Michael

The Šibenik Archipelago – the best known secret in the Adriatic Sea (3/3)

Muna, Žirje

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Shortly afterwards we cast off and get to Muna in Žirje quite quickly. Muna is a small place where time seems to have stood still. It is even less crowded and has fewer tourists than other places in the Šibenik archipelago. Even during the season it seems to be in hibernation. Since spring of 2014 the berth situation here has improved dramatically. 20 berths with mooring lines are now available at the eastern quay in Muna harbour. The water at the quay is about 2 to 3 metres deep. The place right at the breakwater has to be kept clear for the ferry, the lifeline of the island. There is a small mini market at the harbour as well as a restaurant and café, which are open from about June to mid-September. Water, electricity and sanitary facilities are not available.

 

Žirje

Ante is already at the quay and helps us moor. His old off-road Suzuki creaks and groans as we drive over the uneven gravel roads. Žirje is the largest island in the Šibenik archipelago and the farthest one from the coast. Tourists often go past the island. Individual tourists mainly come here, such as hikers, mountain bikers and of course sailors. Everything the rest of the 80 inhabitants and tourists need is either grown by the locals or has to be transported over from the mainland by ferry. In winter, life on the island is very lonely and can be difficult at times.

Stupica, Žirje

Koromasna bay in the east of the island is only on very few crews’ itineraries. Several unfinished houses blemish the otherwise green seafront. A few fishing boats are moored behind a jetty. When it is calm, the water is so clear that it is difficult to tell the difference between the surface of the water and the seabed. A restaurant is open during the season in the south-eastern part of the bay. Right in front of it there is a small quay but the depth is not always suitable for yachts.

 

The south-east coast is strongly fragmented and provides a few highlights for yachts such as the Mala and Vela Stupica bays. At the smaller bay located further to the east, boats can anchor freely in the middle of glorious and unspoilt nature. No more offshore islands obstruct the clear view of the broad Adriatic sea. If there was no curvature of the earth, visitors would be able to look right at the Italian boot from here. In Vela Stupica there are two large buoy fields with 40 buoys altogether. The light sandy seabed makes the water appear even clearer than it already is. At the seafront, the cosy Stupica konoba is “hidden” between two shady pine trees. “If you want to dine here in the season, then you can only do so with a reservation,” states Maria, the konoba manager. There are only a few tables in the well-kept grounds, mass dining does not exist here. Just fish and meat are served here as well as vegetables from the island. But only what is available at the moment.

 

Many tourists stay at the bay for at least a few days to enjoy the peace and quiet. Should anyone need some exercise, then they can go for a walk on the Gradina mountain. There are visible remains of the Byzantine fortress dating from the 6th century. The view is also spectacular. You will need to wear sturdy shoes for the walk. Ante naturally knows all of the trails on the island. He gets hold of a stick and keeps weaving it in and out the entire time in front of him. Spiders have spun their webs between the bushes and are waiting patiently for prey. Ante clears the path for us with the stick, making sure we don’t become the creepy-crawlies prey.

 

Tratinska, Žirje

On the western side of Žirjes, Tratinska bay cuts far into the shore and provides perfect shelter from the Bora. The deeper you sail into the bay, the better the protection. 22 buoys are available here in the season. The Tratinska konoba is located at the northern seafront and is run by a young couple. The konoba also has a few apartments with a swimming pool. This is also the home base of the Austrian Yachting Sports Association (YSVÖ) and a diving centre.

Ante promises to show us one more very special highlight. As we do not have a lot of time left, we get into the rickety Suzuki. The road takes us past Tratinska bay, uphill all the way. In former times the Yugoslav army used to have an observation post on the mountain crest. It quickly becomes obvious as to why. There is no other place in the area providing a better panoramic view than up here. To the north you can see the scattered islands of the Kornati, to the east you overlook the entire Šibenik archipelago, Murter and the town of Šibenik. Towards the south the outline of Vis appears and on clear days you can see Italy to the west. An old concrete bunker framed by a handrail serves as an observation platform. There are small signs on the handrail with the names and distances of places. Towards the south-east we discover a sign but this place is not visible from the platform: Perth, Australia, 13,109 km away.

