The Yacht Week Croatia
Updated: Nov 26, 2023
Let me start by saying, everyone is right: this is the trip of a lifetime. It seems like an exaggeration, but I promise it is not. You get to sail the Adriatic Sea, with a bunch of friends and like-minded people for 6 days with everything taken care of for you. Your biggest decisions will be what bathing suit to wear or what floatie to use in the water. But this trip isn’t for everyone - it is rowdy and crazy and you need to be constantly “on”. You need stamina and the ability to have fun anywhere, anytime and not mind sleepless nights. People party at all hours of the day and night and you have to be flexible and creative with when you catch some zzzs. Some of us paused drinking during the day while we explored, while others kept the party going no matter what. I’ll try to cover everything about the trip in this post but as always, please reach out to me with any questions or thoughts!
Before you go: Someone has to step up and book the boat or pull a group together. There are 2 ways to get a boat, you can book your own boat and be responsible for filling the spots or pull a group together and wait for the inevitable posts on the crew finder group and hop onto a boat that way. Both options work! Once you have your crew there are other details like choosing skippers and hostesses that a very important for your trip. Don’t skimp on either because they make the trip so much better! The last thing you want is to have to cook and clean up after yourself. Also, a hostess will help with all the details of booking tables for parties, planning outings and helping you make reservations for activities. They are wonderful - DM me for recos on specific skippers and hostesses for your week. I joined a crew 5 months before we left and the girls in charge were fantastic! They’d been on a few yacht weeks so they knew exactly what to do. They provided us packing lists and inside details of what to expect which I will share here. They also told us how much money to save up in advance. Ultimately, when all was said and done we paid $1.3k each for our spot on the boat and an additional ~$800 each for all the things outside of the base boat cost (tips, cabs, drinks, dinners, costumes, experiences, etc). Flights were separate of this and I used miles to book one way and then patiently waited to find cheaper tickets for the other way. I ended up paying $500 for 2 different flights to get me to Split. Everyone will tell you this as you prep, but cash is king in Croatia so plan to take money out at ATMs when you arrive or exchange it in the airport. You will want to have about 2000 kuna to start when you get there - some of that should go into your boat’s kitty (group collection that everyone contributes to upfront for collective things like food, alcohol, taxis, etc. during the week) and then some cash for yourself to have. Many places do not take credit cards.
Booking flights & the experience: I booked the flights separately using Sky Scanner (the app) for both. I opted to find research what European city had the cheapest flights for the day I wanted to leave and found a $330 flight to Barcelona on Norwegian Airlines (which is a partner of United so I could get the miles credited to my account). Then I found a $180 flight from Barcelona to Split on a regional airline called Vueling. I had two hours between each flight and was able to make my connection with just enough time to spare. The way I booked this was riskier, but my priority was cheaper flights so I was comfortable with a little risk on timing. I originally intended to carry on 2 bags but Norwegian is strict about bag policies based on tickets so I had to check one of them. Waiting for the bag at Barcelona only took about 10 minutes after getting through customs (which took 5), however having to transfer to a different terminal (+10min) and then walk all the way to the end with in the new terminal (+10min) caused me to make the last boarding call for the flight. I would’ve had 45 minutes to spare if my Norwegian flight hadn’t taken off late due to crew delays. It was a fluke incident but even with the delays, I made all flights. If you are a low anxiety travel and don’t mind tight timing, I would recommend using my methods to find cheaper flights. However, for those with anxiety while traveling, it is worth the extra money for some piece of mind. In those cases, I would recommend just booking through one of the 3 major airlines in the US. You will pay more but they make you feel more comfortable. As a brief side-note, because Norwegian was delayed, I am actually getting my ticket partially refunded! Lastly, try to book your flights to get there during the day Saturday so that you have time to settle into your boat, unpack, meet people and head to the welcoming party in Trogir the first night. You don’t want to miss that!
Packing for the trip: You ideally need soft shell suitcases so they can fold up easily and be stowed. There is not a lot of storage on the boat and you don’t want to be sleeping with your suitcases (this really did happen for certain people, you know who you are!). To get specific, you need…
Bathing suit for each day
A few cover ups or short tank combos
6 going out outfits: 2 of them are themed for this trip (Tropical Retro and White Party - see my pictures below for what these look like) and the rest are just typical warm weather, island going out clothes - I bought a dress, flowy pants with a bandeau, a skirt and 2 shirt options.
