5 best beaches around Hvar
We did a boat tour of all the best beaches around Hvar. Here are our top 5 favorites!
We did a boat tour of all the best beaches around Hvar. Here are our top 5 favorites!
Last summer my 6 friends and I decided to take two days off and go somewhere where we can unwind and enjoy the sun and sea; ideally somewhere where we could find secluded beaches and enjoy beautiful landscapes.
Having spent most of my summers on Hvar, I was well aware it might just be the perfect place. Croatia’s sunniest island, Hvar has always been popular among tourists; yet the number of tourists that visit it keeps growing year after year. But it does not come as a surprise, because the number of locations that are worth the visit, not just on the island but also in its immediate vicinity, is immense.
Given that Hvar is an island and a predominantly summer destination, it is definitely a place where you have to rent a boat to get the big picture. If you are staying on Hvar only for a couple of days, we recommend leaving at least one day for boating around Hvar.
If you are new to boating, the best option for you and your company is to hire a boat with a skipper. The reasons for this are manyfold: recently the implementation of nautical laws in Croatia has become stricter so, while before it was a common practice for both locals and tourists to rent a boat without a license (boats up to 20HP), today this is no longer possible. You will most likely get fined if you hire a boat without owning an adequate boating license.
In case you are wondering if your country’s boating license is accepted in Croatia, make sure to check the list of the accepted boating licenses by country.
Another valid reason to consider hiring a skipper, even if you do own a valid license, is that by hiring a local skipper you take away a lot of the stress from your trip. The skippers are guys (and a couple of girls, too :)) who know all the ins and outs of touring around Hvar. They are familiar with all the less-known locations, docking locations, local winds, hidden underwater reefs, etc.
Last but not least, they are aware of the timings when certain locations get too busy (for example, when all the excursion boats stop in a certain location), so they will help you visit each location at the right time.
When renting a boat in Hvar, there are three most popular routes that your booking agent will recommend. One of the nicest ones, also the nearest one, is the route that goes along the south shore of Hvar. One of the highlight landmarks of the tour are the magnificent Red Rocks, so this route is sometimes also called the Red Rocks route. It is especially advised for those who intend to rent a boat on their own, yet do not have any experience in the area. To get a better idea of all the locations you can visit along the Southern shore of Hvar (plus the Pakleni islands), we suggest you check our page about the Red Rocks tour which tells you a bit more about its nicest locations.
The second route is the Vis Island route (which can also include the Blue Cave). This route is somewhat busier, given that many excursion boats from Hvar and Split go in that direction to see the Blue Cave. It is, however, a stunning route because it hides some of the most beautiful gems in Dalmatia: the Blue Cave and Stiniva Beach. If you are considering hiring a boat for this tour, we’d suggest taking a skipper as well, as it might make things a lot easier for you. The skipper can show you some of the hidden underwater caves, and hidden bays that are difficult to spot even when driving past them. Also, if visiting a Blue Cave, keep in mind that the boats are not allowed to dock at the Bisevo Porat pier. Instead, you have to disembark the passengers and move your vessel to one of the nearby buoys, which naturally means that the skipper of the boat cannot enter the Blue Cave. This can be a useful insight when planning your trip to the Blue Cave.
Finally, the third popular route to take with your boat is the Brač island tour, more specifically the Golden Horn. This route is best done by visiting the Golden Horn first, and visiting the northern coast of Hvar and Pakleni islands on the way back. To learn more about beautiful bays that can be found on that route click here, or ask your skipper!
It is good to mention that Pakleni islands can be done as a part of any of those tours, as they are located right in front of Hvar. Pakleni islands alone have a lot of beautiful bays that you can visit, so it can be a good idea to spend a day exploring just them. There you will find beautiful hidden beaches, and the ones that are not so hidden, restaurants, popular beach bars (like Laganini or Carpe Diem Beach), and much more.
When deciding on the route, take wind conditions as a determinant factor. For example, if the strong northern wind is blowing, it is best to go to the south shore of Hvar and Pakleni islands, that way you will be sheltered from the wind throughout the day.
