If Hvar is your sole destination in Croatia, you might like to consider taking a trip over to Brac , the island that lies to the north between Hvar and Split, for a day. During the summer a shuttle boat service runs between Vrboska on Hvar and Bol on Brac. The big attraction on Bol is Zlatni Rat, the spectacularly beautiful beach that features on so many posters of Croatia. There's also a smaller beach near the Dominican monastery at the other end of the town as well as some good restaurants and a pretty little port.
A similar excursion boat does a Jelsa-Bol-Jelsa trip daily in summer. Email the address below for more information.
Jadrolinija runs a catamaran ferry service between Jelsa and Split with a stop at Bol, but this is aimed more for locals who are heading to Split for the day, it leaves Jelsa at 6am and returns at 4pm - not exactly holiday timing.
There is no car ferry between the two islands - to make that connection you must return to Split.
The Illyrians and their bunjas are a visible but mysterious presence on Hvar. For a structure that may be some 2000 years old, this bunja is in amazingly good condition, maybe some local developer has tried their hand at a little renovation.
We saw our first bunja on Brac and became intrigued with the lost Illyrians who built them. The name rang bells - echoes of Shakespeare studied at school - wasn't Orsino the Duke of Illyria? The bunjas we saw didn't look like ducal palaces. Wikipaedia to the rescue - the Illyrians were the ancient tribes who inhabited the Western Balkans in Classical times.
What is a bunja? A dry-stone walled house, typically round with a stepped stone roof, quite large inside. It seems on Hvar they're known as "trim". You'll see stone buildings like this in other places - JLBG tells me in the Luberon in southern France they're known as bories.
Here in Croatia their use, and the building of them . continued well into the 19th century, though by then they were used as animal shelters rather than as houses and consequently are both smaller and somewhat simpler in their construction. The one in the photo here is in a field right at the turnoff for Vrboska and is surprisingly spacious inside.
Owned by Dagmar Meneghello, the passionate art collector and critic, Škorpion Gallery is only 10 minute walk from Palmižana marina which can be reached by boat from Hvar town. Today it's a highly recognized institution, one of the most funky places in this part of the world. This gallery of contemporary art which continuously changes its exhibit. Each time I visited it had a different look, with always predominating bright colours. Along with the art collection of Dagmar Meneghello, the owner and friends of the gallery dedicated their love and affection to discover and present new artistic talents of the Croatian art scene who have immortalize the island in all its beauty.
Škorpion is a place open to all, a gallery where you can dine or have a coffee admiring beautiful pieces of art and relics in a luxurious surroundings and a view of Southern Palmižana Bay. A few years ago a new section of the gallery was inaugurated, Škorpion Shop. Now you can buy all the artworks decorating the walls, an exquisite collection of images of the island in all its splendour, in addition to imaginative summer collection for women and aromatherapy products made of local lavender, rosemary, sage and aloe. A pleasure for all senses.
More pics in the travelogue
Pakleni Islands is a string of 11 small islands. The largest of these is Sveti Klement, a 20-minute boat ride rom Hvar town. It boasts many hidden sandy and pebbled coves and there are easy and delightful hikes. The coastal part of the island is barren and rocky while parts of the interior are covered with scrub and pine forest. Scuba divers love Sveti Klement for the vibrant underwater life. There are a three settlements (Palmižana, Momića Polje and Vlaka) and also a marina, operated by ACI Club in Palmižana. People often reffer to Sveti Klement as Palmižana as it is most popular and easy to access. We always stayed in Palmižana as it is really beautiful. But one day we decided to explore more of the island.
So if you want to avoid the crowds, just take a hike around the island and find yourself a perfect place. From marina a winding path adorned with flowering cacti leads to Palmižana Maneghello restaurant. Here you turn right and the path becomes narrower and more overgrown. It's a nice hike through the pine forest, with lots of wild rosemary by side, which we picked on the way back. We passed by several beautiful bays with azure blue sea. After one hour walk we came to a small fishing village of Vlaka, and spent the day in a lovely nearby cove in a shadow of pine trees.