Shoes: Flip flops, 2 pairs of sandals, sneakers/close toed shoe. For girls, you don’t need heels and for guys all you really need are flip flops to go out - maybe one pair of slightly nicer but breathable shoes if you want.
Regatta outfit (whatever theme your boat picks)
A few pairs of sunglasses because they get lost or traded easily. I personally like the Wave sunglasses and the Wiseowl Bamboo Wood sunglasses because they both float and have fun colored polarized lenses (link to Amazon for both).
A floatie: unless you arrive early and can snag one of the ones that was left from the previous week. In reality we all traded floats and the larger ones that fit multiple people were more popular so I’d recommend going in on a larger one with your crew.
Workout clothes (maybe): The Yacht Week sets up a HITT Class and a Yoga class so if you want to participate in either, bring clothes (I was able to use the same clothes I wore on the plane which saved space - yoga pants, sports bra and tank with sneaks).
A slightly warmer long sleeve - mine was a long sleeve yacht week tshirt, others had sweatshirts - for when you hang out on the boat at night and the temperature drops a bit.
Toiletries: the basics; ladies you don’t need a hair dryer/straightener/curling iron - unless you plan to rent an AirBnb for the last night. The natural look works for everyone and it is too much of a hassle to try to “do your hair”. Plus those things take up unnecessary space. Our group rented an Airbnb for the last night instead of sleeping on the boat (I’ll explain why later) so we divided up between all of us who would bring the hair dryer, the curling iron and the straightener. Because you’re out in the sun all day and in and out of salt water, I would recommend a type of hydrating hair oil because your hair can dry out quickly - I use Garnier Fructis Morrocan oil (link to Amazon) but again, this is a personal preference.
Other: an adapter, chargers, air pump, quick drying towels (link to Amazon), and a hat or two if you wear them. Lastly, it is a good idea to bring fully charged cordless speakers because they die quick and you use them ALL the time.
The last few little things to bring that made a difference on our trip are: Yeti cup with cup holder (link to Amazon), flags (large size that get lifted up the mast) and lights to decorate your boat (so you can find it easily at night), waterproof phones or case, dramamine, pain killers, and vitamins if you take them.
Sunscreen was something we purchased there with our hostess when we went shopping for food. It saves space to not bring it but I ended up bringing some of my own because I like to use Sun Bum (link to Amazon).
Arriving & Opening Party: I landed in Split around 2pm (similar to 2 other girls flying in through different routes) and it took us about 15minutes to get through customs. A small tip, when you walk into the customs room go as far to the left as you possibly can because those lines are shorter and move much faster since the customs booth is closer to where the line starts. After collecting the bags the other girls checked (both mine were carry-on size - backpack and duffle) we snagged a cab for 285 kuna to the Marina in Trogir. Once we arrived we met up with the rest of our boat and paid 20 kuna to store our bags while we went to drink and meet people in the bar near the marina. Our boat was ready for us to board around 5pm so we jumped on and started setting everything up. Between unpacking, getting to know each other and getting dressed for the night we were all ready by about 8pm. The welcome party was in a Castle bar and everyone was in full party mode. I ended up sleeping outside the first night and watched the sun come up - totally worth not getting much sleep.
6 days at Sea: Every route is a bit different but I’ll layout ours here. Each trip consists of 6 days planned by TYW.
Day 1: The first day we spent sailing to Vis. We docked with all the boats tied together in a row and spent the day in the water on floats and exploring Vis. The first night (Sunday) was the tropical retro themed party at Fort George. The party started early enough that we could watch the sunset from the top of the fort and then enjoy tables and bottle service for the rest of the night.
