Croatia is a bounty of historic towns and glistening turquoise waters. Visitors can walk the ancient walls of Debrovnik or stroll along the promenade in Split or appreciate the historic Roman ruins of Pula, but one secret Croatia still has to offer is the beauty of its islands.
The islands peppered along the Dalmatian coast have some of the most crystal waters and stifling sites in Europe. Hvar and Brac boast historic architecture and untouched nature.
My journey between the islands took 10 days and I feel that was enough time to explore the islands and beaches well.
Starting in Split it is best to get the ferry to Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. The duration of the journey is around two hours and costs the equivalent of £5.50. From the ferry terminal in Stari Grad you can get a bus into Hvar Town which takes about 20 minutes.
Hvar Town is a unique blend of high-end parties or culture-enthusiasts. There are a number of hostels located a short walk from the main harbor. This same harbor is where some of the worlds most decadent super yachts come to nest.
During the day trek the 40 minute path up to Hvar fort. It is tough work in the hot sun but the views of the island are more than worth it- just keep yourself hydrated! When you come back down you can always walk a short distance to one of Hvar’s many beaches and dive into the refreshing clear water. Then you can pick a favourite rock and spend the rest of the afternoon lounging in the sun.
In the evening Hvar Town comes to life with vibrant bars and restaurants. The sunset stretches across the harbor and along the coast so you can sit with an early evening aperitif and soak in the atmosphere.
From Hvar Town, head to Jelsa taking the bus from the bus station (a 30 minute drive). Jelsa is much more low-key than Hvar and seems underwhelming at first. However, less people means more space on the rocky beaches which means I got first choice of which rock I want to perch on.
As the town is reasonably quiet it’s nice to move about a bit and get your adventure juices flowing. Renting a moped for a day is the best way to soak up the sun and the sea breeze and explore hidden beaches first-hand. A car is also an option but it will restrict where you can go more than a moped or bike.
As this area of the island is smaller it is more difficult to actually get lost, so take this unique opportunity to go mapless and explore. Where ever you end up I’m sure it will involve a stop off at a perfectly tranquil oasis which will become your ‘happy place’ on a gloomy Monday morning at the office.
From Jelsa harbor hop on the ferry to the next island, Brac. The ferry will pull into Bol which holds some of the most spectacular sights I’ve ever seen.
Bol is less developed than Hvar in many ways from accommodation to tourism. The town still maintains a lot of historic architecture which makes it a great place to wonder around during the day (although it is located on a rather steep hill so my calves really got a work-out).
When in Bol there are two important things you must do: hike Vidova Gora and go to Zlatni Rat beach.
We will start with Vidova Gora because it has commanding views of the island and of the aforementioned beach. Vidova Gora is a mountain located on the coast of Bol, it takes approximately 1 hour + to hike, but if hiking really isn’t your thing there is transport which will escort you up.
The hike is relatively easy and can be taken at whatever pace suits you and you do not need a guide. Once you are at the top there isn’t much in the way of food and drink, just a rather sketchy restaurant which I took cover in to avoid the rain. Unfortunately I picked the most cloudy day of my travels to do the hike so when I arrived at the top I could barely see my feet.
But, when the clouds parted I was greeted by a view that will stay with me forever. Sitting on the cliff edge soaking it in, I was at complete peace. Zlatni Rat beach stretched out before me into miles of deep blue ocean. I almost didn’t want to leave, but as I said I didn’t pick a great day and it got cold very fast!
Zlatni Rat beach is individually shaped by winds and currents every year making it a unique experience every visit. The very fine pebbles can be mistaken for white sands from a distance. A cycle along the coastline will see you at small, secluded beaches which you can often occupy by yourself if you prefer a bit more privacy.
From Bol harbor a ferry will take you back to Split. Split is a nice town as a base where you can explore the old town architecture, but during the day it is better to do a day trip outside of the town. The Krka National Park is the perfect location to spend the day with breathtaking waterfalls to play in.