 

Krapanj

On the way back we pay a visit to Krapanj, the most densely populated island in Croatia. The island is barely 1.5 m above sea level and is only 300 m from Brodarica opposite on the mainland. The approach is only possible from the south as it is very shallow in the north of the island. Krapanj is a popular photo motif. If you go past the bridge behind Brodarica, you will get to a small parking area from where you will have an unobstructed view of Krapanj. In the sunlight it looks as though the houses and the surrounding sea are shining. A beautiful picturesque view.

The harbour can only be used by local yachts, visitors cannot moor here. However, they are welcome at the well-developed jetty at Hotel Spongiola where berths, water and electricity are provided. There is a small beach right next to it. Sanitary facilities are available in the hotel. On the mainland opposite, the well-known restaurant Zlatnaribica has built a jetty where you can only moor if you also eat at the restaurant. The restaurant is especially renowned for its fresh wild fish and seafood for which it has received various awards and prizes.

We came upon many more bays, anchorages, small jetties, restaurants and lovely people on our discovery tour through the Šibenik archipelago. The people in the region all seemed to be relaxed, it is less hectic than elsewhere. And this is probably also this region’s secret. The region is ideal for nature lovers and for people who find it more important to enjoy and savour life rather than experience everything at a fast pace. If you have not been to this region yet, make sure you bring plenty of time to explore the most beautiful areas -Šibenik is the ideal starting point.

 

The Sibenik archipelago is also a beautiful destination for yacht charter and sailing holidays. Besides NCP and Mare also Yachting 2000 offers well-kept sailing yachts and catamarans. Charter reviews of Yachting 2000 can be found at Euminia – the leading review system for chartered yachts.

Have you already read part 1 & 2?

 

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The Šibenik Archipelago – the best known secret in the Adriatic Sea (2/3)

Prvić Šepurine

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In Prvić Luka there are significantly more berths. Visitors can either moor at the large jetty with mooring lines or at one of the 12 buoys in the harbour basin. The oldest village on the island with its lovingly restored stone cottages stretches along the protected bay. A memorial centre at the harbour jetty was opened in 2014, commemorating the island’s most famous son, Faust Vrančić, a scientist and discoverer. There are numerous restaurants right on the waterfront, attracting visitors with their fresh fish and home-made wine, accompanied by lapping waves. Prvić is the ideal place to relax.

 

 

However, we cannot stay, as even though it is difficult to tear ourselves away, we still have to go to Zlarin. The island village of the same name lies in the north of the island. For centuries the locals in Zlarin fished for sponges and corals, but that is now history. Today, the approx. 150 inhabitants live on fishing, winegrowing and tourism.

 

Sprawling palm trees decorate the promenade, green lime-washed window shutters adorn the facades of the well-kept stone cottages. And a few restaurants in between serve their dishes and drinks.

The harbour is a fishing harbour, ferry port and yacht harbour in one. Yachts moor on the north side of the long jetty. Electricity, water and mooring lines are included. A NW wind generates a strong swell, causing our yacht to rock all night long. Fortunately, at the Aldura konoba right behind the jetty they not only serve good food and delicious draught beer, but also a good strong espresso.

So, now invigorated, we set off to our next destination. But before we can head for Kaprije, we want to make a short trip to the island of Tijat. Tijašćica bay is located in the south of the island, has clear water and is surrounded by green pine forests. 18 buoys have been available here since 2012. There is a small rotisserie at the northern seafront that only opens in  summer. Should you need an after-dinner walk, you can hike on the mountain, which is 120 m high and has a summit cross. Visitors can enjoy a glorious view from up here of the surrounding islands.

