“They are group of enthusiastic and passionate professionals.”
Written by the people who have explored this stunning region with us, the selection of testimonials below highlights the places, the people and the feelings you are bound to experience on your journey. Honest and unrevised, they give you a clear idea of the personal efforts and virtue which go into crafting each individual itinerary and have over time become the trademark of travelling with Secret Dalmatia.
Dobar dan, Natasa,
we are home. we enjoyed our trip to croatia very much. i’d be happy to give you feedback.
first, i’d say our transport vehicles were awesome, very comfortable and our drivers were great, always prompt and enjoyable.
we really loved rovinj and liked the bike ride on the parenizana railway, it was a lot of fun and the countryside was very pretty. probably could have skipped the tour of rovinj though.
plitvice lakes was an absolute zoo by the afternoon hours. my recommendation would be to start that as early as possible, because it’s almost impossible to enjoy the beauty by noon time. thankfully our guide, marijan, handled it really well and got us around in a way that we avoided the crowds as much as possible. on our way out the lines on the boardwalk were wall to wall people.
as for the hike in paklencia, that was a disappointment, but sadly, my fault. i had wished we could have done a hike that was in quiet place away from the crowds, off the main entrance. we basically walked on a trail through the woods that wasn’t very pretty and it was crowded with people heading to other trails off the main path. i know marijan was trying to keep it low level because of my back. maybe there wasn’t a trail that was easily accessible to make the hike shorter that would showcase the views that i had wanted to hike. :(
Krupa river was amazingly beautiful and i would recommend this WAY over plitvice lakes. it rained and was very flooded so we couldn’t do the entire planned hike all along the river, but we still loved it.
Lunch with tatiana in trogir was one of our favorite experiences. We loved them and the food was amazing. i ate things i never would normally eat. Trogir itself though was very touristy and i’d avoid it if it weren’t for that lunch.!
Split was awesome, and we wished we’d stayed longer. The hotel manager was absolutely hilarious! loved that place.
Loved brac island and wished we had stayed there over hvar. The villages were exceptionally pretty. We could have done a day of just visiting villages by bike or car. the hike to the monastery was pretty cool as well.
Hvar was a bit too hectic for us, but we enjoyed the hike to the village and the lunch. Hotel adriana was our least favorite. the rooms were tiny, almost too small for 2 people. I wished we had done the sea kayaking in pakleni islands, not looked amazing, but we need another day for that. It would have been too aggressive to do that along with the hike in one day, but i sometimes overbook myself trying to cram it all in. also, i thought kayaking would have been tough for me with my back issue.
Korchula was our favorite island, and we liked the hotel a lot. they made us an amazing lunch for our hike. st. Ilija hike was great. our guide Damir adapted the hike for me, giving us several options so that we were still able to see the beauty of the top of the mountain, but keeping it a bit shorter and not so much uphill. he did a great job.
The cycling and lunch with Mario was unbelievable!!! our favorite thing on the whole trip. the bike ride was so spectacular and uncrowded. we couldn’t believe our eyes. thank you so much for organizing that!!!!! the food was so delicious, wild boar with homemade gnocchi. i’ve never eaten that and it was sooooo good. Such a memorable day.
Missed the kayaking in Dubrovnik, again, thought it would be tough on my back. absolutely thought the city was gorgeous, but so crowded. Shelby and i got out at 6am one morning to walk the city and take pictures in solitude. that was the best idea. we were the only ones out and about except for the garbage collectors and workers! our photos were so great. this hotels also great. very roomy and comfortable.
So, all in all, we really enjoyed our trip. had i not had my back injury i think a few things would have been better, but i’m just glad i was able to go on the trip, as i wasn’t sure i’d make it. i will recommend you guys to anyone who asks. you did a great job!
Thanks for your email. We are finally getting settled back into our usual routine! We had a wonderful trip--so many good memories. We were very happy with all of your arrangements. Each guide was special in their own way. Tim (driver from Vienna to Slovenia) made us feel very comfortable and the drive went by quickly since we chatted almost the whole way. Tim and Robert connected over US Basketball, among other things. Stacia (please excuse my spelling) was warm and welcoming and she gave us a great tour of Ljubljana, including a few places familiar to her personally, and that we would never have visited otherwise. On our last day, Luca gave us a fabulous trip to Lake Bled, etc. He went out of his way to provide a perfect day (including rowing us out to the island), and modifying the day to include a ride up the gondola at the ski area. He was extremely knowledgeable about the area and an expert on all things outdoors! The day we spent with him was a real highlight of the trip, and was a nice change of pace from all of the "city" touring we had done. The Hotel Cubo worked out very well--perfect location for walking to the restaurants, etc. Almost forgot our guide in Vienna (Vipka, I think?). She was also excellent and very energetic, so that we enjoyed ourselves in spite of the rainy weather we experienced for both tours. Throughout the trip, we felt like we learned so much about the culture, people and history of the area, and this is what we love about traveling to new places.
