Have you sighed while scrolling through Instagram posts of people enjoying beautiful yachts in gorgeous destinations, convinced you couldn’t afford it? Well, the good news is a yacht charter in Croatia, the current it destination in the Mediterranean, is not unattainable. In fact, Goolets, a seasoned Slovenian-based charter company, offers crewed yachts at a price point that doesn’t make you gasp. Last fall, I joined a yacht charter along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast aboard one of its superyachts. Having been invited on many charter trips around the world, I can testify that a Goolets charter offers amazing value.
Ohana, the 161-foot (49-meter) superyacht I cruised aboard, has 14 double cabins, including two master staterooms. She also has a massage room, a children’s playroom, a cinema, a hot tub, and of course watertoys galore. Recently refitted, too, she charters for approximately €100,000 plus expenses per week. Further consider that Ohana’s owner/captain, Josip Šerka (below), grew up on the island of Brač on the Dalmatian Coast, and all our destinations were in his backyard. In addition to planning stops at historic port towns, Šerka made a point of anchoring for a few hours daily in secluded no-name bays. Therefore, we could play with the PWCs, SUPs (stand-up paddleboards), and kayaks, among other watertoys.
The Dalmatian Coast is reminiscent of the Côte d’Azur, but fresher and not as touristy. Croatia boasts nearly 1,246 islands. Our itinerary included only the islands of Brač, Hvar, and Korčula, originating and ending in Split. To kick off my yacht charter in Croatia, I wandered Split’s old town (top). Its center is the Diocletian’s Palace, built in 305 AD—a Game of Thrones location. The maze of cobblestone streets surrounding the palace is replete with shops and outdoor cafes. I found an outside table at No Stress Bistro, had its popular squid ink risotto with a glass of Posip, a dry white Croatian wine, and enjoyed the local color. While seafood is king in Split, another treat is ice cream. For me, the very best was at Pumparela Gelateria— worth getting in the queue.
Outside of Bol, Brac’s main town, we stretched our sea legs on an incredibly beautiful white pebble beach peninsula, Zlatni Rat (above). It stretches for more than a half mile, surrounded by a startlingly blue-green sea. I could not resist jumping in.
Next stop was the white-washed, red–tiled roof enclave of Hvar Town. Our resident Ohana concierge/guide, Danijela, accompanied us on walking tours. She imparted information about history, architecture, and culture along the way. A highlight was St. Stephen’s Square, the center of life in Hvar Town. Built on a 6th-century church site, the cathedral in the square is a Gothic structure dating from the 14th century. For a panoramic overview of the town, we hiked up cobbled steps and through a pine forest to the Spanish Fortress at the top of the hill.
Finally, I enjoyed history and art coming together on Korčula. The ancient walled city of Korčula Town (above) is home to the Marco Polo museum. Croatians say the famed explorer was born on the island in 1254, with a plaque attesting to it. No doubt, though, a few Venetians would refute this. I climbed the St Mark’s (also known as Korčula Cathedral) Bell Tower, perhaps the narrowest, steepest, most claustrophobic tower climb I’ve ever done. But, the view at the top was a worthy reward. Then, the quiet, dark cathedral treated me to an original Tintoretto and a Titian, two of the greatest Renaissance painters.
You can make your yacht charter in Croatia a remarkable experience, at an equally remarkable value. Consider chartering with a group of friends, for instance. Or, get extended family together to commemorate a milestone birthday. Regardless, if you do the numbers, chartering a yacht is just about imaginable. So instead of ogling others’ Instagram posts, create posts of your own.