Sailing on the island of Rab


Penelope Rab

Marine tourism in Croatia is on the rise and the number of boats sailing the Adriatic during summer ever greater. In recent years, yachts belonging to some of the richest people in the world have come to the Adriatic and have visited Rab too, bringing to mind the days when members of the British Royal family stayed here.

Rab is very attractive to sailors. The bays, for daytime anchorage and leisure, the numerous small islands around the island and the favourable winds for those visiting under sail, are the reason why the waters around the island attract boats in the summer. There are two marinas on the island which offer everything sailors need in terms of infrastructure and comfort.

This island lies off the mainland coast of Croatia, 10 miles east of the long island of Cres and six miles south of Croatia’s largest island, Krk. The three-mile wide Paski Kanal separates Rab from the island of Pag to the south. Between the island and the mainland lies the infamous Velebitski Kanal, where winds in excess of 60 knots have been recorded during the fierce northerly winds known as the ”bura”.

The ”bura” has stripped most of the vegetation from the eastern side of the island, but its western side is by contrast green and fertile, with pine forests, olive groves and vineyards. While less frequented than Krk or Cres islands, both of which are easily reached from the international airport of Rijeka, Rab has its fair share of tourism, attracted by its pine forests and sheltered beaches. Most of the island’s main attractions are found in the mediaeval street plan of Rab Town, famous for its churches and bell towers dating back as far as the 12th century.

The Lopar Peninsula at the northern end of the island has over 20 beautiful beaches fringed with pine forests. For the visiting cruiser, the main settlement of Rab Town and its 142-berth marina are to be found on this sheltered western side, whereas eight miles NNW by sea is the larger 247-berth marina of Marina Supetarska Draga. In addition, there are several small harbours and anchorages, mostly along the sheltered west-facing coasts, but with very limited facilities for yachts.