Kayaking the Adriatic sea from Croatia to Italy
Kayaking the Adriatic sea from Croatia to Italy happened in October of 2019, in a different world. This adventure is one of the most memorable experiences in my life. It is hard to imagine how things were different, simple, and joyful compared to where we are now.
I want to dedicate this blog to this fantastic memory and my dearest team of people enduring all the challenges of 2020.
It all started with my usual reply: “Don’t worry, of course, we can do it, and yes, we will do it.” It was a reply to a question asked by our friend from Hvar – Georges – who came forward to me with the following idea: “Why don’t we do a sea kayaking expedition from Hvar to Italy?”
You already know the answer 🙂
So George started thinking about the route, and he came to the idea that it would be amazing to connect Hvar with Lesina in Italy, a small town on the coast of Adriatic in the Apulia region. The reason is the rich historical connection between Hvar and Lesina. Did you know that Hvar was also called Lesina in the past, during Venetian times, and still is Italian?
Time passed. We were busy with our season, tours, and regular work, but then October came. The date we outlined was dependent on the end of our work season and also on the weather forecast. As the potential departure date approached, we looked closely at the weather forecast and slowly started gearing up and fine-tuning for the adventure.
It was the 15th of October 2019. The weather forecast for upcoming days looked okay with a few days that might be more challenging, but we had to hurry to finish to return before bad weather, and strong winds start again. Our team gathered that morning in Hvar town. Anamaria, Georges, Kristian, Vedran, myself, and our support team on the sailing boat: Goran, Tina, and Filip.
DAY 1 – The first leg of our kayaking the Adriatic sea adventure was from Hvar town to Vela Luka on Korčula island. About 15Nm of distance and 6.5h of sea kayaking with South wind – JUGO – slowly picking up as the day moved on. We had a challenging end of the day due to the wind that picked up. But we made it to our first base camp, ready to empty a full pot of delicious stuffed papers (Punjene paprike) made by Goran’s wife. Tired with full tummies, we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the end season in Vela Luka, before we finally fell asleep, since the next day we planned an early start.
But day two had different plans for us.
DAY 2 – Jugo wind increased too much to do safe kayaking the Adriatic sea. Adding no option for a safe mooring for support boat, we had a hard time making decisions. The final call was to sail to Ubli in Lastovo, spend a night there, do customs and get to Suac the next day, the original paddling day for day 3. We had to move forward with no delays as the weather forecast showed bad weather in the upcoming days.
Day 3– our skipper started from Ubli around 5 am, and we were at Sušac ready for what we thought the longest day of kayaking the Adriatic sea. SUŠAC lies south of the island of Hvar and west of the island of Lastovo. There is a stone two-store lighthouse built in 1878 on a 100-meter-tall cliff. It makes you feel separated from the world; it is that unique. The only inhabitants are the light keepers and a shepherd with quite a large flock of sheep; they enjoy a specific salty pasture there. Valuable archeological remains were unearthed in Sušac; however, it is only now that they are studied to determine their exact history. There are certain endemic birds and animals on the island, too.
We started paddling from Sušac to Palagruža – the heart of the Adriatic and the island of exceptional beauty and rich history. About 25Nm and about 7.5h. Struggling with waves, some winds, but at least it was in a favorable direction, not like Day1 and the headwind…
We arrived to Palagruža just before sunset. Perfect time to witness how magnificent it is – as it is from a different world. The feel of the proper expedition to the edge of the world. Rising up from the wave-tossed Adriatic, the Palagruža Island signal Croatian territory’s most remote corner and Croatia’s most remote island. The archaeological site on Palagruža and its findings have proven that Palagruža was the island of the Greek hero Diomedes. The island is a nature reserve with plant and animal endemic species.
There was a safe mooring spot for the overnight, so once we finished the day and got in the boat, we had to decide on a plan what next. Looking at the weather and keeping in mind safe mooring spots for our support boat, we have decided to alter the original plan for kayaking the Adriatic sea.
Day 4 – the longest day. As we had to rush to make sure the weather will still be favorable for our return, we decided to cut a day, but that meant that we would skip visiting Lesina. Instead of adding one more night on the Tremiti islands (about 23Nm to Pianosa in Italy), we have decided to go for 31Nm to Vieste. But this was the most beautiful day of our adventure. Calm, almost no winds until we came closer to Italian shores, and Jugo started to pick up.
We encountered playful dolphins that made the highlight of this long day. Some in our team were brave enough to swim in the Territorial waters between Italy and Croatia, where the sea is more than 100m deep, and all you see below is the dark color of endless depth. All of this made the 10 hours of the open seas enjoyable and unforgettable – until we finally reached Vieste and connected Hvar with Italy.
And this is where our adventure had to end, making sure we get back home before the Jugo picks up, so we wouldn’t get strained in Italy for days waiting for the weather to calm again.
Arriving at Vieste on the Italian coast after more than 10h of paddling on our last day was a relief, and we all had feelings of joy and accomplishment.
And at the end what to say about this crazy experience?!
Kayaking the Adriatic sea from Croatia to Italy, precisely from my home island of Hvar to the other side of the Adriatic. To the point which my father pointed to me while I was a child, as Gargano on the Italian coast – visible from the heights of Hvar island. Since then, there was always the curiosity to see that place. The bit of Italian coast visible from the ridge of the Hvar island during clear weather.
And we did it!!! We sea kayaked from Hvar to Vieste.