Day 2: The next morning we set sail to Hvar but stopped on the way to link up with the other boats in a circle raft. This was easily one of the more bougie parts of this trip but it was so much fun to be able to hop from boat to boat and jump into the water with a bunch of floats surrounding a bumpin DJ boat. I had more than one moment that day (and a bunch of other moments throughout the whole trip) where I had to pause and appreciate how lucky I am that I got to experience all this. The circle raft broke up in the late afternoon and we sailed to a port in Laganin at Palmizana Marina where we would be docked for the next two nights. That first night we took a water taxi to Hvar to watch the sunset from Hula Hula bar and then grab dinner downtown before heading to Kiva Bar and Seven right by the Hvar port. Hula Hula is a beautiful spot by the water entirely outside. It is an ideal spot for drinks on an island and felt like a piece of heaven. Kiva Bar and Seven were spots downtown right on the marina of Hvar and were typical bar spots. Kiva straddles an alley and has two bars on each side of the alley. The set up allows the alley to act as part of the bar and leaves more room for dancing and hanging out.
Day 3: The next morning the Yacht Week offered a HIIT class that a few of us from our boat did and then made our way to a chill hangout spot called Laganini to jump in the water on the other side of the island and relax in the cabanas areas they have. Most of our friends opted to stay at Laganini for the entire day, but a friend and I wanted to explore Hvar during the day so we hopped onto a water taxi (100 kuna round trip) and spent a few hours walking among the town and checking out the market. We tried some red wine made on the island (and naturally brought a bottle back) and climbed to the highest points to see Hvar and the port from above. Once we got back to our boat it was time to get ready for the Riviera Chic Party (or White Party) at Carpe Diem Beach! This was easily one of the coolest party spots the entire week! It's a beautiful outdoor club on the beach with tables surrounded by trees and lights. There’s a private pool and beach as well with an abundance of cute picture opportunities. After the sunset we moved the party back to Hvar to get dinner and spend another night at Kiva.
Day 4: We left Hvar and set sail for Bol. On the way, our skipper had us stop in a beautiful lagoon near Stari Grad where we ate lunch and played in the water. Once mid-afternoon hit, we sailed to Bol and docked. A group of us chose to explore Bol and ended up discovering a floating jungle gym in the water where we spent an hour bouncing around the jungle gym and making complete fools of ourselves as we flopped into the water. The entire experience reminded me of the Wipe Out show. We chilled on the beach near before heading back to the docks to get ready for another club night. This night we spent at Club 585 which is a mini-train ride up into the hilly forest outside Bol. Our skippers & hostesses had booked tables with prime spots for us and we partied outside under the clearest ski until the club shut down for the night. On this particular night, many of us still had energy to keep the party alive so we ended up undocking one of our boats with a particularly rowdy skipper and sailed off into the night around 330am. We anchored in a beautiful laguna about 15 minutes away from the dock and quite literally partied until the same came up and we had to sail back around 8am.
Day 5: Regatta Day! After getting back at 8am from the night cruise, I had completely lost track of what day it was. We all raced to get dressed, eat, and start celebrating for the Regatta. Our outfits were all inspired by different Yacht Week people. A few members of our crew pulled this brilliant idea together because they knew many of the people who work on Yacht Week from past trips and wanted to bring the whole experience around full circle to highlight the people who help make these weeks amazing. We made fun of each of them by taking their roles to the extreme and ended up making them laugh so hard that we won the Regatta. Post Regatta, we anchored for a chill raft party with all the yachts linked up in Starigrad Bay. That type of party continued through the night as we enjoyed our last night on the open waters.
Day 6: The final day on the water was spent sailing back through the islands in the Adriatic sea to dock in the Trogrir Marina. Our final night was spent at Vanilla Nightclub in Split where the winning crew had a free table and bottle service next to the DJ booth. You have the option to spend your last night on the boat, however most of us opted for AirBNBs in town to get a good shower and a larger bed before our flights the next morning. We stayed in a house in about 10 minutes outside of downtown Split, while a few other stayed in an apartment downtown. Both spots were beautiful and nice places to stay for our last night.
After the week: No matter what airline or seat type you fly back on, you will pass out from exhaustion. It is cheaper as I mentioned in the beginning to allow yourself multiple stopovers. This week is such a high and fantasy esq lifestyle that it is impossible not to get significant vacation blues when you go back to reality. But every bit of sadness after the week is worth it because I can easily say this was the best week of my life to date. For more information, here's a link to The Yacht Week website and you should also follow them on social because their photographers are very talented.
Reach out with any questions about this trip and others! And definitely connect with me on IG if you have trip suggestions, ideas, or asks!