We started in Dubrovnik and headed to Hvar where we knew we would have some rest days after madly dashing through Italy and into Croatia. There would be beaches and island chilled out vibes, and after the action packed fun in Dubrovnik (kayaking into a sunset, outrageously good!) we were looking forward to it. We had a few days, then we’d head north to Tisno and come back to Hvar with a group of friends to celebrate one of their birthdays, so this was a scope out mission (it would be rude not to relax though….right?)
Well what a little jewel….it’s easy enough to catch a Jadrolinija ferry from Dubrovnik a few hours to Hvar, we pulled up and disembarked right into the centre of the town. In the bar opposite the ferry there was a full on white-party that looked mad fun, think lithe and tanned, beautiful people partying with champagne dressed in their best whites. Such clean people… right then I didn’t want to sniff myself, let alone have think of wearing white on our back packing adventures.
You definitely know you’ve been living out of a backpack and hostels when you look at your sweaty, crumpled, sun tanned self and then at the people in their pristine white clothes and wonder where they parked their yacht…Which by the way is a real thing, a floatilla of about 50 different sized boats make up Yacht Week, or weeks…. they fell off a boat in white for an outrageous night in town as they travel up and down the Croatian coastline! Have to say, we met some really fun yacht boys and girls, but that’s a story for another day….
We stayed at The White Rabbit Hostel and what a find it was, they treat their guests as if it was their home from home, with a hugely friendly vibe, lots of great facilities, a little kitchen, a roof terrace and bar where everyone collects at night for ridiculously cheap drinks before heading into town together.
If you’re solo, you can’t fail to make new friends here, they’re in the social game. Although our first room mates were oddly very posh British girls who said things such as ‘No, but rahlay, which shorts make my fat look fatter?’ and ‘Can I borrow the travel iron babe?’ (AN IRON? IN A HOSTEL??) and then that moment when I’m shocked awake in the middle of the night by a loud gurgling sound and I think, oh no is the air con broken? Only to find it’s one of the posh girls snoring like an absolute horse.
Oh and did I mention the hostel had air con? Could have fainted from happiness!
Hostels in Croatia aren’t as cheap as the rest of Europe, for something reasonable you’re looking at about £30 a night each in a 6-10 bed dorm.
Then you walk into the main square, about 5 short metres from the hostel and see….boats, so many boats! It’s obscenely pretty. Whitewashed cobbles, deep green palm trees, turquoise water and lush hills with a fort plonked on top over looking this very Mediterranean looking jewel of an island. Oh and the enormous super yachts moored in the port were just the height of luxury. DREAMY.
You get a taste of everything here, if you’re spending you can splurge, if you’re budget backpacking, you can do that too. If you want to stand up paddle board, you can paddle your heart out, if you want to soak up the abundant sun, with your toes in the clearest water, then knock yourself out.
As the sun was setting we climbed up the winding streets and hills up to Hvar’s Fortica or Spanjola as the locals call it, which was constructed at the beginning of the 16th century, under the Venetian rule. It offers a terrific place to watch the sunset, though we were still dashing up the winding paths as the sunset because we couldn’t tear ourselves away from a ridiculous seafood feast.
Turns out, it’s a perfect place to stargaze, and one of our well informed friends pointed out Mars and Venus, I kid you not. The sky was clear as a bell, you see the whole of Hvar and the surrounding Pakleni islands. Go up in the day, or at sunset.
There’s a small entry charge of 25 Kuna (about £3), and as we went later we basically ran around the whole thing with barely anyone else, climbed up walls we weren’t meant to and at one point, laid on the stone floor looking up at the stars above.
Then there’s the beach, yes it’s pebbles, but don’t let that put you off. The people watching is great, as you watch that very handsome man emerging from the shallows, muscles rippling, as he stands up….then prances painfully grimacing back to his sun lounger.
There is no cute way to walk in or out of the Croatian pebbled coastline! Take flip flops to the waters edge, or buy rubber sea shoes which they sell all over the island. Or just get your pebble dance on. Just don’t not come because you wanted sand instead, this whole place is so worth the trip.
We found a great bar and restaurant called Splash Bar, perfect for an aperol spritz, cold beer or light lunch. Felt very civilised and it was by our favourite beach.
For our friends birthday we decided we wanted to explore the Pakleni islands that are dotted around Hvar, the White Rabbit called and arranged us to meet a man who would rent us a cute little motorised boat, which didn’t cost a lot at all.
