Dubrovnik Boat Rentals: Review of Our Full Day Excursion to the Elaphiti Islands

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What a truly amazing day! If you’re reading this because you’re in Dubrovnik and thinking of using Dubrovnik Boat Rentals, we can save you a lot of time and tell you: stop thinking about it and just book it up now! If you want a bit more detail on this amazing experience, read our full Dubrovnik Boat Rentals review here…

There are lots of boat excursion operators around Dubrovnik; virtually everywhere we went there are reps trying to sell you their tours to and around the nearby islands (typically the Elaphiti islands or Mljet).

View from the back of our Dubrovnik boat rental
Heading out to the Elaphiti Islands on board our Dubrovnik boat rental

With all the views from our apartment across the bright blue sea and the beautiful islands, we were really keen on doing a boat excursion and had spoken to several of the sales-people and collected a load of leaflets.

We were on the verge of booking one and just happened to check TripAdvisor for Dubrovnik boat rentals reviews, only to find that – one after the other – they were full of terrible reviews!

People claiming to have had the “worst experience”, some complaining of being left behind on islands, others even claiming they got food poisoning! Many of them complaining about being crammed in to boats with barely enough space to move.

We lost our enthusiasm for the whole idea after this, until we found a different type of operator – one where you hire a boat privately to yourself for the entire day and are given a full day tour all to yourself by the boat hire company’s skipper.

The company we found was called Dubrovnik Boat Rentals, run by a chap called Denis

Dubrovnik Boat Rentals boat in Srebreno harbour
The rental boat we had was small but the perfect size for all five of us, with space to spare.

This sounded much better – but was of course much more expensive. We emailed the company asking for prices and had a swift reply from Denis, who clearly explained all the different options.

We were looking at about €380 for the whole family for a private Dubrovnik Boat Rentals day excursion, compared with about €75 for the public excursions – a pretty big expense when we were already on a tight budget having spent so much on the holiday in the first place!

But if you find yourself in the same situation as us, counting up the remains of your holiday money and trying to weigh up whether it’s a stretch too far or worth splashing out on – you really must choose the latter and go for it! We’ll have forgotten about the costs of this day after not too long, but the memories of the day we had will stay with us forever! It’s an amazing experience and worth every single penny.

There are a number of boats you can choose from and we went with the smallest, as it was the cheapest, but still big enough to fit seven adults (we had two adults and three children). We selected the option to tour the three ‘Elaphiti Islands’, which are the main islands off the coast of Dubrovnik most popular with visitors.

There is also a choice of a full day or half-day excursion, the half-day being cheaper. Please do not choose the half-day option! You will honestly regret it because the day will be over way too soon and you won’t get to enjoy the full experience that the full day offers.

The conditions around the Dubrovnik coastline and Elaphiti Islands were absolutely perfect for seeing them by boat rental

Denis arranged for his skipper to come and pick us up at the nearest place to where we were staying – so we headed to the beach at Srebreno for 9am, where the skipper (Tommy) was waiting for us in the boat next to the public pontoon.

Tommy was instantly friendly and likeable and was keen to do whatever we wanted. He asked if there were any places in particular we wanted to go but, not knowing the area at all, there weren’t. We just asked him to to take us wherever he recommended and he suggested an itinerary of places to visit that would include swimming spots, beaches, popular places on the islands and a stop for lunch.

We started with a quick tour around the edge of the Old Town Dubrovnik, viewing the famous town from the sea and checking out a few impressive sights including an enormous natural cave with a beach that can only be reached from the water.

The big cave near Dubrovnik. Check out how clear and blue the sea is here!

The sea was incredibly calm and the boat skipped along creating a cooling breeze. With the sun sparkling off the clear blue water, we already knew – within the first five minutes – that we’d made the right decision hiring this boat and that it was going to be well worth the money.

Tommy took us to a few other nearby spots of interest, taking us in to some secluded caves in the cliffs, showing us a couple of the small un-inhabited islands – all the while telling us interesting facts and history about the area.

We were in and out of hidden places no public boat excursion would go to

Our first stop-off point was on the island of Kolocep, where Tommy dropped us at a harbour wall beside a beach. Here we were free to walk off around the island, spend time at the beach or the beach-front coffee shop. He recommended a short 5-minute walk up a track that leads to the top of some dramatic cliffs with amazing views, so we did this.

