I really enjoyed Vis, but I don't have a comparison as that was the only island I went to.
A lovely coastline, we hired bikes to get around (though it quickly gets very hilly so we hugged the coast-line), a German U-boat station, a British Napoleonic War base within beautiful woodland, a Roman ruin, mini supermarket to buy food, plenty of cafes and restaurants, if we stayed longer we'd have made a trip out to its blue lagoon.
We just stopped at a nice looking bay and would snorkle, be sure to bring solid soled water shoes (ones that you can wear in the sea) as there are a lot of sea urchins (not just around Vis) and rocks.
I got the ferry from Split, booked the day before, it took about 1.5 hours, we just turned up at the tourist office and they found us a place to stay (en-suite room with mini kitchen).
Vis has many splendid beaches especially near Komiza. At the eastern part of Komiza there is a small bay with nice pebble beach named Kamenica. It's sheltered by trees which gives you the opportunity to hide from the strong sun. The beach has fresh water springs so it's really easy to quench your thirst.
There is also a bar, Club Aquarius, offering cold and hot drinks, food, beach chairs and umbrellas and besides, they play quite good music :)
I was lucky to be there off-season so the beach was rather empty. But I expect it gets quite full in the high season (July and August).
Some finely-sculped 16th and 17th century Venetian-style houses line the delightful fishing harbour of Komiza. At the southern end, surmounted by an elegant clock tower, stands the 16th century Venetian fortress or Kastel, now home to the Fishing Museum (Ribarski muzej). A wide collection of nets and knots and a replica of traditional, early 20th century falkusa fishing boat offer a fascinating insight into local life.
The museum is open daily: July & Aug 9am-noon & 6-10pm, June & Sept 9-10am & 7-10pm.
Komiza is the island's main fishing port, a compact and intimate town with palm-fringed seafront on one side and a ring of mountains (with Mount Hum at 587 m Vis' highest point) on the other.
Is the picturesque Mediterranean town with narrow streets, attractive stone houses squeezed together along the harbour, nice churches and numerous pretty pebble beaches sheltered by trees, as Gusarica, Kamenica, Nova Posta and Velo Zalo. Dominating the southern end of the harbour is the Kastel, a stubby 16th century fortress which now holds a Fishing Museum.
There is only one hotel and more intimate choice are is the private accommodation. The martime zone of Komiza is well-known for its wide selection of fish and top Komizan restaurants and family-owned wine cellars would find it impossible not to include this in the menu.
Tourist Information in Komiza has the office at Mikule 2 (tel. 21 713 455; email@example.com)
Komiza is the place I've always dreamed of!! There is not much to do except relax on the beach, loaf around the town and take countless of photos. The ambience is really fantastic!
The oldest settlement on the island is Vis town. It's positioned in a wide bay, Uvala Svetog Jurja (Bay of Saint George) on the northe-east side of the island facing island Hvar and Dalmatian land. The port is protected of open sea influence by peninsula Prirovo.
Ancient Vis town was created by merging two smaller settlements: Luka in the west, where the port is situated, and Kut in the eastern part of bay, where you'll see some interesting 16th and 17th century villas and churches. All of Vis' sights can be appreciaed in a short walk along the bay.
Other official parts of the town are coast villages, positioned on bays such as Milna, Rukavac and Srebrena, Stiniva, Stoncica, although some of them show tendency to become new towns.
Just next to the ferry dock is Vis tourist office (June-Sept Mon-Sat 8am-1pm & 4-8pm, Sun 8am-1pm; Oct-May Mon-Fri 9am-1pm; tel. 21 717 017).
There are some nice churches on the island but the most spectacular (also for its location!) is certainly St. Nicholas Church, so-called Muster (from "monastery").
In the 13th century Benedictines from the neighbouring islet of Bisevo moved to their new monastery, founded on a hill above Komiza. Today's monastery and the church date from the 17th century. The church contains carved Baroque altars and at the end of the main wharf is a Renaissance citadel dating from 1585.
Every year, on St. Nicholas day in November, one boat is burnt as a sacrifice for safety of fishermen on the sea.
Kut ("Corner") is situated just around the bay of Vis town. It's belong to the town though it's in fact a separate hamlet. This is the most attractive part of Vis town, a largely 16th century tangle of narrow cobbled streets overlooked by the summer houses built by nobles from Hvar. There are no specific buildings to visit, although the stone balconies and staircases give the place an aristocratic appearance.
