This year CME decided to try something different for a holiday. We fancied a ‘boat and bike’ tour using the boat as a room and moving base, and cycling during the day as a main activity. After the usual holiday research we decided on a trip organised by Sail Croatia. We had heard from quite a few people that the Croatian islands are very beautiful so, as it is a country new to us, off we set for 7 days.
We flew to Split on flights organised by us to suit a 1pm sailing time. The transfer from the airport to the harbour takes about 45 minutes on an airport bus. The journey is a bit chaotic but they get there somehow.
We joined our boat, which sleeps about 35 guests in twin, double and single rooms all with air conditioning. We were pleasantly surprised with our double room and en suite toilet and shower which, although not vast, was fine for seven days touring and sailing.
The format of the holiday is that the boat unloads the bikes in the morning. After disembarking, the cyclists either complete a circular route back to the mooring, or the boat casts off and the group ride to a different harbour to meet up with the boat. Lunch takes place on board with free afternoons and dinner in the harbour at your leisure.
We booked e-bikes at some extra cost and found that 50% of the cycling group, numbering 32 riders, were on e-bikes. Boy, did we need them! At times it is really hilly but the bikes coped fine.
We were issued with Flyer Flogo e-bikes as standard. J liked hers more than I did. These are 20″ wheel bikes which are ideal for nipping around in an urban environment – less satisfactory for a 6′ 3″ tall man on country roads. Nevertheless we managed up to 35 kilometres a day; some days much less. We saw a lot of Croatian Islands and loved the country. It was hot, but manageable, with plenty of sun cream.
The size of the group cycling was not so good. We had a leader and the holiday rep as a sweeper at the back. After a couple of days we started to ask in advance where we were headed and then cycled on leaving the group to eventually catch up at the destination. This worked much better. Thirty-two people cycling on small roads – although they were deserted for the most part in the country – became difficult in unfamiliar towns where riders got lost and disorientated.
The crew were very pleasant and looked after us very well. There was a bar and it was easy to mingle and chat to the other passengers. Our boat had a broad mix of nationalities: Kiwis, Australians, Swedes, South Africans and Brits. We all got on fine eating at communal tables of 10 people. The food became a bit “samey” with clear soup every day for starter but the main courses were acceptable and plentiful. Drinks all extra.
Occasionally the boat would drop anchor and anybody who wanted could go swimming in the clear water. A dropped ladder on to a platform at the back of the boat enabled swimmers to reboard. The more adventurous younger ones started to jump off the top decks which was great to see. I took flippers and snorkel but not much to see aside from places closer to shore.
There is a good mix of smaller and larger harbours such as Trogir and Zadar which have cultural heritage and are busy and bustling. We visited Krka National Park which has stunning waterfalls and is a busy bustling tourist site. You have to pay for toilets despite an entry fee – what a cheek!
For anyone who wants to see more of a country and enjoys cycling then this format is ideal. Sail Croatia looked after us well and most of the arrangements worked well. It’s highly recommended as a different holiday catering for keen cyclists – whether on e-bike or conventional cycle. It’s a great way to see a beautiful, surprising country.
We intend to go on this style of holiday again and would like to tackle the Southern coast next time leaving Dubrovnik and cycling over a different cluster of islands.
Find out more: http://www.sail-croatia.com/