Cycle Croatia for a Chilled-out Household Vacation

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Squinting by way of driving rain, I eye the lengthy barbed wire fence above the highway we’re driving alongside. It fizzes and crackles, the air filled with electrical energy. Out of the blue, a blinding and deafening bolt of lightning connects the earth to the sky with surprising violence. Someplace to our left, the land drops steeply in direction of the Adriatic Sea, 300 metres under.

5 minutes and a number of other spectacular lightning strikes later, we edge across the shoulder of the island of Vis’ highest mountain, the 587 metre-high Mount Hum, a river operating down the highway between our wheels. Far under, our vacation spot comes into view – the beautiful (and usually sun-kissed) port of Komiza, whose Venetian café terraces and pebbly seashores performed a starring position within the Mama Mia movies. With shelter in sight, it’s a wrestle to withstand releasing the brakes and plummeting down the remaining miles to the shelter of the port, however with six youngsters in our group of cyclists, we take it gradual with a view to herd everybody down safely.

Some 20 moist minutes later, we move the fortified partitions of the church of St Nicholas on the foot of the mountain and roll onto Komiza’s picturesque harbour. Chilly and soaked, however beaming with aid, we pose for a photograph close to the towering wall of the 16th century fortress, trying extra just like the pirates it was constructed to guard in opposition to than a gaggle of regular households out for a motorbike trip. 

We’ve ridden the size of the Croatian island of Vis, throughout red-earthed valleys draped with vines, over rocky crests and on barren mountainsides, all within the area of a morning. Our subsequent problem is to discover a restaurant that can put up with 12 drenched cyclists traipsing in and dripping everywhere in the ground. 

That is solely our second day on Vis, the furthest inhabited island off the Dalmatian coast within the Adriatic Sea, and already we’ve found that this rugged little place of solely 35 sq. miles packs a punch for household journey that’s disproportionate to its diminutive dimension. 

After a lunch of contemporary, wood-fired pizzas and a Karlovačko beer, the children and their bikes are loaded onto the Land Rover that our information Xania has pushed over to fulfill us whereas the remainder of the adults saddle as much as trip again over the mountain. Solely now, the solar is blazing down on us – as you’d anticipate in August. With Komiza’s glowing, yacht-dotted harbour far under and crickets serenading us from the roadside, it’s onerous to imagine that the morning’s stormy descent even occurred.

Sparsely populated, Vis is a pleasure to discover by bike, with solely minimal visitors sharing the quiet highway community between the historic historic ports of Vis city on the north coast, Komiza on the west and the plethora of little villages lining the island’s rocky shoreline.

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Heading off-road unlocks much more of this wild island’s Mediterranean surroundings, from the scrubby summit of Hum and thru traces of vineyards to shiny, rocky seashores and quiet fishing villages. A long time of communist rule, throughout which the island hosted over a dozen navy bases, have saved Vis nearly fully unspoilt.

The one draw back to biking on a small island with a mountain smack in the midst of it’s that there’s inevitably a number of up and down in nearly each trip. 

As our base for the week is a whitewashed, green-shuttered villa by Rukavac, one of many idyllic fishing villages on the island’s south coast, meaning each biking morning begins with a hefty climb. 


Morning glories

The villa is the house and guesthouse of our hosts, Xania and Craig Put on, who swapped expat careers as PE academics within the Center East for a really totally different way of life as hosts and guides for their very own small lively journey firm, WeareActive. 

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Following their ‘relaxingly lively’ vacation mantra, each day begins with a brief stroll right down to a limestone shelf on the water’s edge with their lop-eared canine Zora in tow, for a yoga session. This pure suntrap seems prefer it was chiselled out of the stony foreshore particularly for the aim of stretching by the ocean, adopted by a bracing leap into the cool water. 

A brief stroll again by way of the pines, a rinse underneath the outside bathe, breakfast on the dazzlingly white terrace – after which the pedalling begins. We really feel so alive and awake by 9 o’clock that it hardly appears to matter that we at all times should cycle uphill. 

Other than the storm, the remainder of our week with Craig and Xania follows an analogous sample: half-day household rides out into the vineyard-draped valleys and pine-forested hills, or tougher off-road mountain bike sorties with simply myself and Craig onto the countless community of gravel roads and dusty singletrack that lace Vis’ secluded coves. 

Tales of each day adventures are then shared with the opposite three households staying right here over Xania’s fantastic vegetarian suppers on the villa’s whitewashed terrace.


Swapping pedals for paddles

Nowhere is especially removed from the ocean on Vis, however our base in Rukavac is completely positioned for each kind of coastal journey. Searching for rocks and boulders to clamber over and leap off, DIY coasteering fashion, we head down by way of the pines and previous the yoga platform, in search of the gun placements and patrol boat tunnels carved out throughout the island’s coast. 

