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Our advice is to explore the Zadar archipelago as much as possible. Why? Because there are really a lot of unique places to see.
Zadar, a wonderful old town, is a cultural, historical and marine centre known as a home to sailing regattas and for its Olympic participants and winners in sailing, such as Šime and Mihovil Fantela, Petar Cupać and others. So, Zadar as a town and the whole area are a sailing point that is not to be missed.
But we wanted to bring you a unique perspective on this beautiful area. We'll not throw around usual descriptions such as it is lovely, and you should visit the monument to the Sun and experience the sunset in the Zadar archipelago. All of these things are sure you already know very well, as Zadar is most known for them. The area is known for its best beaches in Croatia, magnificent islands, bays and coves, and National and nature parks. You name it; the Zadar archipelago has it.
Surely, you have already seen all of the above, or they will soon be experienced on your bucket list. So, what is left in means of a good sailing experience in the Zadar archipelago?
There are hidden places and spots all around the area. Or almost unexplored. But when we say the archipelago, people usually think of the open sea and islands south of Zadar.
We want to bring you some spots and places you must explore "on the other side" if you have already seen the archipelago and want to experience something new and unique.
These places are usually forgotten or rarely visited on the sailing map of Croatia. Some because they are not so close to the main marina of bigger towns but trust us – you will not be sorry.
The Old City of Nin and one of the best beaches in Croatia - Queen's beach
You have never been here? We'll say it just once - this is mandatory. Absolutely. One of the most special little charming places in the Zadar area is one of the oldest towns in the Adriatic and one of the smallest cities in Croatia. Croatian government states that for a place to be proclaimed a city, it has at least 10,000 people in its municipality. For Nin, this is not the case, it has earned its title by being one of the oldest places in Croatia, and it has achieved to be proclaimed a city just because it's the first Croatian Royal city.
Its full unofficial name is the oldest Croatian Royal city of Nin. A long time ago, kings and princes reigned here, and it also has the smallest cathedral in the world, the Church of St. Cross.
As a charming and memorable town, Nin is also well known for one of the most popular and best beaches in Croatia – Queen's beach. This long sandy beach doesn't leave anyone indifferent.
Now, the question is how to sail to Nin? The answer is easy, even though your ailing trip here might take longer than expected. Nevertheless, it's totally worth it. Even if it is just to see one of the best beaches in Croatia.
If you are sailing from Sukošan, for example, you can sail to Zadar and then island Vir and around it and then a bit downward toward the Nin Bay and there you are.
The historical town of Nin, surrounded by magnificent sandy beaches, a crystal clear sea and a splendid view of the Velebit mountain, is something you'll not forget easily.
Bay of Vrsi - beautiful hidden coves with magnificent views
Now, if you sail north from the bay of Nin toward the strait between the mainland and the island of Pag, you'll pass the tiny isle of Zečevo. Just behind Zečevo, on the northern side of the small peninsula on which the village of Vrsi is located, all kinds of nautical spots are waiting for you.
It's been said in the last few years that the beach of Duboka Draga is one of the most beautiful coves and the best beaches in Croatia. It's usually described as hidden – but not so much now. Duboka Draga is breathtaking, with its clear sea and rock formations. A few years ago, it was known only to locals, and today is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the area, deservedly so.
But let us tell you a real secret. This area has other small coves, such as Velika Rasovača, Grmovača or Kukinica, all perfect for swimming and exploring. The whole coastal part is full of small coves, some barely a few meters wide.
All of these other coves are only accessible by boat or by foot from the main road, so they are almost unvisited. Usually, they are used by locals and local fishermen for boat storage and such.
The uniqueness of these coves is that they are almost untouched and provide a sense of peace and quiet. Here, you are entirely surrounded by nature and the sea with Velebit mountain massif overlooking.
And at night, when all is calm, and all goes dark, this area has no light pollution, and the stars here are bright and shiny as you have never seen them before.
Novigrad – one of the most beautiful places in Croatia
Hold on to your sails mast or whatever – as this area has 3 seas, 2 bridges, and a river. And a beautiful canyon. And a fjord-like bay. This kind of place doesn't exist for sure. But it does. And it's said it's only to be visited by the persistent ones. Or the brave.
And the mountain, how we could forget the monumental mountain of Velebit. It's not as it is hard to miss. But maybe it's because we live here and we see it every day, and we are exposed to its beauty all the time, so it's not hard to oversee it sometimes.
The locals jokingly say when they see a motor yacht or a sailboat in the peak season in the Novigrad area: "This one is out of his way." Such a rare sight this is. Why is that? Novigrad's town is unreachable or far away from Sukošan or Zadar and big marinas. That is why this place is perfect for a peaceful and relaxing vacation, but still quite eventful by exploring the best beaches in Croatia and swimming spots.
The Gorge of Novigrad, as it is called, is a place where there are two Malenica bridges connecting the Zadar region with the rest of the country. And it is one of the most beautiful places in Croatia for sure. The road around is quite a long way, and it's sometimes necessary when the solid northern wind “bura” is blowing, and the bridges are closed.
A beautiful canal under the bridges will take you straight to the Novigrad bay, also called the Novigrad sea. Connected with it on the eastern side is the bay of Karin, usually called Karin Sea. So, you see - three seas (together with the Adriatic one).
Novigrad, especially with its fjord-like bay and the castle on the hill, sounds like a made-up place, but – it's real as real can be. It's one of the most beautiful places in Croatia. The bay offers a magnificent view of the town; the sea is clear and filled with fish and marine life. The bay, even enclosed as it is, is sometimes visited by whales and is really unique for the area.
River Zrmanja flows into the Novigrad sea, so sailing in the river's estuary is possible. So, Novigrad is a bit remote, but it can be pretty eventful. The beaches and coves here are mostly undiscovered but are one of the best in Croatia.
Sailing to some of the more remote places takes some time and patience, but the reward, in the end, is worth it. The sailing trip itself, together with the "prize" at the end, all the sailing activities, the views, and the tranquillity - are indescribable.
Trust us, the view and "the road" are better from the seaside. No traffic, no crowds, just plain old sailing and then you throw your anchor and take a swim wherever you like.