To say Hvar is a popular day-trip is an extreme understatement. The island caters to a younger crowd. Music is ubiquitous in the many choices of nightlife. One of the best spots in the Med to dance the night away! Festivals fill the calendar year. Gastronomy, beach clubs, and luxurious scenes spill into the hillside.
Mild climate, endless natural sights, a nautical destination of intense watercolors – how could we say no? A brief ferry ride from Split grants you admittance to the fascinating fusion that is the island of Hvar. Stepping off the ferry, we emerged into a sea of tourists.
That’s where “Secret Hvar” excels. We signed up for a private excursion to get a taste of the lesser-known elements of this romantic Mediterranean haven. Our guide Belmin (Galileo) was charming and entertaining from the moment we met on the square of Hvar-town. The port city has the same name as the island, as in Hvar-town, Hvar.
We hopped into the van. The pleasant drive into the island’s interior provided plenty of time for chatting. He was a very knowledgable guide of the whole region, especially Hvar.
We didn’t notice the road was only one lane until an SUV lumbered around the corner going the “wrong” way. A moment of confusion, until the (tourist) driver relented, reversing back around the corner allowing us to pass. We shared a laugh: “foreign drivers.” Before we knew it, we reached a breathtaking lookout over Hvar-town.
We paused our journey to admire the endless fields of lavender on the rolling hills. Belmin even offered to do a quick photo-op for us. The fragrant aroma of the fields was unescapable. The flower is so common here that Hvar is known as the “lavender island.” June & July are the best months to visit as the lavender is in full bloom. There is even an annual lavender festival that takes place in June. Of course they sell the essential oil and it’s a great gift to bring back to family.
Next up was a brief stop in Stari Grad, one of the oldest towns in Europe. Originally known as “Pharos” it was founded by the Greeks who sailed up the 5 mile channel in 386 B.C.
It sits on the north part of the island and has a deep-water channel ideal for a cruising boat (hint, hint!) We even have a dinghy to sell you!
The deep harbor is still visited by cruisers in Croatia. Another nearby locale is the “Stari Grad Plain,” a UNESCO World Heritage site due to being one of the best preserved ancient Greek sites in the world. Besides the lavender fields, vineyards and olive groves are found wherever you look.
We passed these wonderful fields on the way to the next stop: Vrboska. A tiny Dalmation village, it has its own deep-water harbor. The fishing tradition here is extensive. Situated atop the town is the Fort Church of St. Mary, fortified after repeated threats of Turkish invasion. Even Vrboska had everything a cruiser could want: a nice peaceful setting, plenty of provisioning, and a picturesque anchorage.
Our tour with Belmin from Secret Hvar enriched our experience. It was as if we were visiting with a long-lost friend. He happily showed us hidden sides to Hvar, including the village Svirće where stopped at the restaurant Kod None to sample some delicious homemade wine.
Visit Hvar and when you do – don’t miss Secret Hvar secrets!