 

Kaprije, Kunjka Konoba

We plane towards the north-east coast of Kaprije to Medos bay. The bright turquoise clear water is noticeable already at the approach. The seabed can be seen clearly even where the water is 10 m deep. Yachts moor at a small floating jetty with mooring lines. Should the 6-8 berths be taken, there are still 4 buoys available. All of the berths belong to the Kunjka konoba, which opened in 2011. The small konoba is low-key, but fits into the landscape perfectly. They not only serve fresh fish and barbecued steaks, but Lammpeka also comes highly recommended, however it has to be ordered at least two hours in advance because of the long cooking time.

Further to the south, hidden behind the small island of Oštrica, is the Antonio konoba. Antonio Junaković runs this small konoba with a guesthouse. The speciality here is the Peka made with lamb, octopus or calamari.

Fans of fine-dining will get their money’s worth in Nozdra bay in the south of the island. Matteo has established itself here. The landlord Mate Obratov had already made a good name in the Kornati before he came to Kaprije. The restaurant is built into the slope and extremely sleek. Not only can guests enjoy the tuna carpaccio speciality, but naturally there are fresh fish and meat dishes, too. The jetty provides berths for 10-14 yachts. Because of the shallow water, boats moor bow-to. Right next to Matteo is G8. Not quite so well-known but more homely and just as good.

 

Kakan, Potkučina

We sail around the southern tip of Kaprije and set off towards Kakan, or more precisely Potkučina bay. We are impressed by the colour intensity of the water right at the approach, perfecting the impression of a perfect lagoon. The Borovnjak islands off the coast provide shelter from waves. There are 60 buoys in total in the bay. The “Babalu” rotisserie is nestled in the mountain’s crest between green pine trees and bushes. Not only will guests be served good food here, they can also enjoy a glorious view of the bay. The concession holder of the buoys is also the owner of Paradiso in Tratica bay. Zoran, the boss of the Paradiso konoba, could have even just stepped out of a Robinson Crusoe film, his hair being so white and wild. The white beard and the white hair have long become his trademark. Together with his wife he mainly serves fresh fish and seafood. They also have meat dishes. The tables at the konoba are under pine trees. A small jetty also belongs to the konoba with berths for 3-4 yachts. Sailing yachts, however, have to keep some distance between each other because of their draughts.

Kaprije

The distances between each island in the Šibenik archipelago are very short. There is only 1.2 nm between Tratica bay in Kakan and Kaprije harbour in the island of the same name. Kaprije harbour actually consists of one long jetty with places for about 20 yachts. The northern side has to be kept clear for ferries. Yachts moor on the southern side with mooring lines. Water and electricity is available. There are 24 buoys to the south of the jetty for visitors. The older part of the village with its stone cottages is located slightly higher up, a few newer houses are clustered around the harbour basin. In spring, oleander blossoms in front of practically every house, and vegetables, figs and grapes grow in the immaculate gardens.

Kaprije, Hafen

We go inside the Kot Kate konoba, slightly above the harbour. Kate runs the cosy konoba in a small side street together with her son. We meet two policija officers there whose speedboat we had already spotted in the harbour. They tell us that a military exercise will be taking place in the next 24 hours just off Žirje and that the entire maritime area to the west and south-west of Žirje is closed. Annoying as that is exactly where we wanted to go next. So we decided we would first order some fresh gilthead seabream at Kate’s konoba served with vegetables from the garden. Simply delicious! Kate´s son is a fisherman and a fireman. Meanwhile, he has rang “Ante”, a friend in Žirje. Ante is also a fireman, born in Žirje and knows the island like the back of his hand. He offers to take us across the island in his old off-road vehicle and to show us everything. A local tour guide! We willingly accept his offer, obviously. Before we leave, we drink some more of Kate’s home-made schnapps. They really do work small miracles in moderation.

 

Have you already read part 1? And don’t forget part 3!

