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Kayaking and Camping Croatia: a 4-day, 38 mile paddle itinerary through Dalmatia by Thyme is Honey

Croatia had been on my bucketlist for a very long time, and our recent trip to kayak and camp the islands off the coast of Split, Croatia was a total dream come true!

Being in Copenhagen makes so many places that once seemed far, far away, very accessible. We had that week blocked off in our calendars for a getaway, but weren’t sure what we planned to do. When we saw great fares to Croatia, we jumped on it — with just 5 days to plan the kayak trip of our dreams. Fortunately, there wasn’t much to plan, and we landed in Split, Croatia (just a quick 2-hour flight away) with nothing reserved but two sea kayaks.

Kayaking and Camping Croatia: a 4-day, 38 mile paddle itinerary through Dalmatia by Thyme is Honey

Over the next four days, we were at sea, paddling island to island in some of the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t checked out our Kayak and Camping Trip in the Exuma Cays, head over and check that out — because it was equally as fun and beautiful but with slightly easier paddling, making it a great trip for beginners.

ITINERARY

We booked the trip with Red Adventures, an outfitter based in Split. Although they do guide group trips we opted to go out on our own, which they were okay with given our previous experience. They picked us up directly from the airport with the kayaks attached to the top of their van, drove us directly to a grocery store so we could stock up on 5 Liter containers of water and some food items, and then drove us to a launch point near Divulje.

Red Adventures will send you out with a cellphone and battery pack so that you can stay in communication with them throughout your trip. It’s best not to plan out your itinerary in advance, but rather let the guide decide where you should go each day based on wind and currents. We could text our guide throughout the day if we had questions and got a text from him each night with detailed instructions and a camp for the next day.

Day 1 – We paddled 7.5 miles from Divulje to the south side of Okrug Donji. Day one was the hardest of them all since we didn’t get in the water until noon. By then the wind had picked up, and the waterway around Divulje was busy with afternoon ferries and boat traffic. We battled some strong wind and big waves and got to have our first experience of tipping our kayaks, having them fill with water, and evacuating them with a water pump while trying to stay afloat. We were exhausted by the time we reached our campsite around 5 PM and were tucked into the tent by 7.

Kayaking and Camping Croatia: a 4-day, 38 mile paddle itinerary through Dalmatia by Thyme is Honey

Day 2 – We got up early and set out on the calm morning water. We paddled 10.5 miles from Okrug Donji toward Veli and over to the island of Otok Drvenik Mali for the night. This beach has two campsites available, so we had neighbors to keep us company.

Day 3 – 10.5 miles from Otok Drvenik Mali across a big opening toward the far western side of the island of Šolta for a night near Maslinica.

Day 4 – 7.5 miles from Maslinica around the north side of Šolta and down the coastline to end in Rogač, where we put our kayaks on a ferry back to Split and grabbed a taxi to end the week in the small town of Stomorska where we spent 2 nights relaxing, swimming in the sea, and eating too much fresh seafood.

We ended the trip with one night back in Split before a quick 2-hr flight back to Copenhagen.

PACKING

I’ve been asked many times about packing, so here’s a breakdown: As always, we traveled with just our Osprey Porter backpacks. If you’re curious about them and how we pack them you can check out this post:  How to Pack a Carry-on for a 1-Month Trip. For this trip, we brought as much of our own equipment and supplies as we could, then rented what we needed from the outfitter and purchased what we needed during our grocery stop in Split.

What we packed:
Tent
2 lightweight Sleeping Bags
Camera Tri-Pod
Solar Panel Charger
Clothes
Toiletries
Tissues
4 packs of Ramen
2 Noodle Cups
2 boxes of Granola Bars
2 bags of Dried Mangoes
Seasoned Nuts
Travel Mugs with lids
Bluetooth Speaker (we have a Wonderboom)
Charging cables for devices
Books
2 Garbage Bags

What we purchased after the arrival:
2 5-liter jugs of water, which we were able to refill on day 2
2 packs of dried pasta dinners
Oranges
Bottle of Whiskey
Orange Concentrate (for mixing with water)
Chips and Salsa
Sunscreen (you’ll want plenty!)
Bug Spray (we didn’t end up using this at all. There were a few mosquitos but not many)

What we rented:
2 Sea Kayaks and Paddles
Dry Bags for all of our belongings and gear
2 Life Jackets
2 Kayak Skirts
Butane Camp Stove
Cooking Set and Utensils/soap/sponge
2  Snorkel Sets
3 Dromedary Containers for water

Kayaking and Camping Croatia: a 4-day, 38 mile paddle itinerary through Dalmatia by Thyme is Honey

ACTIVITES

Your activities during the kayak portion of the trip are probably obvious! There’s plenty of swimming, beautiful beaches, snorkeling, and just relaxing to watch the waves or the sunset. After the long days of sun and paddling we were in the tent and ready for bed by 8 PM, and usually up early the next day to paddle in the calm morning water.

