungry for a hearty meal, you can have a great meal at Baletna Škola restaurant in Kaštela Kambelovac. From this restaurant, you have a great view of Split’s skyline. It is a very popular restaurant among locals, which is why it is recommended to make reservations in advance. My favourite dish here is Zagrebački odrezak; a piece of meat stuffed with ham and cheese. Freshly prepared, of course.

Peka with octopus in Omis

Prefer to go for fish? Then Tasting House Arsana in Omiš is a good idea. Omiš is a nice little place about 25 kilometres past Split. I once ate peka with octupus there. Peka is a traditional way of preparing food in a heavy cast-iron dish with a lid, covered with glowing coals. Again, reservations are required, as peka dishes are only served if you let the restaurant know in advance. This is because of the longer preparation time. By the way, you can also order peka dishes with meat. The choice is yours.

Good to know

-From Trogir and Split, boats are used as taxis during the season. Don’t fancy an Uber or the local bus (if it runs at all )? Then take the taxi boat.

-Would you like to take an organised excursion to various islands, including the ones I describe above? There are plenty of options to book a day trip. Just keep in mind that you will end up in crowds. 

-If you go sailing yourself, take the wind into account. There are six wind types along the Croatian coast, including the Bura and the Maestral, which can cause strong differences. Read up well in advance.

-From Split, you can take a ferry to the better-known and larger islands such as Hvar and Brač.

Places to moor your boat based on the itinerary described by Kim