Ultimate guide for kayaking in Croatia

Table of Contents

When it comes to exploring the nature of Croatia there are not many activities better than kayaking. At least when it comes to exploration of the coastline and many water bodies that Croatia is full of. Kayaking in Croatia is something you need to try when visiting it. This beautiful country has everything – the sea, lakes, calm rivers for relaxation, and faster rivers for whitewater kayaking. If you are an experienced kayaker or never tried kayaking before, there is something for everyone. Through this text, you’ll learn everything you need to know about kayaking in Croatia.

Kayaking in Zadar region

Kayaking is perfect for exploration and fun, it has a lot of other benefits too. You can enter the meditative state through repetitive movement by your arms and you burn calories while enjoying the landscape. Not really much more to ask for. Ah yes, kayaking is much more fun if you are not alone, that’s why most of the kayaks are two seated ones. But even if you’re alone, you can have some serious fun while discovering some of the most hidden parts of Croatia.

Sea kayaking is a perfect way to explore the coastline

Anybody can go kayaking, don’t worry if even if you never tried it before. You’ll learn. If you are not in a good shape, you don’t need to go for a 20 kilometers kayaking tour, choose something less challenging at the beginning.

Law regulations

First things first, law regulations regarding kayaking. You surely don’t want to break any laws when you take the paddle in your hands. Well, good news for you, you need to remember only one simple thing when it comes to law and that is – you mustn’t kayak farther than 500 meters from the shore. And that’s it, the only thing mentioned about kayaking in the law. If you are an experienced kayaker you probably won’t like this rule since it’s allowed to kayak further than this distance in many countries but you can’t do anything about it so don’t lose your mind over it. If you are a beginner then you probably shouldn’t kayak so far.

Always stick near the shore

The good thing in this is that kayaking near the shore in Croatia is better since you’ll stumble upon many secluded beaches and you can stop whenever you want to. The bad thing is that you won’t be able to cross to some island since most of them are more than 500 meters away. Still, don’t let this discourage you, take those paddles in your hands and go have some fun.

One of the secluded beaches we visit during our sunset kayaking tour

Kayaking equipment

When it comes to equipment you should have some although you won’t be fined if you don’t since there is no law regulation that states which equipment you need to have. But we are talking about your life here so make sure you did everything for your own safety. Basic kayaking equipment includes kayak, paddle, and safety vest. That’s what you should always have when embarking on a kayaking adventure. You should also consider having a UV proof clothes since you’ll spend most of the time in the sun. The hat is also a very good idea as well as sunscreen. Some other pieces of equipment worth considering taking with you are a water pump (for sit-in kayaks) and an extra paddle.

Kayaking with someone is extra fun

If you are renting a kayak somewhere in Croatia you’ll probably get all you need and that would be a kayak (usually sit on top kayak), paddle, dry bag for wallets, mobile phones, and stuff that needs to stay dry and safety vest. Things you need to take include everything else – water, clothing, hat, food…

Here is the good article about preparing for a kayaking trip.

Types of kayaks you can rent in Croatia

If this is your first time kayaking you’ll probably want to rent a kayak. There are plenty of options for this in Croatia. At most of the beaches in popular touristic places, you’ll see kayaks somewhere on the beach and these are usually for rent. Most of the kayaks for rent in Croatia are sit on top kayaks made for recreational purposes and generally much safer for the beginners. If you are an experienced kayaker you’ll probably want to rent a sit-in kayak. Fewer places are renting these so you’ll need to search for some adventure agencies in the area you’re staying at and ask them for renting options. The price of renting a kayak ranges between 10 Euros per hour to 40 Euros for the whole day. Most of the kayaks for rent are made of plastic, they are pretty fast and stable.

Plastic sit-in kayak by DAG

If you came by car and you want to have the kayak for the whole duration of your vacation then you might consider buying one. Since you probably don’t have a roof rack for carrying a 4-meter plastic beast on your car, consider buying an inflatable one that you can easily put in the bag. We suggest this Itiwit kayak you can buy in Decathlon.

