Ah, the Adriatic pearl of Dubrovnik, arguably Croatia’s most famous destination due to its defensive walls that wrap around the historic cobblestoned core. Once you’ve finally taken the leap and decided to dive into sailing in Croatia, it is impossible to miss a visit to this jewel. No stranger to tourism and often the backdrop for films and popular TV series (Kings Landing, anyone?) Dubrovnik is celebrated as a Mediterranean masterpiece - and we can’t argue here. But what you may not know is if you’re starting your sail from Dubrovnik, you’ll be met with many Adriatic surprises along the way, disguised in archipelagos and breathtaking bays.
To save you on the research and allow more time for Dubrovnik daydreaming, we’ve whipped up what we believe guarantees greatness when sailing southern Dalmatia - and once you embark on your Dubrovnik sailing route, it won’t take you long to see why.
Dubrovnik - Lopud (8.5 NM)
Begin your Dubrovnik sailing route at ACI marina Dubrovnik, one of the safest marinas in Croatia. Not only is it the ACI marina with the most “Flower of Tourism – Quality for Croatia” awards and Blue Flag recognitions, but marina guests have a lot at their disposal, like a golf range, the first in Croatia to offer such an amenity! Located at the end of the Dubrovačka River inlet, this marina sits in the small village of Komolac, just 6 km away from the bustling Dubrovnik center. ACI Marina Dubrovnik is far enough from the noise and close enough to discover its main attractions, from the lively Stradun to souvenir shops, the cathedral, palaces, forts, and famous city gates. But that hardly scratches the surface. Should you want to head into town to explore, you can without much of a fuss.
The first sail of this trip is the shortest, traveling just 8.5 nautical miles away to the island of Lopud, the most developed of the Elaphiti Islands, which also makes it the busiest. But this island is more than a spot to soak up the sun - it’s famous for its 16th-century summer residence ruins, the restored Djurdjevic villa from the same period, pre-Romanesque chapels, churches, and a Franciscan monastery and church built in 1483! The island also boasts well-marked hiking trails that are easy enough for anyone to conquer, as the island’s highest peak is 216 meters. If you feel like stretching your soon-to-be sea legs, you know what to do.
Lopud - Saplunara - Okuklje (15 NM)
Day two of the Dubrovnik sailing route begins in Saplunara, a bay located on the eastern tip of the more popular island of Mljet. Known as the most densely forested island in the Adriatic, Mljet is also known for its national park - but we’ll get into that later. The sheltered and secluded Saplunara Bay is around one kilometer long and is known mainly for its sandy beaches, Velika and Mala Saplunara and Blaca, which welcome plenty of sun. Is there a better place to start your day with a swim?
But there is another bay you can’t miss on day 2, and that’s Okuklje, located on the northern side of Mljet. Already well-known to sailors as a safe spot to anchor, this bay also boasts a small village where you can find a few quaint cafes and restaurants should you feel like exploring off of the boat.
Okuklje - Pomena (16 NM)
Your Mljet exploration continues on day 3 by heading to the island's western tip and the small Pomena village and harbor. Founded as the nearest sheltered bay by the Goveđari people long ago, Pomena today has around 50 permanent residents who thrive off fishing, farming, and tourism - mainly thanks to Hotel Odisej.
While you can feel a bit of life in Pomena thanks to its seaside cafes and restaurants, what makes Pomena really special is that it’s the main entrance to Mljet National Park, featuring two saltwater lakes – Veliko and Malo Jezero (Large and Small Lake), a 12th-century Benedictine monastery located on the isle of Saint Mary, paths for cyclists and hikers, and many outdoor activities, like diving and kayaking. Did we mention that Mljet National Park is the oldest marine protected area in the Mediterranean?
Pomena - Korčula (14 NM)
Whisking you from natural wonders to dreamy architectural towns, day 4 of your Dubrovnik sailing route goes to the island of Korčula and the popular town of the same name, known as the alleged birthplace of Marco Polo! This thriving yet whimsical town is often called a mini-Dubrovnik without the crowds. Sounds like heaven, right? This medieval town is also densely built inside defensive walls that date back to the 13th century. Its cobblestone alleyways are adorned with rustic yet modern restaurants, rooftop cocktail bars, and even a Michelin-star eatery, Lešić Dimitri! A town that harnesses its sword-dancing culture and celebrates its artists through galleries and ateliers, Korčula is where Gothic, Romanesque, and Baroque architecture meets the modern Mediterranean - and it’s the perfect spot to stretch your legs off the boat.
Korčula - Orebić - Prožura (27 NM)
Across from Korčula town is the breathtaking Pelješac peninsula, where you’ll sail on day 5 of your Dubrovnik sailing route. Kick off the morning with a short ride to Orebić, the largest town located on the western part of the peninsula below Sv Ilija hill. A busy tourist resort today with many amenities, accommodations, and activities for all types of tourists, what might interest you more is the fact that Orebić has access to Croatia’s highly-acclaimed grape varieties - Plavac Mali, Dingač, and Postup. Maybe the Pelješac wine region rings a bell?
After you’ve tasted your way through Croatia’s best wines, you’ll sail back down to the northern side of Mljet and the enchanting bay of Prožura. Once the chosen location of Dubrovnik nobles with roots back to the Middle ages, today Prožura is chosen by sailors thanks to its sheltered bay. And what makes it even more unique? It is one of few places that can’t be seen from the sea!
Prožura - Šipanska luka (10 NM)
As you make your way back down on your Dubrovnik sailing route, it’s impossible to miss a stop on the island of Šipan and Šipanska Luka, one of two settlements on the island. This remote town is tucked into an indented lagoon-like bay, with stone houses and a backdrop that pays tribute to its thriving agriculture, draped in olive groves and vineyards. Once a famous summer destination for many Dubrovnik aristocratic families, the Sorgo-Sorkočević summer house is one of the main attractions to visit today.
Šipanska luka - Sunj - Dubrovnik (16 NM)
The final day of the Dubrovnik sailing route takes you to what The Guardian named one of the best beaches in the world - Šunj. Located on the south side of Lopud Island, Šunj is a kilometer-long sandy beach that deserves its praise from international media. But what makes this beach even more remarkable is its medicinal red soil, which is said to aid rheumatic problems. Enveloped by dense pine forest, Šunj’s shallow shore makes it ideal for families with small children should you venture off the boat, though we think admiring this beach from the comfort of your charter is the best way to admire it.
Be sure to embrace each breeze on the final sail back to Dubrovnik as this epic sailing adventure comes to an end. But look on the bright side - you could be going to far worse places than the Adriatic pearl.