 

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The Šibenik Archipelago – the best known secret in the Adriatic Sea (1/3)

Everyone’s heard of Kvarner, the Kornati, Krka! But what about Potkučina, Prvić or Zirje? If you were to ask a skipper about their preferred destinations in the Adriatic coast, the Šibenik archipelago will hardly get a mention, and if it does, then at the most as a stopover on the way to Skradin. Most charter guests also prefer to start somewhere between Zadar and Murter or Trogir and Split. Even though Šibenik is centrally located in between the international airports of Split (about 60 km) and Zadar (about 75 km) and the motorway exit is only a few kilometres away from the harbour and marina, Šibenik was never able to establish itself as a tourist destination unlike its popular neighbours.  

 

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But why is that? Is bad marketing to blame or a lack of infrastructure or less attractive destinations? It’s true that Mandalina Marina is the only marina and the harbours also have expansion potential. Equally true is that the islands are abundant in beautiful bays and sheltered anchorages. Nature lovers, discoverers and keen swimmers will get their money’s worth here, too.

 

Šibenik with its 43,000 inhabitants is more urban than other places on the Adriatic coast. The reason for this is not least because Šibenik never had to push tourism like other places that mainly live from tourism. This town on the river Krka still has an intact industry today and many people work in the energy sector.

Prvić harbour

They simply aren’t dependent on tourism as much as the well-known towns and villages nearby. So it’s hardly surprising that you will see less tourists in Šibenik than e.g. in the neighbouring town of Vodice, which is more developed for tourism. There is not much for visitors to see, only industrial plants and harbour installations, apart from when they arrive and depart. Then they get to see especially the magnificent buildings built during the old Austrian empire, the Venetian fortifications, palaces, churches as well as cafés and restaurants in historic buildings. People who are interested in culture but while holidaying still do not want to miss out on any urban dynamism, they should visit Šibenik, also a UNESCO World Heritage site. And not only as a quick side trip.

We set sail at the beginning of May with a professional skipper from Šibenik to explore the archipelago. We wanted to discover harbours, bays and anchorages in the archipelago. Of course, we also wanted to explore the culinary side. We start at the D-Marin Mandalina in Šibenik with Prvić as our destination.

Prvić Šepurine

The entrance to St. Anthony’s Channel has red and green markings on both sides and is completely hassle-free even in the dark. Signalling equipment has been installed for ships weighing at least 50 tonnes. We pass quickly through the channel, which is between 150 and 220 m wide, in spite of the speed limit of 10 knots. The cliffs on the south side protrude slightly more steeply but are just as green as the cliffs on the opposite side. At the western end of the channel there is a small anchorage and an imposing fortress in front of it. At St. Nicholas fortress, dating from the 15 th century, visitors can moor at a small jetty. However, there is only space here for one single yacht. And the swell generated by the incoming and outgoing ships is quite significant.

But we want to keep going. The engines of our Phantom 40 push powerfully through the glassy ocean towards the north-west to Prvić. It is the closest island to the mainland and a worthwhile destination. Both places on the island – Šepurine in the north-west and Prvić Luka in the south – are a clear contrast to touristy Vodice or urban Šibenik. It is a lot quieter and more relaxed here. The 500 inhabitants are mainly among themselves now in the pre-season. Only a few yachts manage to find their way here. We first call at Prvić Šepurine, the main town on the island. Šepurine is a quiet place, off the beaten mass tourist track. The church of St. Mary of the Assumption towers over the village and its 400 inhabitants, many pretty stone cottages are clustered around the harbour.

Prvić Šepurine

Now in May, many locals are still busy getting ready for the new season. The final touches are being done on the facades, fishermen are painting their boats and the konoba terraces are being prepared with seats. Even thought the May sun in a cloudless sky is already radiating heat, proclaiming the approaching start of the season, it is not hectic. Not even Maria, the owner of the Bare konoba. She is pruning the small olive trees in front of the entrance to the konoba. And she tells us that it is very difficult in the season to get one of the few berths at the harbour. From June to September the berths are usually taken by noon. Not totally selflessly she adds that sometimes it is possible to reserve a berth at her place. This, of course, also includes a visit to the konoba.