Because of its position and lovely architecture, Kut attracted several bohemians who made their new home. You find some nice art galleries around.
For ancient Romans , bathing was not a private secret ritual, but one very important social activity. Thermae of those times were the place for hygiene, physical exercise, business contacts, cultural and intellectual exchange, with services from bathing and massage to fine meals and music.
Every town had at least one large public bath that served as a community center, and it’s size and variety of services would usually correlate with the size and importance of that city.
On the picture you can see two pools, which used to be covered with marble. The walls were decorated with frescoes, but unfortunately got torn down by British soldiers who built a temporary storage just before the end of the WW2. About 50 meters away in the area of Mertvilo necropolis, more similar objects were discovered, and if further archaeological excavations prove that all these were actually one Thermae, it would classify them as the largest Roman Thermae in Croatia. This would mean that Issa was much more important and influential town than historians used to think.
Mosaic detail with two dolphins in the upper left corner - enlarge the picture
The fortress Kastel is the most significant landmark in Komiza. Stabile and chubby, with huge stone carved rings for boat ropes - back then when it was built, the sea level was higher. Or the island was lower, I don’t know.
By the end of 19th century, a small tower with the clock was added to Kastel. It tells time, but is a special way.
Now listen carefully:
1 beat for 1st quarter of the hour, 2 beats for half an hour, 3 beats for ¾ of the hour and 4 at the full hour, then a very short break and as many beats as PREVIOUS hour had (so at 11 it will beat 10 times) and then you know that it’s actually 11, but just in case you were distracted, now concentrate and stop chatting and count - five minutes later it will beat 11 times!
Kastel has been through a lot. It was a salt storage, the court, municipal seat, and today it hosts an interesting exhibition of fishermen’s tools, old boats and documents. And that’s just fine because it was built from fishermen’s contributions in 1592. Serenissima (Venetians) started building it, but couldn’t finish.
What’s in the name?
Komiza - come Issa - like Issa.
Similar but rather different. Vis is more playful, Komiza subtle. Vis is louder, Komiza whispers.
It was mainly a fishermen port, with backdrop of high hill with few villages nested up there where they would hide from pirates. Too often.
We've been to Komiza before but by mistake. Had a great fish for lunch though! And a lovely but too short walk through its streets. And a long bumpy journey on crests of high wawes to Hvar, where we thought we were sailing in the first place.
This time I wanted to get here on purpose. I wanted to enjoy her hug.
The whole island is one archaeological site, especially the town Vis still holds secrets from ancient past waiting to be discovered.
Many finds were taken away to other museums and other countries. But still there are many amazing finds at display in the museum as well as in locations within the city.
The head of Artemis, virgin goddess of the hunt, is one of most famous and most beautiful finds on display. What a piece of fine art, gentle, refined lines, beauty of the invisible smile.
She brought life and death - helped women at childbirth but her arrows were very precise and deadly. She and her brother Apollo killed Niobe's children as a revenge because Niobe claimed she's better than their mother Leto.
I love walking through graveyards in some places I visit, they are such a special storytelling site that reveals a lot about local people and their lifestyle.
The graveyard in Vis is located on Pirovo peninsula, near the monastery.
There is also a monument commemorating the naval battle between Italy and Austria that happened near Vis in 1866.
It is easy to recognize, a lion laying on a large block, with inscription that says:
"The unity of Europe is rooted on diversity of it’s historic conflicts.
Observe the waves of Adriatic sea carrying the message of peace and understanding to all lands."
The Sun had sunken, thick grey-blue air was moving just enough to bring life to tall dry grass and lift up the scent of aromatic herbs.
Numerous graves, with beautifully carved headstones.
Interesting inscriptions, I wish I could read them. But observing their beauty and imagining the rituals performed here was a magical experience, too.
If you have not a boat (like me!), It is quite difficult to reach this wonderful bay, but once there you will forget the strain because the panorama is enchanting!
Stiniva is a small bay with little white pebbles a crystal clear water of the colour of emeralds and it's a good point to practise snorkeling.
Once in the past it was a cave and when the roof fell down it created the bay with a narrow passage to the open sea.
Vis has a large variety of beaches, all differents for the different demands.
Beaches of sand for families with children, beaches of white pebbles with wonderful crystal clear water and beaches with rocks for people fond of snorkeling or other sportswater.
However, whichever are your tastes, you will surely find the beach of your heart...I will show you mine in the Travellogues...choose yours!