Boat and Mountain Bike in South Dalmatia, Croatia – October 2015
Our first Boat & Bike trip was a gem as we were able to gather enough friends and family to be able to charter the whole fabulous ship San Sanova ( https://www.inselhuepfen.com/en/san-snova-premium/ ) for our trip in South Dalmatia, Croatia.
The trip in 2015 was a guided mountain bike trip. https://www.inselhuepfen.com/en/bicycle-cruise-south-dalmatia/ that was rated a “3” on the difficulty scale. We thought that it was a bit more difficult than a “3” at that time and found out that the rating for this trip is changed to a “4”.
I also notice that it is now changed from a mountain biking trip to a hybrid bike trip but also have electric-assisted bikes available. I highly recommend you to use an electric-assisted bike for this as there are lots of hills to climb. I remember that one day we had to climb about 700 meters.
We actually started out trip flying into Vienna, then went to a 5 days road trip through Slovakia (with one day mountain biking in the High Tatras) , and Hungary to meet the boat in Split, Croatia. After the Boat & Bike, we spent 3 more days to make our way back to Vienna stopping at the fabulous Plitvice National Park (more on this in the MUST VISIT section).
As we were really at the very end of the tourist season (we coined the term “Armpit Season”, which is between Shoulder Season and Low Season), we pretty much had the whole Dalmatia islands all to ourselves.
The boat would moor in the bay each night on different islands and on most night we walked around like we were the only group. One night as we were having wine and beer in a bar on the waterfront, we asked the owner if he has any snacks and the owner said “Sorry, cook already went home for the season”. It was great. Hooray for Armpit Season !!!
The boat, San Sanova, was amazingly clean and comfortable and the food on board was fabulous. Our chef created different menus for dinner every night. Our bartender was a local from one of the islands that we biked on and he introduced us to his family’s olive oil. It was really amazing with unique flavor. We bought some back to Thailand. We regret not taking more as we all went through our stock in just a few weeks.
Our bike guides were from Scandinavia and we introduced them to Tabasco (that we brought 6 large bottles on board) which they found to be intolerably hot at first. But after 5 days of training, they got addicted to it. We gave them what remains at the end of the trip.
So much about eating and on to biking. In keeping with Big Foot Tour’s tradition of also arranging perfect weather for the trips, weather for the whole period was sunny and cool, perfect for biking. The only time it rained was during our one day of optional rafting which made the rafting even more fun.
The daily routine would be that the boat would sail for a new island in the morning (30-60 minutes) while we have breakfast. Then drop us and our bikes off on an island that we would be biking for the day. Lunch is normally at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon we either come back to the boat or in the case of a larger island, we would meet the boat in a different bay where it would be tied up for the night. Dinner is on the boat except one night that we are off on our own on one of the more populated island.
The bays where the boat tied up were very protected and the water was so calm that you feel like you sleep in a hotel.
As I mentioned earlier, riding on islands means you have lots of ups and downs when we rode across the islands but the gorgeous views at the top made it all worth while and we got to look forward to nice downhill returning to the boat. The brilliant blue green color of Adriatic Sea cuts a startling contrast with the dark green of the islands trees and olive groves and bright orange roofs common in this area.
We had two guides with us at all times and knew their ways around the islands and we get to do some off roads single track riding as well. Of course, as they seem to have changed the trip to hybrid bikes, these trails would not be suitable.
Near the end of the trip, we had an option to do some whitewater rafting on the island of Hvar but I am not sure this is offered as a standard feature or not. If you can, it is definitely worthwhile as it gives you another perspective of the Dalmatian Islands.
My Big Foot Tour Grade B+/A-