Istria & Kvarner Region
Sailing Guide

Sailing in Istrian peninsula and Kvarner islands

Istria is Croatia’s largest peninsula that borders with Slovenia and Italy. It blends cultures of Austria and Italy with the culture and heritage of Croatia. In its small area, it offers a diversity of beautiful beaches, lush green mountain forests and stone-built villages, towns and cities. Istria’s truffles are a delicacy you will either love or hate.

Istria and Kvarner will amaze you with their authentic cuisine and friendly people who will tell you amazing stories. Have a walk around the narrow streets, eat in quality restaurants and taverns, stay in apartment complexes, nautical centers or camps, swim in crystal-clear sea and relax on clean beaches. Both Istra and Kvarner are well-connected by road, rail, sea and air, thus allowing anyone to visit these remarkable landscapes.

When observing the map of Istria, one would say that there are not many islands. But once you start sailing, you will be surprised with the amount of small islands and hidden coves in this region. They will provide you a perfect spot for swimming and preparing lunch, while some can be used as a safe overnight anchorage.

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Why are Istria and Kvarner areas popular among sailors

Istria pulls its sailing way back in history, so it is no wonder that the first regatta in Istria was organized in 1949, and since then became a tradition. Istria’s coastline is indented and has many uncrowded bays and coves, but there are not a lot of islands like in the southern parts of Croatia. This offers relaxed sailing on the clear open sea with no worries. Sailors can always come back to the mainland and moor in big and well-equipped marinas, as well as numerous anchoring areas, while enjoying the view of the picturesque coast, particularly the view of the magnificent 1st century Pula Arena.

Kvarner is connected to Istria by both sea and land, and has five big islands (Cres, Krk, Lošinj, Pag, Rab) and over 50 smaller ones. The sea area between the bigger islands is called Kvarnerić (small Kvarner), which is why nautical routes are focused on this area. Sailors can find quaint old towns, amazing beaches and favorable weather to enjoy wherever they are. The islands are naturally beautiful and rich in vegetation. Sailors can also find large and modern marinas on the mainland. Sailing is pleasant, but one should be careful about the frequency of winds, especially strong bura.

Climate and ideal time to sail the areas

Recommended period for sailing the Croatian coast is between April and October, and the peak season is reserved for July and August. Less crowded, but still warm are June, September and October.

Croatian coast enjoys Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. The summers are hot with temperatures going up to 40 °C and the sea temperature is around 25 °C (23 °C in Istria). The Adriatic Sea gets a plenty of sunshine, 2600 hours per year on average.

Winds and waves

There are eight winds that blow on the Adriatic. Each has its own characteristics that can often be recognized by clouds appearing on the sky. Adriatic Sea is, in general, very tame and will not cause you any significant troubles while sailing. Special attention has to be paid to a sudden and strong storm called neverin, which in this area occurs 3-4 times per month. Neverin usually lasts only half an hour, but it can be very powerful.

  • Bura - cold and dry north or north-eastern wind that blows in very strong gusts which makes sailing challenging, can bring heavy rain and snow (during winter), but after it ends, brings clear skies and lovely weather, quite often in Istria and Kvarner region
  • Jugo - warm and humid south or south-eastern wind that brings clouds and bad weather, as well as big waves, allegedly causes people to feel disoriented and depressed or rather feeling under the weather, predominant wind in this region
  • Maestral - most common summer wind, brings lovely and stable weather, always blows from northwest. It is a very constant wind usually reaching speed between 15 and 20 knots, which is perfect for sailing on the Adriatic, weaker in northern regions that southern
  • Tramontana – northerly cooling wind that brings pleasant weather
  • Grego – moderate or strong northeasterly wind carrying dry, clear and cold weather
  • Levant – easterly wind that blows during cloudy, humid or rainy weather
  • Oštro – southerly, warm and damp wind
  • Lebić – southwesterly, dry and warm wind which blows in the Adriatic after the jugo, leveling the waves in shallow harbors

Waves occur due to winds blowing. On average, the waves are between 0.5 m and 1.5 m, but can get bigger with stronger winds.

