It’s no surprise that Croatia’s remarkable coastline is best explored by taking a sailing vacation. Not only does Croatia impress with over 1,000 islands and islets, but its hidden coves and secluded bays often surprise with standout culinary experiences that rival some of the Mediterranean’s finest. A philosophy based on respecting local ingredients is the theme among Croatia’s seaside chefs, and without the fruits of local fishers, no menu would be complete. Add a touch of tradition and a splash of homemade wine, and you’ve got yourself the perfect meal.
In more recent years, once-rustic restaurants revamped their culinary offer to satisfy the cocktail-crazed summer crowds, however remaining authentic to their location, its people, and the land that allowed them to share their Mediterranean fare with you. From freshly caught grilled fish to local olive oil, mussels, black risotto, and herbs grown in the garden behind the kitchen, it won’t take you long to see why lengthy island lunches are not only good for your digestive system, but will mark your soul and have you yearning for more. Whether you’re looking for light bites to accompany your cabana cocktail or a culinary adventure paired with wine for the meal of a lifetime, you can have it all on your sailing holiday in Croatia.
1. Laganini, Palmižana
Arguably the most famous seaside restaurant and beach bar along Croatia’s southern coast is Laganini, located in the bay of Vinogradišće on the island of Palmižana, part of the Pakleni Islands opposite Hvar Island. The glamourous waterfront resort boasts a renowned fish house that was raised to stardom thanks to award-winning chef Hrvoje Zirojević, an applauded international wine list, and a swanky summer lounge bar abounding in signature cocktails, cosy cabanas, and feel-good DJs that fill your ears during a spectacular sunset. One of Croatia’s most exclusive gourmet locations with a tradition of 50 years, Mediterranean food connoisseurs make sure not to miss Laganini on their Hvar sailing route.
2. Bowa, Šipan Island
Just a hop, skip, and jump over from the bustling metropolis of Dubrovnik are the Elaphiti Islands, a blissful escape that boasts Bowa, the culinary charm of Šipan Island. This chic seaside eatery is sure to please even the most demanding gastronomes, with decadent dishes like panko-breaded monkfish or octopus tentacles and fresh oysters from the nearby town of Ston. With a menu that promotes essential Mediterranean food, Bowa ensures they maintain a zero-kilometre approach; local fishers supply Bowa chefs with only the freshest daily catch, vegetables are handpicked, fruit is grown in their garden, and only home-made olive oil from the island is used to prepare your meal. Bowa’s all-Croatian wine card is not to be missed, nor are their fun cocktails like the Italian Mule, Mediterranean Duo, or Mayday, which uses Dubrovnik Republic gin. An absolute must in the Dubrovnik sailing area!
3. Moro Beach, Stupe
The idyllic Moro Beach on Vela Stupa Island, just two nautical miles from Korčula town, is a hip Dalmatian-inspired restaurant lounge and outdoor cocktail bar for sun-soaked beachgoers looking to kick back and recharge. With an ever-changing menu dependent on the availability of fresh and local ingredients, a carefully selected wine list influenced by the region, and refreshing cocktails concocted by cheerful bartenders, the Moro Beach ambiance is further enhanced by the subtle side of electronic music, completing this carefree summer locale.
4. Opat, Kornati
Opat is one of the more traditional seaside restaurants on the list, delighting Kornati Island visitors since the late 1980s. Run by the Božikov family whose family roots run deep on the island. Today, Opat is the must-visit foodie experience in the area, especially if you’re sailing in Croatia. Old-fashioned recipes focused on natural and healthy Mediterranean food are transformed into Instagram-worthy plates - and they taste even better than they look. Local herbs grown on the Kornati Islands slopes complement freshly caught fish prepared grilled, a la brodetto, or boiled, with homemade bread by your side to ensure no drop of local olive oil goes to waste. And when you’re ready to digest, you can refresh your palate at cocktail bar Bunja next door!
5. Tiha Lounge Bar, Stari Grad
This tranquil bohemian-inspired lounge bar is tucked away near the town of Stari Grad on Hvar Island. Decorated by wooden furniture that mixes with the natural decor, Tiha is a no-frills family-run operation that serves simple but scrumptious Dalmatian cuisine, from grilled fish to meat platters and freshly caught sea urchins. Classic cocktails can be enjoyed from shaded sunbeds and hidden hammocks, all within reach of the glistening aquamarine sea. If you stay long enough, you may even receive one-of-a-kind artwork as a souvenir from the owner!
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