We packed an alcoholic picnic lunch (there’s a big supermarket past the Cathedral in the main square where you can get supplies), and toddled off to meet our boat.
Now ladies prepare to step into a time warp, in Croatia they will not rent you a boat and they won’t allow you to drive it unless you’ve got a man with you. Yes, we’ve gone backwards and feminism is a little bit of a dirty word.
We were forewarned, and so it was not surprising that out of all of us – a group of 2 guys and 3 girls – the boat man only spoke to the guys and gave them a lesson in how to drive the boat, relating how handling the throttle gently was like caressing a woman.
Groan and vomit. It was as bad as you imagine. Wanted to throw him overboard!
We played along with this ridiculous charade, until well out on the open water, us girls took turns in taking the little boat for a spin, ya know at full throttle….all of 15 MPH, but somewhat smug.
When it was time to navigate into a bay and find a spot to pull in and tie up the boat, it all went ended up a bit Carry On style! There are no ‘beach’ areas, just rocks. Fine, right? Hop off?
Jagged rock, covered in sea urchins. Ugh. Everywhere.
Emma launched herself into the sea, boat rope in hand, courageously self assured, until she swam back and asked us to yank the sea urchin spine out of her foot. She didn’t bat an eyelid though. We couldn’t get the boat close enough to the rocks to step off, so in to the water we all went, one by one. A human chain, trying to paddle and pass across cool boxes, drinks, flip flops, clothes, towels. It took us a very comedic hour just to all get off the boat!!
Such a fun day and a brilliant way to explore the island and surrounding places, we came back in time for sunset and sat on a bench in true English style enjoying a bevvy, toasting to our friend’s birthday watching the pretty colours. Swaying a little, just because of the motion of being on a boat all day, of course….
When in Hvar, you will never struggle for a good night out. Firstly every bar along the harbour offers happy hour, and some even at different times so you can just work your way along, which we did. Then go back to your hostel, slightly inebriated and attempt to get changed. Which as we found out, involves ten times more faffing once a bit merry!
I want to say Aloha bar was the most fun, but there’s one up an alley playing absolutely brilliant music, crammed to the rafters with people piling into the street dancing…I just can’t remember what it’s called. Oh happy hour, you’ve stolen my memory! (Ah Kiva bar!!)
If you’re a fish lover, you need to make Black Pepper a dinner stop on your trip to Hvar. It was recommended to us and the service was so friendly, the monkfish stew was a taste of heaven and the Croatian wine just beautiful. It’s nestled up the charming, cobbled streets behind the harbour.
After all those cocktails, late nights and food, how better to beat a hangover? Go for an 8am run. Oh dear lord…. when your friend is a marathon runner and you’re not and you have a hangover. It was fun though, as running landscapes go it was beautiful. People weren’t really up and around en masse yet, as we jogged along the coastline it was a rather lovely feeling.
Well until I couldn’t run anymore and keeled over on a wall, so attractive!
Hvar was definitely a place I was sad to leave, it was beautiful. Leaving marked the end of my 3.5 week Summer travel adventure and a flight back to reality.
It was all so, so very worth it. Whatever reason you travel for, it doesn’t matter as we all get something different out of it, but don’t be afraid to go and explore the world and put Hvra on your Bucket List.
The Best Bits
- Our Hostel – The White Rabbit, can’t recommend them enough.
- Fortica, Hvar’s Fortress with a beautiful view.
- The beaches, our favourite was right in front of the Amfora Grand Resort, you can’t miss it.
- Stand Up Paddle Boarding, it’s about 100 Kuna (£11) for an hour
- The Party Place: Hula Hula, get there in the day, rent day beds and stay til sunset and beyond. Beautiful people, DJs, the works.
- Also check out Aloha, Nautica, Kiva
- Best Brunch & People Watching: BB Club, opposite where the ferrys dock in the harbour.
- Restaurants: Black Pepper & Dalmatino (which was so insanely delicious and such attention to detail), plus Bistro Marinero – known for it’s yummy seafood.
- 24 Hour Bakery – Mlinar by the Arsenal pizza slices and pastries, cheap midnight munchies and hangover cures (winning!)
- Basics: There’s a Pharmacy in the square, two supermarkets off the main square for all your supplies. Plus the delightful little street stalls selling lavender and pretty bracelets.