A mountain with roots in the sea and head in the clouds
The giant mountain range of the Dinarides is nowhere else so close to the sea, creating an exhilarating and impressive image, as it is in the littoral zone of Makarska. The view from the sea of a massive wall of Biokovo with its cliffs, grooves, fissures and towers is the main feature of this part of the Adriatic and an unavoidable picture on all postcards from Makarska Riviera. Nothing less impressive is the view from Biokovo’s peaks and steep rocks, stretching onto the blue sea and narrow coastal green belt deep below the slopes.
The foot of the central part of Biokovo is a mildly sloping plateau, fertile and green, which elevates some 300 meters from the sea. Thousand-meter high rocks rise above this green belt, creating a mighty wall that watches over Makarska Riviera. Above this rocky belt, there is an interesting winding highland of 4 kilometres of width. It displays typical karstic features and accommodates the highest peaks between which lie many sinkholes of various depths. Thanks to special formations, significance and natural wealth, Biokovo has been protected as nature park.
The vegetation on Biokovo can be best explored by visiting the botanical garden Kotišina, which is located on the littoral slopes of the mountain, at an above-sea-level of 350 to 500 meters. It is only 3 kilometres away from Makarska and can be reached by car or on foot from the centre of Makarska in about 45 minutes of Nordic walking.
The north-western part of Biokovo, around the summit of Sveti Ilija, is particularly interesting as it has an entirely different appearance and is less accessible. This part of Biokovo, unlike its central area, is a prominent ridge. The peaks of Kuranik (1550 m), Sveti Ilija (1642 m) and Šćirovac (1619 m) are, due to their location and height, the most difficult points to be reached and are therefore rarely visited. Each climb takes more than 4 hours, and the ascent is exhausting and difficult due to large screes and sun exposure.
The central part of Biokovo is the highest and most attractive to excursionists because there is a fully paved road leading to the highest peak of Sv. Jure (St George). However, there are many other mountain trails to that point and two mountain houses provide a possibility of overnight stay. Among all Biokovo’s summits, particularly interesting is the summit of Sv. Jure (1762 m). A radio-television transmitter is located on this top and a homonymous church is nearby. The summit of St George is the second largest in Croatia (after the mountain top of Dinara) and as the television tower is 90 meters high, the peak of the transmitter is actually the highest “solid” point in Croatia. An extraordinary panoramic view of Zagora and the islands stretches from the top and, on clear days, even the mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Monte Gargano in Italy can be seen. The peak can be reached by a mountain trail leading from Makar and passing through Vošac or from Veliko Brdo and Bašković through Lokva from the littoral side. It can also be reached from the Zagora side, from Milići and from the top of Turija, as well as by a 23-kilometre-long fully paved. The beginning of Biokovo road and the main entrance into Biokovo Nature Park is located at the 6th kilometre of the road Makarska – Vrgorac.
The most beautiful view of the sea and the rocks of Biokovo is offered from the peak of Vošac. The reason is the fact that the straight-line-distance from the sea of this 1421-meter-high summit is only 2100 meters, which allows visitors to experience a memorable bird’s eye view of the settlements and beaches of the littoral zone of Makarska and the town itself. Vošac is a popular destination of mountaineers and excursionists as two structured mountain trails lead to it from Makarska. A mountain lodge is located on the top.
For those that wish to explore Biokovo, it should be noted that all climbs from the coast are lengthy and very demanding, exposed to sun for the most part, which is why it is recommended to start ascending early at dawn. Due to wild terrain, ascents should be avoided when the weather conditions are unfavourable (fog, bora wind, snow) and preparation for this type of climb should be thorough. Plenty of water should be carried along, as it is scarce on Biokovo. Nevertheless, visit to Biokovo provides a memorable experience of mountain and sea one should not miss.