Friday June 11, 2010 — This morning Dwight and I got up around 7:30 or 8am to go sea kayaking. The concierge at the Hotel Neptun told us we could catch the #7 bus at the hotel and it would drop us off right where we needed to be at Gruž Harbor, Dubrovnik’s disembarkation point for all ferries. The concierge failed to mention that the bus went the whole way around the city before stopping at the harbor. We were supposed to be there at 9:30am, and we didn’t arrive until 9:45 or so. We were walking around frantically looking for a group of kayakers associated with the Adriatic Kayak Tours group when finally one guy in a company T-shirt walked up and introduced himself as Dom, our guide. We were the only two who had signed up for that tour. We ended up having the guide and the whole day to ourselves and it was great.
We took the Jadrolinija ferry to Lopud, one of the small islands that makes up the Elaphiti Archipelago. Dwight chose this island of the various kayaking options because it actually has some sand on its beaches, unlike most of the rest of Croatian islands which are rocky (“shingle beaches”). The kayaks were on the island at Šunj, the port we docked at on Lopud.
We kayaked around the island to the other beach on the other side, called Lopud beach. Šunj and another village, also called Lopud, were the only two “towns” I saw during our whole circumnavigation of the island, and they were tiny little clusters of some houses and a restaurant or two.
Kayaking was a lot of fun, especially in the beginning before I got too tired. The water was clear blue and almost perfectly still. We slid through the ocean next to cormorants and under seagulls and paddled our way around the lovely, rocky shoreline. The island has about 12km (7mi) of coastline and we crossed about half of it on the way from Šunj to Lopud, where we stopped for lunch. It wasn’t until we got close to our stop that we seemed to encounter a current, one working against us. It seemed like we were paddling like crazy and we went nowhere; I felt like it took forever to reach the shore.
But we finally did reach the shore, and we went to a little beach bar/café to rest and have lunch. We ordered some sandwiches and some waters and rested our tired arms for a bit. After that Dom suggested a “walk” up to the old ruined fort. What he meant was an hour-and-a-half round-trip grueling hike up a steep hill across nearly the whole island in the scorching midday heat. I don’t know why he didn’t just say that. It was a lovely trail, though, and we transversed the island until we reached the summit and the old stone fort. At the ruins of the fort we had a great view over Lopud and also Šunj, where we had started our kayaking journey.
We didn’t linger long but took in the view and snapped some photos and then started back down toward the beach and our waiting kayaks. When we got back to the beach we had another drink of water and then started out again. And again, for a while it felt like we weren’t making any progress. The current, weak and lazy as it appeared, fought our efforts to leave the peaceful beach. The second half, though, was more dramatically scenic, with high rocky cliffs stretching up to a forest, the trees perched precariously on the side of the hill. We could hear invisible birds singing their tropical songs somewhere in the greenery above us.
Although the second “half” of our journey was a bit shorter, I was tired from paddling and hiking, and I had to struggle to keep up with Dom. When we rounded the corner and Šunj Harbor came into view, we saw our ferry leaving. Dom said that it was going to another port and would be back in 20 minutes, so we had to be at the shore ourselves in 10 minutes, which looked to me like it was still quite some distance off. I strained and pushed and rowed as hard as I could. I was so exhausted. Finally we made it ashore, but I know it took more than ten minutes. We had just taken our gear off and stored the kayaks away when the boat started boarding. We cut it pretty close.
Want to do this yourself?
Adriatic Kayak Tours run sea kayaking trips for the day or the week: www.adriatickayaktours.com
Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hotel Neptun makes a great base for exploring Dubrovnik: http://www.neptunhoteldubrovnik.com