Croatian *Road* Trip Part 7: Hopping Around the Kornati Islands… On a Boat

It’s been a little while since my last post; life has been quite busy lately. As you know, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Croatia, while the rest of the world has shut down in panic, afraid of the harmless flu that shall not be named. Most recently, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time really getting to know the country by boat.

I’ve been in Croatia almost 2 months since the beginning of June and since then I’ve not only road-tripped from Zagreb (the capital) to Dubrovnik and all along the Dalmatian Coast searching for Karl May movie sets; I’ve also explored the major cities in all regions of the country (including all of Istria). All the while being fortunate enough to see major tourist hubs empty of tourists – pretty priceless.

Furthermore, Croatia has vast landscapes and diverse nature. Being a big fan of the outdoors myself, I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent conquering a few parts of the Dinaric Alps and island-hopping through the Adriatic sea on a sailboat. Exploring Croatia by land and water throughout this pandemic has been an experience I will never forget.

This post is about the second stay I had on the Twin Star catamaran during the last week of June. As you know, during this time, I was in the middle of buying a boat; in fact, I had already purchased it (paid for it), but because of legalities, I was not yet able to sail with it. You’d think that by buying a boat, you’d never need to charter a boat again. 🤷‍♂️

Sadly, the whole process takes time, and the old owner didn’t want us to use the catamaran until all the paperwork was entirely done. — Why does doing things through proper bureaucratic channels take so much longer?

Marina Mandalina – Sailing the TwinStar again. This is a Lagoon 380, but not the one I bought. We could have bought this one as well, but in the end, the other boat was a better deal – and available immediately rather than the end of August.
Our “Staatenlos” is 1-year younger (2006) with the main difference being larger windows in the hull and other minor modifications – some of which are yet to come. 🥳

Anyways, since we had a few friends coming to visit us, and we wanted to go sailing again, we chose to charter the Twin Star for another week. This time we sailed to the northern part of Dalmatia, towards Molat through the Kornati Islands and everything in between.

Once again, our journey started in Šibenik at the lovely Marina Mandalina. We had a full week (from Saturday to Friday) to explore the northern part of the Dalmatian coast and our ports of call for the week were as follows (in order):

Šibenik – Zirje – Kornati- Telascica – Molat – Zadar – Murter – Šibenik – With several bathing stops in between!

Day 1 – Šibenik to Zirje

Our first evening on the boat, we left the marina rather late, and it took us about two hours to get through the Šibenik Bay to Zirje island. It is part of the Šibenik archipelago and is located about 14 miles southwest of Šibenik. It is the biggest island left to pass before the open sea begins – making it the most remote permanently inhabited island in the archipelago.

On to Zirje…Today navigating to Otok Zirje on way to the Kornati islands

We spent the evening in Zirje, mooring near the nice restaurant we had chosen for dinner. We anchored the boat just before sunset and had time to go up the hill above the Stupica Vela (the lovely bay on the island. There, we found the remains of a 6th century Byzantine castle, and it’s walls.

Mooring tonight in Stupica Vela Bay

We walked around, enjoyed the views, and took some beautiful photos from this spot. After, it took us about 10 minutes to climb back down and head to the restaurant. We had a nice dinner with great company and delicious food. Overall, it was a great first evening.


Day 2 – Kornati National Park

The second day we sailed all along the side of the Kornati Islands. The Kornati archipelago is located south of Zadar and west of Šibenik. The Kornati are the densest archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The area is twenty-two miles long, and it encompasses 89 islands (some large, some small), the total sea area covers about 124 sq mi.

This was my office for the day.

Furthermore, a large part of these islands is National Park territory. Two-thirds of the park is occupied by the island of Kornat – the largest one in the archipelago with an area of ​​more than 20 sq m. There are no permanent settlements in the Kornati. However, you will find mainland landowners use some simple houses in various small bays such as Vrulje, Kravjačica, Lavsa, and others as temporary shelters.

Kornati National Park – barren but beautiful

For the whole day, we sailed north, anchoring in mooring bays and enjoying the barren landscapes. Navigating through this archipelago is a fascinating and rare experience, mainly because the area is densely “populated” by bigger and smaller islands, so the passages between can be maze-like at times.

