When I first heard of The Yacht Week Croatia, it didn't take me very long to make the decision to go. Cruising around the Croatian islands on a sailing yacht with a bunch of friends and about 50 other yachts with people from all around the world? Sounds like something I might enjoy!
To get an idea what The Yacht Week is about, check out the official trailer. Watched it? Ok, so now you want to go as well. Good news, I've written an extensive guide that will help you get the most out of it!
The Yacht Week is a yearly event held in several countries. It started in Croatia and this destination is the most popular one. It runs every week during the summer months July and August.
The Yacht Week Croatia
There are two routes, the "Red Route" and the "Black Route." Both routes visit the same locations: the islands of Hvar, Vis and Solta. Routes combine in Hvar and visit the other locations on separate days.
It really doesn't matter which route you choose. The only difference is the departure harbor, but this isn't known yet at the time of booking.
Which yacht to choose
The best yachts by far are the catamarans. They are much more spacious than the other yachts, and while that might seem like a small thing while you're sitting at your computer - it makes a great deal of difference for how comfortable you will be when you're jammed in a tiny, hot bedroom cabin with your friend while the waves throw you around.
The rear back area is perfect for sunbathing and the roof is a great vantage point. Another advantage of this yacht is that they are very suitable for boat parties. This is great if you want to meet people and socialize.
In the picture you see our yacht, a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42i with three bedrooms and two people sleeping in the saloon. It was a bit small for eight people and a challenge to find space for our bags. But, when you're out on the sea and the sun is shining, you can't complain .
When to book
The second the bookings open up on December 1st. Trust me, the Croatia route is very popular and most boats will get booked within a few hours. This is particularly true for the all guy boats. The website can get very overloaded during the first few hours so it can be tough to book your yacht. Get a few friends together and keep trying, this way you have the best chance of getting the yacht you want.
You can either bring your own skipper or have The Yacht Week assign you one. I recommend the latter. These skippers know what's going on and how to get the most out of the experience.
The Yacht Week skippers are from all around the world. My skipper was Croatian, which was great. He knew some great local spots and helped us out when having to deal with the locals. That is, when he wasn't sleeping .
You can choose to have a hostess onboard. I don't see the value in this. You have to pay extra and you will have one less spot on the boat. Yeah it's nice to have someone cook and clean up but you will probably end up eating in restaurants a lot anyway. If cleanliness is key to you being comfortable, this is probably the only reason for a hostess.
There are some cool activities along the way. Instead of sleeping off your hangover until 3pm I suggest you get up early and check these places out, it's worth it!
The Blue Cave is connected to the ocean, making for quite a nice blue light coming in. Jump of your yacht and peddle over in your dingy. The cave entrance is fairly small, so watch out for your head.
This cave provides a nice 40 ish feet high cliff jump. A nice height, quite scary but as long as you hold you body straight and hit the water with your feet first you should be ok.
It's a bit tricky to climb up as the rocks are quite sharp, especially the first few meters. A pair of Crocs would be ideal. It's worth the climb though. The water is quite deep so you don't have to worry about hitting the ocean floor. You can see here what it looks like:
If you're a dare devil, in the middle of the cave there is a hole in the ceiling. It's big enough to crawl through, holding yourself onto the ceiling before dropping down. It's significantly higher than the jump outside the cave.
During the cold war this tunnel was used as a submarine hideout. It provides an excellent opportunity for cliff jumping. It's higher than the cliff at the Green Caves. Be careful though, one guy dislocated his shoulder upon landing during my Yacht Week. Make sure to jump down pencil style. Not like my friends in the picture below, although they got away with without any major injuries.
Looks pretty scary right? It's an 18 meter jump, or about 60 feet. You wonder why it needs to be that high for a submarine to hide in .
Fun things to do on the boat
Sailing is quite fun, but there are other fun things to do on a sailing yacht. Have two people in the water holding on to a rope attached to the boat. Now drive the boat full speed and see who can hold on the longest.
My favorite is the 'mast-sling'. Attach a fender to a rope attached to the top of the mast. Now stand on the side of the boat. Have your skipper make a sharp turn, jump off the boat and enjoy the ride. Make sure you release the rope before you crash into the yacht. This is what it looks like:
Playing your favorite tunes on your boat is an essential part of The Yacht Week. External speakers aren't allowed so you'll have to use the boat's internal speaker system. We had a lot of fun cruising around, drinking a beer and playing some really good music, as you can see here:
One of the things that make The Yacht Week cool is that you get the chance to meet a lot of people. Here are some tips that will help you make some friends.
Start meeting people early on
As the week progresses, people will start forming groups and will be less open to meet others. That's why it's best to start meeting people early on. Invite others to have a drink at your boat or walk around to meet people on other boats. There is a period of time every day, especially in the beginning, where people will sit on their own boats waiting for the party to start.
Don't be the one waiting for someone else to do something - be willing to grab a group of friends, a bottle of something good, and bring some energy to other boats and get the party started. You can be a mobile party going to other boats and getting their energy up and their day/night started, and this will pay off in you knowing a lot of people in a good light.
During the day you will be sailing to the next destination. There is plenty of time to stop a few times to swim and relax. Talk to the people you like and suggest sailing together. If you get a few boats together, you can form a circle somewhere and create a swimming pool.
Even better, if you can arrange it, it is good to have your whole crew jump on another boat or have a whole crew jump on your boat. You will sail for up to 3 hours some days, and having 16 people on your boat will be much more entertaining and will provide a great way to make solid new friends. In this case, be sure your boats stick together and possibly switch boats part way through so you're not abandoning your skipper.