Thanks again for all of your help!
Al and I have so many wonderful comments to make about our trip with Secret Dalmatia, I am not sure where to start. I guess from the beginning... I emailed and called Allen (the owner) to see if we were a good fit for his company and the services they provided. He directed me to Mariana Boko- travel designer. She listened to our wish list and offered several suggestions for me to review. I like to be involved in the process. She was wonderful with our conversations during the planning helping us to make this trip a memorable one. From reading other reviews, I knew a few definite experiences that we wanted to have. But as we went along on our two week vacation, we were surprised with special, one of a kind, experiences. Whether it was the wineries chosen, olive oil tastings, cooking class (Chef Tatiana-Trogir), truffle stop, or exploring along the coast. For us we really like down time and some days to ourselves. Mariana created a perfect blend between sight seeing, fun experiences, and our own time to do our own thing. We have done several personal tours, one of our best was to Asia and I wasn't sure if we would come close to their expertise. But Secret Dalmatia DID!! Key reasons are their attention to detail, providing consistent and unique personal experiences. Additionally, their guides are hand picked and it truly shows. Allen, has done a great job in selecting the best group of people to showcase his country. Everyone touched our heart and soul... we want to go back!
The hotels were all great for different reasons, if we had to pick one it would be Hotel Lemongarden. Not only great design, but practicality and function was taken into account (lighting, storage, comfort). Also, their service was personable and warm. Our second favorite hotel was Stancija Meneghetti, which has a beautiful property, a wonderful restaurant, and top notch service. We wish our room had better storage space and lighting but we would stay here again. The next hotel was Hotel Judita. Andrija and his staff make this hotel sparkle.
Next up guides... OH WOW! I have to mention each one because they were such an important part of this trip! Each guide was well versed in history, although the best part to us was hearing their various perceptions depending on their varying backgrounds and past experiences. Being able to share ideas made us feel more like friends than someone just passing throughout their country. The first guide was Mathias (Istria), he made sure that we knew that it was our tour from the very beginning. He was thoughtful in all he would say and do. The next guide was Natase (Split), she never rushed the tour... she didn't mind spending extra time with you if needed, after the tour we had a chance to chat and laugh like we were old friends with Andrija. A highlight for us! Next comes Dom (Brac Island), He took us on a hike. He was very prepared, experienced, and even had a walking stick for me! I had gotten hurt in Peru so the walking stick was a blessing! Besides being an expert at what he does, we enjoyed his personality and company very much. He took us to see Senjkovaic Winery for wine pairing. This was a true treat. The owners, Sasha and Madalena, were just a delight. Madalena is the chef and we feel she incorporates the three elements of cooking that are the most important. These are taste, creativity, and presentation! She is so talented! For us it was our best food experience in all of Croatia. Our next guide was Mario, his enthusiasm and love for what he does was amazing to watch. Meeting his family, eating fresh food in his home, and watching him grow his grapes was interesting. The last guide was Maris (Dubrovnik), she is so polished and well spoken, she makes history come to life... I could go on and on with my adjectives.
From my comments, I think you see a reoccurring pattern.... guides were knowledgeable, personable, warm, fun, and not boring. We were on the road a lot and with each driver, we felt safe (Goran, Tony, Phillip, and others just for transfer). They were all very professional. Our boat trips were the same level as everything else on our tour. Mariana, again thank you for making this trip one that we will keep in our hearts and memories for a lifetime. So glad that we had a chance to get coffee and go shopping! I always try to support designers and local businesses. I did find a few Croatian treasures along the way (Kawa and Marco Art). Hope to return!
-Charlene and Al Malaluan
If you are looking to visit Croatia, stop your research right now.
We have found the most knowledgeable, passionate and caring agency when it comes to traveling in Croatia. Secret Dalmatia has the experience of a life time waiting for you. There's really no reason to look or read any further, but if you must, here is our story. We came to Croatia for a 10 day holiday planned by Dubravka. My wife spent many hours and many days doing her homework. After corresponding with Dubravka a few times, she knew she was the one to book our vacation with. She is truly a gifted individual. Smart, knowledgeable and sweet all rolled into one.
