Sailing Croatia with Children: What to Pack

03.12.2018. Sailing tips

A sailing holiday in Croatia can be a tremendously fun adventure for the whole family and a wonderful opportunity for both children and adults to explore, learn and have a great time together. Sailboats are an exciting and stimulating new environment for kids, and being included in the daily business of sailing and allowed to contribute to the various tasks aboard can be a particularly rewarding experience for them. For older children, the Croatian coast and islands provide countless opportunities to get acquainted with the local culture and history and to learn about the many natural attractions along the shore. However, if the children are small and the sailing days long, extra considerations are necessary to ensure that the family cruise goes smoothly and that everyone has an enjoyable holiday.   

Tips for a cruise holiday in Croatia

  • Take the family on an all-day adventure in Croatia’s best-known water parks, Istralandia near Novigrad, Aqua Colors in Poreč, Aqua Park Čikat on Lošinj island and Solaris in Šibenik
  • Relax on the family-friendly beaches of Vis island and explore the famous Blue and Green Caves on the islands of Biševo and Ravnik
  • Set sail to Rovinj and Poreč to explore the nearby caves, dinosaur parks and beautiful beaches
  • Visit the Greeting to the Sun and the Sea Organ in Zadar to enjoy a mesmerizing play of lights while listening to the music of the waves at sunset
  • Sail to Split and visit the Split Aquarium and the Magic City indoor playground, and go on a ride in a semi-submarine to enjoy the views from an underwater observatory

Skippered charters are the best option for families with children because otherwise, a vacation may just turn into a series of chores, from navigating the boat and keeping an eye on the sea to preparing food and keeping kids entertained. Having someone to tend to the sailing is enormously helpful and allows everyone to relax and simply enjoy the cruise.

Children’s age and interests should be considered when deciding on a sailing area and plotting the itinerary. While adults tend to enjoy long days on quiet, isolated beaches, teenagers may prefer places with shops, good Wi-Fi and great photo opportunities. Smaller kids are usually most interested in swimming, snorkelling and playing on the beach, so it is important to plan for frequent stops and keep sailing distances short.

Catamarans are an excellent choice for family cruises because they offer more level space for kids to play. They are also more stable in the water, which helps to avoid seasickness. With bareboat charters, it helps to have more adults on board so that there is always someone watching the kids while others are engaged in boat handling. 

Family sailing holidays in Croatia

Croatia is a wonderful destination for a sailing holiday with children because distances between anchorages are generally short, which leaves families plenty of time for fun beach activities and allows them to explore a different destination each day.  Kids may be excited to spend time on a boat at first but, once the novelty wears off, they may get cranky, so limiting sailing time to 2-3 hours a day is essential to a good family holiday experience. 

While onboard, kids must have a range of options for play and various activities to keep them from getting bored. New books, toys, crayons, inflatable bathtubs, board games, music, portable DVD players and tablets are only some of the options to keep them occupied between destinations. 

Safety tips for sailing with children

Children tend to move around a lot and, while they will usually not hop overboard, they may slip when the boat makes an unexpected movement. Lifeline netting can help ensure that they don’t slip under the railing or fall off the boat, and it also prevents various objects from being lost to the waves.   

As a precaution, kids must wear a life jacket when they are on the deck or standing next to the railing, especially when the winds get stronger. Kids generally do not enjoy wearing the jackets, but must never be left unsupervised without them. A harness line fastened to an attachment point near the exit from the accommodation area, as close to the center of the boat as possible, is an excellent solution for toddlers and smaller children. Safety lines are usually no more than 2m in length and allow some freedom of movement while providing assurance that the wearer will stay attached to the boat. Safety lines can also come in handy for grown-ups when they are working in an exposed position, as they can prevent them from falling overboard.   

Car seats and portable high chairs are extremely helpful with babies and small children, especially while anchoring, docking and doing other activities that require special attention. Kids may not mind being strapped for short periods of time, especially if they have a good view.

The sun is another factor to consider when planning a sailing holiday. Spending time on a boat is the fastest way to get sunburned, so packing lots of sunscreen and applying it generously and often helps prevent the discomfort, rashes and other associated unpleasantness. Hats, sunglasses, and long-sleeved tops are a must on sailing trips. 

The beaches along the Croatian coast and the islands do not generally have long stretches of shallow water, which makes water wings, float jackets, puddle jumpers, and other inflatable swimming aids mandatory, especially for toddlers. Water shoes are also advisable because the beaches tend to be rocky. 

With these considerations taken into account, families have an endless range of options for scenic sailing routes and fun things to do in Croatia. The Dalmatian coast has long been a favourite family-friendly holiday destination in Europe, with countless secluded bays and coves ideal for a beach holiday, as well as a rich offering of historic attractions, nature parks and vibrant party destinations. A yacht charter allows families to explore a little bit of everything and make sure that every family member has a relaxing, memorable and fulfilling experience.