The Top Five National Parks In Croatia To Visit On A Yacht Charter
Croatia has become a favourite for yachting in recent years, gaining further popularity with the opportunity to discover some exceptional national parks.
Yacht charter is one of the ultimate ways to experience a luxury holiday in Croatia, making it easy to discover some incredible sites dotted along the shoreline, as well as a breath-taking array of islands in the Adriatic. Croatia has become a favourite for yachting in recent years, gaining further popularity with the opportunity to discover some exceptional national parks. Whether a nature enthusiast, eco-warrior or simply seeking the utmost in tranquillity, Croatia is one of the best yacht charter destinations to find some exceptional flora and fauna. Preservation laws in Croatia define their unique national parks as protected areas that are important for preserving biodiversity, with an emphasis on supporting ecosystems and maintaining the natural environment of the area.
A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979, Plitvice Lakes National Park is a geological phenomenon, displaying some of the most breath-taking natural landscapes found in Europe.
The largest, oldest and most popular of the Croatian national parks, Plitvice boasts changing scenery that is mesmerising in every season. Resting on porous limestone karst, the topography includes a myriad of ancient travertine boundaries and underwater streams, criss-crossed by wooden walking trails. Take time to explore the stunning array of forest tracks around the 16 terraced lakes and elegant waterfalls that form a graceful downhill tableau – the turquoise lagoons change colour according to the water’s mineral content and the play of light. A big draw to wildlife enthusiasts, the park is home to 161 species of birds, including black storks and ospreys, as well as over 70 species of butterflies. Look out for deer, boar, pine martens and wolves plus the rare black salamander or whiskered bat. Plant life is rich and plentiful with around 1,400 different species, including 50 types of orchid, many of which are endemic. Easily accessed by road from the ports of Zagreb or Zadar, Plitvice is just a short distance inland for a fabulous day out during a Croatia yacht charter.
Once named 'the most seductive island in the Adriatic', tranquil Mjlet should be part of any charter itinerary in southern Croatia.
Covering the entire northwest part of the island, the Mjlet National Park was established in 1960 and boasts two vast lakes. These deep sea bays formed by rising water levels were once karst sinkholes filled with freshwater, but today Malo and Veliko are beautiful saltwater lakes linked by a canal. A yacht berth in Pomena will gain close access, while a bicycle is the ideal mode of transport to explore this green escape. Something of a hidden gem, the coastal waters are a perfect blue, thanks to currents and the lack of industry. Paddle by canoe across to the island of St Mary, home to a church and Benedictine monastery, and swim under the charming little bridge between the lakes. Teeming with fish, this island oasis offers a fantastic opportunity for scuba divers and was classed by Jacques Cousteau as one of the most beautiful underwater locations. Above the water, it is worth a visit by small boat to the Cave of Odysseus, steeped in myth and legend. Lush forests coat the hillsides and an impressive hike for adventurers leads to the 253m high point of Montokuc, offering sensational views over the group of islands. Flora and fauna thrive here – listen for the variety of songbirds who populate the pinewoods, and keep an eye out for lizards, rabbits and deer.
It is hard to find a more natural national park than the sprawling Kornati Islands, where countless uninhabited isles make up a wild archipelago that represents some of the best sailing in Croatia.
Secluded beaches, calm bays, barren islets, and a pristine underwater environment add to the inherent appeal; the most noticeable phenomena here is the "crown" of dramatic karst vertical cliffs facing the open sea. Ideal for underwater exploration, Kornati is one of the finest marine parks in Croatia for snorkellers and divers, with an array of protected aquatic life, reefs and corals to encounter. Weave around the 89 islands that form this nautical paradise – declared a national park in 1980 and covering 220km2, it is an ideal location for launching the yacht’s water toys, while sport-recreational fishing is also possible. Head ashore to the island of Kornat to explore Roman remains, where frogs, lizards and butterflies now thrive amongst the grasslands and fragrant sage. Closely monitored by park rangers, there is no accommodation available on the island, although a luxury superyacht charter makes this possible, with entrance to the park through the Straits of Opat and overnight mooring in several bays. There is also a summer-only marina on the island of Piškera.
A truly unique national park, the 14 islands of Brijuni along the western coast of Istria were once politically off limits, but today offer an exceptional range of sports and recreational opportunities to visitors.
Superyachts can arrange berths in Brijuni port, and the 13km route around Brijuni National Park can be explored by a variety of options such as Segways, electric cars, bicycles or just as easily on foot (there is also a small train offering regular trips). Beautiful beaches, well-maintained museums, an 18-hole golf course, amazing Roman ruins, vast Mediterranean gardens and a zoo all await visitors. Deer populate the surrounding parkland alongside sheep, goats and Boškarin ox, and 12th century St Mary's Church can be visited in the forest. A main highlight along the shoreline are 200 three-toed dinosaur footprints, cast into the limestone, while a reconstruction of the hypothetical therapod is found at Cape Vrbanj. After so much activity, a swim at the beach in Saluga Bay provides a refreshing end to the day before heading back to join the yacht in port.
Positioned along the Krka river in southern Croatia, Krka National Park is an incredible display of nature.
Located just 10km inland from Šibenik, this natural wonder is a must-visit when yachting in Croatia. Renowned for a series of seven stunning sets of waterfalls, the park is connected by a series of walkways from which visitors can take in exceptional views of the tumbling water. Wander the nature trail past the cascading rapids of the 12 beautiful Roški falls and see the imposing Krka Monastery built above ancient Roman catacombs. Krka is a striking verdant oasis, offering plenty of chances for relaxed swimming under the falls or in the picture-perfect lagoons. A boat trip to tiny Visovac Island, home to the 15th century Franciscan monastery of Our Lady of Mercy, is also well worth taking. For hiking devotees, the six-hour trail takes in a cave path, canyon and fortresses, while organised educational walks are popular. A biodiversity hotspot, Krka is home to over 850 varieties of plant that thrive in this wet and wild landscape. Additionally, more than 200 species of bird have made this their home, including griffon vultures, golden eagles and ospreys, while 17 different types of fish are found in the pools, together with European otters and loggerhead sea turtles.
These extraordinary national parks are sure to be a highlight of any yacht charter itinerary in Croatia, with ease of access ensured by a berth at one of the local marinas. National parks offer a versatile array of activities, from energy and adventure to a calm, back-to-nature experience. Whether travelling by sailing or motor yacht, a charter in Croatia offers a great chance to enjoy this idyllic destination.
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