Sea currents also occur because of winds, but are hardly noticeable and move at average speed of 0.5 knots.

Tides have small amplitudes, around 40 cm, but can get slightly bigger if jugo is blowing.

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Gastronomy of Istria and Kvarner region

Croatian cuisine consists of different ingredients, depending on the region. Istria specializes in variety of food and beverages: boiled food, fish and seafood, pasta, truffles, asparagus, prosciutto, cheese, wine vinegar and wine, olive oil and aromatic spices. Kvarner cherishes similar tradition, but includes more meat. Sailing in both regions will give you an insight in Mediterranean cuisine mixed with Croatian rich history and cultural heritage.

  • Restaurant Monte, Rovinj - a proud owner of Croatia’s first Michelin star that offers gastronomic delicacies that are changed seasonally and combined with an extensive list of fine wines
  • San Rocco, Brtonigla - an award-winning member of Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe, specializes in fresh fish, truffles and olives, offers more than 250 regional and international wines in an elegant and private atmosphere
  • Artatore, Mali Lošinj - a family-run restaurant that offers traditional island’s meals made from fresh ingredients, make sure to try their lobster speciality, located in a calm bay of Artatore
  • Pizzeria Luna Rossa, Cres - pizzeria and spaghetteria located near the sea, friendly atmosphere, choose from numerous pizzas and make sure to try black pizza
  • Tavern BoraBar, Lošinj - located a few meters from the sea in the Rovenska bay, offers traditional Italian dishes and fresh local seafood that is served on colorful wooden tables, as well as a private dolphin-watching tour
  • Restaurant Dalmatinka, Ilovik - gives its customers a chance to try home-cooked Dalmatian meals with fresh fish on a terrace right next to the sea
  • Tavern Kod barba Ive, Unije - located on the seafront, ideal for having a peaceful breakfast, as well as for trying out seafood specialties and traditional continental dishes

Most important destinations

  • Rovinj - the most romantic city in Istria with an old city center that boasts Venetian heritage, take a photo from a renowned photopoint that frames a landmark cathedral in a picture, take a trip to the nearby Red Island
  • Pula - the capital of Istria, its marvelous Roman amphitheater from the 1st century is still in use for concerts and festivals, a city of rich history with many monuments, festivals, parks, beaches and delicious gastronomic offerings
  • Brijuni - a national park that spans over 14 islands near Pula, a very important geological, historical and nautical area that offers excursions, sports and accommodation
  • Krk - Croatia’s biggest island with several Blue Flag beaches, offers an active holiday, numerous historically important towns with numerous monuments and delicious traditional meals, such as lamb and specially designed pasta
  • Rab - up-and-coming nautical destination with 30 sandy beaches and a hundred kilometers of hiking and biking trails, cuisine is simple and tasty, King Edward VIII came to the Kandarola bay and started nudism on the Adriatic
  • Lošinj - offers health tourism as a tradition more than a hundred years old, there are numerous museums on the island with Museum of Apoxyomenos (ancient Greek athlete statue) being one of them, visit an aquapark in Čikat or an underwater archaeological park
  • Cres - find all types of beaches (rocky, pebbled, sandy) and hidden coves, some of them are Blue Flagged, sightsee the city walls and Renaissance churches and palaces, try food with locally produced high quality olive oil
  • Unije - a small tranquil island with rich history and a tradition of growing olives, offers pleasant areas for anchoring in picturesque bays

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Where to anchor and interesting marina

Croatian coast has more than a thousand harbors, marinas and bays for anchoring and mooring, and twice as much buoys. Buoys are more accessible and more affordable than marinas.

