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Anyone who’s ever been to Croatia knows it has a certain splendor that can’t be replicated. I was lucky enough to live there recently, near the stony beaches of Split, where I’d spend my self-designated lunch breaks filling up on the octopus and black risotti you find on every menu, and drinking the ubiquitous dry white wine (you’ll even see it in plastic jugs floating in the waves).

While there is much to love about the relaxed culture of this sunshine-drenched region, much of Croatia’s tourism centers around the Adriatic: Though there are more than 60 islands, only about 30 of them are inhabited, with around 10 that attract crowds. From Dubrovnik where “Game of Thrones” fans cluster, to the party-goers who enjoy Hvar, getting around via boat is the ideal mode of transportation. Hence, the reason Uber now offers the option to call one for pick up, straight from their app.

I’ll admit it, as soon as I saw the option appear in my app, I was more than tempted to check off “Ubering a boat” from my bucket list. A few friends and I decided to take an afternoon to test out the service, and here’s what happened:

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How it works

Meeting pals in the city of Vis and need to get there, say, an hour ago? Much like the land version, UberBOAT in Croatia can get you (and your travel buddies) from point A to point B, from home to vacation, or from business meeting to dive bar. You can order a boat of your choice (either small or large) from Split Airport or the Old Town city center. You can also hitch a ride to the glamorous Elaphiti Islands from Dubrovnik’s downtown. Most boats include bottled water, and all have a life jacket, so you don’t have to sweat over safety.

Since we didn’t have any place to be, per se, but rather wanted to soak up the sun and see a new island before we took off to Prague, my pals and I selected UberBOAT’s second option: Tours. Here, you have a boat for a full or half-day, and it’s up to you on where you want to go, what you want to see and what you want to experience.You have three stellar tracks to choose from, all departing from Split. Regardless whether you want to venture to Blue or Green Cave, see the Golden Cape or the Blue Lagoon, your skipper can guide you around the area. You are also welcome to bring aboard anything you wish—alcohol, snacks, speakers—you name it.

Is this a cost-effective way to travel?

As thrilling as it might be to write postcards to brag to your pals back home about Ubering a boat, if you’re pinching pennies, this is not always the most cost-effective way to travel, at least for island hopping. Many tour companies in the Split area offer all-day excursions for under $100, while the cheapest option for UberBOAT for 8 people will run you more than $400. That being said, there is the perk of privacy: When you hire UberBOAT, it’s yours to do as you please for the afternoon, allowing you to see the sights you’d like to see and take your time, instead of being on a schedule.

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When you’re Ubering a boat in the traditional sense, aka, just to get to an island to meet pals, you’ll want to recruit others to split (no pun intended) the cost of your ride with you. The closest island to Split is Trogir, and the trip cost around $192. This boat can fit up to eight people, so technically, you could pay just $24 (which is less than a ferry) if you recruit a group.


Is the journey scenic?

Cost aside, there’s no better way to devour and savor the beauty of Croatia than from the tailwind of a speedboat. We decided to explore the Blue Lagoon, with its cascading light blue, dark blue and green-tinted waters, for our first stop. Here, we discovered hermit crabs, sea urchins and a local coffee shop. Known as one of the best places to snorkel and scuba dive, we were able to catch a glimpse of colorful sea creatures and under-the-water life, too. We then ventured to Trogir, stopping for lunch and taking in the scenery. The ride itself, since it’s on a speedboat, is pretty bumpy, but inarguably fun. Our captain was more than happy to go over the highest waves, allowed us to select our music and lay in the sun for as long or as little as we wanted. The autonomy made conversation easy and laughter frequent, exactly what you need for an afternoon at sea.

The downsides

There are still some kinks in the system for UberBOAT; we struggled to connect with our skipper to get the ride started. Because you’re on the sea itself and likely, many tourists are using different phone plans, service can be tricky. Because we pre-booked a trip, as opposed to a single transfer, we were already on the boat when we attempted to connect my Uber service with the boat. After floating for about 30 minutes, we figured out a solution and were on our way, but definitely worth noting that you’re on island time, as opposed to the fast-paced, on-demand service you might be used to back in your hometown. For transfers, you should also adopt the laid-back, usually-late lifestyle of the Croatian culture, allowing at least half-an-hour for your boat to arrive at the port.

Overall? If you’re on vacation and not in a hurry, Ubering a boat is worth the experience.

One last pro tip: Pack a waterproof bag so your phone doesn’t go overboard mid-sail.

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Tagged: Europe

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