Crystal clear waters gently lapped a white pebble shore as dolphins snuck a few hundred yards away.
It may stick out from Bol Island, but Croatia’s Golden Horn beach seemed like it belonged in the balmy Caribbean.
A translucent ocean filled with schools of fish surrounds a triangle-shaped shoreline, backed by verdant trees and rocky hills.
We had made our way here on a 50m superyacht and Bol was just one stop on our ocean-scenic tour of Croatia’s beautiful beaches and historic seaside towns.
Our gleaming Freedom boat has been outfitted with a five-star salon, dining room and on the lower deck a cinema room, as well as 11 en-suite bedrooms.
And with yacht captains able to dock anywhere in Croatia, we had access to some of the most secluded spots in the country, far from the usual tourist chaos.
Until now, such luxury has been reserved for the rich and famous, but we chartered our yacht from charter company Goolets, who offer itineraries for large groups and families from just over 3,000 £ per week. This includes four hours of fuel for the cruise, a full crew, and tea and snacks at 5 p.m.
It’s not cheap, but it puts celebrity-style yachting within reach for those with a bit of cash to spare.
The superstar treatment started from the moment I boarded the glamorous ship.
There was a chief steward smoking my bedding, deckhands shining every handrail in sight, and a talented chef preparing incredible gourmet cuisine.
Over the next four days, we were able to check off much of Croatia off our to-do lists, all from the comfort of our floating hotel.
In Korcula we were told how Marco Polo was supposed to have fallen in love here, while on the coast of Vis we visited the Blue Grotto, a magical sea cave with sparkling blue waters reminiscent of the Disney movie The Little Mermaid.
The real benefit of vacationing this way is that there is no wasted time traveling – while island hopping you can enjoy the gym, swimming pool, hot tub whirlpool and bar on the upper deck of the boat.
BARNACLES ON BOTTLES
We were determined to cram as much as possible into our cruise along Croatia’s impressive Dalmatian coast, but if the lively tours aren’t your thing, there are plenty of laid-back options.
That’s the other beauty of chartering a private yacht – every itinerary is built entirely around you, says Goolets boss Mitja Mirtic.
He said: “When we haven’t had a choice for so long, people like the ability to build their own holiday. And when you come here on these boats, you can visit so many different places that you would probably never see.
He wasn’t wrong. The open-air Moro Beach Bar, on a small island off Korcula, is only accessible by boat and is a far cry from your regular beach bar. Tables spill out onto the pebble shore, with mountain views, and a small wooden hut by the water sells frozen cocktails.
This is the sparkling wine you’ll really want to try. The bar serves Croatia’s Ostreum – stored underwater in an old sunken boat, the bottles are plucked from the ocean and served to guests with barnacles still clinging to the surface of the glass.
Back on the boat, our onboard chefs whipped up deliciously fresh dishes with homemade almond croissants and fluffy cream donuts for breakfast, and fresh gnocchi followed by gooey macaroons for dinner.
Moreover, there is an endless choice of amazing seafood almost everywhere along the Dalmatian coast.
It’s not just five-star food or luxury wines that draw people to Croatia, says Mitja.
“We don’t care about the glitz and glamor of Monaco,” he says. “People come here to relax.”
And that’s what I did. Floating on the sun-drenched Adriatic gazing at the shimmering sea from the upper deck of our superyacht.
COVID: Fully vaccinated travelers whose most recent vaccination was within the last 270 days can enter Croatia without quarantine or testing. Otherwise, proof of a negative PCR test, performed within 72 hours of arrival, or lateral flow, performed within 24 hours of arrival is required.
STAYING THERE: A week on the 11-cabin superyacht Freedom costs £3,090.91 pp, based on two people sharing a cabin. Includes four hours of fuel for the cruise, crew, beach towels, wifi, tea and snacks. Runs from February to October. See goolets.net or call +44-203-318-1079.
GETTING THERE : British Airways flies Heathrow to Split from £52 return. ba.com.