 

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The mySea team was travelling on a Phantom 40 von NCP and Mare yacht charter. NCP and Mare is member of Euminia, the review system for charter yachts. Euminia displays yacht charter reviews from real boaters.

 

Don’t miss parts 2 & 3 of this article!

Where to berth in Hvar?

Hvar

If you ask insider about places to be during your Croatia trip, Hvar is mentioned almost all the time. In the small and picturesque town live about 4.000 people and it is located at the south west side of the island Hvar in a sheltered bay. Approaching the island the first thing you will notice is the Spanish fortress of the 13th century high above the city. It takes a sweaty walk of about 20 minutes to get there. Instead you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view over the harbour, the city and the close-by Pakleni islands.

 

Hvar became quite a hotspot in the last couple of years. Not only Croatian stars are well seen visitors, but also international jetset have spotted the neat city. That is why in Hvar costs are higher than anywhere else in Croatia. That includes anchorage as well as a visit in the several restaurants and bars. Of course there are also good restaurants with more decent prices.

 

The most beautiful view of the city you’ll get from the sea. Standing on the yacht you’ll get an impressive view of the water front lined with palm trees and the ancient 700 years old defence walls all up the hill to the fortress Španjol of the 16th century. Above this fortress there is the French, in 1811 built fortress Napoleon. Today it’s used for mobile communication installations. The most important monasteries and churches originate from the bloom of the island during the Venetian governance from 15th to 18th century. Back then the island was a very important trading base in the eastern Adriatic region. Where back in the days the Venetian navy stayed during winter you can see nowadays shiny polished super yachts.

 

Hvar

The mixture of super yachts, cruisers, sailing yachts, motorboats, rips, dinghies, jet skis, ferries, taxi boats, and SUP’s (Stand Up Paddling) is pretty unique. Motors scream, chains rattle, people laugh. The traffic in the port basin and therefore the swell is remarkable. On some days you can count about 100 yachts in the harbour. And all of them came to enjoy the glamourous flair of the city.

 

And there’s a lot of flair in Hvar. Straight to the central place with its smooth polished stones there’s one of Europe’s oldest theatres.

Hvar

Today you can visit a small exhibition and the museum in there.

Alongside the central place you will find many different restaurants and bars, inviting to linger. At the end of the central place is the farmers’ market where you can purchase fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and bread. Also there is a larger supermarket in the nearby area.

The problem is to find a berth in Hvar. Following we describe five possible places to berth your yacht.

 

 

 Berth possibilities in the harbour of Hvar:

 

1)    At city quay with mooring-lines, electricity and fresh water. But city quay is mostly completely taken and smaller yachts have hardly a chance to get a free spot. A reservation by phone with suitable extra charge will help.

Windrosen Hafen Hvar

2)    In the western part of the harbour bay you’ll find 6 single buoys where you can moore by rope.

Windrosen Einzelbojen Hvar

3)    There’s another buoy field in the south western part of the bay. Several yachts share one buoy by mooring by bow-line. Also they have to fix their yacht by land-line on the shore. If strong winds come in from north or south the maneuver requires quick coordination of the crew. Both, bow-line and land-line have to be banked quickly.

Windrosen Bojenfeld Hvar

4)    You can anchor in 12-18 meters depth (39-59 ft.) if your anchor chain is long enough and if there’s no wind from the south. If so, you have to leave the place. It’s located in south-western direction of the buoy fields.

Windrosen Ankerplatz Hvar

5)   In the nearby area of the harbour there are several other possibilities to anchor (e.g. Marinkovac) or the ACI-Marina Palmizana on Sv. Klement. Taxi boats leave regularly to Hvar.