Kayaking in Jale

Travel

Having experienced some significant wanderlust after browsing Instagram, I decided that whilst we were in the area, we should explore some of the coastline via sea kayak. Whilst I was quite enthusiastic, the other half was a little concerned about the amount of effort required to complete a 10km route of the coast- nonetheless, I encouraged him to embrace the moment and to give it a go- so we did.

Through several recommendations, I contacted a company called Albanian Adventure that provide a number of adventure activities throughout Albania.

 

We arrived bright and early at Jale beach, just north of Himara. Jal is considered as one of the premier beach destinations in Albania with some lido’s renting umbrellas and sunbeds in excess of EUR150 per day. Loud, obnoxious music boomed from one of the aforementioned establishments, but the rest of the beach was pleasant, quiet, and peppered with umbrellas. We met our guides (Paola and Matteo) and their campsite base and got ourselves briefed and suited and booted.

 

Oar in hand, we made our way down to the shore and after a few attempts, I managed to clamber inside my kayak with the grace of a lame wilderbeast. I was paired with Paola, a Korce native, a sports graduate from the University of Tirana, and a thoroughly nice woman who was keen to explore where we were heading and the various sites we passed along the way.

 

The sea was quite calm and we joined a number of boat expeditions and the occasional jetski as we meandered up the coastline. We passed the two Forgotten Beaches- secluded, sandy, coves only reachable by boat- before stopping for a short break at the most beautiful beach, complete with its own cave.

The views here of the ocean and also various Greek islands including Corfu was breathtaking and I could have quite happily spent the day there.

 

Clambering back into our kayak we paddled on, taking in the beautiful scenery as we went. The cliffs here are vast and weatherworn and come in colours of black, grey, ochre, and an almost pink colour.  Crowned with sprinklings of silvery green foliage, the sound of chirping crickets even followed us whilst we were at sea. We passed Mermaids Cave and Figs Cave before reaching the rather impressive Pirates Cave.

 

The waters became very rough as we entered the cave, rough enough to result in a few expletives falling from my mouth, but once we were inside I could see that it was most definitely worth it. The cave is vast and, well…cavernous, and right at the top of its roof is a large hole that let in beams of sunlight as well as offering a peak of the sky beyond. The water here is a really surreal shade of neon turquoise and the guide told me it is a good spot for diving as well as abseiling through the hole in the roof.

 

We turned here and made our way to Gjipe beach, otherwise known as God’s Garden. By now, my arms were aching and I was in need of a lie down in the shade and something substantial to eat.

 

Gjipe beach is set at the end of a vast canyon that is popular with rock climbers. During the winter months, a river forms here that carried all of the melted snow and ice water from the mountains, out to sea. The beach is covered in pebbles with a couple of lazy lidos situated around its edge. We pulled up on the shore and I literally fell out onto the sand, in dire need of caffeine and shade.

 

After a lunch of oil, salty, fresh fish and a garden salad, I felt perky enough to venture back into the sea. Taking the GoPro, a snorkel, and my boyfriend, we headed off to explore some shoreline to the left-hand side of the bay. Here we found the most wonderful little cave with a shore made entirely of smooth, pebbles in shades of pink, yellow, green, brown, and flint. We lazed here for a while, recouping our energy before the 4km journey back to Jale.

 

Our return journey passed a lot quicker as with the wind behind us, I could get away with not paddling so ferociously. With the sun beating down on my salty skin, and the tinkle of music from nearby boats, I felt really happy and at home as a negotiated the Ionian waters. I couldn’t help but be constantly amazed at how incredibly beautiful this part of the world is.

 

Whilst yes, it has been touched by the hand of commercialism, it is still authentic enough to appeal to those visitors who really want to get away from it all. This is not a place for mod-cons and all the fancy amenities, this is a place to come and relax and experience a holiday that is many miles away from the beaches of Mallorca or Mykonos.

 

As we reached Jale and I heaved my body up the beach with the last bit of energy I had, I felt thankful for such a wonderful day. The guides were professional, friendly, and really great, and the experience was one that I will most definitely remember with fondness for a long time to come.

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