Some people visit Dubrovnik and never find their way to the Adriatic. Shame really. Just a short boat ride away there are uninhabited islands, snorkelling hot spots, underwater caves and nature reserves just chillaxing in the Croatian sun. Some are so close you could almost swim there. Almost. A ferry, speedboat or sail boat is a far better option. Of course, there’s also the replica 16th century tall ship – if you fancy making quite the island entrance.
If you’d rather not faff with knots, sails, anchors and nautical navigating, the tours come with skippers to guide and entertain you. Having someone to steer is almost as luxurious as the snack, drinks and dry towels they dole out. Of course, if you’re a sea-worthy adventurer, there’s no greater feeling of freedom than charting your own course. Either way, get on the water. You’ll not regret it.
Why take to the water?
Put simply, as the cruise ships dock, you’ll want to be heading in the opposite direction. Dubrovnik’s best bits fill up with passengers looking to get their few hours of ‘must sees’ in. Happily, there’s an archipelago just offshore waiting to welcome you. Yes, the cruisers will want to see them too – so hop aboard a boat early in the morning (before the ships dock) to see the islands at their best. On a small boat tour, you’ll be able to drop anchor in those bays we’ve all swooned over on Insta, swim to deserted beaches and bob gently in sheltered coves. Boat hire in Dubrovnik is simple enough – leaving you free to really roam the coast. Getting out on the Adriatic opens up your Dubrovnik options – and who among us hasn’t got a nautical outfit in their carry on just waiting to be put to good use?
What to see
It’s easy to focus on the islands in front of you as you set sail from Dubrovnik. But don’t forget to look back. The Old Town looks as beautiful as you’d expect from the water. While you’re scanning the horizon, keep them peeled for Dubrovnik’s Game of Thrones locations. Yes, many are within the city’s walls – but there are some coastal sights to tick off your list. After you’re done with Dubrovnik’s man-made architecture, it’s time to turn your attention to nature. Turquoise waters can be found here – when the sun’s shining. Expect pine tree packed islands, steep and craggy cliffs, national parks and tiny island villages. You’ll also spot sea kayakers looking for the hidden beaches only reachable by boat or kayak. Make notes… you’ll need them for when you head out in a kayak yourself.
Dubrovnik’s best boat trips
Island hopping doesn’t only happen in tropical climes. In Croatia, it happens just off the coast of Dubrovnik. An archipelago with 3 inhabited – but car free – islands is just a boat trip away. Dubrovnik Explore like to keep their itinerary fairly carefree. Yes, you’ll tick off the big 3 – Lopud, Koločep and Šipan, but your skipper will also show you hidden spots. If you’ve something specific in mind, they can help with that too. Choose from a half or full day tour. Drop anchor and head inland for some forest exploring or just grab a coffee in one of the island’s villages. Basically this one’s got wiggle room for spontaneity – and that’s what make it the one to take.
Cost: From £525 for a full day, private speedboat excursion.
Karaka Game of Thrones tour
You can’t fail to spot this boat in the bay. A replica of a 16th century traditional Karaka ship – it’s also the host of one of Dubrovnik’s best Game of Thrones tours. If that’s not for you, don’t worry, you can also sail off on an island cruise – or check out the sunset. But it’s the GoT tour that sets this ship apart. Costumes, props – a land and sea exploration of GoT locations and Dragon’s Blood cocktails. Yes, the ship looks a smidge gimmicky, but the experience on board, whichever tour you take, is far from it.
Cost: €53 per person
Private Sunset Cruise
We’ve mentioned peering back at the city from a ferry, but that’s unlikely to be a romance-filled way to see Dubrovnik. Luckily, Rewind Dubrovnik is on hand with one of Dubrovnik’s best boat tours. See the ancient walls looking at their very best – in nature’s natural instafilter. Pinky-orange hues, wine, fruit and a skipper to guide your speedboat along the city walls. Feel the cool summer breeze in your hair as you then zip off to Lokrum Island for snacks and snorkelling. The skipper transforms into a local legend at this point. Not only will they have fresh towels ready – you’ll get to use a Go-Pro to capture your adventure. They’ve thought of pretty much everything. Which, when you’re bobbing in the Adriatic in a speedboat, is very, very welcome. You’ll watch the sun dip behind Koločep Island before heading home. Expect Dubrovnik history, island lore and more from your skipper too.
Cost: €144 for the two hour excursion
Orbzii tip: Naturally, this has couples written all over it. But the price is the same whether there’s 1 of you, or 8 in your group. A great shout for families or a group looking for a great value option.
As Dubrovnik slips from view, you might start to feel a well of FOMO rise up. Quash it immediately because, on this tour, you’re headed for ‘Little Dubrovnik’. Expect all the trappings – stone houses, medieval forts, palaces – even the orange roof tiles. The only difference is, this version of Dubrovnik is on an island chock full of wildlife and places to scamper, relax or snorkel. The tour provides a nice mix of exploring the town on the island, with expertly mooring up in hidden bays you can only reach by boat.
Boat hire in Dubrovnik
Fancy being a skipper for the day? There are plenty of boats to hire in Dubrovnik – and helpfully, they come with or without a captain, depending on how nautical you’re feeling. Adventure Dubrovnik keep their boats suitably ship shape. In every season, except winter, you can book for a half or full day. Take a skipper with you, or not and generally customise your day. Expect to pay around €92 for a 5hp boat for a full day. They can also get you on the water with kayaks and SUPs. They can also take you out in a sailboat – with skipper – for a full day relaxing on the water.
Don’t miss the ferry…
Dubrovnik’s boat trips are undoubtedly a fantastic way to see coastal nooks and crannies you’d never get to – or see by ferry. But – and it’s a big BUT – the many ferries sailing back and forth between the archipelago shouldn’t be dismissed. Cheap and reliable. You’ll still get knockout views from the top deck – and have hours to explore your chosen island. You can even island hop – if you travel at the right times.
Ready to sail the Adriatic coast? Let’s get you exploring those gorgeous coves with the Orbzii app. Pop it on your phone and plan the ultimate Dubrovnik escape.