Sailing in Montenegro – Kotor, Herceg Novi and Budva
Montenegro is another amazing sailing spot of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s more mountainous landscapes are a stunning setting for your sailing trip through the narrow bay of Kotor. From West to East: Herceg Novi, the Perast twin Islands, Porto Montenegro, Kotor, Budva and Sveti Stefan are great places to discover for sailing fanatics.
In the montenegrin coast it’s difficult to find good anchorages in coves, especially in the Gulf of Kotor, because of the steep mountains which create strong winds falling off with the air much colder than the Mediterranean sea breeze. The Katabatic, or Bora (local name of that wind) can blow strongly and make moorings impossible to hold. This said, there are terrific anchorages and coves in Montenegro, at least for daytime and in calm weather that offer safe and comfortable moorings.
When to visit
As always in the Mediterranean sea, it’s best to sail in Montenegro out of the High Season (June, July and August).
Where to go – The most important marinas
If you’re sailing from North, starting from Croatian border, the first stopover is Herceg Novi, which is located 4 Nautical Miles North from the entrance of the Gulf of Kotor. This city, built in the 14th century, has a rich history being ruled by the King of Bosnia, Turks, Venetians, French, Austrians and Russian. The town suffered great devastation from the 1979 earthquake but many historic buildings remain and now benefit from the World Heritage Listing. The citadel, at the top of the city has been well restored and offers a great walk. You can easily spend one or two days in Herceg Novi.
The old city is full of small squares related to each other by narrow streets and stairs. The area is dense in vegetation which creates great sceneries: Herceg Novi is like a medieval botanical garden on the Mediterranean coast. Have a coffee on the Herceg Stjepjan square, with its little church in the middle and Palm trees all around; you’ll fully enjoy the spirit and atmosphere of that awesome city The area around Herceg Novi is a great sailing spot for a day in the bay. The coves of Zanjic and Mirista are known for having the clearest waters in this part of the Adriatic. The Habour offers around 30 berths for yachts up to 25 m, and is quite welcoming. You’ll find everything you need, even a few luxury shops in town.
The breathtaking Bay of Kotor, at the bottom of the Gulf of Kotor is certainly among the most beautiful bays in the world. The nicely preserved medieval city of Kotor, listed as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, is surrounded by fascinating mountains that rise well above 1.000m high. The harbour of Kotor is a single long quay where visiting yachts can berth. The view on the city and the mountains in the back is spectacular from the harbour. There is a lot to see in the old city and a lot to learn about the European History as Kotor played an important role in numerous empires and therefore has a rich and diversified heritage. The splendid city wall, narrow streets, tiny squares and the Mediterranean mood make Kotor one of the most memorable stopovers in the Adriatic sea. The old town is full of churches and cathedrals to visit, such as the Saint Triphon Cathedral (Sveti Trifun), a nice piece of Romanesque architecture. The Maritime Museum is also very attractive, you’ll see great pieces (ancient maps, weapons, etc.) of history and learn fascinating stories about Petar Zelalìc, a famous member of the Maltese Knights that made the glory of Boka Kotorska. If you bring kids, they might even like this visit.
There are 2 tiny islands in front of Perast, at the other end (NW) of the Bay of Kotor worth visiting. Gospa od Skrpjela is an artificial island hosting a church. Sveti Djordje also has it’s church. If you ask to the Kotor harbourmaster for instruction to go there sailing and berthing for the afternoon.
Porto Montenegro – Tivat Marina
Porto Montenegro is a luxury yacht marina in Tivat and the first state-of-the-art deep water marina in the Adriatic Sea. There are now 250 secure berths ranging from 12 to 150 metres, with a further 185 in planning. It also features 130 luxury residences, over 20 retail outlets, a yacht club, fine restaurants, lively bars and a wide range of sports and entertainment amenities. Porto Montenegro also provides a 24/7 Yacht Assist experts, who will help you with everything from supplies to technical problem solving.
