In the Fall print issue of The Window, we got an inside look at the Croatian summer escape of designer Lucian Rees Roberts and his architect husband Steven Harris. Our interest in the region piqued, we set out to explore more of Croatia’s rugged, island-scattered coastline.

Luckily, I had already planned a late-August adventure on one of Sailing Collective’s weeklong voyages around Croatia’s Dalmatian Islands, one of the most famous sets of islands in the Mediterranean. Sailing Collective is a boutique travel company that hosts sailing journeys worldwide, each skippered by experienced captains who curate the entire experience—from intel on the best local eateries to revealing hard-to-access swimming coves.

Our home for the week was Lady Milla Ana, a Hanse 575 sailboat with a fully functional kitchen (larger than the one in my East Village apartment!), four sleeping cabins, and plenty of deck space for our crew of 10 to lounge comfortably. We set sail from Trogir, a charming, stone-paved port town that dates back to the 3rd century. It’s home to one of the best food markets I’ve ever encountered, which allowed us to stock up on locally produced delicacies like cured meats, cheese, figs, and ripe veggies—all put to great use by our boat’s guest chef Sandy Ho, who prepared delightfully fresh daily meals.

Below, I share my highlights from a week spent exploring the islands of Brač, Hvar, Sveti Klement and Vis by boat, foot, and scooter.

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The best way to start the day is a morning swim off the back of the boat. The sun was blazing hot as soon as it rose, so frequent dips were a must.

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We spent about half of every day sailing to the next location, stopping for swim breaks along the way. Our time on deck was spent lounging, reading, snacking, napping, and playing dominos all the while enjoying the 360-degrees of breathtaking views.

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What I loved most about Chef Sandy was the surprise meals she prepared between meals. Here, she whipped up a midmorning snack of mixed crostini: cuttlefish in cuttlefish ink, zucchini and tomato sardines, and olive oil brined sardines—all served with rosemary ricotta, lemon, and fresh parsley.

 

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Captain Taylor Collins helped launch Sailing Collective a few years ago. Like many of the captains, he lives in New York when he’s not exploring Greece, Croatia, the Virgin Islands, or Thailand.

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Occasionally we used the boat’s motor, but as soon as the wind picked up we raised the sails. Taylor taught us the basics of sailing, but mostly we sat back and watched him in action.

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The island of Vis was an army base for the former Yugoslavia and only opened to the public in 1989. Known for its local fishing industry, its unspoiled beauty, character, and charm make it the ultimate under-the-radar tourist destination.

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Komiža, located on the island of Vis, was my favorite spot, which was lucky because we spent two nights moored in the harbor, giving us plenty of time to explore the island.

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Komiža is probably the most photogenic place I’ve ever been—every alleyway, doorway, and window was beautiful in its rustic simplicity.

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Many of the doors were painted pale green—the color of the pistachio gelato that I ate at least once a day.

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We spent a whole day exploring the island of Vis on scooters, popping into tiny, family-owned vineyards along the way. Winemaking has a long history on Vis, and many say that the vugava grape used to make the white wines was brought over by the Roman army.

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Easy to stop for a nibble when sweet figs are growing in abundance.

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This was snapped from the back of a scooter as we made our way down the winding road to the Port of Vis across the island from Komiza.

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We left Vis at dawn one morning and sailed to the island’s most famous and hard to access beach, Stiniva. We swam from the boat to the secluded cove, which has the greenest water I have ever seen.

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Sveti Klement is the largest island in the group of islands called Pakleni Otoci, and we spent one night moored in a remote cove called Vlaka. We took the dinghy to shore and hiked up to eat dinner at Konoba Dioni, a charming restaurant located in a family’s scenic home.

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Using a traditional open-air wood-fire grill, the owner prepared us a five-course meal, including three different homemade pastas; a platter of scampi, octopus, and grilled fish; and a meat platter including pork and sausages. Dessert was fresh-cut watermelon and complimentary shots of locally made grappa.

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How can I go back to Uber after this? This was taken on the island of Brač, where Taylor manned the dinghy so we could take turns exploring the family-owned restaurants and hiking across the island to the charming town of Milna.

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Here I am in Milna snapping one of the 1200 pictures I took throughout the trip.

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All local everything: Sandy whips up a late afternoon snack as we prepare for sunset drinks on deck.

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Evening swim off the ‘back deck’ on one of the last nights—the deep blue water looks almost inky. I miss it already!

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Homeward bound. One last snap taken just after sunrise in Split, Croatia’s second largest city, as I made my way to find a taxi to the airport. Back to reality!

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