The northern part of the Adriatic shores benefits from a healthy climate which has been appreciated since antiquity, not to mention clear and peaceful waters. What draws so many skipper and crews here are the shallow depths which are favorable for water sports and activities such as diving.
Sea & Coast
Officially part of the Mediterranean Sea basin, the Adriatic is the body of water separating the Italian peninsula from the European mainland to the east. The northern corner is divided between Italy and Croatia, with a small portion of coast belonging to Slovenia but it’s also home to some of the most famous spots of the Mediterranean, like Ancona, Venice, Trieste, Rijeka and Split.
An interesting fact about the northern part of the Adriatic is the relative shallow depth of the waters here which rarely exceeds 46m between the promontories of Istria and Rimini. Of course, these depths are more common to lakes rather than open seas, but there is an underwater depression between Sibenik and Ortona, marked on every sailing chart that increases the depth to 180m.
The coastline differs significantly from east to west: on the eastern shore there are many rocky formations that lead to many islands out to along the coast, while on the western shore the general relief has softer features. Even the islands near the Croatian coast have many rocky cliffs abruptly falling into the sea (Kvarner, Dubrovnik, Cres, Kotor), which makes for some spectacular sailing.
The vegetation around the Adriatic basin is very similar to that found along the Mediterranean shores. Particularly on the eastern shore there is lush forest vegetation mainly consisting of coniferous species, whose dark green contrasts with the clear, transparent blue waters (a consequence of the shallow depths of the sea). Species such as cypress, laurel, oleander, tamarisks, mimosas, lemons, almonds and pine trees all thrive in the climate with gentle winters and hot summers. The Italian shores are characterized by the presence of fragrant shrubs locally known as macchia: juniper, sage, heather and rosemary.
The Adriatic Sea climate is famous throughout Europe as being healthy and suitable for holidays. flock here not only for the scenery but to cure respiratory and heart conditions. The mild winters and warm summers create a special climate along the coast that gets increasingly continental the further you head inland. The prevailing winds that affect the community are the bora (northeastern), the sirocco (southern) and the maestral (western).
Culture & History
The shores of the northern Adriatic have long been colonized and inhabited. The Romans were particularly active in the region and most of the important cities today are based on former Roman settlements. Also, the Croatian and Italian coastline is virtually littered with Ruins dating back to Roman times or even older than that.
Among the most well known resorts there are Venice, Split, Triest, Izola, Dubrovnik, Ravenna, Ancona and Rijeka. All of these have a flourishing tourist industry and are well-known among enthusiasts not only for the sailing potential but also for the cultural and historical opportunities here.
An interesting observation would be that the cities on the eastern coast are better preserved and less exposed to modern developments than the ones on the Italian side. So, if you’d like to catch a glimpse of the “old Mediterranean”, the northern Adriatic would be your best bet.
Seamanship & Experience
A great diving site due to the shallow, clear waters, the north of the Adriatic is also a great place for sailing for the same reason. Some of the other reasons you might be interesting to bring your boat here are the inexistent tides, the fair sailing weather during the summer season, the many islands and rugged coastlines which will keep you busy for weeks on end and the many historical vestiges one can encounter on the way.