For our first ‘proper holiday’ since 2013, Glen and I were looking for a destination that gave a mixture of relaxation and activity. We were drawn to Croatia, but it was difficult to choose exactly where to visit in this beautiful country. There are so many locations which come highly recommended. We eventually chose Poreč, an ancient Roman town on the Western coast of Istria in Northern Croatia.
We stayed at the Valamar Isabella Island Resort which is on Sveti Nikola island, just 600m off the shore from Poreč. The island is really self-contained with beaches, pools, restaurants and entertainment available to guests, but the mainland is just a 5 minute ferry trip. The resort is genuinely one of the most stunning places I’ve visited with incredible facilities and beautifully maintained grounds, we were very glad we chose to stay there.
As we went late in the season, we experienced a mixture of weather during our trip. From blazing sunshine to torrential rain, the weather was quite changeable to say the least! However it didn’t stop us from enjoying our trip.
Here’s how we kept active during our week in Croatia…
Swimming in Poreč
The warm, crystal clear sea surrounding Poreč is ideal for swimming. Our resort had several beaches both pebbley and sandy, with roped off swimming areas. We were initially surprised at the vast amounts of jellyfish in the waters, but they are actually harmless and pose no threat to swimmers. They’re translucent and reflect the sunlight sending glittering rays through the water. It does feel strange to touch them and I did have a few moments of freaking out that they’d gone inside my bikini top!
As well as the sea, our resort offered a saltwater infinity pool and freshwater activity pool. Swimming in the infinity pool with stunning views out of sea was amazing and made a real change from the local leisure centre!
Running in Poreč
Sveti Nikola has marked walking and running trails, which take you around the island and through the pine forest in the centre of the island. The longest route is around 2km, so the island is more suited to shorter runs. Despite being a tiny island, there are some challenging hills! It was gorgeous running around the resort with lizards scattering across the path in front of me and waves crashing against the rocks.
For our longer run, we planned a route on the mainland following the rugged coastline. However, the weather was against us and we were caught in a huge thunder and lighting storm. I was actually terrified about being struck by lightning as the storm was directly above me, so I took shelter in a nearby hotel until it had passed. The paths had turned into rivers and we returned to the marina completely drenched! I’d suggest checking the weather forecast if you are planning on running in Poreč!
SUP in Poreč
Aside from swimming, Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is another of my favourite ways to ways to spend time around the water. The sports department at Valamar Isabella Island offer plenty of watersports including SUP, so we booked two boards for an hour. The sea was completely flat and calm, allowing us to drift around exploring the scenery and enjoying the tranquillity.
I’ve tried SUP in London and in Essex before, but this was a completely different experience on the balmy Adriatic Sea. Again, there were huge blooms of jellyfish below us. Glen paddled across to the mainland, but I preferred to say around the island avoiding the boats.
Walking in Poreč
Walking is one of the easiest, low impact ways to stay active on holiday. Poreč is small enough to explore on foot- the old town is a labyrinth of cobbled alleyways and colourful buildings. For more of a leg workout, we climbed the stairs in the Euphrasian Basilica on the mainland and the old lighthouse on Sveti Nikola island. Both offer fantastic views of the city and out across the sea.
There are plenty of other ways to spend an active break in Poreč, Croatia. We ran out of time to experience everything on offer on the island and mainland including:
- Cycling- Poreč offers miles of well-marked biking trails for various abilities
- Scuba diving- We saw a diving course taking place in the infinity pool at the hotel. Exploring the reefs and wrecks of the Adriatic is on my wishlist if I ever return to Northern Croatia.
- Pedal boating, kayaking, parasailing- We were limited to how many watersports we could take part in, as the weather was quite mixed during our visit.
- Yoga, pilates, Zumba, Nordic walking, beach volleyball, basketball… there’s tons of options available at the Isabella Island resort.
Have you ever visited Croatia? What’s your favourite way to stay active on holiday?