Projects related to Porto Montenegro also include an 18-hole golf course in the vicinity of Tivat Airport, and a yacht maintenance facility.Once in Porto Montenegro, you can also enjoy the Purobeach Porto Montenegro – a chic beach club. Suspended above the Bay of Kotor, with views of the surrounding mountains and the marina of Porto Montenegro, the 64-meter pool appears to be an extension of the bay. Purobeach features sunbeds, cabanas, a boutique, as well as a lounge area with two bars and a restaurant. Guests arriving by private boat are able to anchor directly next to Purobeach and leave their dinghy at the private pier.
Budva is located 25 Nautical Miles SE of the exit of the Gulf of Kotor, it’s a very pleasant sailing leg. The landscapes in this Part of the Montenegrin coast are quite different from those in the gulf of Kotor. Mountains leave room for long fine sand beaches and the water is clearer and clearer. Budva is kind of a Montenegrin Saint-Tropez. It’s a beautiful and charming old walled city lying in a natural Mediterranean harbour and a lot of fortunate tourists coming during the summer. You’ll spend a great time walking through Budva’s narrow streets and enjoying the Montenegrin version of “La Dolce Vita“.
Tips for sailing trips
8-day round trip through Montenegro
Day 1 : Kotor – Risan
Day 2 : Risan – Herceg Novi
Day 3 : Herceg Novi – Budva
Day 4 : Budva – Ulcinj
Day 5 : Ulcinj – Bar
Day 6 : Bar – Sv. Stefan – Bečići
Day 7 : Bečići – Tivat
Day 8 : Tivat – Kotor
Useful information before leaving
Montenegro and the Bay of Kotor lie within the Mediterranean subtropical belt. While summers are hot and sunny, autumn, winter and spring are rainy seasons. It is the climate type of the Mediterranean but modifications exist in the region. A peculiarity of the littoral Dinarids is the precipitation regime, as at the Bay of Kotor Mt. Orjen receives Europe’s heaviest precipitation. Just as the monsoon rain is seasonally distributed, so too November thunderstorms sometimes pour 2000 liters of water in several days, while August is frequently completely dry. With a maximum discharge of 200 m³/s of water, one of the biggest karst springs, the Sopot spring, is a remarkable indicator of this seasonal variation. Most of the time it is inactive but after heavy rain a remarkable waterfall appears 20 m above the Bay of Kotor.
Two wind systems are noteworthy for their ecological significance: Bora and Jugo. Strong cold downslope winds of the Bora type appear in winter and are most severe in the Bay of Risan. Gusts reach 250 km/h and can lead to a significant fall of temperatures for several hours with freezing events. Bora weather situations are frequent and sailors keep an eye on the mountains as cap clouds indicate an imminent Bora event. Jugo is a warm humid wind and is important as it brings heavy rain. It appears throughout the year but is usually concentrated in autumn and spring. For up to date wind information from Montenegro wisit Windguru.com!
The Bay of Kotor consists of an 11-mile long fiord, entered via a 1.6 mile strait between the headlands of Rt Ostra to the W and Rt Mirista to the E. The bay is composed of several smaller gulfs, united by narrow channels, forming one of the finest natural harbours in Europe.
When approaching the coast of Montenegro you may be contacted by a coastguard or naval vessel so VHF16 must be monitored at all times. If you are contacted, they will require the following information:
- ● Yacht’s name
- ● Owner’s name
- ● Radio call-sign
- ● Vessel’s flag
- ● Vessel’s registered port
- ● Destination
- ● Last port of call
Yachts arriving from south usually clear in at Bar (it is not possible to clear in at Ulcinj). From south, it is possible to clear in at Zelenika, Tivat or Kotor – the latter two after contacting the Zelenika authorities for permission (or at least standby on 16 in case they call you). Announce your arrival as early as possible to the harbour master on VHF16 and proceed directly for check-in.
Required documentation for checking in with the harbourmaster:
- ■ The boat registration papers
- ■ The insurance documents (with third party insurance of at least Euros 800,000)
- ■ Proof of competence such as the ICC or equivalent
You will then be required to complete a crew list on a form supplied. Once the harbourmaster has approved your documents, the crew list will be stamped and you will be issued with a vignette (cruising permit) for the period you require ranging from one week to a year. You then take the completed and stamped crew list together with your passports to the port police for recording your arrival, then finally a copy of the stamped crew list to customs.
Important: there is a speed limit restriction in the entire Kotor bay of 10 kts, and 6kts through the two smaller channels!