Sea Kayaking Croatia

, November 18, 2012

Croatia is known as the land of a thousand islands. There is simply no end to the sights on offer and no single best way to experience its archipelago, which hugs the coast from the north to the south of the country. We set our sights on the Kornati, a group of small clustered islands in the south, with peaks of up to 200m and plenty of Roman ruins to see.

We never made it. Having been refused passage by an obnoxious ferry captain who was meant to take us from Zadar to Silba, we took a different one to Birbin, a quaint little port 20km to the north. As glitches go, this turned out to be a small one. The islands share a common topography and are all equally unique and mystical. Our 3-day trip, slipped in between essay deadlines and tutorials, had just the right balance of tough exercise and campfire relaxation that left your muscles aching and your mind refreshed.

To the locals, late October in Croatia is far too cold for swimming and is generally known as the fishing season. Coming from Edinburgh we thought it was absolute paradise: a steady 22 degrees Celsius during the day and a mild 10 degrees at night with a water temperature of 21. We did get lucky, missing a thunderstorm that dissipated the day before our arrival, and there is certainly a risk involved with possibly being caught in a ‘Bura’ northern wind that often comes in hard and fast and lasts for a week. Other than that there are few dangers involved, you are rarely 50m from the coast of an island.

For us, the water was completely placid for two days with not a cloud in sight. On the third day the weather picked up and the waves started coming in strong, spray decks are a necessity, as crests would often spill over the kayaks. The best thing about this trip is you can make it as demanding and challenging as you like, several routes are possible and you can pick the distance you want to travel on a last-minute basis, making some days intense and others more relaxing.

Getting kayaks is not difficult but there is quite a high price to pay, £100 or so. Flights to Zadar are available from budget airlines in many airports, or you can fly to any city in Croatia as transport is generally cheap. Also, if exercise isn’t your cup of tea, just spending a week touring the coast is well worth it, the country is beautiful.

Ben on a sunken ship we ran into.