Croatian Road Trip Part 5: Conquering the Biokovo Mountain Range

If you’ve been following along, you know I just spent about a month in Croatia. I got to discover the country by both land and sea. First, I road tripped from the capital to Dubrovnik, right before going on a week-long catamaran cruise around the Croatian islands.

This next series of posts picks up right after my cruise aboard the TwinStar. The day we left the boat, we got dropped off at Marina Mandalina in Sibenik. The rest of that day, we spent it walking around town.

Colorful Sibenik

Finishing off our day catching a killer sunset near the port, check it out:

Sibenik Port

Sibenik Sunset

The following morning, our next land adventure was already beginning.

This next chapter started with a trip to pick up another rental car. This time, the pickup location was at Split Airport. First thing that morning, we all took a taxi from Sibenik to the airport, only to find out our plans had to change, once again.

You see, the night before, I got a message from Sixt (my go-to rental car company), saying they had to cancel my booking. Something about “not being operational” due to a “lack of tourism…” – Anyways, as soon as I found out, I quickly pivoted and made a new reservation with Hertz.

Once we got to the Hertz office, they told us we were too late (we were an hour late), and they no longer had a car for us. 😒 The whole thing was kind of BS.

So, we found ourselves at the airport, without a car, or a plan. Thankfully, our luck turned, and we quickly found another rental car company in the area that had a last-minute car to offer us.

As soon as we got the car, we began our next undertaking: conquering the Biokovo Mountains.

Rašćane The Biokovo Mountains await.

The Biokovo Mountains 101

The Biokovo mountain range is the second-highest sierra in Croatia. It is located along the Dalmatian coast, stretching from Split to Dubrovnik.

Biokovo is one in a line of Dinaric Alps; this is a mountain range in Southern and Southeastern Europe that separates the continental Balkan Peninsula from the Adriatic Sea. These Alps stretch from Italy in the northwest down through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo, ending in Albania to the southeast.

A good chunk of these mountains is located within the Biokovo Nature Park, located near the Makarska Riviera. The area is known for providing visitors with beautiful scenery of the mountains towering over the city of Makarska, with the Adriatic Sea on the other side.

Makarska Riviera

You can hike up the mountain, which can be quite dangerous. We decided to drive all the way to the top. So, we first had to drive down for almost two hours, heading all the way south past Makarska. From there, we took this tiny mountain road – a single lane winding street, which was supposed to lead us all the way to the entrance of the National Park.

Unfortunately, we got a little lost at one point and arrived at a dead-end street near a lake. We turned around and eventually got back on track. The drive was through a beautiful little 15 mile stretch of a really narrow mountain road (Biokovska Cesta Road); it was a very adventurous ride.

The Biokovska Cesta Road is notorious for being one of the most dangerous streets in Croatia. It is also the highest road in the country, reaching 5,780 feet in altitude.

Thankfully it is a fully paved road, but it’s tiny, winding, and single lane, making it quite hazardous. Fortunately, due to COVID, there were not many other cars driving on it. Nonetheless, we still had a few close calls. At one point, there was a big truck coming towards us, and we had to drive in reverse for about a quarter-mile until we found a spot to move out of the way.

Naturpark Biokovo- Taking the narrow mountain road up to the summit.

Being on this tiny road surrounded by steep cliffs to the sides was quite an exhilarating endeavor. In the end, we enjoyed the adventure; it was a very scenic ride all the way to the entrance of the national park.

On the way to the top of the mountain, they built a skywalk which was still under construction when we visited, but it has been open to the public for a few weeks now. It looked impressive from the side and would like to visit it at some point.

While at the mountain, we were delighted to be the only ones there. We went once around the area and took some beautiful pictures of the landscape. When the weather is very clear, you can actually see Monte Gargano in Italy from the top of Biokovo. To give you some perspective, Monte Gargano is 157 miles away.

Sadly, while we were there, the weather wasn’t the best. In fact, it was raining as we were driving up. We even made a stop at a restaurant to wait out the rain before getting lost. We ended up having to stay at the restaurant for almost 2 hours. We made good use of the time by eating some delicious Croatian lunch. After the rain stopped, we continued up to the top.

