Testimonials

“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.

Mr. Alfred and Mrs. Charlene Malaluan, USA
Croatia Discovery, Private program

May 2019

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

Mary, Frank and Allison Ortolano, USA
Private Majestic Croatia Tour

May 2019

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.

Hi Mariana,

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.

Cathy and David Grossman, USA
Private Tour of Croatia for 35th Anniversary, Private program

May, 2019

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

Tala Ashe and Raffi Barsoumian, USA
Honeymoon in Croatia, Private program

May, 2019

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.

Mr. Robert & Mrs. Eydie Clement and Mr. Robert & Mrs. Valerie McCormick, USA
Exploring Istria and Northern Croatia, Private program

April, 2019

Mariana

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

Beth and Jason Rosenthal, USA
Private tour of Croatia, Private program

Summer, 2018

Hi Dubravka.
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

Group Woodhead, Stewart, Dukes - Australia
Croatia Explorer, Private itinerary

September 2018

Hi Dubravka,

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

Lindsay and Steven Agar, Canada
Family adventure in Croatia, Private program

August 2018

Hi, our apologies for the delayed email. The kids started school and we resumed back to our busy schedule. We absolutely loved our time in Croatia and cannot wait to return one day.

Dubravka - you had every detailed taken care of which allowed us to have a stress free holiday. We really appreciate all the effort you made to arrange the itinerary. Here is our feedback on the trip.

Zagreb - we really enjoyed staying at the historic Hotel Esplanade. Staying there for the one evening was a nice start to the trip as it allowed us to get rested after a long flight. We were disappointed to know that we did pay for an early check in but were not accommodated upon arrival.

All the chauffeurs were extremely professional. We felt that they were very good drivers and made safe choices (i.e. not speeding, or making abrupt lane changes).

We enjoyed our tour of Plitvice Lakes. I would say we preferred it to Krka NP. The walk along the boardwalk was very lovely and our guide had good alternatives to avoid the crowds. The Krka NP was lovely too but perhaps it was due to the national holiday but it felt extremely busy.

Sibenik - we really enjoyed the visit to the falconry centre near Sibenik. The kids (and parents) found the place very interesting. I would highly recommend it for other families with children.

Split - I think Split was by far our favourite destination on the itinerary. The Hotel Judita Palace was a gem. We really appreciated the location of the hotel and the character. We liked that we were staying in the heart of the old town within walking distance to all the shops and restaurants.

Andrija made us feel very cared for and was available to help us out anytime. He was very thoughtful to provide a bag with towels for our boat trip and made a reservation at a recommended restaurant. We would stay there again.

We enjoyed our boat trip to Vis/Bisevo Islands/Pakleni Archipelago/Hvar. The highlight was the lunch at the local restaurant. Being our first boat trip we weren't sure what to expect. The skipper and his friend were polite and provided drinks etc.

However, after doing the other boat trip to the Elaphite islands we definitely preferred that boat trip. The skipper for the Elaphite Islands made us feel like the boat was ours for the day and truly accommodated our requests to swim or trying to show us something unique etc. The lunch at the local restaurant was one of the best meals we had all trip.

We really enjoyed our afternoon with Dom cycling. Our daughter who is 5 years old was just big enough to fit the bike and do the tour in the heat. I would not recommend this trip to anyone with kids under 6. Dom was so understanding and accommodated the trip to the kids abilities. The lunch and wine Dom packed was delicious and I would love to do this tour again when the kids are older.

Natasa was an exceptional guide for our evening tour of Split. I wish we had more time with her. The kids were very tired so we couldn’t follow up on her dinner recommendations and other areas to see. I would highly recommend her to others.

Korcula – We really appreciated Andrija helping us from the hotel to the ferry with our luggage. Just so you are aware we weren’t able to check into the Hotel Port 9 when we arrived. They were quite firm about the check in time. We had to wait about an 1.5 hours. We didn’t mind but for future guests perhaps an early check in could be requested.

We really enjoyed the size and walkability of Korcula. It was like a mini Dubrovnik. Hotel Port 9 was great but I think we really missed the character and attention to detail of Hotel Judita. It’s a personal preference but if we were to do it again we would have stayed in the old town of Korcula where we could enjoy local beaches and walk to restaurants. The kids enjoyed the pool at Hotel Port 9.

The drive from Korcula to Dubrovnik via Mali Ston was really interesting. Our driver was very good. The stop in Mali Ston was nice. Lunch was lovely and it was nice to have a few minutes to check out the wall.

Dubrovnik –

Hotel Kompas was great. We really liked staying right at the bay and being so close to restaurants and the local beach. We enjoyed daily cocktails at their lounge with the breath taking view of the sea. Many good memories. The hotel did not have breakfast boxes available when we checked out early morning. They said they weren’t aware of this request. Fortunately our driver was able to stop at a bakery so we could pop in and get some buns.

The kayaking was the highlight of the trip. It was extra work having the kids but worth it. We brought our own lifejackets for the kids which I would recommend to future travelers because I think their lifejackets would have been too big for little kids under 6.

Our guide was really passionate about life in Dubrovnik and giving us a unique kayaking experience. We appreciated that he showed us popular areas but moved us along to see other areas that larger groups don’t go to. We could have spent a day on the island of Lokrum. The beaches were perfect for the kids and it had a really relaxed vibe. Our guide gave us lots of options and really accommodated our family. Highly recommend.

The walking tour was wonderful. The kids were exhausted but Vesna was so good with them. She helped us to quickly find an ice cream place along the tour to keep them going. She also gave us lots of options and allowed us to decide what we think the kids are capable of. The only thing I would have changed is possibly doing the tour earlier in the day but I can appreciate that there are thousands of cruise tourists to contend with.

Elaphite Islands Boat Trip- This boat trip was the most favourite part of our vacation. Our skipper made us feel so comfortable. The lunch we had was the best meal we had all trip. I think we liked this boat trip because we weren’t dropped off at an island and picked up later. We actually stopped near islands/popular areas and just enjoyed having the boat by anchoring and diving off the boat. We also really enjoyed the sandy beach. We could have spent half a day there.

Overall this trip exceeded our expectations. We made so many memories that will last us a lifetime. You made us feel very special and taken care of. This allowed us to focus on the kids and just enjoy the moment. We appreciated you checking in with us and it was great knowing we could contact you if we needed to. Thank you so much. We hope to return to Croatia again in a few years. I really want to go back to Split and Dubrovnik for another holiday.

Thanks again,

Lindsay & Steve Agar

Shari and Stephen Gaerber, Canada
Perfect stay in Croatia, Private program

September 2018

Hi Dubravka,

We’ve returned to Canada and are attempting to recover from the jet lag. We have wonderful memories of the program you put together for us. We really liked the hotels you put us into and the varied programming. We especially loved the day on the boat, the hiking and fabulous wine pairing lunch on Brac with Dom and the day touring the hilltop towns from Rovinj although the rest was also very enjoyable.

If we had to make one suggestion, the day we drove from Split to Plitvice Lakes to Rovinj was a long one, with over 6 hours of driving. Although the lakes were beautiful, it might have been better to shorten the drive by going straight to Rovinj and then doing a little touring or time on our own exploring Rovinj after we arrived. However, that’s not to say we didn’t enjoy that day – we did.

All of the guides and drivers were friendly, professional and enjoyable to spend time with.

As I told you on the phone, we really had a wonderful time with all you planned for us and we will highly recommend you to others.

Warmest regards,

Stephen and Shari