Ada Bojana: A mecca for kitesurfing adventures

Chanoa Tarle

Senior Contributor

At the very end of the Montenegrin coast bordering Albania lies a special place of bohemian pleasures. Drive past the town of Ulcinj to reach the 14-kilometre sandy beach, Velika Plaza (translation: “Long Beach”) the mysterious island of Ada Bojana and the Bojana River- a system that flows directly into the Adriatic Sea. Home to fantastic kitesurf schools and often host to just the right winds, it’s a veritable mecca for kitesurfing adventures. The conditions and sands are like nowhere else in the region, thanks to sands said to have healing properties and winds blowing straight from Africa. Legends, epic history and wild nature unite for a truly unique summer adventure.

Don Quixote and Other Legends

Ada Bojana is located in the southeastern region of the municipality of Ulcinj. Home to a unique culture thanks to Christian, Muslim and Venetian traditions, Ulcinj borders Albania and is the southernmost city in Montenegro. It’s also one of the oldest place towns on the Adriatic Sea and is believed to be over 2,000 years old. In the historical, stone-laden Old Town, visitors are often surprised to stumble upon the statue of the Spanish writer, Miguel de Cervantes. He was captured and brought to Ulcinj (once a dangerous haven for pirates from Malta, Algeria and Tunisia); he stayed in Ulcinj and then Algeria before returning to Spain five years later. It is said that captives in Ulcinj could roam free. Locals claim de Cervantes fell in love with a local woman and that she was Dulcinea, Don Quixote’s inspiring romantic partner in the famous novel. Quixote’s fascination with windmills is also said to reference structures that once existed in Ulcinj.

A 14km Beach and Mysterious Island

Ada Bojana is home to the longest sand beach in the country (14km), a triangular island with another beach, a nudist camp, a resort and a forest only the most advanced local hunters dare navigate (home to wild boars, snakes and jackals) and the Bojana River, running into the Adriatic Sea and separating the Velika Plaza side from the island. The island’s name is Ada Bojana, however, locals refer to the entire area by that name. Marshes and dunes abound in the popular bohemian vacation spot and nature reserve; the area attracts everyone from campers in RVs and tents to couples escaping for romantic getaways. The fine sands are said to have healing properties (people with injuries often cover aching joints and limbs with the warm sand), the water is only chest-high for long stretches out to sea and the sand beneath the sea is a type of silt, thanks to the nearby river. Fish known to sting lay in wait beneath that sand, however, locals are quick to explain how to wade without disturbing them. No matter how many times one has been to Ada Bojana, it’s always a place for discovery.

A Kitesurfing Oasis

Visitors may flock to Ada Bojana for many reasons, but kitesurfing is at the top of the list. Sand-bound onlookers spend hours watching the zen-like panorama of colourful kites and athletic leaps and turns. Meanwhile, kitesurfers love the relatively flat water and near-daily winds with an average speed of 15-20 knots. As such, Ada Bojana is home to dozens of kitesurfing schools. From absolute beginners to experts, everyone can find a kitesurf school to learn the sport for the first time, to attend workshops, to rent or store equipment or to simply create a “home base” for everything from mingling and music to entertainment and food. The most highly-recommended kitesurf schools are the longtime favourite, Kiteloop Club, and Ka’banya Kitesurf Beach, a newer school not far from the river mouth. Kiteloop Club is the only school in Montenegro with IKO (International Kiteboarding Organization) accreditation, however, some schools are home to IKO-accredited instructors. Instructors at the top schools speak English and, in some cases, a few other languages as well. Weather permitting, the season runs long, kicking off in May and lasting through September. 

Dining and Accommodations

While the area is filled with bed and breakfasts and hotels, the log cabin homes lining Bojana River are the top attractions. Guests are privy to the full Ada Bojana experience, surrounded by the sights, scents and sounds of nature. The finest homes tend to be fully-booked by the start of the season; early reservations are recommended. Fresh seafood restaurants abound, but the best place to dine is the oldest fish restaurant on Ada Bojana, Miško (pronounced: “Mishko”). While guests may enjoy everything from delicious grilled octopus to fresh-caught local fish, riblja čorba - a local fish stew and Ada Bojana speciality, should be ordered with every meal. Miško also excels in dessert, including dulce de leche and chocolate cake. However, ending a meal with a plate of fresh fruit, another local tradition, provides a healthier alternative. Other great places to dine include Konoba Kod Ranka (“Ranko’s Tavern”) and Ćićkova Čarda (pronounced: “Chichkova Charda”) on the island; all three restaurants are accessible by water or by land.

Spending Time on Ada Bojana

There are a few ways to get to Ulcinj. Travellers can reach Ada Bojana from Montenegro’s Podgorica Airport in less than one and a half hours, Tirana International Airport is a little over two hours away and Tivat Airport is a one hour and thirty-minute drive along the Montenegrin seacoast. Finally, the 10-hour ferry from Bari, Italy to nearby Bar, Montenegro offers a unique way to make the journey. In addition to kitesurfing, Ada Bojana is home to a myriad of activities- including bicycling along the sandy streets, horseback riding on the beach, paddleboarding on the still river, windsurfing, fishing, yoga, nightlife and live musical events. Taking a boat down the Bojana River is a must, boating past log cabins to go directly to riverside breakfast and lunch venues or just to take a lazy cruise to trace the aqueous border between Montenegro and Albania before tracing the island’s coastline from the Adriatic Sea.

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