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Why you NEED to book a Croatia sailing holiday with your girls!

I’ve just returned from a trip to Croatia and in all honesty I’m not sure that these words will give the trip the amount of justice it deserves, however I wanted to do my best to paint the picture of what it’s like to sail around Croatia with Medsailors! First of all, I’m not sure if you have ever considered a sailing holiday as it’s not “the norm”, and I hadn’t considered it until a few years ago when my friend sailed around Greece and had the best time.

For years I ruled it out before even looking into it, thinking that it would be too expensive, concerned I’d spend the whole trip vomiting and worried about the fact that swimming in open water is the complete opposite of “my thing”. But still, I had this niggling desire to do it despite all of the reservations I had. So when it approached the year that I’d be turning 30, I thought this would be the perfect excuse for us girls to have a trip unlike any other.

Croatia is an up and coming travel hotspot famous for its boating scene because of its many islands, crystal clear turquoise waters, picturesque coastlines, secluded bays and waterfront party scene. There are a number of companies offering sailing holidays; some have much more emphasis on the party and alcohol side of things, others focus more on learning to sail and others that are minimalist and are designed for you to relax whilst floating around private bays. After a LOT of research we chose Medsailors because it was a combination of everything I mentioned, tailored for 20 - 35 year olds and a reasonable price compared to the other companies I’d looked at.

Booking with Medsailors, there are different price bands depending on dates and your choice of boat. Most of the girls that were coming on the trip had never spent the night in a hostel dorm let alone a boat - so naturally we went with the most luxurious option we could, and chose the catamaran. I’m so glad that we did! You’d be surprised looking at our boat just how spacious it is inside, and the large net at the front made the perfect sun deck for those lazy days at sea.

One of the things that drives me ballistic about booking holidays as part of a big group is that getting the money together and figuring out who’s paid what can be a nightmare. With Medsailors, the process couldn’t have been easier. Everyone that books gets their own login where you can look at all of the booking details and pay off your own amount; it shows how much each person has paid, and how many days are left until the final balance is due. It also has a landing page with all of your pre-check-in information, details of activities on each island and a page to fill in all of your personal information. Like I said, couldn’t be easier!

One thing I underestimated was just how expensive the flight prices were to get to Croatia - considering it’s only a 2.5 hour flight from London, we each paid £400 return flight and most of us booked them 8 months in advance! Split doesn’t have many flights going in and out in comparison to other popular destinations, and because of the boat departure and arrival times, there’s not much flexibility with the flights you can choose unless you want to travel to a different airport in Croatia or spend a few extra nights there (which would have been awesome if I had the time!)

Landing in Split was a holiday in itself! Looking out of the plane window at the islands was all I needed to see to confirm that this was going to be an incredible week. The lush greenery, the luminous blue waters the gorgeous terracotta rooftops - you could see it all as we prepared to land.

I’d heard mixed reviews about Split airport, but it was extremely easy to navigate and efficient to get through, not to mention the views as soon as you stepped outside were to die for. It cost 300 kunas to get a large taxi for 8 of us down to the marina and again the journey was stunning!! (I feel like this is becoming a common theme...)

Checking in with Medsailors was a breeze, they had a pop-up gazebo with Medsailors flags right at the front of the marina and it was surrounded by a mountain of colourful inflatables from the previous week of sailing. I realised quite quickly in the booking process that they have a heavy emphasis on responsible sailing and from the get-go they encourage you to bring reusable water bottles, organic toiletries and provide tote bags for shopping. Another way that they help to reduce plastic wastage is through their Floatie Recycling Program. This means that you get a floatie on arrival rather than lugging it in your suitcase, you pay a discounted price, and that money gets donated to a marine conservation project. I’ll warn you though, if you want one of those extravagant giant colourful unicorn floaties (like we did) get there early as it can get a little competitive!

It was at check-in that we met our Guest Experience Leader, Sav aka Savage! I’m pretty sure she’s a mermaid as everyday she’d swim from boat to boat to give us a detailed run-down of activities and dining recommendations for the island we’d docked at. My advice, listen to your GEL, they spend a lot of time on these islands and have great relationships with the locals. Plus they know ALL the foodie hotspots, so of course you’ll want them to become your new bestie.

We then met the single-most important person of the trip - our skipper! Everybody believes that they have the best skipper on their boat, but I know that we lucked out big time with Skipper Shane. He was the Lead Skipper of the floatilla (group of 8 yachts sailing the same route) I don’t know how, but he managed to keep a group of hyperactive, needy girls under control, safe, entertained, relaxed and well-fed! It’s incredible the breakfasts and lunches he whipped up in that tiny kitchen on a moving boat; a few of my favourites were freshly baked banana bread, pasta made from SCRATCH and creamy risotto.