Inflatable kayak by Itiwit

What to check before kayaking

Always plan your kayaking trip. Look for the forecast and necessary equipment. Do you have it all? Don’t go on a sea kayaking tour if there is a chance of thunderstorms forming in the area. Consult the maps when planning and find the best possible option for the best possible experience. It’s good to have a forecast app installed on your mobile as well as any kind of map so you can know where you are at any point during the tour. Have in mind that you can make around 5 kilometers per hour.

Always watch forecast to avoid harsh conditions on the sea

Make sure you have all the proper equipment mentioned in the previous part. Be prepared for everything. Check the wind forecast too. This is important because it can happen that the wind will start blowing upon your return and it can make your kayaking bit harder. A good wind forecast will let you know what to expect and you can plan your way back.

Kayaking in sunset on Makarska Riviera

Guided Kayaking tours in Croatia

Depending on the region you are staying in Croatia, you might want to look for kayaking tours in your vicinity. We suggest you take the guided tour if you are a kayaking beginner. A good kayaking guide will make you learn the basics and will watch over you during the tour. It’s not a problem if you go kayaking alone to a nearby beach but it might be a problem if you go kayaking alone on a river with rapids. You might end up in trouble, or die. If you are a beginner, always try to find some calm bodies of water such as the sea, lakes, and wide rivers with no rapids.

Combine your kayaking tour with other water activities

If you still want to experience the fun of whitewater kayaking, there are always guided tours on some of the most popular rivers in Croatia. There are not many of them so you’ll remember their names easy – Zrmanja, Mrežnica, and Cetina. There are some other, smaller ones but these 3 are the most popular and all of them have kayaking guided tours. An exception is the Cetina river with most of the tours being done in rafts. Zrmanja is an absolute must if you are visiting the Zadar region. Few agencies are organizing their trips there so make sure you check them.

Zrmanja river kayaking stop

When it comes to sea kayaking if you want to experience something more than going just to a nearby beach you should also join a guided kayaking tour. These tours are often organized to make the best possible experience in the area. Yes, they are a bit more expensive than simply renting a kayak, but they usually have some added value in them. A good guide definitely makes a difference. You can call us biased since we run the adventure agency with kayaking tours being one of our most popular ones but it’s true. Take for example our Baćina lakes kayaking tour. Bacina lakes are full of hidden places that nobody will tell you about when renting a kayak but if you go on a guided kayaking tour, you can be sure that you’ll miss nothing.

Baćina lakes near the city of Ploče

Best season for kayaking in Croatia

When it comes to the best season for kayaking in Croatia, the short answer would be – summer. The reason is obvious, you can swim in the warm sea and you don’t need as much equipment as you would need for winter kayaking, especially when it comes to neoprene suits and other clothing. Spring and Autumn are also nice with the sea being a bit colder but a good neoprene will make the cold disappear. Winter brings colder and unpredictable weather and much shorter days so have that in mind if you are planning a longer tour.

Kayaking in sunset

When it comes to kayaking on rivers, then summer might not be the best answer. You see, rivers have less water in them during the summer so if you are seeking for a real adrenaline rush, you might end up disappointed. Choose a Spring or Autumn months instead – April, May, September, October will do just fine. Have in mind that the water level may vary after every rain.

Best time of day for kayaking

Any, depending on what you’re looking for. Yes, even the night. We organize a night kayaking on Makarska riviera and it’s one of our best tours. However, there are some things to have in mind. If you go kayaking early in the morning there is a high chance that the sea will be calm and kayaking would seem so easy and relaxing. If you choose the afternoon for your kayaking adventure then you can expect some wind (especially during the summer) since there is a wind blowing almost every day in the afternoon hours. If you want to try something different and go for a night kayaking then you can also expect calmer water. Just make sure your kayak near the shore and you are equipped with the signal light.

