Six mountaineers with a number of 4000m peaks behind them coming to the Adriatic sea for some sea kayaking in Croatia’s Zadar archipelago. What can possibly go wrong? No avalanches. No crevasses. The worst thing is that you can capsize. Think again. See how our kayaking course and a couple of days of kayak camping went.

TAILOR-MADE TRIP/COURSE FORMATS

Our paddling trip portfolio is as wide as the audience that joins us for paddling trips. Everything from expeditions style trips on the most remote islands in Croatia to ultra-comfortable and foodie catered star-based itineraries from our main base on island Molat. From beginner courses to advanced kayaking training and rolling clinics.

So, when we were designing this trip, we started with the brief. 6 experienced mountaineers with a number of 4000m high peaks behind them. Fit. Multisport background. Fast learners. Hungry for some epic moments. Limited time available (is there any other way?).

So we made a course that combined Canoeing Ireland Level 2 and Level 3 sea kayak training with a couple of days of guided kayak camping the islands in Zadar archipelago. The goal is to educate and train the people for doing independent sea kayaking trips. A combination of things to think about when paddling on your own: theory, practical skills, safety procedures and some maritime rules. Weather and Neptune were very inclined towards us. We designed and itinerary that leveraged the calm summer week to the maximum.

See how the trip went.

 

SEA KAYAKING COURSE IN CROATIA

The first two days were designed around creating an environment where people learn how to handle the boat and help those around them.

sea kayaking island molat croatia

Welcome to island Molat. We were based here for a few nights as we do kayaking trips to nearby coves and villages.

kayaking gear introduction

It all starts on the ground in the picturesque Lučina harbor. What are the different kayak and paddle types? How do you use the spray skirts? What if you capsize? How do you paddle? How do you pack the boat? Where do I keep the water? (photo by Aleksandar Brborović from NPPG)

seakayaking course

Answers to questions went on: How do you transfer the energy from the paddle down to the boat? What if you capsize? What are 3 things to focus on when entering the sea?  (photo by Aleksandar Brborović from NPPG)

sea kayaking croatian turqoise sea

Welcome to our office. Here we do everything else. May kayaking (course) begin!

kayaking course croatia

How do you safely and efficiently help others if they capsize? How do you empty the boat? Where do you keep the swimmer when working with the kayak?

How do you get back into your own boat? It’s not as hard as this blurry image may suggest.

At the end of the practical training and assessment, the spirits are high!

Evenings are reserved for theory: understanding weather, considerations when designing a kayaking trip, reading charts, tidal races (you would be surprised what you can find in the Adriatic), creating a float plan. Finally a bit of kayaking history. It was so exciting that no one took photos. The first photo from the evening is that of the well earned dinner. Croatian ‘peka’. (photo by Ino Corner)

 

SEA KAYAK TOURING IN CROATIA

The next two days are a guided kayak camping trip. The goal here is to get some hands-on knowledge about designing and executing a multiday island-hopping kayak-camping trip. Here you learn from practical examples how to move on the water, how to manage a group of kayakers, choosing and executing exits, caveats to avoid, and many more useful kayaking tips.

packing for kayaking trip

Organizing and packing all gear in the kayaks.

kayak touring croatian coast

And so the trip begins!

kayak anchoring croatia

How do you do an emergency exit on the rock? How do you anchor the boats? What to focus on for the safety of paddlers and gear during the exit?

military caves in croatia

Stopping in one of the military caves. Croatian coast is dotted with Cold War military infrastructure. You can tell we have mountaineers in the group as some of them couldn’t resist looking and attempting to do bouldering problems.

kayak island hopping in croatia

Island hopping in Zadar archipelago includes stopping at picturesque fishing villages.

kaykaing velebit view

The backdrop for the first day of paddling was the Velebit mountain range.

island kayaking

Hundred-year-old drywalls, a few trees, and a beach. As if the island is designed for kayakers.

sea kayaking croatian islands

The average kayaker moves at a speed of around 5km/h. Just fast enough you can get to places. Just slow enough you can fully appreciate the coast you are paddling to.

kayaking submarine tunnes

Paddling into submarine caves. Again Cold War period. Brings back memories from my childhood fishing trips with my father. Back than, dolphins and submarines were a standard weekly occurrence. Today only man-made caves and dolphins remain.

Tight paddling formation for the island crossing. An opportunity for a joke or two.

sea kayaking in Zadar archipelago

Lunch break and some more coaching. How do you make shelter? (photo by Zvonimir Mavretić)

seaman in croatia

As we continued our journey, in the later afternoon hours, we ran into a fellow paddler.

Camp for the night and an opportunity to do a beach clean up. Kayaks leave only traces on the water. Kayakers leave clean beaches behind them – a force for good!

sea foraging in Croatia

A big part of sea kayaking in Croatia is foraging both above and under the sea. Sea urchins, rock samphire, sea asparagus to name just a few. (Photo by Ino Corner)

Meals designed for vegetarians, pescatarians, gluten-free, lactose-free or a combination of all of those. (Photo by Aleksandar Brborović from NPPG)

sunrise kayakin in croatia

One of the mornings we had an early start to take advantage of calm conditions for our longer island crossing.

morning kayaking in croatia

Final adjustments and we start paddling.

kayak island crossing in croatia

Epic summer morning in the Adriatic.

Aco, co-leader on this trip likes symbolism. He found his literal symbol washed out on the beach. His kayak was slightly less aerodynamic, but his character and stamina more than compensated.

sea kayaking dugi otok

Break in one of the harbours on Dugi Otok.

Last paddle strokes and our journey comes to an end. Lots of laughter, epic vistas and great stories, but also tons of well digested and absorbed kayaking knowledge, skills and procedures. True kayakers aren’t tested when water, and everything else, is smooth, but when it’s not. Mountaineering may have it’s dangers, but Neptune is to be respected and listened to carefully. In that sense a very successful trip. May we paddle again.

See a short video from the kayak-camping trip.

Kayaking is a group thing. You are not encouraged to paddle alone. Primarily for safety as you need someone to help you with rescues – things happen. Secondarily because colors are more vivid when you share them with others. Not to mention the jokes.

On another level, kayaking is about what happens between your two ears. That is very individual. You realize that you are a part of nature. Perhaps just a dot, but one sitting between the land and the sea. That brings its pleasures and responsibilities. It’s a very contemporary perspective and message as we practice this activity that is more than 4.000 year old.

Complement this piece with a photo essay about sea kayaking in North Ireland. Read more about our expedition around island Lastovo or a winter sea kayaking trip on island Hvar.

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If you would like to join one of our kayaking trips, course or expeditions, drop me a message to marko@malikadventures.com.

Marko

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‘Moving your limits’ isn’t necessarily about the highest mountains, biggest caves, deepest canyons or oldest ruins. But it is about great adventures. It’s about that constant pursuit of the world’s secrets – cultural as well as natural. It’s about how we move in nature and raise our expectations about each and every place in the world, moving our mental and physical limits on the way.