Sailing together also gives you the option to dock next to your newly made friends, making it much easier to keep in touch.
Crew boat party
During the week a day party will take place on the crew boat. Tickets will be sold a few hours in advance. As there is limited space, make sure you find out where you can buy tickets and show up early! This party is super fun and a great way to meet some fellow The Yacht Week participants.
Try to get to the marinas early on. This increases the chances of getting a good spot. Some marinas have limited space. Boats that show up late in the day will have to anchor outside the marina. This is annoying, as you'll have to get a water taxi to get to shore. You also won't be able to use all the marina facilities like water and electricity.
Especially the first day when you check into your boat, you should arrive early. That way you don't have to wait in line too much and when the crown arrives your boat will be ready so you can start meeting people as they arrive.
In the marinas you won't be allowed to play music in the evenings though. There are marina officials walking around noting down the names of the yachts that don't obey this rule. You'll be fined around 750 Kunas (USD 130) but worse, you jeopardize the future of The Yacht Week.
In Croatia there are many small restaurants serving local freshly caught fish and local lamb. They serve a special dish known as "Peka" which involves slow cooking lamb or octopus for five hours. The octopus has a flavor and texture you won't find anywhere else, while the lamb is very tender and also delicious but less unique.
Your skipper will have to call ahead to a restaurant if you would like to try Peka because they must begin cooking it early in the day. You cannot show up to a restaurant and order Peka.
On Vis Island, between Vis and Komeza, there is a restaurant called Golub. The Lamb Peka was really good here. The restaurant is in the hills. A pick-up and return service is available. If you want to try the Peka, make sure to call the restaurant at least five hours in advance.
In Komeza there is a great place to eat fish. The restaurant is called Barba and it's located in the corner of the bay. Don't eat in the restaurants on the main boulevards. These are all tourist traps, service is bad, it's overpriced and the food isn't great.
You will only have electricity to charge electronics in the harbors (unless you have a car 12v converter). If you have a lot of electronics to charge, consider getting one of these solar powered chargers.
It's possible to request WiFi on your yacht. Ask your skipper to arrange this for you. The connection won't be very fast but you will be able to check your emails.
It's a good idea to get a Croatian sim card. They are pretty cheap and the 3G will come in very useful.
Before you sail, make sure you do a headcount! It's not uncommon for people to end up sleeping on a different boat after a night of partying. We accidently left behind one of our crew members twice.
On most islands there are ATM's available that accept international cards. Credit cards aren't always accepted, especially not at the parties that are organized by The Yacht Week. The marina in Palmizana island (close to Hvar) there is only one ATM so if you need cash don't wait till the last moment before leaving as there might be a big line.
Be aware that not everything is included in the price of the yacht. You will have to pay for the gas (ours was 1000 Kuna for the whole week), marina fees (200 to 700 per night) and water taxis (20 to 40 per ride). Also, you have to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for your skipper. In addition, it's common to tip the skipper at the end of the week.
What to bring
As external sound systems are not allowed, the only way to play music is through the internal speaker system. You will need a jack-to-jack audio cable for this. Bring a couple, some yachts will inevitably forget to bring this in which case you will make them very happy.
Although you will have the opportunity to buy drinks in the marinas, it doesn't hurt to have a good supply stocked up. The last thing you want is having a great party going on and run out of booze. Also bring lots of water!
TYW offers a few pre-packed food packages, which also includes drinks and general household goods such as toilet paper, plastic plates & utensils etc. I got the luxury package, but I don't recommend getting one. You'll have plenty opportunity to stock up on groceries in the marinas and there is limited space to stock everything. It also includes a lot of stuff that you won't use. Like 400 multi-colored straws.
Don't bring too much stuff!
There is not much storage space on the boat so it's best not to bring big suitcases. You won't need a lot of clothes as you'll be wearing your swimming gear most of the time. The parties don't have dress codes so don't worry about bring anything fancy.
Jumping from yacht to yacht at 2am in the morning finding the best boat party is a lot of fun, but believe it or not, it's not completely without hazards. Scratches, bruises, cuts are more the rule than the exception after a few days on The Yacht Week. A few packs of bandages and disinfectants will come in very handy.
No, not the kind that will make you see pink elephants flying around the boat. I mean the pharmaceutical type. The sea can be rough and leaning over the reeling to throw up every 10 minutes is not fun. Anti sea sickness pills prevent this. Also bring painkillers and anti diarrhea pills.
Ladies leave your high heels at home. Slippers are an option but there is a fair chance you'll hurt your toes at some point. Boat shoes are the way to go.
We brought some floaties, which provided a lot of water fun. Noodles would have been great to have as well. If you want to mess around with other boats you can bring water guns and water baloons.
You should also bring a country flag, or multiple if you have an international crowd. If you really want to make your boat stand out, cool party lighting (anything from lasers to spotlights to those multicolored disco things) will make you the clear place for people to collect at night when the marinas make you turn off the music and everyone's after partying.
Another fun thing to bring is a matching piece of clothing, like swimming wear. The more colorful and/or unusual, the more street cred you get for your crew.
If you are looking to sleep long hours, you probably shouldn't join The Yacht Week in the first place. Sleeping conditions are far from ideal. Expect any of the following: a small bed, no air conditioning, loud noise, crew members walking into your bedroom (or random people), a rocking boat causing you to roll around your bed and your roommate hooking up with someone next to you. A few earplugs and a sleeping blindfold can be very useful.
That's it! Visit the website of The Yacht Week for more information or ask me anything you want to know in the comment box below. Or, if you've been on The Yacht Week yourself, I'd love to hear your thoughts as well!