Short break kayaking holidays
in Croatia

Short break kayaking holidays in Croatia are designed to be active, but in a reassuringly relaxed way. For each stroke of your paddle there’ll be just as many chances to sip local wine, siesta at local beauty spots and swim. And when the water is so clear, you’ll find it very hard to resist the urge to just jump in.
The most accessible spot for this gamut of Croatian gorgeousness is the Elaphiti Islands, a short hop by ferry from Dubrovnik. Here, the main islands of Lopud, Sipan, and Kolocep huddle within kayak-friendly distances of each other, sheltering a cornucopia of sea caves, fishing villages, sandy beaches and tiny vineyards.

What does this trip entail?

Don’t come on a short break kayaking holiday in Croatia expecting an on-the-water boot camp. Instead you can expect days packed with gentle paddling, extraordinary scenery and plenty of free time for swimming, walking and exploring.
You’ll cover between 10 and 15km per day as part of a small group of a maximum of 16 fellow kayakers accompanied by up to two expert guides. You’ll usually be on the water for an hour and a half to two hours in the morning and again in the late afternoon, avoiding the midday heat and sun. Your morning paddle might take you to another island, to a particularly gorgeous Adriatic beach or to a small fishing village. Once there you’ll have free time to explore – perhaps walk some of the island trails, try out local tavernas (your guide can point you in the direction of their favourites), or simply enjoy a siesta in the sunshine. Later in the afternoon you’ll jump back in your kayak to paddle back to your accommodation, perhaps via an iridescent, tucked-away sea cave.
Nights will usually be spent in a locally owned, friendly guesthouse on one of the islands. Lopud, in the Elaphiti Islands, is particularly well suited to short breaks being just an hour’s ferry journey from Dubrovnik and within easy kayaking distance of its island neighbours. You’ll enjoy a delicious local breakfast each morning and will have the freedom to sample the tasty fare (and possibly a glass of glorious Croatian wine) at some of the islands’ traditional local tavernas at lunchtime and in the evenings. Seafood, unsurprisingly, is a real treat here.

Do I need to have previous
kayaking experience?

Not a bit, although a love of the water will certainly help and being able to swim is a must. Kayak guides are a rare breed of enthusiastic life-lovers and yours will be very keen to share their knowledge and passion with you. You can expect your first foray onto the water to be in a shallow, sheltered bay, where you’ll receive expert instruction on how to handle your plastic steed. And once you get going your first kayaking trip will likely keep close to shore, giving you plenty of time to get to grips with your paddle.

More experienced paddlers can opt for a self guided short break if you prefer, and while your equipment, route maps, meteorological forecasts, GPS and mobile phone and safety back-up are all provided, you’ll have the freedom to kayak and explore on your own terms.

Can my kids come too?

Kayaking in Croatia is a perfect adventure for families to share – gentle enough for youngsters (usually a minimum age of six years), but exciting enough to keep active teens amused.

Younger children can be safely ensconced in a double kayak with you, lifejackets come in even the tiniest of sizes and you’ll provide the power when smaller arms get tired of paddling. Older kids and teenagers will enjoy the independence of their steering their own craft, all under the watchful eye of your expert kayak guide.

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Croatia kayaking highlights:

Lopud Island

Lovely Lopud, just a short hop by ferry from Dubrovnik is an ideal base for short break kayaking holidays in Croatia. This tiny island’s ancient woodland, sandy beaches and laid-back villages hiding traditional tavernas, are linked by a network of pathways perfect for on-foot exploration. Paddles here will take you to the glorious Sunj beach, or out across open sea to neighbouring island idylls.

Sipan Island

While the pretty fishing village of Sudjuradj will charm your socks off, it is Sipan’s natural architecture that will really wow. Kayaks take you under natural limestone archways and into the heart of the magical Green Cave. Here you can paddle, swim and snorkel bathed in an ethereal green light as shafts of sunlight reflect off the grotto’s sandy bottom.

Kolocep Island

Home to one of the most dramatic coastlines in Croatia, this car-free island boasts pine tree-topped cliffs and a plethora of caves. Its two, tiny fishing villages, Grnje and Donje Celo, are linked to sandy beaches and dramatic cliff-top vistas by a network of footpaths which beg to be explored in your time out of the plastic saddle.


Within easy kayaking distance of Lopud, Trsteno on the mainland offers an alternative to the islands’ tiny villages, sea caves and beaches. Game of Thrones fans will recognise the gorgeous 15th Century arboretum here as the lush gardens at King’s Landing. Anyone else we simply enjoy some time wandering in the shade and tranquillity of its exotic plants and baroque fountains.


The ‘pearl of the Adriatic’ hardly needs an introduction. Short break sea kayaking holidays will usually start and finish at the gates of this UNESCO-listed medieval city, painstakingly restored since the end of the Croatian War of Independence. Watch the sparkling Adriatic lap at the base of the ancient walls and explore the old town’s labyrinth of winding streets. Pile Bay offers a welcome escape from the cruise crowds.

Croatian cuisine

With Lopud and Kolocep car free, food miles in the Elaphiti Islands are tiny. You’ll enjoy a deliciously-fresh catch-of-the-day that’s landed straight onto your plate, or hearty, home-cooked, garden-sourced Italian fare – a nod to Croatia’s gastronomic giant of a neighbour. All drenched in local olive oil and the perfect finish to a day’s paddling. And the local wine? As exquisite as the coastline you’ll be exploring.

When to take a short break kayaking holiday in Croatia

Warm sunshine and flat water are your friends on a short break kayaking holiday in Croatia, so plan to travel between May and early October, when the air and sea temperatures allow for pleasant paddling and sublime swimming. If you prefer to avoid the peak heat – and accompanying peak crowds and prices – then May and June can be gorgeous on the water, with temperatures between 23-27°C. However, winds along the coast can be a bit unpredictable so you’ll need to be prepared to be a bit flexible at this time. August is really the peak of peaks, with cruise crowds packing out Dubrovnik and prices soaring with the temperature. However, this is also the most predictable time of year in terms of wind and weather, and you’ll find a few days kayaking around the islands is an excellent way to visit Croatia at this time of year and avoid the tourist hordes. Outside of May to October, sea kayaking becomes a lot more challenging, and cold. Most guided tours don’t depart outside these times, and self guided kayakers will find ferry services are significantly reduced, many services on Croatia’s islands will close, and unpredictable winds can make for tough paddling.
Written by Sarah Faith
Photo credits: [Page banner: Aaron Burden] [Kayaks out on the water: Raftrek Adventure Travel] [Yellow canoe: Rakkhi Samarasekera] [Lopud Island: Judith Doyle] [Trsteno Garden: Shadowgate] [Dubrovnik: Jonathan Chng]