Several boats leave every morning from the port of Hvar town to Sveti Klement. The last one goes back to town at 5:00pm.
Palmižana has been a favourite getaway for the people of Hvar since the turn of the 20th century. It's a picturesque hillside hamlet where Meneghello family created a beautiful botanical garden along with the colourful bungalows, villas and a renowned restaurant/art gallery, surrounded by a thick pine forest and cacti. I returned after many years and was glad to find Palmižana kept all its previous charm. Not much has changed from the old days. A very special place. Just love it!
The first thing we noticed upon arrival in the early morning was scent of lush vegetation. There is plenty of rosemary, sage, lavender, basil, mint, laurel, pine trees, and mimosas here blooms all year round. After a nice cappuccino in the Meneghello restaurant/art gallery we went to the beach where we found a nice place in the shadow of the pine trees. It was just perfect for reading and relaxing. The water in the bay was crystal clear and lovely for swimming. In case you get hungry, there are a few nice restaurants and a very pleasant beach lounge bar Novak.
Driving some 30 minutes from Jelsa in the direction to Sučuraj you come to Poljica, the first village on the main road. It is known for having one of the best oil presses on the island so it's a good place to buy some of the island's famous olive oil. From Poljica the winding narrow road leads to Mala Stiniva, a beautiful bay hidden between two natural capes. If you like to spend your time in an unspoiled and quiet bay, away from the mass of tourists, this is just a right place to be. The bay is positioned on the north coast of Hvar, orientated to mainlands Makarska riviera and Biokovo mountain above riviera, offering some beautiful views.
Mala Stiniva has a fabulous pebble beach. It is especially well known for the picturesque sheer cliffs which descend into the azure blue sea, creating a unique scenery. The cliffs are also ideal for free climbing. There are very few houses in this delightful bay and most of them were built or renovated for tourism purposes. Some are without regular electricity and water supply so they use rain collection system and solar panels. Once you are inside this bay get ready for one more surprise. Mala Stiniva hides yet another little bay in it, with a lovely stone house, which you can see very well from the road.
Mala Stiniva is situated about 20 km southeast from Jelsa and reachable by car. At the point where the road ends you leave the car. From there the path leads down to the bay. On the other hand, the most pleasant and perhaps most popular way to get to Mala Stiniva is by excursion boat from Jelsa. The journey takes less than one hour.
No doubt, most favourite of all bays of Hvar! Once we discovered it, we went there several more times, including the last day, to keep vivid memories of this delightful little bay.
With most of the tourism focused on the west of the island, very few visitors venture east of Jelsa when visiting Hvar. There are several hidden gems worth exploring in the relatively undeveloped and undiscovered eastern part of the island. You’ll find some stunning bays and historic stone villages, including the ecovillage of Humac, one of the delights of Hvar and the most atmospheric places on the island. You can get there by car by notorious, winding hilly road from Jelsa to Sučuraj direction. After some 7 km from Jelsa you’ll see a wooden sign for village konoba – restaurant.
Dating back to the 15th century and totally abandoned for many years, last 15 years the village is back to life, thanks to the locals from Vrisnik, the major landowners of Humac. It’s a unique example of well preserved rural architecture. The charm of the village lies in its harmonious stone houses, courtyards and picturesque ruins at every turn. Konoba Humac, at the front of the village, has been lovingly restored, and offers excellent food, prepared in traditional styles with ingredients ecologically grown on the farm. The church of St John and St. Paul (Sv. Ivan i Pavao) is of a recent date. Humac is at its most vibrant on June 26, St John and St Paul’s Day, when islanders gather to celebrate in the village. Not knowing about it before, we visited Humac just that day, so we took part in the celebration for a while.
A short path leads to a view point with a superb panorama of all the surrounding places, the island of Brač and Makarska coast. Some 30-minute walk from Humas is Grapčeva Cave (Grapčeva Špilja) which dates back to Neolithic times (2.500 BC) and is one of the oldest discoveries in the region.