We started our trip in Zagreb. We stayed at the Esplanade Hotel, which was a old world, larger intercity hotel. The room was very nice and the location was perfect. They also provided a very nice and extensive breakfast. In Zagreb we did a food and history tour with Renata. It was a nice mix of history and local food tasting.
Next we were off to Plitvice Lakes and a guided tour with Mario. Although the weather was less then ideal, Mario made the whole experience into a ray of sunshine. It is a real natural treasure that is worth a visit, rain or shine. Leaving Plitvice we proceeded to our next destination, Split. Enroute the skies began to clear and the anticipation mounted. Upon arrival in Split we checked into Hotel Judita.
It is a small boutique hotel were service is 5+ stars. The hotel manager, Andre, was one of the nicest and caring persons I have ever met. My daughter was having some stomach issues at this point of our trip and we were very concerned. I can't even describe in words how much help and guidance this man provided my family. He set up an appointment with a specialist and helped us every step of the way. He even went to the local store to pick up special tea and biscuits for my daughter. I can not say enough about Andre. I will never forget what he did for us. After my daughter was feeling better we set off on a walking tour with Natasha. She too showed her concern for my daughter and did everything possible to make her comfortable. By the end of the tour she felt like family.
After the walking tour we were off to Trogir and lunch with chef Tatjana. Tatjana and her husband welcomed us into their home and cooked us a delightful authentic Croatian meal. She even made a rice and potato soup in an attempt to settle my daughter's stomach. Everyone again trying to make every aspect of our trip as perfect as possible.
The next day was one of our most adventurous. It was supposed to have been a cycling tour of Dalmatian Hinterland. Unfortunately the weather was not ideal in that area so Dom, our cycling guide, made some last minute changes and we went in another direction. Although, I feel my wife and I are in pretty good shape for our age, the course turned out to be a little too challenging. However, that was no problem for Dom, the wonder guide. He gave us some options and one of them worked out really well. After challenge solved, Dom brought us to one of the most beautiful overlooks I have ever seen. There he set up some tables and chairs and brought out a picnic lunch fit for kings (and queens). The view, food and the company made for one of the most memorable moments of the whole trip. Thank you, Dom.
Next off to Hvar, a most beautiful island. Arriving under the Adriatic sun, the inlet was as picturesque as a postcard. We checked into the Adriana Hotel, which we enjoyed immensely. The location and views were simply outstanding. Ana, our guide in Hvar was another delight. She gave us a pleasant walking tour in town and escorted us to Stari Grad were we met our host, Marta. The lunch he prepared for us was a feast for the eyes, nose and especially mouth. The love and passion he put into that meal was remarkable.
The last stop on our trip was to Dubrovnik. Here we met up with our guide and winery owner, Mario. Mario is a special person. Passionate about food, wine and his heritage. He is so in love with his country and family. His family provided us with food and wine, which was prepared with love and pride. The experience of talking and spending the day with Mario was wonderful.
Once again I can't say enough about the hard work and attention to detail provided by Dubravka. She is a sweet and caring. Thanks to you all for making this trip to Croatia one of our best family vacations ever. We will not soon forget you all.
It is a pleasure to provide our feedback:
Bottom line, our experience could not have been better. A perfect vacation. Every detail of our itinerary was thoughtfully planned and flawlessly executed. We especially appreciated the chance to interact with so many special local people. Natasha in Split, our day shopping and cooking with Tatiana and the day with Mario were very special. We learned, laughed and thoroughly enjoyed our time with each of them
The Spirt Of The Sea was a perfect match for our group. A beautiful yacht with an extraordinary crew. Captain Goran and his crew exceeded our expectations on every level. The food and service could not have been better.
We give our highest recommendation to Secret Dalmatia and travel planner Marianna Boko to anyone thinking of visiting Croatia.
Hi Mariana and Secret Dalmatia team,
Thank you all for planning and delivering a wonderful vacation that exceeded our expectations! The hotel rooms were very roomy and nice with stunning or charming views and in great locations. The drivers were safe and so informative and we really appreciated the comfortable cars. The Croatian people were friendly and the country was amazingly scenic and interesting. Over and over on our trip we said how glad we were that we went with Secret Dalmatia.
Thanks again, we'll gladly recommend you.
Cathy and Dave
My wife and I decided to use Secret Dalmatia to help us plan and execute a trip to Croatia for our Honeymoon. We wanted to travel to several places and were hoping to have some authentic experiences. The logistics and wading through the usual tourist trap excursions felt extremely daunting.