If you end on the island of Šolta you can choose between several towns. Since we didn’t book lodging in advance we pretty much went with the area we were able to find lodging last-minute. Stomorska was a really lovely little town with some great swimming areas and a few nice restaurants. They didn’t have much for nightlife, so if you’re looking for fun bars or clubs you’ll probably want to opt for Maslinica.

SPLIT RECOMMENDATIONS

Although we only had about 24-hours in Split, we really enjoyed it and were able to find a few great spots that we’d highly recommend if you find yourself there:

Divita Apartment Hotel – We didn’t book lodging in Split in advance, either. So again we were at the mercy of availability but were really happy with Divita. Great location and beautiful, bright rooms. The staff was great, and since we left early the next morning (before the free breakfast opened) they had one packed up and waiting for us at the front desk. They also have a really lovely spa on-site and I wish w we would have had time to enjoy it.

Kantun Paulina – we both agreed that this was the best sandwich we’d ever had in our lives. An absolute MUST TRY when you’re there. It’s basically a deli, so get it to go and enjoy it somewhere nearby.

Marvlvs Library Jazz Bar – A small, cozy, kind of hidden gem in the heart of split. Full of books, board games, and constantly playing jazz. What’s not to love?!

Villa Spiza – This is where we had dinner on our only night in Split. It was delicious! You should eat as much fresh truffle as you can while in Croatia, and the pasta with truffle at Villa Spiza was great. This place is popular and doesn’t take reservations, so we’d recommend doing what we did: enjoy a beer outside at Charlie’s Bar located just next door, and keep an eye on the restaurant as dinner nears. I think we popped over around 5:45 but by the time our food came out, there was a line down the alley.

Cliff Jumping/Free Solo Excursion – If you’re up for yet another day of sun + water, head out on one of the many excursions offered out of Split. We opted for a combo excursion that included cliff jumping and Free Solo rock climbing through Given 2 Fly Adventures. It was just a short drive away and only occupied us from 9AM-11AM, so we still had the entire day to enjoy Split.

BLOOPER REEL
As with most things in life, our trips don’t always go perfectly. Here were a few of the “oops” moments from our trip to Croatia that you can perhaps learn from:

  1. We attempted a beach landing that went very, very poorly. Long story short: the beach was way too “shallow” for our kayaks to actually stop on, and as soon as we neared the shoreline huge waves rolled in, turning us sideways and dumping us both into the water. Thankfully the water was shallow, but our kayaks instantly filled with water, some of our belongings that had been in the cockpit started floating away! It was chaotic! We were both trying to stay upright while hanging on to our kayaks — which were both loaded with 4 days of supplies and now a ton of water! This story is much better in person (so ask us sometime!) but long story short: we barely got outta there!
  2. In the chaos of that ordeal, I somehow lost my shoes — the only ones I had brought with for the kayak portion of the trip. I didn’t notice until about an hour later when we landed at our campsite. We searched both of our kayaks over and over and finally realized they must have been lost in the catastrophe. I made it through the night walking carefully but wasn’t much help with setting up camp. We woke up early the next morning and the water was calm, so Josh offered to paddle back to the beach and see if there was any chance my shoes were there somewhere. You guys….he found my sandals perched on a rock along the beach! What luck! I’ll never forget the feeling when I saw him pull those damn shoes out of his kayak.
  3. We were relaxing on the beach one afternoon and decided to charge our Bluetooth speaker. Josh plugged it into our solar charger and set the speaker down into the hull of a kayak. It ended up shorting out and nearly starting a fire! It worked for the remainder of the trip thank god, but now has to be replaced. Moral of the story: water and electricity are a tricky combo. Be careful with your electronics. We were thankful this didn’t happen in the tent while we were asleep.

In Croatia (and much of the Mediterranean) you have to watch out for Black Sea Urchins. They are extremely sharp and many tourists have had their trip ruined by stepping on one of these guys. We avoided them the entire trip, but on our last day in Šolta, I got up from our sunny spot on the rocks and hopped into the water to cool off. Some large boat waves came and as I extended my legs out to keep myself from crashing into the rocks I kicked the side of a sea urchin and ended up with several of its spire stuck in the side of my foot. It actually didn’t hurt that much the first couple of days, but got progressively worse and is still painful a week later! Make sure you research these and are keeping an eye out for them during your trip! Fortunately, the water in Croatia is so clear that they are very easy to spot. I feel lucky that I merely kicked one but literally cannot imagine the pain of standing one one. Ouch!

Are you interested in more water-loving itineraries?! 

Click here for our itinerary to Canoe + Camp the Stockholm Archipelago in Sweden
Click here for our itinerary to Kayak and Camp the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas

 

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Kayaking and Camping Croatia: a 4-day, 38 mile paddle itinerary through Dalmatia by Thyme is Honey

Kayaking and Camping Croatia

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