Kayaking early in the morning is calming

River kayaking in Croatia

We already mentioned Zrmanja, Mrežnica, and Cetina as being some of the best rivers for kayaking in Croatia. All of these have their calmer parts as well as parts with rapids. For example, the Zrmanja river has a beautiful canyon starting at Obrovac city. We kayaked this route a few times now and we are always amazed at the beauty of this environment. If you want something more adventurous then you start on the same river but at Kaštel Žegarski, a small village in the middle of nowhere. Few agencies are working there and you can read this article to see how is it to be an adventure guide in one of them.

Exploring the canals of Neretva Delta

And as we already mentioned, if you are a kayaking beginner or have never tried kayaking, it would be the best option to participate in a guided tour when it comes to kayaking in whitewater parts of rivers.

Sea kayaking in Croatia

The Adriatic Sea is the largest body of water in Croatia and it has much to offer when it comes to kayaking. There are a lot of islands and lots of secluded beaches discoverable only by a boat, or kayak. Just have in mind that you shouldn’t kayak more than 500 meters away from the coast. That means that pretty much all of the islands are out of your reach if you are starting to kayak from the coast. If you are on a particular island, you have only the coast of that island to explore. It might seem like not much, but it is, believe us.

Sea kayaking is awesome

When going on a kayaking tour in Croatia, always try to find the most beautiful part of the coastline to explore. Stay away from seaports and large cities. Nothing to see there. The wild and unexplored coastline is a much better experience.

There are many cool places along the coast that are perfect for kayaking toward them. For example, Pag island is specific because of its landscape that resembles the surface of the Moon. And there are many secluded beaches not accessible on foot. There are some underground tunnels dug as retreats for submarines and boats during the bombardments. These are pretty cool to explore by kayak. Vis island is full of them. If you are in Dubrovnik, you can kayak around the old city walls and to the Lokrum island.

Exploring the old military tunnels used for hiding of the submarines

The point is, always try to find the best possible option when kayaking in Croatia. Use Google maps to scout the area you are visiting or staying at. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any tips, we’ll gladly help you.

Kayaking on lakes in Croatia

Kayaking on lakes can be a rewarding experience too and it’s the best option if you are a beginner in the world of kayaking. The lakes in Croatia are usually not so large so the chance of you going too far is smaller. Everything is on a smaller scale and it’s easy to return to the starting point.

Kayaking on Baćina lakes

Another cool thing about the lakes is that there are no such large waves at them which can be a good thing. We run a Bacina lakes kayaking tour in Dalmatia, near the city of Ploče, and it’s one of our most popular tours. One of the reasons for that is the place where the tour is organized – Baćina lakes. It’s a beautiful group of 7 lakes and a place of untouched nature. Make sure that the lake you are going to kayak on is not so small so your adventure doesn’t end before it started.

Whitewater kayaking on Baćina lakes

Our kayaking tours in Croatia

We have been in the world of kayaking for a while now. We fell in love with this activity and made kayaking tours the backbone of our small adventure company. All of our tours are being organized in the south of Croatia, near the city of Ploče and on Makarska Riviera. We have a base in the city of Ploče, a perfect place for adventure tourism and the only place in Croatia where you have sea, lakes, and rivers close to you. Because of that, we have all these types of kayaking. We are having a lake kayaking tour on Baćina lakes, sea kayaking is being organized at Makarska Riviera and we explore the Neretva river by kayaks too. One of our latest tours has been night kayaking on Makarska Riviera. You can say that all we do in the summer months is kayaking. All-day long. And we’re still not tired of it.

Night kayaking, the second best night activity

We have been using Itiwit inflatable kayaks by Decathlon for a while now. The reason for choosing this model is its sturdiness and ease of use and transportation. For personal sea kayaking use, we kayak in sit-in kayaks made by DAG.

And finally…

Baćina lakes kayaking

We hope this guide will help you in choosing your kayaking in Croatia adventure. If you have any additional questions, please let us know through the contact form and we’ll answer you.

Be responsible when kayaking and always respect nature and yourself. Wear the safety gear, you’ll look cool and it might save your life. You never know.

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