The highlight of our trip to Hvar was the all day boat trip. You visit caves, secret(ish) coves, have lunch at a great little beachside restaurant serving up freshly grilled fish, have the opportunity to jump off cliffs (if you so desire), followed by more swimming, falling asleep in the boat a little and then making it back to Hvar in time to catch the sunset at Hula-Hula. See part 1 here and posts on Dubrovnik here.
HVAR BOAT TOUR
After deciding that indeed we were going to attempt to go to a club that only opens at 2 am, despite our relatively early bedtime (compared to other Carp patrons anyways) we got up pretty late the next day and by the time we meandered up to the hostel office to book a boat trip they had mostly already left. We didn’t have a whole lot of options and the prices were steep but we liked our boat ride in Dubrovnik so much we begrudgingly shelled out the $120 USD per person. The boat was fairly no frills and our captain didn’t really speak a whole lot of English or really seem interested in speaking to us at all. Sometimes I think he understood what we were saying but just pretended to not hear, haha. So we started the whole thing on the wrong foot. Luckily it all ended quite well and it was definitely a highlight of the trip. Even more so than the boat trip in Dubrovnik! I’d even recommend our gruff Croatian skipper, who was actually a super cool guy and warmed up to us after three of us decided to go cliff jumping off the top of the first cave. Even though it all ended well I’d say definitely book boat trips beforehand and get up EARLY. If you go with a group it’s more affordable as well.
You leave from the port in Hvar town. The first stop should be the Green Cave in Vis but if you are quite late like us you will have to skip that one. Instead we headed straight to the Blue Cave in Biševo island. The blue cave has a hole at the very top where sunlight streams in and if you go during the right time (in between 11 am and 2 pm) the the shaft of sunlight hits the water beneath you, turning the sea around the boat a glowing cerulean blue. This reflects off the walls, painting the inside of the cave a shimmery bright silver-blue. Whereas you can swim inside the Green Cave the Blue Cave is wider so boats go inside the cave, in fact during high season your boat might have to queue up to get its turn inside the cave. However the cool thing about the Blue Cave (besides the blue caveness) is that if you go when the tide is lower this is a great cliff jumping spot. When we first arrived there were some Italian guys jumping off the rocks around the entrance of the cave, which was a bit lame as it was maybe a 10 foot drop. And then we realized that was not the cliff jumping spot, the real cliff jumping spot is off the very top of the cave!
At first our skipper did not want to let us go as due to our late departure the tide was higher and the waves were slamming against the base of the cave which you have to climb over to get to the top of the cave. Nonetheless flip flops in hand (those rocks are sharp) we swam over to the base of the cave and slowly just let the waves take us to the rocks. Besides a couple bruised knees and maybe some minor cuts this was not really that difficult at all. The most painful part was walking up from there to the top of the cave if you decided to be barefoot. Once you get to the top of the cave you can see the hole that lets sunlight in. And although we concluded it was indeed wide enough to jump through and that would make a really cool video, it would also probably scare the sh*t out of the people in boats inside the cave and you really had no way of gaging how deep the water inside the cave is. So we headed to the lip of the cave at which point I looked down and saw 40 feet of air separating me and the ocean below (45 feet and 7 inches if you wanna factor in my height there) as well as 4 boats filled with people now expectantly staring at us waiting for us to jump. It was at this point I decided this was a terrible idea. If the trek up there hadn’t been so rough on my poor feet soles I think I would have hightailed it back down the side of the cave in a second, pride be damned. But it was concluded this was indeed the easiest way down, and the lucky thing about jumping off a huge cliff is that you don’t really have to be brave the whole time. You can be scared the entire time you spend peeking over the edge and debating whether you should do this or not and you most certainly will be scared when you’re plummeting through the air and your stomach feels like its inside your throat. You just need to be brave the half second it takes you to step off the side. So that’s what we did.
It’s at this point I should tell you that wearing a more robust bikini is probably recommended and that you should definitely land feet first and not like me unless you want to sport some nice purple-green bruises for the rest of your trip. Although despite not sticking the landing, that was super fun and I’m glad I did it. Once you jump all the boats start honking too, which was a nice distraction from how I was pretty sure my stomach was going to come out of top of my head.
After the Blue Cave we headed to Stiniva Cove, a pretty semi-hidden cove that is only easily accessible by boat. You have to swim up to the cove or maybe take a very small dinghy. We had no such dinghy so it was swimming for us. Consequently no pictures of the inside of the cove, but the water was a very pretty teal blue and the beach was covered in large rounded marble stones. Although it did not make for the most comfortable lounging it was not too bad, certainly better than the jagged edge pebbles in other beaches we went to. Some people found little nooks inside the cliffs and that looked quite cozy too. There were boys egging each other on to climb higher up the steep face of the cliffs and back flip off into what was really not that deep water. We even saw a guy take a running start to clear a the stepped edge of the cliff and plummet into what must have been a 50 or 60 foot fall into the water. No thanks. This was a nice stop but I would recommend getting here quite early as the beach was pretty crowded which detracted from what an awesome little cove this was. Oh and find a way to bring some kuna or euro with you, there is a single little restaurant shack on the beach, and after all that swimming in the salty sea and lounging in the sun an ice cold beer or Coke starts sounding really very good.
The last stop of the day was Palmizana Bay in Paklinski Island. There we ate at Toto’s, a fantastic little restaurant that serves the freshest grilled seafood. You pick what kind of fish you want and you see it grilled over a roaring charcoal grill and its served to you simply, with some lemon and warm bread. One of the best things we ate in Croatia no doubt. Palmizana Bay is calm and shallow, you can walk far out into the bay and the water is still waist level. It was blessedly a sand beach, one of the few we visited in Croatia. After filling up on grilled anchovies, (more) octopus salad and some super tender, perfectly charred whole fish we had time to just lounge on the beach. We walked around the sandy shore and as the sun began to set it got a little chillier, so we headed back to the boat to make our way back to Hvar
We made it back in time to watch the sunset at Hula-Hula, and this time with Yacht Week gone to wreck havoc in some other island it was a super chill affair. We found a good spot on the rocks, bought a couple beers and wondered how the sunset was so vividly pink and orange. In Southern California we can usually attribute magnificent pink, orange, and purple sunsets to either smog or wildfire smoke. I have never seen a more beautiful sunset than the one over Venice Beach, the week school was evacuated because of the 2007 wildfires (“Fire Week”). It was a surreal time, we escaped to LA and saw giant flaming tumbleweed shooting across the 5 north, spent a couple days at a friends house eating her mom’s most excellent homemade Mexican breakfasts and having In-N-Out and Diddy Riese for dinner. We eventually came back to UCSD passing numerous wide swaths of tar-black charred land, opened our dorm balcony to find a thick dusty layer of ash coating all our belongings, all the while leaving ghostly white footsteps throughout our hallways like some kind of kid’s detective story. I assume the smog levels and ash particulates in Hvar are close to nonexistent so the sunset’s spectacular colour must be a more organic affair.
The next day we had a short time before our ferry. We got some raw chocolate cake and fresh juices at Green House Hvar for breakfast, tanned and read books in the rocks around the Hvar Town beach and then took a ferry back to Split to prepare for our last destination of our Croatia trip, the Krka waterfalls.