Now that you are acquainted with “Renting a boat in Hvar 101”, let me proceed by telling you a bit more about our Hvar adventure and the itinerary that we designed.
On the first day when we arrived, we checked the wind forecast (my advice: windfinder.com) and we discovered that the northern wind will pick up around noon. Given that the max strength was only at about 10 knots, we decided to proceed with our boat tour adventure and to go along the southern shore of Hvar. This way we could be protected from the wind gusts and avoid the open sea which can get choppy with high winds.
For the second day, we decided to sail in the direction of Vis Island and to explore all the beautiful bays in the area. Vis is a versatile island and it hides sandy beaches, magnificent caves and bays, and it was naturally a must for us. Each day we sailed from Hvar port at about 9 am, which is the best way to avoid all the crowds on the sea. We visited about 6-7 locations per day and returned at about 6 pm. This is a bit longer than the conventional tour, so I would definitely advise doing a tour of up to 7-8 hours. I will not go into details about all the spots we visited, as they are enlisted here (Red rocks) and here (Blue cave).
Without further ado, let’s skip to the top 5 locations of the Hvar area, as selected by my friends and myself:
I’ve started the list by cheating, as Zarace are technically two bays, not one. Malo (small) and Velo (big) Zaraće are located in the immediate vicinity and if you embark in one, you can take a walk to the other bay and reach it in less than 5 minutes. Both are beautiful but I prefer Malo Zaraće for swimming, whereas Velo Zaraće has a nice Robinson-style restaurant, so I would recommend it for lunch or for a coffee/ice cream break. The most captivating part for me is definitely the massive steep flat rock that goes into the sea, with the staircase on it.
Once voted the most beautiful beach in Europe, Stiniva is a must if you decide to visit Vis Island. This beautiful bay was once a massive cave whose ceiling collapsed, leaving behind a stunning structure that keeps impressing visitors from around the world, year after year. You can enter the cove by swimming in or by using a small dingy and rowing or pulling yourself to the shore. The boats are not allowed to enter the cove, justifiably, as that would completely disturb nature and destroy the impression to all of the visitors.
A beach that you will not find on any of the tour guides, yet it is so captivating that it is definitely worth a visit. Pritišćina is a tiny bay tucked in-between the rocks, and if you are not traveling with an experienced skipper, it is quite likely you will drive past it, as it is not so obvious when looking from the sea. Every year more and more people find out about it, so I cannot promise you will be the only ones there, but give it a shot, you will not regret it!
The absolute highlight of Vis island (Biševo, to be exact), the Blue Cave is a park of nature and a protected area that takes in hundreds of visitors a day. This is part of the reason why I did not put it on the first, but the second spot. Albeit stunning and definitely worth the visit, the Blue Cave can imply waiting for an hour or two to get in, especially if you are arriving in the peak season (think July and August). The good side is that you can use that time to explore the rest of Biševo, especially its sandy beach on the other side of the island, and maybe grab a coffee while you wait. The entrance to the Blue Cave ranges from 12 to 18 euros, but for a more detailed pricelist and discounts, please check this article about the Blue Cave. The Blue Cave gets its stunning color from the underwater light that passes below the rocks, but I will stop right here and let the photos do the talking.
Finally, our absolute favorite are the Red Rocks of the southern shore of Hvar. About an hour away from Hvar port, these stunning cliffs are attracting more and more visitors every year, yet they are still relatively undiscovered. Enjoy the turquoise water beneath the cliffs, strap on your diving masks and explore the little coves you will find in the area. Plus, now that you’re there, you’re only a 20-minute boat ride away from one of the best winetastings on the island, Dubokovic winetasting. But that is a whole different story and I will leave it for another day.
PRO TIP: some of these locations are far from each other. That is why we did them in two separate tours. If you arrive in the pre- and post-season, I would advise the Blue Cave tour. But, if you are in Hvar in July and August, it would be better to do the Red Rocks/South Shore tour, and combine it with Pakleni islands. Don’t forget to check the wind forecast!
If you are searching for more tips on best things to do in Hvar, where to eat and places to stay, make sure to check out Little Wanderblog.