Korcula Island, Southern Dalmatia, Croatia
Semi-sheltered open water Croatian island offering flat, sheltered water paddling (mostly) but can have quite choppy water at times.
Depending on where you launch of Korcula will dictate what type of SUP conditions you score. Korcula town has access, via a slipway next to the fortified walls, into the Peljesac Channel. Orebic is just a short paddle straight across with various hamlets and villages dotted along the mainland shores. Be aware that in summer the Meltemi wind can blow during afternoons. The wind funnels down the Peljesac Channel and strengthens. It gets quite fruity on occasion. Although mornings are flat and glassy calm. Also, keep an eye on the notorious Bura wind which comes out of the North West and blast off the steep sided Croatian mainland. The Bura is a cold wind usually occurring overnight, although it can last well into the morning. Korcula’s water state can get pretty confused during such a blow. Mostly, the island is great for adventure/touring SUP. Although Korcula’s Vela Przina (one of the few sandy beaches in the whole of Croatia) can chuck up a choppy wave at times.
Rocks are prevalent all along Croatia’s coastline. There isn’t an abundance of beaches in Croatia, with aces to the water often being from outcrops, slipways and manmade launching/landing platforms. It should go without saying that rocks are never kind to SUP boards. And paddlers will find plenty of sea urchins clinging to these just beneath the water’s surface. That said the lack of sand does mean the waters are stunning clear.
Wind – particularly Croatia’s Bura wind can be super strong and whip up sea states to a frenetic, choppy maelstrom. The Peljesac Channel is also a funnel for the country’s thermal driven wind: the Mistral. You’ll find plenty of windsurfers buzzing across the channel during a blow so room needs to be given. And yachts are ever prevalent in the part of the world. During summer boating season is in full swing with all manner of craft in the vicinity.
Access to Korcula is via ferry across from Orebic, which is around a two hour drive from Croatia’s airport. Once on the island you’ll need to hire a car. Unless you plan in staying around Korcula town where access to the water is fairly easy.
Croatia in general has gained considerable popularity over the last few years. It’s noted as being an unspoilt area with amazing scenery, a dramatic coastline, sublime cuisine and Dubrovnik. A jewel in Croatia’s tourist crown. The offshore islands, such as Korcula, all have their own personality and appeal. Korcula is like a min Dubrovnik and the town gets quite busy during high season. Elsewhere in the island, however, is quieter.
Korcula town has everything you need in terms of accommodation options, eating and drinking facilities and so on. Just out of town is Lumbarda. A much sleepier village but still boasting a fairly decent hotel and small marina. Heading into any of the other island’s villages and hamlets you’ll struggle to find certain things. But then that shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Often referred to as ‘mini Dubrovnik’ because of its fortified town walls and red tiled roofs reminiscent of its mainland sibling, Korcula is a picturesque and varied SUP spot. Launching into the Peljesac Channel there are a few different adventure SUP routes to make use of. Paddling across to the mainland and Orebic is possible. Just be aware of the wind getting stronger through the day.
If you fancy a spot of downwinding when the Mistral blows (from left to right) you can put in at the top end of the channel and ride bumps all the way down, coming in at Lumbarda. If you choose to do this make sure you know where get outs are! Including Lumbarda as once beyond that it’s out into the open Adriatic. Next step Mjet Island…
The sand bay of Vela Przina can be found on Korcula’s SE side. This is one of the few beaches in Croatia and being horseshoe shaped is fairly protected. Be aware though, it does chuck up a mushy wave at points. And does fee the full brunt of southerly winds (known as the Jugo).
Korcula’s real beauty, however, is being able to find sheltered, flat water paddling spots regardless of the wind. There are an abundance of mini islets to hide in the leigh of. Whilst marina breakwaters can protect further. Mornings are still your best bet in summer, when it’ll be glassy and calm.
We’re not aware of anyone that’s done it (yet) but there’s a real possibility for any experienced stand up paddler to circumnavigate Korcula. Logistics would definitely need to be in place if you’re attempting this. But it’s a possibility.
For anyone with island hopping SUP goals there are plenty of ferries running between the many land masses in this area. As such paddling multiple islands is perfectly applicable during a Croatian trip. We’d also recommend getting afloat around Dubrovnik to get the full experience the ancient walled city offers. All in Croatia is a cracking SUP spot for any adventure minded paddler.