Cruise & Bike Croatia

Split to Dubrovnik | Text and photographs by Tereza Kalinova
22 November 2023

I was fortunate enough to join Graham Elliott from the Gisborne branch and a small group of enthusiastic travellers on an 8-day journey through the south of Croatia. We stayed on a beautiful small boat called Harmonia, sailed from one island to another, and explored them on bikes. What a fun twist to the usual cruise – surely more active but with plenty of opportunities to rest (and eat!).

Let me take you on the journey through my words and my camera lens.

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The rest of the group have already been travelling through Slovenia and the northern part of Croatia and were well accommodated to the local culture.

We all met in Split, the second largest city in Croatia. The historical city is surrounded by a beautiful Riviera with numerous cafes and restaurants and the vibrant and colourful markets offer a variety of goods such as fruits and vegetables (perfect for a snack), flowers, clothes, and souvenirs, and are definitely worth a visit.

We were fortunate to have an excellent guide who pointed out specific features of different architectural styles and provided us with a deeper understanding of the city’s history. Split truly left us amazed with its beauty and rich heritage. In the evening, we ventured to our boat, which served as our home, restaurant and way of transportation for the upcoming week.

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In the morning of the second day, the captain started navigating the boat from Split towards the island of Brač. We had breakfast on board followed by a quick briefing about the day's activities. Unfortunately, due to the rainy weather, we had to make significant changes to our plans for the day. After about two hours of sailing, we arrived at the island and collectively decided to go on a short bike ride, despite the possibility of getting wet – which we actually didn't, yay!

In the afternoon, we explored the town of Pučišća, known for its limestone. We visited a local craftsman renowned for creating towers and buildings using local limestone, a local stone masonry school, wandered around stalls selling souvenirs, and enjoyed a lunch. We spent a relaxing afternoon on board and enjoyed another amazing three-course dinner (there was no way anyone was going to lose weight on this trip).

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On day three, we began our journey towards the island of Hvar. Despite the overcast weather, the crew informed us that there might be some sunshine awaiting us on the other island, hurray! Once we arrived at the port, we had about two hours to explore the beautiful historical city with most of us taking the opportunity to enjoy a cup of coffee or ice cream. 

Around 2pm, we embarked on a 25-kilometer journey. The island of Hvar is commonly referred to as the Lavender Island, but this is mainly during spring. Since we visited in early autumn, there were no lavender blooms to be seen. However, we were able to find some lavender-related souvenirs, such as lavender honey and oils (shopping, ladies!).

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Embarking early in the morning from the port of Stari Grad, we biked to the other side of the island – the city of Hvar. The journey covered about 20 kilometres, with a challenging incline of 440 meters, making it more difficult than our previous trips. However, we found joy in the hills as they provided breathtaking views of the bay, the sea, and the surrounding scenery. About halfway through our bike ride, we found a souvenir shop on top of a hill, and most ladies from our group fell in love with a lavender bike shirt – so they bought them and formed a group called “The Lavender Girls”!

Just before midday, we arrived in the city of Hvar. The small but incredibly beautiful town was dominated by a Spanish fortress located on a hill above the town, which provided breathtaking views of the bay. Our boat picked us up from the port, and we started sailing towards another island – Korcula. The captain made a stop in the afternoon at a calm bay, and we happily jumped into the water from the stern of the boat and enjoyed a refreshing swim. In the evening, we arrived in Vela Luka. Knowing we had a big day ahead, we called it an early night.

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Day five was the highlight of most of our group members' trip. Even though cycling about 60 kilometres with an incline of 1000 meters made it a very challenging ride, we managed to transit the entire island from Vela Luka to the Capital City of Korčula without any major problems.

The views we were offered were astonishing. Because of the difficulty of the ride, we made plenty of stops and all arrived in the evening with happy smiles on our faces. We even managed to have a refreshing swim to cool down after climbing the hills. As the day came to a close, we arrived in the city of Korčula and were fortunate to have an amazing guided tour with a very knowledgeable guide who provided us with insights into the history and customs of not only Korcula city, but the entire island.

To conclude the day (and celebrate our victory), we enjoyed a delightful dinner on board, and later in the evening, most of us went out for drinks. 

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We were awakened by the sound of boat engines early in the morning as our captain began our journey to yet another amazing island - the island of Mljet. After about an hour of sailing, the captain dropped the anchor and we had a delightful two-hour stop for a morning swim.

After a relaxing morning, we had lunch on board and soaked up more sunshine. In the afternoon, we arrived at the city of Pomena on the island of Mljet, where we started our bike ride for the day. We were all quite tired from the previous day's long ride, so the 32 kilometres and 660-meter elevation of today's ride posed a challenge.

Mljet is known as the “Green Island” due to its abundant tree coverage, which provided refreshing shade during our bike ride. After traversing the entire island, we were picked up by our boat and headed towards Sipan, another small island just off the Croatian coast, where we had dinner.

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Our last full day on our tour promised a nice relaxing morning. After breakfast, we ventured on our very last bike ride, about 10 km long and mostly flat — what a treat! 

At midday, we made our way back to the boat, said goodbye to our bikes, had lunch on board, and a couple of hours later arrived in the magical historical city of Dubrovnik. 

We walked the iconic Dubrovnik Walls, visited shops, had ice cream, and learned about the history of this one-of-a-kind city.

The last night on our boat was truly special. An amazing dinner followed by "awards night" by one of our team members (thanks Greg, you are a legend!) and then lots of wine and singing. It is one of the nights we will all remember for a long time.

The next morning we said our goodbyes to the group and our boat Harmonia, which served as our home on this amazing adventure.


If Croatia is not on your bucket list already, add it there now. It is a magnificent country, with friendly and hospitable people, and full of natural wonders that won’t disappoint you.

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