When you think of Croatia what do you see? Well, we think of pristine island passageways with crystal clear jade waters. Second on our list besides Plitvice National Park was to grace our presence on one of the many gems off the coast of Split. We did our research and decided on 3 days at Hvar. Our reasons were as follows:
1. We are not good at just relaxing and doing nothing so we were looking for an island that had a bit of History to it.
2. We didn’t want to do any tour group adventures, so Hvar was great as we just hoped on a the car ferry from Split and it was an easy 2 hour journey across the clear waters to reach Stari Grad which is the ferry port used if you are coming by car. The ferry cost about 120 Euros return. We booked a day in advance but it was not high season yet near the end of June.
3. We didn’t want to stay in the main hub as we were looking for a quiet relaxing stay more with a relaxed village feel with no loud night life. This is why Hvar was great as it has small quaint beaches with tiny villages scattered over the island.
When driving into Split we found the ferry terminal easily but were faced with a frenzy of busy tourist arriving and departing to many of the Islands Croatia has to offer. Our car needed to be in line an hour before boarding and there is no guarantee you will get on your preferred ferry time only a guarantee you will get on the same day. Temperatures were a stinking 38 degrees so we went for a walk to admire the many prestigious boats while we waited for our boarding time to approach.
We we finally got to drive our car on and we were the first ones on, which meant we were way down deep in the hull. Rob had to navigate our car down a very thin dark draw bridge that stowed our car deep below. I think we nearly lost our side mirror as we descended and I was asked to hop out as Rob had to park close to the side.
We then locked the car and climbed a numerous amount of stair wells to make our way to the outdoor deck. With a cool beer to quench our thirst and a packet of crisps we were excited and ready to set sail with many other cheerful holiday makers.
We stayed outside on the upper deck for the whole 2 hours as it was nice weather, scenic and how often do you get to cruise along the Adriatic Coastline of Croatia?!!!!
After 2 hours cruising we arrived in the ferry port of Stari Grad and quickly disembarked the ferry. Rob drove us smoothly along the windy narrow scenic cliff coastline roads over to the other side of the island to our Airbnb accommodation in the quaint tiny village of Milna.
This was an idyllic heavenly place, which consisted of a white limestone crystal clear swimming beach, a narrow lane way overlooking the sunny coastline with a smattering of cute accommodations and maybe four cosy restaurants and cafes which sat overlooking the emerald green transparent waters. This part of the world deserves as many adjectives as you can throw at it. You really need to see it, smell it, touch and taste it to realise what a natural oasis it truly is!!!! How many times can you say wow!!!!
Our $70-00 a night villa apartment basically kisses the coastline. Only the tiny narrow road stood in front of us and the jewels of the magical coast. From our third storey top floor villa you could literally see the rocky underwater world as if snorkelling the depths below. I had made my mine up that I was okay if our ferry never returned. All with a price tag of $70-00 a night and what island off the Australian Coast could you stay at for a similar price – Mmmm – Still thinking!!! Oh yet that would be your own bathtub!!!! Oh and I forgot to mention we had a fully equipped kitchen, air conditioner with a wrap around veranda, reserved ocean front cliffside parking and our own secluded ocean front swimming rock entrance into the crystal emerald waters.
Well there was only one thing on our bucket list. Change into swimmers and experience the thrill of swimming on a stone beach. Now splashing around with a heavenly backdrop was amazing as we floated around you could see the high mountain peaks behind us and if you stood still you could see fish swimming around you. I could also see crocs!! Oh that was a pair of of my trusty croc thongs to help me navigate the stony depths below. The clock tower from the village chimed adding a European feel to our experience. The water was very refreshing. It was my goal to turn into a mermaid over the next few days and Ariel would be my name and sun kissed strawberry blonde hair would be fine. Now there is always a compromise in life so let’s compare beach experiences in Australia you get slammed into the shore which leaves sand trapped in areas you don’t want to know about but here stony beaches don’t make for the most elegant entry and exit as the stones shift and sink away from under your feet. One thing we have noticed is how gentle the sun is here in Europe compared to Australia. After a day in the heat of a 38 degree summer day with no sunscreen we were barely sun kissed. In Australia after an hour of the same temperatures we would look like a lobster being pulled from boiling waters and sunstroke would set in for the night.
After a wonderful late afternoon swim wandering back up along the narrow village road we spotted an organic wine cellar whose front door looked out to the sea. After chatting to the guy inside we found out that wine making had been in his family for 10 generations here on the islands. The grapes are grown in their own vineyards in the hills and the wine was made here along with olive oil. The island is full of olive trees and ancient lavender fields. There is an olive tree on the island that is over a thousand years old. The Lavender is in full bloom and looked stunning scattered along the stony beachfront.
Our Milna organic wine went down a treat just as the sun set over the mountains.
On our first full day we drove the windy coast for about 4 kilometres set to explore the town of Hvar. We arrived at 8am as we wanted to do the hike up to the top of the hillside before the swarms of tour groups took over all the pathways to visit the town Fortress which is known as Fortica which means fortification in Italian.
We walked up through the valley of the narrow limestone streets of the town alleyways in the quiet early morning. This made our walk very peaceful and relaxing. After climbing the stairs we were blessed with serene panoramic views over the town and out to the idyllic coastline and neighbouring islands for the remainder of our uphill climb.
Construction of the present day ruins began in 1282. The fortress was a grand military architecture complex which consisted of four circular bastions, a tower, walls with battlements, gunpowder room,water tanks, living quarters, a dungeon and a Chapel. The dungeon steps were extremely steep and there was barely enough room to sit down in the cramped dungeon cells with tiny windows.
The well preserved wall and fortress make it one of the finest town fortifications on the Croatian Coast!!!
It was really hard to get over the amazing view from the fortress. It was a great way to start our adventure in exploring Hvar. You can do the walk for free and entry into the Fortress grounds cost us about 3 euros which was well worth it. There is also a nice cafe inside where you can sit and grab a refreshing drink before heading back down into Hvar.
As the day started to warm up the busy tourist hub of Hvar Port became a tangled web of tourists flooding in and out like the tide itself on the many boats, cruise liners, and expensive yachts that line the harbour. We admired the ambience of the busy jewelled waters.
We strolled through the iconic limestone streets checking out the architectural beauties. It’s so easy to be romanced by the historical timescales. Here are a few of our favourite sites:
St. Stephen’s Square with its beautiful bell tower.
Church of our Lady of and the Monastery. The waters and swimming in this area are just picturesque!!!
Here is a sign which shows tourists how to behave in Hvar!!!!
Statue and beautiful flowers along the way.
A Lavender Stall
More boats of all sizes, shapes and colours some cost a little whilst some boats docked are worth more than we could imagine!!!
Cacti line the bay and some have beautiful flowers. We took a swim off the rocks just near here as it was a hot day.
Hvar is a very pretty island town with its orange roof tiles and limestone buildings, but we are glad that we chose to stay about 4 kilometres out of Hvar Town where it was very quiet. Hvar is also known for its party scene and nightlife!!!
Back in Milna we sat on the rocks, drank local wine and watched the sun go down. Rob had to help me home.
Our last day was spent swimming at our local picturesque beach!! We decided we had to try the beach front restaurant so we celebrated with mojitos and a pizza. This place was called Fortuna Restaurant it had a great view, great food, good coffee and within our budget!!! You only get one life so swim it!!!