This paper presents a systematic and comprehensive analysis of the economic, social and environmental aspects of developing nautical tourism. It examines the problems of sitting and selecting the location of a nautical port, and it identifies economic and political, and socio-cultural factors. The paper brings out the importance of balanced development of a port of nautical tourism as a primary determinant of the integrated management of the marine domain. Due to its manifold multiplier effects, nautical tourism is a major branch of tourism that has great potential for development in Croatia. The paper points out the importance of systematically valorising the potential of nautical tourism on the principles of sustainable development, while encouraging and raising the nautical-tourism offering to a higher level. It underlines the need to enlarge the capacities of nautical-tourism ports, especially on Croatia’s islands, thus helping to increase the standard of living of coastal residents. In doing so, the development process must take into account the principles of spatial organisation and the needs of people living and working within the territory of a nautical-tourism destination.