It’s hard to say no to a week of sailing in a beautiful country like Croatia. When my friends threw The Yacht Week Croatia invite my way, I accepted with next to zero hesitation. Who doesn’t want to sail around the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea with some of their best friends?
For those who don’t know The Yacht Week is an exclusive series of mobile floating festivals set in 6 destinations around the world. The most famous of all the yacht weeks is in Croatia where up to 50 boats sail, party and discover beautiful islands together over a 7-day planned itinerary.
Once on board, participants receive a weeklong schedule of events that includes everything from exclusive parties, to snorkelling adventures, to island day trips. You can join by either getting together with a group of friends and chartering a boat (like I did) or you can book a cabin as a solo traveller on an existing yacht.
The Yacht Week Croatia is the Ultimate Party Week
This year’s Yacht Week Croatia was some of the most fun I have ever had – even though it wreaked absolute havoc on my body and mind! I remember, as I returned to Split, my head was still swaying like ocean waves. I had a terrible tan line from a massive glitter necklace. My body felt like a stiff board. And I had pretty much forgotten what sleep was.
The funny thing is that I packed a Kindle thinking I might have time to chill out and read. Nope. The Yacht Week turned out to be a giant party, from afternoon until the sunrise the next morning. If you’re an old lady like me you will equally love and hate this. “This is the best night of my life!” was followed by “I’m never doing this again” as you face planted into bed.
Some of the best nights we had were themed nights. The boats all sail together while each crew shows off their costumes in an attempt to win the best theme. There were three themed nights on our trip: Tropical Retro, Riviera, and Regatta Day. The latter was my favourite as we ended up going with “Baywatch” sporting spandex from head to toe!
There are so many activities jam-packed into a week that it can be hard to keep up. I would highly recommend using an App called Day 8. Each day it will let you know what’s going on, where to be, and when. Not only that, but it connects you with your crew and other yacht weekers, while also offering a place to post your photos from the week.
Another essential item for the Yacht Week is getting your hands on a glorious float. You can do what I did and search #yachtweekcroatia on Instagram. I unknowingly contacted a skipper who pulled through with a golden-winged swan for free. I also bought a giant watermelon. These floats will be all the rave at the many float parties you attend!
Visiting the Beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park
Going into this year’s trip to Croatia, I didn’t have much of an itinerary apart from the seven days allotted for The Yacht Week. I ended up staying in Split for 10 days leading up to the sailing trip and afterwards I spent nearly two months bouncing in and out of Croatia visiting places like Zagreb, Rijeka, Dubrovnik and the amazing Plitvice Lakes National Park.
While the Yacht Week was the highlight of my 2018 summer, I also fell in love with Plitvice Lakes National Park. It was the most beautiful thing I saw in Croatia. Many visitors to Croatia fall into one of three categories. The sailing-obsessed, the Game of Thrones fan, or the one who saw a picture of Plitvice Lakes National Park on the internet. I’m guilty of all three!
For around $60 USD you can enter the national park on a two-day ticket at either of the two entrances. I entered from Entrance 1 where there were toilets, cafes, food stalls and a convenience store to pick up snacks and a few souvenirs. You can find the odd café or ice cream shop within the park but packing a small picnic is the best option.
The park is massive and is easiest to make sense of in terms of two main sections: the lower lakes and the upper lakes. Entering through Entrance 1 you will have access to the lower, and if you come in at Entrance 2 you will be closer to the upper. There is a shuttle that runs between the entrances and a boat ride that can be part of your route as well.
I arrived quite late in the day and didn’t make it to Entrance 1 until about 3pm. I found this to be an advantage because most day trippers were on their way out, and because it was the middle of summer, I had at least 5-6 hours of daylight remaining. This was more than enough time to explore Route B, which offered a scenic adventure around the lower lakes.
On the second day I was facing a bit of a time crunch. It was the much anticipated World Cup Final and Croatia was in it! I got up early with the goal of being back at my Airbnb by 5pm for kickoff. What a time to be in Croatia! I ended up being successful, and spent from around 10am – 4pm exploring Route E via Entrance 2, which is a tour of the upper lakes.
Some Quick Tips Before you Visit Croatia
I went into Croatia under the pretence that it was a pretty affordable country. Eastern Europe generally is. However, it was a lot more expensive than I had imagined. I’m sure the high season sees a big price bump, but I found accommodation and food to be on par with other major European countries – especially in places like Dubrovnik and Split.
That being said it’s still worth every penny! Especially the food. There is a lot of Italian influence in Croatian cuisine, which happens to be my favourite food on the planet. I ate a lot of gnocchi and grilled meats. It’s also a great country if you like truffles and seafood!
One of the best aspects about Croatia is that the people are incredibly nice. I spent two nights in a village near Plitvice Lakes National Park and watched Croatia play in the World Cup Final with some friendly locals. That was one amazing experience that I will never forget.