Enjoying the Kornati Islands

On top of Lavsa Bay – Kornati


The climate in these islands is quite dry, with a combination of strong winds on other seasons. Probably another reason it’s so empty, and no one lives there. You’ll find some sheep, some restaurants, and some spots where you can find shelter for your boat, but that’s about it.


Slept last night below the stars on the catamaran net. Will do that more often in the future. Sleeping outside regularly is great

It was pretty great to just cruise from island to island as we headed north, simply and enjoying our surroundings. The only drawback to this day was that reception wasn’t great, and we had a few small issues arise from that. Nevertheless, we handled everything as best we could and managed to enjoy ourselves regardless.

With a catamaran, you can the ocean your beach by simply finding shallow water.


Day 3 – Telascica

After the Kornati islands, we continued north to Telascica bay, which actually consists of three smaller bays, which are all good, safe harbor sports for all kinds of vessels. The northeastern side of the bay is entirely bare, but the southwestern shore (where we anchored) is covered in thick forest of pine, olive, and fig trees.

Nature Park Telascica -Dugi Otok- Autarc living on a sailing yacht. Every day the ice cream man visits 🙂

The area is a designated nature park, full of wildlife and sea creatures. Telašćica itself is a 5 mile long, and about a mile wide, inlet dotted with famous cliffs, inlets, and bays. The cliffs of Dugi Otok rise 530 f above sea level and drop down to a depth of almost 300 feet.

Great hike #views

So, before going into the bay where we would anchor, we sailed all along the coast on the side of the open sea to take some nice pictures of the cliffs. We basically wanted to experience the impressive landscape before venturing into the bay for the night.

The bay itself was stunning and very sheltered. Nearby, there is Lake Mir, a saltwater lake on a narrow strip of land between Telašćica Bay and the open sea. The lake is salty due to its underground connection to the sea, and we wanted to check it out.

Another beautiful day in Telascica Bay. Anchoring now in Krusevica Cove

So after anchoring, my brother, Josh, and I decided to walk along the steep cliffs to get to the lake. We had some stunning views all along the path; it has easy access to the edge of the magnificent cliffs that rise up over 300 feet and drop down over 100 feet.

Enjoying the cliffs of Telascica

That night we had dinner in Telascica, we took our dinghy to land and found another excellent restaurant for supper. After a delicious meal, we went back to our boat to sleep under the stars.

This is what you get when you order a steak in an isolated Croatian restaurant.

I spent pretty much the entire week sleeping outside on the trampoline of the catamaran. Sleeping on the sea and under the stars will never get old.

…and neither will these sunsets:


Day 4 – Dugi Otok and Molat

The next day we continued sailing north towards the island of Molat, making a stop in Dugi Otok.

Goodbye Kornati.

The Dugi Otok coastline is famous for its submarine bunkers that were built during Tito times by the Yugoslavian army. These three submarine tunnels are accessible by boat, hiding around the bays of the islands.

Dragove Visiting submarine bunkers of the Yugoslavian Army

It’s pretty interesting to think that if you simply look at all of the bright and glossy images of Croatia circulated today, or even when sailing up and down the gorgeous Dalmatian coast — one can sometimes forget that this country has had a very turbulent history.

Dugi Otok – Dinghyd in this submarine bunker. Pretty cool


However, from odd bullet holes, countless monuments and museums to Military bunkers and tunnels (such as these submarine bunkers), there is still plenty of evidence all around to remind us of the problematic history of the country.



We got to see two of the bunkers and went in to explore one. It was fascinating to venture into the bunker, which goes pretty deep, about 650 feet. We went in with our dinghy boat, and once inside, got out to explore the shelter.



We got to this area where there were some doors you can lock from the outside. Josh went in ahead of me, and I locked him. He was a bit rattled, but there was another way out, which he quickly found. He came out by the entry of the bunker, which is about 30 – 40 feet high, and he jumped from there into the water.



The whole thing was pretty cool. Later that day, there were actually a few yachts anchoring inside for the night. It is a perfect shelter for a boat, as long as the mast of said boat is not too high. We saw lots of fishermen going inside with their boats, but sadly, we couldn’t stay there, we had planned to continue north towards the island of Molat.



Taking lines ashore so we don’t swing around too much

Day 5 – From Molat to Zadar

The only problem we had no idea where to anchor, we had some bays and harbors which were not very suitable for our catamaran, so we ended up going further north than we originally anticipated. Thankfully, as it was starting to get dark, we found nice shelter in this bay close to the main town of Molat.