So, while we were at the summit, visibility wasn’t optimal. Regardless, we could still see Bosnia, and on the other side of Bosnia, the Adriatic Sea. It was still pretty impressive. We could also clearly see the island of Hvar and the town of Split. In my opinion, this place offers you one of the most amazing views in all of Croatia, hands down.

As we were getting ready to leave, the weather started clearing up, so Josh decided to bring out the drone and take some really amazing aerial shots of our surroundings. He continued to film as we began to make our way back down the winding road. In the coming weeks, he’ll be making some more videos from the trip, so stay tuned for that awesome footage.

Since we had better weather on the way down, we made a few extra stops to enjoy the scenery and take pictures. At one of the stops, we busted out Josh’s badass COVID mask and took some funny photos stating we were #covidfree.

On the way down – #markedsafefromCovid1984

On this drive back to Makarska, we got stuck a few times behind some cows and then some horses. At one point, Josh got out of the car and tried to make the horses move along, but he didn’t really manage it… there were a lot of them.

Horses on the road

One of the horses actually came to visit our car and stuck its head inside the back window. He was saying hi to my friend, who was sitting on the back seat.

After leaving the mountains, we continued to make our way to Omis, past Makarska. It was my friends last night in Croatia, so we decided to splurge and spend a night at a boutique hotel in Omis. Omis is a small and lovely town and port in Dalmatia. It is set where the Cetina River meets the Adriatic, right between the mountains and the sea.

An amazing Road and view. Some great drone shots upcoming

Initially, I was supposed to drive my brother and Josh to Split before going to Omis. This was so that they could stay there for the night and tend to boat business the next morning. But, after the long day, I didn’t want to drive an hour there and an hour back, so I just gave them money for a taxi.

Great last evening with my ❤️🌈☀️

First, we had dinner at the beach and then went back to take advantage of our lovely hotel room. The next morning, we woke up early. My friend wanted to have a tennis match against me before taking her flight. I don’t know if you know this, but I actually used to play tennis and chess tennis. Fun Fact: I was once a world champion of chess tennis.

So, I decided to indulge her, and we found a camp near Omis that had tennis courts. We went to the camp reception to rent some racquets. All of the equipment they had was in terrible conditions: really shitty tennis racquets and some less-than-perfect balls.

Thankfully, we found one racquet for me that wasn’t a complete waste; and for my friend, they had children’s racquets that were in better condition. We got our equipment and got on the court. I must say I really enjoyed playing again.

I actually won 3-0, even though the match wasn’t serious. All in all, we had a really good time playing with each other.

First Tennis Match in ages for me. Still can play – 3:0 for me.

After our match, we drove up to Split, where my brother was supposed to take my friend to the airport. At some point, she realized that she had misplaced her cell phone somewhere along the way. We then proceeded to spend the next few hours searching everywhere for her phone. We backtracked all the way to the hotel and the tennis courts; we tore the car apart and nothing.

We were starting to run out of time for her to catch her flight, and we almost gave up. But then, we decided to check back at the reception where we rented the racquets, and they had it. From there, we rushed back to the airport just in time for her to make her flight.

What a week behind me – now looking forward. ✨

After dropping her off, I went to Split, where I stayed with my brother and Josh for two more days finalizing all the paperwork and all the due diligence for the purchase of our new catamaran.

Next 2 nights in Split to prepare and get some work done

Split 101

If you don’t know by now, Split is a city in Central Dalmatia. The town was initially built around the Diocletian palace (a palace/fort built for the retired Roman emperor Diocletian).

Even though at first sight it may seem like the city is simply a small tourist town. However, that is not the case at all. Split extends over a large area that goes well beyond the ancient core. With over 300,000 people in the wider bay area, it’s the economic hub of the eastern Adriatic shoreline (the unofficial “capital” of Dalmatia).

We spent the next two days wandering the historic center of Split and finalizing due diligence and paperwork for the purchase of the boat. We had the boat inspected again, met with the owner and surveyor, we notarized all the tedious paperwork, and in the evenings we simply enjoyed the town.

Busy working day in Split.

Tomorrow we drive up to Istria for a few days

Stressful bureaucracy, but I signed the MoU today. Guess what’s coming up next week… 😉

After getting everything done in Split, and having our final meeting with the broker; my brother and I left Split and began a new road trip, this time setting off to explore the region of Istria in the North of the country.