Velo Grablje is one of Dalmatia's most picturesque settlements, situated in a valley along the old road between Hvar and Stari Grad, some 5 km from Brusje. Dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, it was once a prosperous place of hard working people, known for their high quality of wine, olive oil and honey. But most of all, Velo Grablje was well known for its production of lavender oil, making the village one of the biggest producers of lavender oil in Dalmatia. Today only a handful permanent residents since the majority of population moved to Hvar town over the last years. The village is almost abandoned and houses fell into disrepair. Velo Grablje comes to live with the annual Lavender Festival, a celebration of the island's lavender production.
Stone houses and courtyards still capture your attention with its attractive architecture. Walking its narrow streets you can feel the atmosphere of old times. The parish church of Sts Cosmos and Damian (Sv. Kuzma i Damjan) is from the 19 the century. Above the village is the little church of St Vitus (Sv Vid) which was the patronage of the nobles Gazzari who, together with the Ozoris family, participated in forming the village.
A lovely walk along the bed of a dried-up book will bring you to a totally abandoned village of Malo Grablje 2 km below. Above the village, at Ozdrin, there is a fine view of the Hvar channel and the islands of Vis and Korčula on one side, and the bay of Stari Grad on the other side.
We passed by Vrisnik several times, but never stopped as we were always on the way to somwhere else. We were both curious about the village so one day we decided to pay a visit and explore its narrow cobbled streets. Vrisnik is a picturesque little village of stone houses settled on the slopes of a hill above Svirče village. Its name come from colourful Mediterranean plant heather (vrijes in Croatian), growing abundantly in the area. 200 inhabitants of Vrisnik moslty live from agriculture. Green village surroundings and cultivated fields are mostly covered by vineyards and olive trees, but also trees of fig, peach, orange and lemon.
Vrisnik has some very interesting architecture. The old stone houses and quaint courtyards and gardens full of beautiful flowers, will take you back in time. Some houses are connected with small bridges and arches. At the top is the parish church of St Anthony the Abbot (Sv. Antun Opat) from the 17th century, with a beautiful alley of ancient cypresses. The church square provides some breathtaking views over the island, from the nearby village of Svirče to Stari Grad field (Agar) and Brač island. We arrived just for the sunset which was very beautiful. Worth mentioning are also the little churches of Sv. Roko and Sv. Dorotea (St Dorothy).
The village is well conected with Jelsa (3,5 km) and Stari Grad (9 km).
Pitve is the village that we passed by many times and thought of yet another lovely stone village. From the car it did not look a lot different from other stone villages. But then one day we finally decided to make a stop and take a walk through the village. We were very pleased we did it as we found the village a real gem where behind every corner there was a little surprise.
Considered one of the oldest settlements of the island, this typical village consists of two parts: Gornje (Upper) or Old Pitve and Donje (Lower) Pitve which is the newer part. Between them is the church of Sv. Jakov (St. James) from the 19th century. The settlement probably originates from Illyrian times which supposes that its name originates from Pityeia, a former name for the island. Gornje Pitve provides the most magnificent view of the large valley, Jelsa and the surrounding area of Vrboska, over the Hvar channel and the island of Brač.
The village has narrow cobblestone streets and there are no cars. Stone houses have simple lines and lovely architectural details. They have typical closed pens where there are hidden gardens and often the devices used for compressing the olive oil and wine presses. Some houses have nice gardens with orange and lemon trees. Under the village is a cemetery and fields, olive groves and fields of lavender. And if you want to eat a good dalmatian peka or try other specialities of the region, Konoba Duboković (named after well-known family) is a place to go.
more pics in the travelogue
Beautiful bay of Jagodna is situated on the southern side of the island, at the foot of Sveti Nikola (the highest peak on the island, between Sveta Nedjelja and Ivan Dolac. To get to this hidden bay we drove through a nice pine tree forest until we came to the campsite. Here we left the car and took a short walk down to the beach.
