If you have the good fortune of finding yourself in Montenegro, I would encourage you to make the most of your time and explore, explore, and explore! We did and couldn’t believe the breathtaking natural beauty of this country. In this blog, I am going to highlight the day that we rented a boat and explored the Bay of Kotor and the Adriatic Sea. During the morning, we visited Our Lady of the Rocks and the town of Perast. In the afternoon, we left the relative shelter of the Bay of Kotor and ventured out to see the Blue Caves in the Adriatic Sea.
Overview of Our Trip to Montenegro
If I had to choose two words to symbolize Montenegro they would be “mountains” and “water”. This tiny European country has approximately 295 km of coast, 26 lakes, and 27 rivers. Where there isn’t water or beaches, there are mountains.
My husband and two daughters (21 and 13 years old) spent 4 nights and 3 days in Montenegro. Our home base was the Vadar Hotel in Kotor Old Town. This was the perfect location for us to stay and explore Montenegro. For more information about why, please refer to my earlier blog Kotor Old Town, Montenegro: The Best Town to Stay?
In addition to this day exploring the Bay of Kotor and the Adriatic Sea, we took a day long road trip to northern Montenegro. We visited the majestic and beautiful Durmitor and Biogradska Gora National Parks. For more information about our road trip, please refer to my blog Exploring Montenegro: A Breathtaking Road Trip. We spent our last day touring Lake Skadar on the border of Albania. I have not yet written a blog about that experience. So, stay tuned!
Bay of Kotor and Adriatic Sea
Before arriving in Montenegro, we booked a private two hour tour to visit Our Lady of the Rocks and the town of Perast. This included a private speed boat and a captain. We met the captain and picked up our boat across from the gates of Kotor Old Town. The cost of the speed boat with a captain was 120 euros.
Kotor and the Bay of Kotor are very busy in the summer. Accordingly, I would recommend pre-booking a boat in order to avoid disappointment. However, if you do not, it is possible to book one in person. Obviously, supply and demand would dictate whether a boat would be immediately available or you would have to return later. However, it is an option. Your hotel would also likely be able to arrange this for you.
We separately arranged for a private tour guide to accompany us. His cost for the day was 80 euros which included this boat tour, but also a walking tour of Kotor Old Town. I am a great fan of tours and tour guides, especially when the cost is reasonable and there is a mountain of history and culture. Nevertheless, for what we saw and did, I do not think it is necessary to hire one.
Bay of Kotor
The Bay of Kotor is part of the Adriatic Sea. It is 128 km long with over 100 km of shoreline. It is extraordinarily deep with depths that range from 20 metres to 60 metres. As a result, massive cruise ships are a regular sight in the Bay of Kotor.
The Bay was simply breathtaking. We absolutely loved being on the boat. We were completely surrounded by mountains that literally, in many places, simply plunged into the water. Where there was flat or flattish land at the bottom of mountains, we saw small beautifully preserved ancient or medieval towns. From the water, these towns seemed completely isolated from the rest of Montenegro. In reality, narrow two way roads connected the towns along the shores.
Our Lady of the Rocks
Our Lady of the Rocks is approximately 30 minutes by boat from Kotor. It is an artificial island created around 1452 by rocks and sinking old ships loaded with rocks. According to legend, the islet was made over centuries by local seamen who laid a rock in the Bay after each successful journey. The custom still exists today. Every year on the sunset of July 22, local residents throw rocks into the sea, trying to widen the surface of the island.
On the small island is the Church of Our Lady of the Rocks, a small museum and gift shop.
The most striking thing about Our Lady of the Rocks was how beautiful it looked in the middle of the Bay of Kotor. The inside of the church was pretty and there were several pieces in the little museum that were interesting. However, it was the scenery that made this trip a “must do” excursion.
My opinion is the same for the town of Perast. After spending around 30 minutes visiting Our Lady of the Rocks, we hopped back on our boat and crossed to Perast. Perast is a small charming town that is over a thousand years old. There are a few restaurants, an expensive hotel or two, and a pretty church to visit. We spent around 30 minutes walking around, which was nice, but I think the view of the town from the water would have been enough.
We wanted more. So, after the tour and before we left to return to our hotel, we booked another speed boat for later that afternoon to take us further into the Adriatic Sea. This time, we booked it directly with the boat operators on the shore and did not hire a separate tour guide (although we had a captain). We paid 250 euros in cash for 3-4 hours for a boat with a larger engine that could take us beyond the Bay of Kotor into the Adriatic Sea.
If you have back problems, this is not a trip for you. The speed boat sped…no kidding, right?? And, also crashed onto waves, sometimes pretty hard. Further, the waves got larger once we left the shelter of the Bay of Kotor and entered the open waters of the Adriatic Sea. It was a ton of fun for me and my daughters. However, my husband’s back bothered him every now and then. There were a few moments when he was a little uncomfortable. Overall, he would tell you that it was totally worth it, but not everyone would agree with him depending on your physical health.
We boated around one hour from Kotor to the Blue Caves. On our way, we passed Our Lady of the Rocks and Perast. The Blue Caves are caves large enough for boats to enter and for people to swim inside. We did this. We explored the cave and then, our boat anchored outside so we could continue to swim. It was lots of fun. For those cold water cowards out there (like me), the water was a little cold as the caves are not sheltered from the currents of the Adriatic Sea. However, the experience is definitely worth a few goose bumps.
From there, our captain took us to Plaza Stevuzo, a 15 minute boat ride away where we stayed for an hour. Plaza Stevuzo is a beautiful, rustic little cove carved into the rocks and accessible only by boat. It has a Robinson Cruso “esque” outdoor restaurant and bar, a rocky beach, umbrellas, lounge chairs and hammocks. There were lots of holes in the rocks for crabbing and rocky ledges to jump from. We had delicious cocktails and appetizers, and were sad to leave.
On our way back to Kotor from the open waters of the Adriatic Sea, our captain diverted us into a large opening in the side of a mountain. It wasn’t pretty like the caves and we really couldn’t see anything inside until he turned on his flashlight. But when he did, it was amazing. These caves were man made, very long and narrow, with cement ledges running along the sides. He told us that this was where submarines hid during WWII. Once outside, we spotted many more such caves along our way back, although during the war they were camouflaged by trees and rocks. They were a complete surprise and something that I would recommend exploring.
I would highly recommend trying to spend some of your time in Montenegro on a boat in the Bay of Kotor or further out into the Adriatic Sea. The views of Montenegro from the boat are simply spectacular. I don’t think it is entirely necessary to dock and explore Our Lady of the Rocks or Perast. However, it is worthwhile to spend time from a boat admiring how beautiful both of these places are.
If you have the time, I would go further out into the Adriatic Sea to see the Blue Caves and stop and have a cocktail or two at Plaza Stevuzo. You will feel like one of the cool kids that somehow found a secret treehouse. Finally, make sure you take a closer look at the submarine hideouts.
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