In October, Rob from our Auckland office was invited to participate in a shortened version of our Croatia Bike & Sail trip, to give him a taste of one of our most popular itineraries in Croatia. We caught up with him to find out his tips for getting the most out of 1 week in Croatia.
1. Go island hopping in a yacht
I grew up on yachts; each summer my family would spend weeks exploring islands and coastlines in the far north of New Zealand. I love being on and in the water, and as the ships slowly glided out of the port in convoy on our first evening, I knew that this was going to be the perfect active holiday for me.
My home for the week was on the beautiful Princeza Diana, a 40m first-class luxury motor yacht, the flagship vessel of the fleet. The affectionately named ‘princess’ of the fleet has 16 spacious guest cabins, all with air conditioning and en-suite bathrooms. My upper deck cabin boasted ever-changing views from its windows and proved very comfortable.
The Princeza Diana has numerous areas on the upper decks where you can lounge with a drink or sunbathe as you watch the world go by. The communal interior spaces are beautifully furnished and there is a bar, piano and large outdoor seating areas ideal for getting to know your new ship mates. There is even a spa pool and sun loungers on the foredeck.
Take a 360 degree look around here: step aboard the Princeza Diana.
2. Explore the islands by bike
Cycling is the perfect way to explore the chain of islands stretching from Solta to Mljet known as southern Dalmatia. Every morning after a hearty breakfast, our group would be split into e-bike and regular bike users before setting off for the day. I found that the e-bike riders adjusted their pace to match those on regular bikes, so we all more or less stayed together for the whole day. This meant that friends or couples who were on different bikes could still comfortably cycle together. There was always one guide up the front and one pulling up the rear ensuring that nobody was left behind and in case there were any problems.
On our final 50km day of cycling on the lavender island of Hvar, I was given the opportunity to try an e-bike, and now I can’t recommend them enough! Croatian islands are notoriously hilly, and all of the ports are at sea level, meaning the first thing you have to do every morning after jumping on your bike is tackle a hill.
Luckily, the cycling was done at a leisurely pace and there were plenty of opportunities to stop and take photos of the dramatic scenery along the way and after big climbs to spectacular viewpoints.
3. Stop to sample local delicacies
Be sure to stop to sample local delicacies and learn about how the islands’ exports are produced. On the island of Šolta we stopped to sample honey and olive oil, and talking to the workers at both of these places were highlights of my week. On the same island we enjoyed gelato in the picturesque harbour town of Jelsa where our ship was docked – the perfect end to a rewarding day of cycling!
4. Go white water rafting
I decided to take a break from cycling and try my hand at rafting in Omiš, which is an optional extra on the Croatia Bike & Sail trip. After a stunning drive around the coastline and inland to the Cetina River, we set off down the rapids for some adrenalin-fueled fun. This activity is a popular activity for families and is another great way to explore Croatia actively.
5. Eat guilt-free
We were treated to three generous meals a day on board (two when we stopped at a restaurant for lunch mid-way through cycling), which included a stunning array of freshly prepared meat dishes, vegetables dishes, salads and desserts. The food varies a lot from boat to boat – on the Princeza Diana guests are served buffet-style food, while on other boats food is more homely or a la carte.
6. Get to know the crew
The crew presented itself as a family unit; everyone was professional and fun to be around. They were a wealth of information about Croatia and its islands, and briefed us each night before dinner on the following day’s itinerary. As they take care of everything from meals to bike setup, you really are in good hands from start to finish.
7. Consider extending your holiday on the mainland
After living on a boat for a week, it may take some time to lose your ‘sea legs’. I chose to spend two nights in Split immersing myself in the history and splendour of the old town, which contains Diocletian’s Palace. Split is the second-largest city of Croatia, with Zagreb being the largest and another fantastic option for a trip extension, coupled with the nearby Plitvice Lakes National Park, famous for its turquoise-coloured lakes separated by tufa.
For a full list of Croatia Bike & Sail departure dates, click here.