The views were indeed absolutely stunning and gave some great photo opportunities. We headed back down to the beach, which was the first beach we’d visited in Croatia that wasn’t crammed full of people, and spent some time cooling off in the sea.

Tommy sat waiting for us in the beach-side coffee shop and, when we were done and ready to move on, we went and found him and got back on the boat ready to set off to the next stop.

Views from the cliffs at Kolocep

The whole day was completely dictated by what we wanted to do. Tommy was happy to let us spend as long as we wanted at each place and was willing and able to let us do whatever we liked. We spotted one of the public boat excursions passing us, with perhaps a hundred people all crammed on to one boat and realised just how much better this day was than if we’d have gone on one of those.

The boat had an ice-box full of drinks, including soft drinks and beer, which we were free to help ourselves to. He had towels we could use and even snorkels and diving masks. Everything had been thought of to ensure we had an amazing time.

The highlight of the day for us came next, as Tommy said he’d take us to a swimming spot. It was a secluded cove with the clearest, brightest blue water we’ve ever seen. It wasn’t even accessible by land, you can only get here by boat and there were only a couple of other boats here. We had all this to ourselves and it was like some kind of paradise!

Amazing blue seas and totally secluded swimming spot not even accessible from the land

We spent ages here jumping and diving off the boat, swimming to the shore, snorkelling, following fish around and just relaxing on the boat. It was just absolutely amazing.

Unbelievably, it was getting close to lunchtime by now – the time just seemed to go so fast as we were having so much fun. This is why you shouldn’t do the half-day excursion, it would be nowhere near long enough for you.

So we headed off to the next island, which is Lopud. Here there are loads of restaurants along the seafront and Tommy dropped us off, recommending a restaurant to us which already had a table reserved for his guests.

It turned out we didn’t actually eat there because it was a bit more expensive than some of the others and we were fast running out of money on this holiday! So we picked another one nearby, a bit cheaper but still had a delicious lunch.

When we were done, we had more of a walk around the island before heading back to find Tommy waiting for us close to where he’d tied up the boat.

Lunch on the island of Lopud

Then it was on to the third of the three Elaphiti islands, Sipan. Again Tommy dropped us off, giving us some advice on places to visit and was happy to wait for us by the boat for whenever we wanted to return.

We found a beautiful, secluded beach here and sat and swam for a while. But we were just loving being on the boat more than being on the islands so before long we headed back and Tommy suggested taking us to another swimming spot back on the second island, next to ‘Sunj’ beach, which is one of, if not the, only genuinely full sand beach around Croatia.

We got to spend some more time here, swimming to shore, laying on the sand and jumping off the boat in to the sea again.

Another beautiful, secluded beach on the island of Sipan. Such a change from the main beaches around Dubrovnik itself, which were extremely packed in the middle of the summer holiday season

All too soon, the end of the day was approaching. It was fantastic to have a full eight hours out on a boat that we had completely to ourselves in some of the most amazing scenery, beaches and sea conditions you can possibly imagine. Just so much better than the public boat tours which, although I’m sure can be fun, can’t possibly be a memorable experience of a lifetime like we were having.

Even on the way back, Tommy was taking us on diversions in to spectacular caves and hidden coves around the coast, making the most of his local knowledge that he’s gained from his lifetime living and boating around this area.

Eventually we made it back to where we’d first started and Tommy dropped us off one final time before disappearing off in to the sunset.

We’d had such an unbelievably good day. It was actually a completely magical, truly memorable experience that we loved every single second of. Everything about the day was perfect. The boat was exactly the right size for us, the skipper was one of the friendliest, nicest people you could imagine, the places we visited were out of this world and the whole service we felt we’d received from Dubrovnik Boat Rentals was absolutely 100% first-class.

If you’re visiting Dubrovnik, you really need to get out on the sea to make the most of your visit and experience the true beauty of the place  – and there can surely be no better way to do so than with a private boat excursion with this company. Even if you do nothing else whilst in Dubrovnik, you should make the time to do this, you won’t regret it!

Details you’ll need

We found Dubrovnik Boat Rentals via their website here: http://www.dubrovnikboatrentals.com/

Speak to Denis (who speaks perfect English) – it’s his business and he’s very helpful.

Don’t just take our word for it, he’s got over 350 very positive Dubrovnik Boat Rentals reviews on Tripadvisor here.

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