Hvar - the island of crystal clear blue’s, just off of Split, Croatia
We spent a glorious seven days on the island of Hvar, which gave us ample time to make the most of all that this place had to offer. We came to Hvar from Split, where you have the option of taking a fast boat, or ferry - went with the cheapest option which at the time was the ferry, a little bit of a longer commute (2.5 hours), but super enjoyable as you have the option of sitting up-top, wind in your hair and views of the ocean and other islands the entire way.
The ferry dropped us off in Stari Grad, and from here we caught a 20 minute shuttle bus to the town of Hvar (around 27 kuna’s per person) which is where we had our accomodation, an area that we would highly recommend due to it’s huge diversity all within walking distance - old historic town, fortresses, popular cafe’s and bars, the port, supermarkets, beaches, and even a few more-so secluded beaches which we will tell you all about below!
Here are a few of our top-tips and must-see’s when staying on this island, ranked in order of how much we enjoyed them so that depending on how many days you have in Hvar, you can see what you can squeeze in! We would highly recommend downloading the Hvar map from the maps.me phone application, as this will help you locate all of the spots that we talk about below, including the walking trails and where to start them!
So the main reason you’ve probably come to Hvar is to enjoy the gorgeous beaches that it has to offer. We found that these weren’t located at all near the main town or port (which are all rather small and crowded), and instead were accessible via short walking trails which never took us more than around 30 minutes. Our favourite beach to visit closes to the main town of Hvar was one that’s only accessible by foot, which meant that it was never over-crowded and sometimes we even had it all to ourselves! The beach was called Mekićevica, and the trail to this beach begins from another beach (which can be found on maps.me by the name of ‘Uvala Pokonji Dol’. Once you are here, you can continue via a trail that wraps around the coast through forestry, all the way until you reach the next bay, where you will find Mekićevica. Another five minute walk will lead you to Robinson beach, which is also a secluded bay only accessibly by foot, and even has a little bar/cafe to grab some lunch at called “Robinson”. We loved both of these beaches as each time we visited there was generally no one else around. The water here was also so blue and crystal clear that it was perfect for capturing underwater photography with our go pro and split dome. We also found the pebbles not as large as some of the other beaches, which meant for a comfier sun-basking session also! All in all, we would certainly recommend the 30 minute walk away from the busier beaches near the Hvar port, pack a lunch and lots of water and you can spend the whole day here as there’s also lots of shade under the nearby trees when you need a break from that sun.
Boat trip to the Paklinski Islands:
This was by far our most favourite day of the seven spent in Hvar. We hired a boat for 450 kuna / $90 AUD (which is a bit of a big-spend for two travellers who are travelling for a whole year!), but was worth every single penny! Small boats (can generally fit up to 5 people) can be rented from many vendors on the port, and be sure to visit a few of them to get yourself the best price. The price should include hire for the entire day, as well as your fuel. As the boat is only small, you don’t need a licence at all to operate one and you’ll get a mini run-down lesson from whoever you hire it from in the morning.
We spent the entire day visiting the many many bays of the Paklinski islands, which are just off of the island of Hvar. We would simply find ourselves a spot of clear blue water, anchor our boat, and jump off and enjoy. Our boat also came with a cooler box and snorkelling set, which made for a more enjoyable day when we could chill our beer and see the fishes below us!
A few of our must see recommendations while exploring on these islands would be:
Carpe Diem beach (this beach is a big party beach each night, but during the day makes for gorgeous views and an awesome beach bar)
Zdrilca beach (our favourite)
The bay near ‘Toto’s” restaurant
Otherwise, continue to drive your boat in and around all of the little harbours, and you will discover so many beautiful spots for swimming! There is also a cliff jumping spot that is only accessible by boat or hike that we visited this day also, it doesn’t have an official name as such, but if you use maps.me and search for the bay of Uvala Mala Garska, you will find the cliff jumping area very close to here, you won’t be able to miss it!
We spent around 8 hours out on the boat, and loved every single second of it - be sure to pack snacks and sunscreen, it gets HOT!