We had stocked up on plenty of snacks beforehand but found that we never really got hungry in between meals as we were so well looked after. Above all, Skipper Shane has never-ending knowledge of the sea and encouraged us all to get hands on with sailing, pulling ropes and anchoring and made sure we were always having a great time whilst injecting us with his dry sense of humour every now and then.

Second to my concerns about living in a confined space with a large group of girls on a rocky boat, was the toilet situation. How was this going to work?! Skipper Shane very quickly gave us a full run-down and after a few practices with the pump and flush system, we are all pros. Without going into too much detail, the tank flushes straight into the ocean - so nothing other than human waste goes in the toilet. Number 1s can take place any time, number 2s only when the boat is in motion.

Trust me, nobody wants to be anchored in a crystal clear bay to see what you had for breakfast floating around 💩

Although we were sailing on different boats, Medsailors do a great job at making sure that the whole floatilla get together. On our second night, we went to a stunning viewpoint for a “Punch Party” and made some great friends with other groups and individuals sailing the same route. One of my favourite nights was Hora Farm in Stari Grad! A beautiful evening with the whole floatilla, where we went to a farm for the most delicious food and wine tasting. The views of the vineyards surrounded by mountains were incredible and bathed in the most surreal sunset glow. We all dived into a local Croatian dish called Peka and guzzled down the tastiest local wine all at the price of 250 kunas. As it was such a delicious experience, we left a generous tip and a few of us bought bottles of wine to take home - although they didn’t make it very far! Another favourite was a day that all of our boats docked together and we spent the afternoon competing against each other in paddle board races. It was extremely exhausting but definitely a major highlight for me.

The itinerary featured places that are absolutely breathtaking, honestly Croatia has a “hidden gem” everywhere you look. In addition to that, each morning and afternoon before we docked at a new island, Skipper Shane would take us to the most magical swim stop locations where we’d jump on our inflatables and snorkel through the turquoise waters with the GoPro in hand. As much as I loved these moments, sunrise was by far my favourite.

I’d wake up as soon as I heard the engine switch on and head to the net at the front of the catamaran with a freshly brewed tea (courtesy of Shane). From there I’d watch the sky transform from dark blue, to purple and from pink to orange and let my thoughts runaway with me.

When I’m at home, I use my phone a lot, so I was looking forward to giving myself a technology break whilst sailing. What surprised me most wasn’t that we struggled with signal on the boat, everything worked perfectly and my mobile provider doesn’t charge any extra to use my data in Europe. But getting enough power and charging our devices wasn’t always easy. You can only charge whilst the engine is on or you’re docked in a port with power. Take into consideration the amount of videos and pictures we were taking and how often we were communicating with the other boat on the group chat, meant that our phones were out of battery half the time. Surprisingly we didn’t mind as much as I thought we would.

Here’s a couple of top tips that I think will help:

Budgeting; When you first arrive, you’ll need to pay 750 kunas for the marine taxes (Medsailors tell you this at the time of booking) I’d then recommend you give yourself an average daily allowance of 250 to 300 kunas to cover all of the tasty food and drink and fun activities to take part in. Most importantly - Tip your Skipper! Trust me, they deserve it. We each tipped between 300 to 500 kunas and our Skipper was extremely grateful.

Cleaning; In such a confined space, everything gets very messy very quickly. The boat is your skipper’s home, so please respect it. The main rule is the skipper cooks, you clean. You can each rotate who cleans each day and ensure not to leave all of your personal items in the communal areas.

Tourism; I noticed that Croatia was slightly different to other European holiday destinations I’d visited. We were a highly diverse group of women, including black, Hungarian, Spanish, Chinese as well as an amputee. We got a LOT of stares and some people even stopped to take photos of us. It was extremely uncomfortable at times, especially when one man asked we were from and laughed when we told him we were from the UK, then proceeded to tell us “You don’t look like it”. I wish I was a little more prepared for this, so it’s just something to look out for.

Photos and videos; If you’re anything like me, you’ll take thousands of photos because you won’t believe how beautiful this country is. Medsailors hold a weekly Instagram competition and the more creative the shots, the better. Be sure to tag them if your photos and videos, they really appreciate it and you could be in with a chance of winning!

For me, this trip went above and beyond my very high expectations, and the answer is YES I’d do it again in a heartbeat! It’s the perfect balance of relaxation and adventure and shows you the incredible beauty of Croatia whilst still ensuring there’s plenty of opportunities to have fun let your hair down.

Let’s put it this way, I’m already looking at the other itineraries....

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