You know, the great thing about a sailboat is that you don't have to go far! Just enjoy the well-being and comfort that the boat offers you. You get up in the morning, and the first thing you do is jump into the sea. People often ask me how to live in such a small space, but I also perceive the space around me, and it is unique!
If you are thinking about a sailing holiday, try the island of Hvar!
The Croatian island of Hvar is probably the most famous in Croatia. It is said to have the most days of sunshine per year in the entire Adriatic. With an area of almost 300km2, it is the fourth largest island in the Adriatic.
The history of the island of Hvar is very varied; the oldest finds date from 6000 to 5000 years BC. These finds come mainly from the Grapčeva and Spilja caves; however, there are more similar caves on the island. The first thousand years before AD, the Illyrians lived here. You can still find their traces in the old, fortified settlements and on the burial hills. The Greeks arrived in Hvar in about the fourth century. They established first the colony of Pharos and then the colony of Dimos. Today, Pharos is known as the town of Stari Grad and is one of the oldest cities in Europe. The settlement of Dimos, with the current name Hvar, is today's capital of the island of Hvar.
If you are interested in why there are stone walls on Hvar and other islands, then the history of these walls goes back here. It is mainly the subdivision of agricultural land and pastures. East of Stari Grad, you will find Starogradsko Polje, the best-preserved monument of this type in the Mediterranean.
The Romans' lands divided after the colonization of Hvar are carefully separated by dry walls and roads. The original layout of the land was preserved by ongoing maintenance of these walls for the next generation. Agricultural activity has been continuous here for 2400 years, until today. What we see here today is a continuation of the cultural landscape of the original Greek colonists. In 2008, this area was inscribed on the UNESCO list for its uniqueness.
The Venetians stayed on the island for the longest time, from the thirteenth to the end of the 18th century. Hvar owes its present appearance mainly to them. During their presence on the island, they developed architecture, culture and art. The island has prospered for a long time thanks to fishing, growing rosemary, lavender and olives. Lavender has remained on Hvar everywhere to this day. On the waterfront, you will find stalls and shops smelling from a distance. It doesn't matter if you want to buy fresh lavender just like that, or maybe as soap or lavender honey - which I like best!
Our journey can begin in the oldest town - Stari Grad, my favourite on the island. I look at it mainly from the captain's perspective because Stari Grad has a beautiful and safe port.
The opposite part of the bay is newly completed, so the port's capacity is relatively large. A lot of people only spend time on the waterfront, but it is a pity. Narrow streets and squares directly encourage you to walk, and I will always walk through them. The port of Stari Grad is the end of the large Starigrad Bay on the island's northwest side. This bay hides several other well-protected places.
Uvala Stupisce, Uvala Tiha, Zavala Luka - all these places are perfect for both a day stop for swimming and mooring at night. Also, you will be surprised that you will find peace even on such an island as Hvar. If I should give a tip for a restaurant, then you must try Tiha Restaurant. Culinary is a standard, but the owner is a friendly artist with a pure soul, and this place's overall experience is unrepeatable. It doesn't matter if I brought a bank director or a prince here; everyone still remembers it as the most beautiful meeting they have ever experienced in Croatia.
Probably the most known place on the Adriatic is the capital of the island - Hvar. With a fortress over the city and nightlife that you will not find anywhere else on the Adriatic! By the way, did you know that this fortress nearly became fatal for the town of Hvar when an ammunition depot exploded there? Fortunately, today there is no danger of anything like that, and the trip to the fortress is excellent. The view of the city and the Pakleni islands is worth it!
The port of Hvar is a bit problematic. On the one hand, it is relatively open, but there is also a lot of boat traffic. The paved embankment is mainly occupied by yachts and superyachts of unusual sizes and Croatian tourist boats. For "normal" yachts, there is only limited space left on buoys tied to the shore. The second option is to anchor a short distance in front of the port. It is always necessary to pay attention to the weather!
The nightlife in the city will probably not disappoint anyone. Bars like Carpe Diem in the harbour, Hula Hula Beach with a unique atmosphere at sunset, and other bars and discos right on the waterfront attract everyone who wants to see and be seen. Hvar lives!
The island of Hvar still has the adjacent islands of Pakleni Otoci and the isle of Ščedro, which together have so many beautiful marinas and bays that you don't have to go anywhere else during a week-long cruise!
Pakleni Otoci inseparably belong the town of Hvar. Therefore, many boats that don't fit or don't want to moor directly in Hvar are here. The islands consist of 11 islands and islets and about ten bays for mooring plus one bay with a marina. ACI Marina Palmižana is only a seasonal marina with limited services, but there are several excellent restaurants!
A sidewalk connects the marina with the opposite bay Vinogradisce so that you can choose from restaurants on this side. I probably wouldn't even know which one to recommend; it probably depends only on taste; the quality is high in all of them and booking in advance is needed!
From the marina Palmižana, there is a boat TAXI connection with the town of Hvar, be careful only that you do not miss the last boat!
A lovely bay where I like to stop from time to time is the bay of Velo Zarace. It is a small bay for only a few boats. Inside the bay are a small beach and several houses with accommodation and restaurants.
Another place to visit is the island of Scedro. Here I can recommend mainly the bay Lovišče. A picturesque bay with a few berths, or at anchor with a mooring on the shore. In the bay, there are two small and cosy restaurants with a pleasant atmosphere.
Back on Hvar, but further west is the bay Luka Mrtinovik. The owner of the Ante restaurant, called Gambo, has moorings for his guests and they prepare local specialities in a small restaurant! There is no menu. What ends up on the plate depends only on what they just caught!
Through several other, smaller bays suitable for daily mooring, we reach the town of Vrboska. Upon arrival in Vrboska, you have the choice to stop at the ACI marina or go even deeper into the bay and anchor on the charming town waterfront.
I have one ancient memory of Vrboska. When I was here as a small child with my parents on vacation, Hvar was hit by a massive fire. I remember how almost the whole island burned here, and the flames destroyed house after house. The following days, we walked around the harbour and dreamed of our cabin sailboat! I could have been about two years old, but I still remember it! You can find many other picturesque bays between Vrboska and Starigrad Bay. Some are only suitable for a day stop, exceptionally also for night mooring.
The easiest way to get to the island of Hvar is from around Split.
As a starting point for renting your boat, you can choose: Split Marina, Marina Kastela, Marina Trogir, Marina Marina.
Along the way, you can also visit the islands of Šolta, Brač, Vis - we will write about them another time!