Hiring a scooter for the day:
Hvar is a much larger island than we initially thought, and not an island that can be explored completely without a vehicle, or a scooter! We hired a scooter for an entire 24 hours for 200 kuna, which was the cheapest price that we could find after asking around the town all day. You don’t require a motorbike licence to ride one as they’re only 50cc, but we would certainly recommend experience in riding one, as do they vendors who hire them out. The scooters are equipped for two people, and we used less than a tank of fuel to get around most of the island. These are the places where we would recommend stopping to check out on this day, and we would recommend starting early because there sure is LOTS to see! We have listed them in the order that we travelled around the island, as we did a little bit of a loop (with only a bit of backtracking due to the roads)
The wild lavender fields: After riding up through the hills, you will reach the village of Brusje - the views from this area are amazing, as you are up so high that you can see the ocean far below, and many mountains out into the distance. You will also come across many fields of wild lavender. When we visited they were quite dry, and not so vibrant in colour due to the heat. And don’t go adventuring too close, as there are lots of bee’s about and you don’t want to learn the hard way like Kirk and get stung :P
Stari Grad: this town is located on the bay of the sea. We found ourselves a park and went for a little wander through the old town, rich with cobbled stone streets and history. We stopped off at one of the local bakeries and bought ourselves a traditional apple pastry that we enjoyed as we walked along the water’s edge. Start Grad is probably also a good stop-off for some food or a drink as there are a large selection of restaurants and cafe’s lining the streets.
Jelsa Beach: This was our favourite stop of the day! We decided to continue to ride past the main town and beach of Jelsa, where we kept along the coast. After a few more minutes of driving, you will pass a campsite “Camp Mina”, and this is where we parked our scooter and jumped off to enjoy the beach! Here the water was divine, and the views were gorgeous with many mountains in the distance. There are lots of shade spots and rock areas for you to put down your towels, and even a bakery and crepe stall nearby too!
Zavala Beach via Pitve: Our next stop was Zavala beach which can only be reached by driving through a long, damp, dark, and cold tunnel! There’s a sign before you enter advising no scooters allowed, but a local said that scooter’s go through it all the time and the rule isn’t really enforced.. so away we went! Before you reach the tunnel you drive through the gorgeous little village of Pitve - again set up high on a hill, you have the most gorgeous views from up here! Once you are through the tunnel, you don’t have far to go until you reach Zavala beach, however there are a number of steep decline switchbacks that you need to get down first, just take it easy and you’ll be fine. Zavala beach was super secluded, quiet, and we were certainly the only travellers who were there! It was beautiful, clear, and clean.
Dubovica Beach: to reach Dubovica, you will need to drive back through the tunnel and village of Pitve, and then take the main highway back towards Hvar. You will know once you’ve reached Dubovica because you will see hundreds of scooters and cars parked along the main road in carparks, Dubovica is a beach that you can only reach directly by walking down a trail, making it a little quieter than others you will come across in Hvar. Once we parked our scooter, the walk down to the beach was only around 10 minutes, and a scenic one the entire time. Dubovica was probably one of the larger beaches that we came across, with lots of space for people to lie their towels, and there were also two cafe’s down here as well! We loved this little spot, and there were also a few cliff’s either side of the bay perfect for some cliff jumping!
Zaraće & Milna Beach: Zaraće and Milna beaches aren’’t too far past Dubovica, we didn’t make a stop here as we were running out of daylight hours and had a special sunset spot planned, but we’re including them in our blog because we were told by many locals that these are both very beautiful spots! Again, they are little bays only accessibly by a short walking trail, with space to park up on the main road. If you make it here, you will need to let us know how you liked it!
Tvrdava Napoleon fortress for sunset: This spot was a recommended to us by a local, and boy was it a hidden gem in Hvar! We rode our scooter up to this gorgeous spot just before sunset, as high as high could be looking over the village and sea of Hvar. Not only was there only another one or two people here, but the views below were just endless.
Watching the sun set near Podstine or Bonj beach:
These spots are perfect for sunset as you can watch as it sets over the ocean. You can access these sunset spots via a path from the main town of Hvar that loops all around the coast towards Podstine beach. The best place for watching is just before the beach called Podstine, and there are lots of rocks that you can sit upon and enjoy a drink and snack, a perfect end to the day.
Food and drinks: Be prepared to pay ALOT of money for eating and dining out. It’s generally overpriced all over the whole island, but you can always still find your fresh fruit markets and bakeries! For a great atmosphere, make sure you head to Hula Hula for a drink or meal, it’s the only place that we saw in Hvar that is set RIGHT on the beach, best views, good tunes, and a big selection of food and drinks!
If you have any questions or think that we might have missed something, let us know! Always love hearing from you guy! Enjoy Hvar, it is one special place!