Luckily we were able to get on the phone with Ivana at Secret Dalmatia and explain in detail everything we were looking for out of our two-week honeymoon. From this conversation Ivana was able to construct a full itinerary of activities. She was incredibly prompt with emails so we were able to hone the experience, picking and choosing which adventures we wanted and leaving ourselves enough empty days to explore on our own. Furthermore it seemed that Ivana had access to and relationships with a wide variety of hotels (including luxury spots ideal for the occasion) and interesting experiences with welcoming locals. The best part was that all the getting to-and-from was totally taken care of. We didn’t have to do any thinking on that front. All transfers were planned by Secret Dalmatia, weather by private car, private yacht, via tour guide, or public ferry - so that we just showed up and enjoyed the journey.
Secret Dalmatia uses an app called Vamoos to clearly lay out the itinerary on a daily basis. This was a great help at reminding us what was planned for each day, including any dinner reservations we had asked Ivana to help us make before arriving. We found this to be an invaluable resource, especially for knowing when to be where needed for all transfers. Every thing was perfectly prompt, so that guides and transfers happened exactly when listed on the app.
The one downside of our trip was that we ran into some bad weather, unusual for the month of May in Dalmatia. This caused some rainy days, but Ivana was immediately available to help adjust any experiences affected by the bad weather, and when we were forced to cancel one of our excursions she reimbursed us the full cost of the event.
We would highly recommend experiencing Croatia through Secret Dalmatia - especially if you are able to spend the afternoon with Mario visiting his winery tucked away on the Dalmatian Peninsula, or take the cooking class with the delightful Tatiana at her home in Trogir.
Thanks again Ivana.
We have a wonderful time and you and Secret Dalmatia made our trip memorable and wonderful
Thanks for a GREAT arrangement of travel, places, and guides
We will long remember the entire trip
The hotels, the places, all of it were even better than we could imagine
Thanks and my best, Robert
We are still considering the yacht. Thanks for sending. We look look at it this week. Also, my apologies for never writing our review of Secret Dalmatia. Here goes ;
My husband and I were referred to Secret Dalmatia by close friends and boy were we glad we followed their lead. Our agent, Dubravka was nothing short of perfect. From our initial emails where we brainstormed about our hopes and expectations to her flawless planning of our trip , Dubravka was a superstar. Each day was so well planned, the tours were interesting, the sights were spectacular and we truly felt we were able to leave with a deeper understanding of Croatia and it’s fascinating culture and history. We have very specific food restrictions and once again Dubravka tailored each dining choice to our needs. She was even able to arrange for us to have 2 different meals cooked in a local’s home. I think for us , the best example we can give to demonstrate Dubravka’s level of commitment to her clients was the day that we had planned to take a full day boat trip. Unexpectedly , the weather turned and rain was predicted. Dubravka came up with several other options, spoke to us many times the night before and then spoke to the boat’s captain each hour to determine if the trip was advisable. As it turns out, we switched islands, sailed in a different direction and had a wonderful, sun filled day. Dubravka stayed in touch with us throughout our entire trip and checked to make sure we were happy at all times. Our only regret is that Dubravka cant plan all our other trips around the world because when she is on your team, you can breathe deeply knowing you’re in for perfection.
Beth and Jason Rosenthal NYC
well we are home after our amazing trip to your beautiful country. Branton and I thought about our tour and ran through in our minds the things we requested way back when we filled in our trip form - "dinners we like to find our own little restaurants and bars for drinks like locals. free time from 4pm day trip to islands country drives, local markets, small town coffee shops, seafood" I think we also didn't want to be loaded down with Cathedrals, monuments etc, but wanted off the tourist track and head to the hills.
Well we got all of this and so much more. The hotels were just amazing, meeting all our expectations and all were very well located for us to explore after our days touring and free time.
The vehicles and drivers were exceptional, clean and prompt and always cheery to start our day. The boat trips were fun, exciting and guides and drivers terrific and fell into our men's way of thinking very quickly with a beer on hand and a wine and snacks for later.
We especially loved our day in the country visiting the winery and the families home. The wine was terrific and food great....so much it just kept coming, loved this day so much. Also one day that will stay in our minds was visiting the family home and have fabulous meal prepared for us by the Aussie/Croatian chef, she was great, lots of fun, laughs, good food and wine.
We would like to thank you once again Dubravka for all your time and effort to create this most memorable trip for us. We will be happy to recommend you and your company to our friends and family. And we wish you well in you career and future travels, hopefully you will get to Australia and enjoy some of our southern hospitality.
Yours Pauline and Branton Woodhead