KITESURFING HOLIDAYS - ULCINJ, MONTENEGRO
A new kiting hotspot on mainland Europe is being developed in Montenegro, former Yugoslavia. Ulcinj (pronounced: 'Ooltseenie'), the southernmost town in Montenegro features a 14 kilometre long sandy beach and super steady side-onshore thermal winds that blow every day in the summer! Just a short flight from anywhere in Europe you'll find fresh Mediterranean cuisine and a perfect place for families or a bunch of friends looking for a great time and with lots of other alternative activities.
CAPTION | Daily thermals in the summer / PHOTO | KiteWorldWide
If you're an experienced kitesurfer you may have already visited Tarifa in the early days. Visiting Ulcinj for the first time, you'll be immediately reminded of that in terms of the long, sandy beach and the conditions. Velika Plaza beach is a fourteen kilometre strip and set in a protected natural area surrounded by dunes and hidden by alluvial forests. However, unlike Tarifa there is only one prevailing wind direction, side-onshore from the right, so, like the Poniente in Tarifa is super-steady and perfect for beginners and freestylers alike all along Velika plaza beach. South winds do occasionally blow cross-onshore from the left and can be strong, kicking waves up to two metres high. theses conditions aren't suitable for beginners because of the shorebreak. North winds also blow from time to time and are offshore, up to 20 - 30 knots. It flattens the water, but these conditions are for experienced riders only and only with rescue boat back-up.
The first 80 to 100 metres out are waist deep and the seabed is nice and soft, consisting of fine sand without any rocks or reef, so it's ideal for beginners and freestylers alike. The tides don’t really have much impact in Montenegro, so you can start kiting whenever the wind kicks in (which is usually between noon and 2pm when the thermals pick up) without a worry about the local effects or the amount of water. A few kilometres downwind there is a river mouth with perfect flat water. Calling all freestylers, the conditions you'll find there are perfect for working on your tricks.
WIND, WEATHER AND WATER
Enjoying 270 days of sunshine a year, this is a warm and friendly place to visit. From May to September the Albanian Alps in the south cater super steady thermal winds that will hit the coast side-shore in the early afternoon at 18 to 25 knots. In terms of kite sizes you'll usually be whipping out the eight to 12 metre in high season (June to mid-September) and your 12 metre and above in the off season (April to May and mid- September to October). The rest of the year (November to March) the winds are rare and the weather is more unstable. Water temperatures average 22°C/72°F in the summer when wetsuits are not necessary. Before and after the main peak season a shorty or thin full suit comes in handy.
CAPTION | Nice bump 'n' jump conditions along the 14 kilometre beach! / PHOTO | Kite Loop Kiteboarding School
The town of Ulcinj is about ten kilometres from the kite spot. Kitesurfers should choose an accommodation close to the kite spot as traffic in high season to and from the town centre can be a pain. There are bargain rental car options in both the capital of Podgorica and Tivat airports and it is easy to get around and find your way. Roads are a Western European Standard and the drive takes about 75 to 90 minutes. Ulcinj is a very relaxed beach town and crime is very low.
Currency: Euro (€): Euro (€) - £1 = €1.2 / US$1 = €0.7
CAPTION | Friendly locals serving good, cheap food / PHOTO | KiteWorldWide
There are plenty of accommodation options around Ulcinj, from resorts to camp sites.
KiteWorldWide offers two different accommodation options: Hotel Laguna, a 4 star hotel (newly opened in 2013) with spacious double rooms and apartments at Western European standard. They are also opening a 16 bedroom guest house with private bathroom facilities in 2014 for kitesurfers with a lounge and barbecue area, friendly staff and all you need for a great kitesurf holiday. At the beach you’ll find a cosy kite centre equipped with new Best Kiteboarding gear under KiteWorldWide management with experienced and licensed international instructors. Both options are a five to ten minute drive from the kite spot (transfers are provided).
Kite Loop are the only centre on the beach to offer its own camp site right on the spot. Beside camping, they also offer different accommodation options, from hotels to private rooms just ten minutes walk from the spot.
CAPTION | The set-up at Kite Loop / PHOTO | Kite Loop Kiteboarding School
FOOD AND DRINK
There are lots of small shops and medium size supermarkets as well as bakeries and a weekly food market in Ulcinj itself. Restaurants and beach bars offering good quality local and international food at very reasonable prices can easily be found. Many of the restaurants have fantastic views of the river, river mouth or the sea.
Ulcinj itself is a small but very picturesque town set on a hillside with an old fortified city, cobblestone streets and medieval buildings. In fact the old town is one of the oldest urban architectural complexes along the Adriatic Sea. The views out over the Adriatic Sea are beautiful. There is a small tourist strip, so the city retains its authentic local atmosphere and the locals are very friendly. The main city beach gets very busy, but travel just outside the town and you'll find quieter coves with crystal clear waters. Alternatively explore the stunning countryside, including Europe's largest canyon and fjord-like river mouths.
In general, Montenegro is developing as an 'Adventure Tourism' destination with a number of companies investing in services such as: white water rafting (along Europe's deepest canyon), kayaking, mountain biking, climbing, scuba diving, sailing, hiking or paragliding.
In terms of more leisurely activities, it is said if you want your dream summer vacation in the costumes of Adam and Eve then you should visit the hidden nudist beach at Ada Bojana, which is highly recommended and encircled by the beautiful river Bojana. Other sites of interest include Skadarsko Lake on the border of Albania and Montenegro, which is the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula. Valdanos beach and olive forest is the biggest living monument of olive cultivation in Montenegro, with extraordinary economic and ecological value, with 18,000 olive trees, which are on average 800 years-old! Zenska Plaza (Ladies Beach) with its thermal waters is often recommended by doctors for treating sterility due to its mineral springs in the shallower areas... but it's also very nice for just enjoying the mixed scent of dense pine trees and of water rich with minerals early in the morning. You can almost feel your lungs expanding, and look out for the cave which gives a mysterious note to the entire area!
CAPTION | Very chilled beach lifestyle with hammocks and day beds at the spot / PHOTO | KiteWorldWide
CAPTION | Slacklining / PHOTO | Kite Loop Kiteboarding School
CAPTION | There's always the world game / PHOTO | Kite Loop Kiteboarding School
Podgorica (TGD) is the capital of the country and there are flights there from most major airports with Montenegro Airlines, Austrian Airlines (via Vienna). Ryanair flies from London and Brussels. Tivat airport (TIV) can be reached by some charter airlines like Airberlin. If you don't want to hire a car, KiteWorldWide can organise a transfer.