“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”

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We had spent 3 wonderful days at the Lastovo Archipelago Nature Park where we enjoyed nature. Now we wanted to return to the ‘habited’ world again and we choose the island of Hvar to do so! Because this was again a complete different Croatian island from the islands we had seen so far. Hvar is trendy, hip and happening and much loved by royalty, jet set and celebrities. You can call it the Saint Tropez of Croatia. We were curious to check it out and visited these spots:

Bay at Hvar

We arrived at the end of the afternoon from the island of Lastovo at the island of Hvar. So we decided not to go inthe city of Hvar, the most busy place of the island, because the harbor probably would be full or expensive. We decided to anchor in a bay next to the city, chill a bit and take our bikes to check out the town the next morning. The bay turned out to be great, crystal clear blue water and very quiet, we were the only boat there!

The old Town of Hvar

Hvar island is 70 km long and Hvar Grad (= the old town of Hvar which is also called Hvar like the name of the island) is on the west side. When we cycled there, about 15 minutes pedaling, we could already see why Hvar is so great: it’s a charming town with small harbors.

And because May is still preseason (believe it or not with 24 degrees!), it was quiet with tourists and enough space in the harbor. And not expensive at all! So no big ships or superyachts yet, just a few catamarans. So we returned with our bikes to the bay, and sailed into the harbor of Hvar to explore more of the city. You can see here our boat at the quay, on the left side is the church and on the right side a fort rising high above the old town of Hvar. The town was founded by the Venetians in the 16th century, so many of the buildings have that characteristic square architectural style. The fort was built as a defense system in the city.

We walked in the city and had great views on the harbor area, you can actually see the boat here:

There were nice bakeries with our favorites lunch snacks: burek which is a savory sandwich made from filo pastry filled with cheese, meat or potatoes. It is native to the Balkans and very popular in Croatia. And krofne, these are the Croatian version of donuts, often filled with jam or chocolate and sprinkled with sugar. The region where Hvar is, is still called Dalmatia, so you also see very proud signs with Dalmatian restaurants or food.

When we cycled more to the westside of the town we saw more beaches and more nature. This area is very popular among sunlovers.

Everything was now closed, but we could imagine the beachbars and beachparties going on here in July and August!

Back in the harbor, we agreed with this sign: Hvar, so far, so good!

We took our drone and flew over the old town of Hvar:

The Paklinksi islands

In front of the old town of Hvar, are the Paklinksi islands. It’s only half an hour of sailing, so you can actually see the islands already when you are in harbor of Hvar. We anchored in between 2 of the small islands (it’s an archipelago of 18 islets).

You could smell the scent coming from the dense pine forests from the small islands. Croatia has 1244 islands in total, but only 48 islands have permanent habitants, so 95% of Croatian islands are no obstruction for nature to bloom and these islands are richly covered with forests, plants, shrubs and flowers. “Paklina” means “tar”, and in this case refers to the pine resin once used to coat ships that was harvested on these islands in front of Hvar.

We flew with our drone over the islands and you can see the beautiful colors of the Adriatic sea:

The sunset in the bay was stunnig, the colors turned from from yellow to orange, red and purple.

Stari Grad

We wanted to see more of the island of Hvar, and we read that Stari Grad is one of the oldest settlements of the islands in the Adriatic Sea, built in the 4th century BC. colonized by Greece. On our way to Stari Grad, which is on the northern side of the islands of Hvar, we passed this area. We sometimes forget that it was only 30 years ago that there was the Balkan war going on (it is called Homeland war in Croatia), but there are reminders everywhere of this impactful time.

Stari Grad (Grad means city in Croatian) is well sheltered being at the end of a long small bay on the island. So many small boats and fishermen find their home here.

We enjoyed walking around the bay where Stari Grad is, and see the houses and boats.

We also read that the Greecs called Stari Grad ‘Paros’. Still you see the name Paros everywhere in the city, in streetnames, restaurants, etc. And they build a path from Stari Grad to travel in the valley behind Stari Grad to another important city, Jelsa. It’s called Stari Grad Plain (Unesco World Heritage).

This area became important due to the trade in grapes and olives, which were grown on the island of Hvar. Even today, grapes and olives are grown on Hvar. The Plain of Stari Grad is an example of ancient traditional human settlements with agriculture, fields lined by stone walls to retain the sun’s heat and small stone shelters called ‘trims’. The Greek colonists even installed a rainwater collection system with gutters and water reservoirs. Today, the landscape around Stari Grad still retains the orderly system of subdivision used by the ancient Greeks and which has remained intact for 24 centuries almost without change. When we cycled on the path, we saw the fertile lands with dark red colors in the pictures below.

When you live on a boat, you have to organize your own energy sources to get electricity, gas and water. We get a lot of sustainable energy through sun and wind with our solar panels. And we sometimes use ‘camping’ gasbottle of 6 liters started to get empty, we have 2 gasbottles on board to cook when we don’t like to use electricity (because we are at anchor, not in a harbor with unlimited power supply). A 6 liter bottle with gas can last for up to 1 year, but the second one was almost empty now. It’s not so easy to find a refill station (close to camping sites you can get lucky!). 

I was just scrolling through the Navily app for information about harbors and bay and I noticed a sailor writing about a propangas station on land, only opened a few hours a day and at the border of the city of Stari Grad! The writer even located the station on a map, great! So with the bottles on our e-bikes we went to the station in the morning and 2 brothers filled our bottles for us. We were happy, because the night before we noticed during cooking that the flame started to falter, so the gas was almost gone indeed. How about lucky timing! Now we were able to sleep peacefully again 😉.

Vrboska and Jelsa

The last towns we visited on Hvar where the old fishermen’s towns called Vrboska and Jelsa, on the north side of the island of Hvar, about 3 hours sailing from Stari Grad to the east.

Vrbroska had a canal running through the town, we had not seen that before in Croatia! There was actually a small island in the canal. So an island on an island 😉.

We were walking around here, the weather was great and we had 2 friends on board for a week who saw a sign mentioning wine tasting with 3 local Hvar wines (white, rose and red) that would be presented to us. The host was a very nice guy who explained the making of these wines, the area the grapes were harvested, etc.

We also went to Jelsa with our dinghy, only 15 minutes away, also a charming little town.

We enjoyed Hvar a lot, we were surprised about the old towns and nature, because Hvar ‘advertising’ with being trendy with lovely beaches, we enjoyed that as well, but the old areas were a bonus on this beautiful island.

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