Anchorages:

  • Lon, Rovinj - peaceful shelter from all winds except westerly winds, depth is 8-10 m and up to 15 m in the middle of the bay, the seabed is sandy and grassy, there is a Michelin-starred restaurant Monte, no concession
  • Portić i Debeljak, Premantura - two bays popular with swimmers, sheltered from all winds except bura, both have a sandy seabed with depth up to 6 m and 4 m, respectively; quiet during evening and night, no concession
  • Punta Križa, Cres - a bay with lush vegetation and home of various wild animals (hunting tourism), sheltered from jugo and partly from bura, the seabed is sandy, offers up to 30 berths
  • Maračol, Unije - the safest and pretty long bay on the island, sheltered from all winds except jugo, offers around 50 buoys and space with depths around 20 m for anchoring in case it is crowded, under concession
  • Bok, Susak - beautiful sandy beach with a sandy seabed, sheltered from southerly winds, but beware of occasional bura, tramontana and maestral, 30 berths, there are several restaurants and taverns on the seafront, under concession
  • Krivica, Lošinj - an S-shaped bay with pine trees growing all the way to the sea which makes the bay ideally protected from winds and waves, only southwest winds blow on its outer part, sandy seabed with depth around 5-6 m, a lovely promenade will take you to the town of Veli Lošinj, under concession
  • Ilovik - a peaceful and safe anchorage that offers various amenities, protected from all winds and a good location to anchor during bad weather, offers 60 buoys, depth up to 9 m, sandy and slightly grassy seabed, only for vessels up to 18 m, under concession
  • Puntarska draga, Krk - one of the oldest marinas in a spacious bay with capacity for more than a thousand vessels, the entrance is pretty shallow with depth around 3 m and up to 10 m in the bay, the seabed is sludgy, expect bura that is not so strong during summer, but neverin winds can get pretty strong, make sure to visit lively Punat with plenty of facilities and amenities, no concession
  • Sv. Eufemija, Rab - a tranquil bay away from crowds with a 13th century monastery of the same name, sheltered from all winds except jugo and bura, the seabed is sludgy, no concession

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Marinas:

  • ACI Marina Rovinj - a modern and recently reconstructed marina that offers the highest standards in nautical tourism, 192 berths, max depth 15 m, all amenities, open all year www.aci-marinas.com/en/aci_marina/aci-marina-rovinj/
  • ACI Marina Pula - located in the very center of Pula and only a few meters away from the famous Arena, naturally protected from waves, it can accommodate megayacht up to 40 m in length, 194 berths, max depth 12 m, all amenities, open all year www.aci-marinas.com/en/aci_marina/aci-marina-pula/
  • ACI Marina Pomer - a renovated marina with a nice walkway located in tranquil Medulin Bay, protected by a breakwater, 296 berths, 30 dry berths, max depth 4 m, all amenities, open all year www.aci-marinas.com/en/aci_marina/aci-marina-pomer/
  • Marina Punat, Krk - the oldest marina on the Adriatic with restaurants, a wellness center and a yacht service, Blue Flag-certified, offers 850 berths and 500 dry berths for vessels up to 40 m in length, max depth 4.5 m, open all year www.marina-punat.hr/en
  • ACI Marina Cres - one of the best and largest marinas on the Adriatic, offers accommodation in apartments, Blue Flag-certified, spacious with 461 berths and 70 dry berths for vessels up to 50 m in length, max depth 6 m, all amenities, open all year www.aci-marinas.com/en/aci_marina/aci-marina-cres/
  • Marina Lošinj, Mali Lošinj - a new marina with 80 berths, equipped with a restaurant and many other facilities and amenities, open all year www.marinalosinj.com/
  • ACI Marina Rab - one of the most popular destinations because of the town’s blend of nature, culture and historical heritage, 142 berths, max depth 8 m, many amenities, open from April to October www.aci-marinas.com/en/aci_marina/aci-marina-rab/

Telephone numbers you might need

Emergency – 112
Police – 192
Fire department – 193
Ambulance – 194
Search and rescue at sea – 195
Road assistance – 1987
General information – 18981
Tourist information, Pula, Istria – 052 219 197
Tourist information, Opatija, Kvarner - 051 272 988

Croatia country calling code is +385