Molat, Otok Molat – A relaxed evening in the little town of Molat.


This time, we had a bit of a longer dinghy ride to the harbor (about 50 minutes). The town itself was quite quaint, with no tourists in sight. Once again, we were one of the first foreign tourists of the season to visit the restaurant we went to for dinner. There, we had a lovely meal, and our waitress could speak german, which was a nice bonus.



The next morning we ventured down to Zadar, and to my absolute joy, we had a pod of about ten dolphins following us. It was incredible; they were just there, swimming next to us and below our net. They stayed with us for a few minutes, and it was super cool. Check out the quick video I captured of the moment:



From Molat, we didn’t go straight to Zadar; we stopped in Vir Island first. This island is just north of the city of Zadar, and it is connected to the mainland via a road bridge. We stopped there to do a quick check on the island. It has a beautiful beach, and we walked through town for a little bit and then went to see Kastelina Castle (the famous tourist attraction in Vir).


The town and Island of Vir with the impressive Velebit mountains behind

On the way back to our boat, we enjoyed a sweet cocktail at the beach before boarding and continuing to Zadar. On our way there, we were a bit skeptical about whether or not we could anchor in Zadar; after all, it’s one of the main towns and harbors of the country.


Marinas are lame. Today we took the only anchorage spot in Zadar City.

Thankfully, we found a really great anchorage spot in town, in a little bay near the mainland. From this anchoring spot, we didn’t have a long dinghy ride to make it to the shores of Zadar town. So on we went to explore the city, by the way, Zadar was the last big town in Croatia left for me to set foot on.

Zadar Sunset


In town, we met with one of my business partners, Christian, who would be joining us on the sail back to Šibenik. We had a nice dinner, enjoyed walking the streets and doing some shopping. I found Zadar to be quite a charming town, and I quite enjoyed the scenery.


Back on the catamaran that night, it was a bit loud. I still slept outside, but we had the highway less than half a mile away, and you could hear all the traffic. Actually, I couldn’t get much sleep that night because of the noise, but other than that, it was a pretty perfect spot.

Day 6 – From Pasman to Murter

The next morning we went from Zadar down to Pasman, a big island on the other side, on the way to Šibenik. The island is very close to the mainland, and we stopped there for a bathing stop before continuing to Murter.

Fun Fact: The sea currents around the strait near Pasman change course every six hours, making the seawater here the cleanest in the Adriatic.


After the bathing stop, we continued to Biograd, an old town in northern Dalmatia, known for being the former capital of the medieval Croatian Kingdom. We explored the city briefly and went back on the boat to keep sailing to Murter, where we would anchor for our last night aboard the Twin Star.

Biograd na Moru – Marina Kornati. We don’t like marinas. We prefer anchoring nearby.

Vrgada – If you come late, every good spot is taken. Continuing to Murter

Murter Island is the largest in the Šibenik archipelago, and it is actually pretty close to the Šibenik peninsula. In this route, there are lots of sheltered harbors, and we found a lovely bay for us to anchor at. Once again, we were only about a 15-minute dinghy ride to the main town in Murter.

Last night of our charter near the island and town of Murter

On our last night, we enjoyed a really nice dinner and in town and were back on the boat nice and early. The next morning we had to set sail to Šibenik pretty early because my two friends had to catch their flight in the afternoon.

The whole week was fantastic, super relaxed yacht life at its finest; I really enjoyed the downtime. Moreover, the Twin Star never disappoints, and we had a blast in every stop enjoying either the history of the towns, the food, or the fun water activities with all the toys we had on board.

Last stop before returning to Šibenik

Marina Mandalina – Fueling up after a week of sailing (or rather motoring). Still surprised how economical two Diesel engines actually are.

Back in Šibenik for the night

Finally, we arrived back in Šibenik on Friday morning, and as my friends left for the airport, it was time to switch gears. My brother and I were leaving for Germany on the following Monday, and we still had some last-minute errands to run for the purchase of the Staatenlos catamaran.

Keep in mind that while we were away, my broker had been working diligently to finalize the sale. So as soon as we got back to Šibenik, we had exactly three days to complete all of the paperwork, export the boat out of Croatia, and re-import it again – all over a weekend. Stay tuned for my next article, where you’ll learn a thing or two about boat importation processes and the few, very hectic days I had in Croatia getting it all done.