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They’re reminders that Vis was as soon as the closely guarded outer fringe of the communist former Yugoslavia. On the subsequent cove alongside, we discover the pebble seashore of Srebrena, the place we snorkel with shoals of fish, dodging sea urchins and in search of the octopus that Xania informed us hunts among the many rocks.

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Water infants

Simply 100 metres under our base is the tiny little fishing harbour of Rukavac, the place Craig and Xania’s sea kayaks and stand-up paddle boards are piled up above the water between two tumble-down stone outbuildings. 

From the very first launch, as we slide out into the crystalline water between the seaweed-draped buoys and a handful of little fishing boats, we all know that is going to be a magical place to paddle with the children.

And we’re proper. There are a handful of tiny islands strung out off the south-eastern nook of Vis, with the southernmost, Ravnik, mendacity a simple mile’s paddle away from Rukavac within the two double sit-on-top kayaks we take, each filled with picnics. The outlying islands create a form of sheltered channel down which we see a number of unbelievable super-yachts cruise.

One night, later within the week, Craig takes us all out to paddle around the southern tip of this island and into the Inexperienced Cave, the place a shaft of night gentle from a skylight within the roof plunges deep into its clear, darkish waters. 

At the moment, we’ve bought the entire island to ourselves, pulling up the canoes on a rocky spit the place we snorkel amongst sea urchins and seaweed.

Different kayaking journeys throughout the week embody an extended however rewarding paddle all the way in which again from Komiza on the west coast and an early morning paddle to magical Stiniva Cove, whose hidden seashore is simply given away by the boats moored by its entrance. Solely swimmers and kayakers like us are allowed into its inside and onto its stony seashore.

As soon as in, tall, sheer cliffs protect its entrance from the open sea and stand up both aspect. A pure marvel, Stiniva is a spot value savouring, and whereas I clamber up the again to take a photograph, Craig leads the others off to climb the cliffs on the entrance of the cove. The grippy limestone above a protected drop into deep, clear water is the perfect classroom for budding climbers.

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Over the previous couple of days we cut up our time between pedalling and paddling, spending the lengthy summer time evenings on the seashore or making an attempt to beat the artwork of balancing on the slackline strung up within the midst of peaceable pine woodland by the villa.

Our final night on Vis is spent enjoyable within the sheltered courtyard of Roki’s, a conventional vineyard restaurant. Set amongst its personal vineyards, this can be a Vis culinary establishment. At Roki’s, the natural wine on the desk is from the vines that encompass us, and the octopus, lamb and beef dishes are slow-cooked for hours underneath conventional peka metallic covers over sizzling charcoal. The laid-back tempo right here by some means completely matches our deep feeling of rest after every week exploring this lovely, rugged Adriatic island. 

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4 locations to refuel in Vis and Break up

Konoba Rocki’s, Plisko Poje, Vis

Conventional peka (a baked meat and veggie concoction) dishes are slow-cooked over sizzling charcoals and served with a heat welcome on the winery terrace, with wine produced from the encircling vines to clean all of it down.


Le Terrazze, Rukavac, Vis

Seafood specialities and native wine served on a terrace overlooking the beautiful little fishing harbour of Rukavac and the outlying islands. 


Konoba Pizzeria Feral, Break up

In a decent alley lined with restaurant tables on the backside of the Marjan steps, the ambiance, pizza and fish dishes of this cosy restaurant with tables overflowing into the road is tough to beat.


Bar Vidilica, Marjan, Break up

Take pleasure in a beer after a stroll up Marjan Hill’s many steps from this completely positioned conventional terrace bar, which seems down over the buzzing nightlifeof Break up’s harbour. 



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Journey information

Well being & security

Temperatures attain into the 30s within the excessive summer time, so head safety and sunscreen is significant, particularly for smaller explorers. 


What to pack

Pack sunscreen, hat, windproof jacket, aquatic sneakers and biking gloves. All sea kayaking and biking tools is supplied on Vis by WeareActive.


Our journey

Neil and his household stayed with WeareActive, who run week-long holidays on Vis from £977 per individual (discounted costs can be found for kids) together with lodging, actions together with biking, sea kayaking and yoga and a few meals.


Getting there

EasyJet flies from Gatwick to Break up from £66 return.


Getting round

The ferry from Break up to Vis with Jadrolina Ferries takes 2 hours 20 minutes and prices from £5.42 for adults and £2.70 for kids every approach. Taking bikes on the ferry prices £5.42 every approach.


Food and drink

Scrumptious conventional dishes reminiscent of cmi rizot (black risotto) with cuttlefish or squid, or a fisherman’s stew known as brodetto price lower than £10 in native island eating places. 


The place to remain

In addition to the villa at WeareActive, Neil and household stayed aboard the MS Orao, an 18 berth wood boat obtainable to e book by way of AirBnB for as little as £50 per night time. The Orao is moored by the marina in Break up. Services are primary and lodging is in easy bunkbed cabins.




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