If you are looking for more peaceful and relaxed surroundings and wish to enjoy the beauty of untouched nature, Jagodna is the place for you. It's a small settlement of only a few houses with a dock for small boats, and it offers one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. If you want to swim in turquoise sea, enjoy the sunset and fall a sleep listening to the sound of the sea, it's all here. The place is also ideal for anyone who enjoys hiking, free climbing and surfing, and the crystal clear sea is perfect for diving. The nearest shop for grocery is in Sveta Nedjelja and Ivan Dolac, some 3 km away.
The island of Hvar boasts many stunning quiet bays and beaches but Jagodna was somehow my favourite. It has just everything I'd need for a perfect holidays by the sea.
Some 20-minute walk from the new road that connects Stari Grad and Hvar town, situated in a valley between three hills is a picturesque old stone village of Malo Grablje. The walk was lovely, with steep cliffs on both sides, offering beautiful scenery of deep canyon. Once a rich and advanced township of people who, other than production of good wine, olive oil and honey, were known as the greatest lavender oil producers in Europe. Today Malo Grablje is almost abandoned with only a few permanent residents but still surrounded by olive groves. The inhabitants moved to the coastal village of Milna but some of them still have fields around their native village.
Malo Grablje is well preserved stone village showing the traditional Dalmatian architecture. A few families have moved back, including the Tudors who claim kinship with Elizabeth. They recently opened the best out-of-the-way konoba (traditional Dalmatian-style restaurant) Stori Komin. It is only open on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, and closed in winter. To be sure you get a table, you can make a reservation in advance (00385 (0)91 527 6408). An enchanting atmosphere, hospitable owners, good home made food (you can get wild boar in season) and strong Dalmatian wine will make the evening unforgettable.
more pics in the travelogue
Zaraće is an old stone village on the south side of the island, along the main road from Stari Grad to Hvar town. The distance between Zaraće and Hvar town is around 7 km. The village is situated on the very top of a rocky cliff, surrounded with vineyards and olive groves, cacti flowers and the sea. We passed by several times until one day we finally decided to leave the car at the side of the road and take a short walk by a stone path up to the village.
Zaraće is an attractive small village which used to be completely abandoned. A few houses look nicely kept, with some lovely details and tables under an arch of grapes. Though it was still very quiet when we visited. Only in one house the doors were open and there was a sign of life. An Englishman wanted to buy the village to turn it into art colony but several house owners refused to sell. From the top is an amazing view of Zaraće bay beneath the village. It's also a nice place to watch in quietude the last sun rays before they disappear in the sea.
Only a few kilometres after the bay of Dubovica is Zaraće. Following the new road from Stari Grad to Hvar town you have to turn left where a steep narrow road leads to the sea. I was quite scared when I saw how steep and narrow was the street. It was impossible to meet with another car coming from the opposite direction. For this reason they made a few places where the road is wider and cars can meet. But it went quite well and I soon got used to it.
At the end of the road, on the left, is a parking which actually belongs to the restaurant, but it was no problem to leave the car there. This is certainly the most romantic place for the restaurant where tables are placed on the top of the cliff, with the view of an amazing sunset over the sea of Hvar. It offers genuine old-style cooking and some of the best wines from the island, in a silent ambience surrounded by the sea. Reservations must be made in advance. Here you find a long pebble beach, the main beach of Zaraće.
But there is another beach in Zaraće, one of our favourites. It's only a short walk to the right from where we left the car, and at the end are stone stairs down to the beach. The lovely little bay with only one house (I wished we stayed there) has a huge rock on one side, offering a nice view of the bay.
You'd rather make the effort of taking every day a small boat (there are pleinty in front of hotel Adriatica, every 10 min) to one of the small uninhabited islands in front of HVAR. You can get there wonderfull quiete times, and there are small woodden restaurants on each of them: Jerolimo is teh best. But they are all (7) wonderfull!!!!!!!!!!!
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