A popular activity for many visitors to Boka Kotorska, or the Bay of Kotor, is to take a boat trip out in the open sea, stopping at towns, islands and caves of interest scattered around the area.
There are many tour agencies that offer boat tours for as little as ten euro, but then, you’re stuck on a boat with way too many people to really enjoy what is supposed to be a tranquil activity. You can easily get a private boat at a decent price by going to the tourist info point at the main exit of the city and asking for some providers. I personally think it is well worth it.
We set out early in the morning, our boat coasting through calm waters as the city of Kotor slowly retreated behind us. The city was cast in a beautiful rose gold morning sunlight while the sea reflected the deep blue of the cloudless sky above. It was the perfect day for such a trip.
My favourite location on the entire trip is the Mamula fort. It is an uninhabited islet with a dark past – first built as a fort during the Austro-Hungarian period, it was later used as a concentration camp, one with a particularly terrible reputation, during World War Two.
The structure and architecture of the fort is impressive and unique. There are plans to convert it into a luxury resort, which was met with some opposition from the former prisoners of the island. Ethics aside, I think its a great idea, as the fort is an architectural gem, and it would be a waste not to have it restored and repurposed.
Our Lady of the Rocks church
Our Lady of the Rocks is an artificially created islet on which stands a small church. The church reminded me very much of the fictional architecture on Naboo, Star War’s Princess Amidala’s home planet. The design of the church, I was told, is quite typical for small cloisters and monasteries in the region.
According to legend, this island was built up over the centuries by local seamen, who were fulfilling an oath to the Madonna. After every successful sea voyage, they would drop a rock into this part of the bay, and over the years, this island emerged. This tradition is still kept in a slightly different form – at sunset on 22 July, local residents boat here and throw rocks into the sea, further expanding the island.
The most popular spot on the Boat Trip route in the bay is the Blue Cave. It’s a water-logged cave in Balun bay. It’s one of the best know natural beauty spots on the Adriatic coast, famous for the glowing blue light that shines magically from the surface of the water.
If you manage to have a moment when there aren’t too many other tourists around, this place, I think, can be quite otherworldly. I think to properly enjoy it, you’ll have to come here really early. The mystical effect of the blue light shining in the enclosed space of the cave is somewhat lost when you’re sharing the cave with three or four other boats, all spewing exhaust into the air.
For lunch, we stopped at Rose, one of the oldest settlements in the area. This town goes way back to Roman times, when it was known as Resnium. Historical documents mentioning the town reach back to the fourth century.
Rose is located on the tip of the Luštica peninsula, and it has a lovely, chill, fishing village vibe. There are great restaurants all along the waterfront, and it is the perfect place to stop and take a break from the scorching heat in the mid to late afternoon. There’s nothing like perfectly grilled seafood and a fresh, cold bottle of Krstač at one of the seaside cafés to really make your afternoon.
All along the Adriatic coast of Montenegro, there are many submarine tunnels built to hide submarines during World War 2 and after. Our skipper drove into one of the tunnels, just to show us how it was like, and it was really impressive.
We felt like characters in a James Bond movie, secretly driving into the hidden lair of some villain. The tunnels run about 120m into the coastline, with their entrances designed and covered by fake rocks, to render them invisible to satellites or spy planes.
Not so far from the main bay outside the city of Kotor is what I think is a ship graveyard. Here, there are old, rusting ships and other types of marine platforms that do not seem to be in operation any longer. One particular ship caught our eye – the Lucky Star – although, from the looks of it, it was not so lucky after all.
Our skipper took us a little closer to this graveyard at our request – We think its worth a look- there’s something magnificent and fascinating about these huge marine structures left to rot and rust under the blistering heat of the summer.
Our boat trip was a long one, we’d set out right after breakfast and returned at sunset. We were all quite sun burnt by the time we got back, but it was well worth it. The Bay of Kotor has a lot to offer, and it would be a pity not to explore its main attractions.