In my short stay
I came to like
your little white stone streets
your clear turquoise waters
the sound of your church bells
and the sight of your green pine trees
As a child I swam in your enchanting waters
and looked in amazement
at the home of countless sea urchins
I felt a thousand pebbles underneath my feet and
received the rays of your pleasant late August sun
But what I came to love
was the kindness
of your people
our captain who exchanged
a bottle of his own olive oil
for a drone shot of his boat
the hotel owner that offered us
a ride to the harbor to catch our ferry
our kind hosts that came to bring
a pasta salad as a gift for lunch
we have personally felt
your beating and alive heart
we return home in gratitude
with the memory of you
as a beam of light
Croatia 2021: Split – Hvar – Brac – Split
A country of blissfully quiet bays, turqoise crystal clear waters and pine tree forrests with singing crickets in abundance. Croatia has one of Europe’s best coastlines and we discovered why. It’s many islands are like treasures of the Adriatic Sea, with lavender fields, olive trees and beautiful hidden spots. Every island has it’s seductive charm and distinctive character. We planned to visit Split and the island of Hvar and Brac in our 10 day trip. We only booked our first 4 days in advance and decided we would see it from there. I love to leave space for the adventurous feel of spontineity. You can always take a trip, but sometimes the trip needs to take you.
Transport from the airport to Split In the busy summer months there are busses that leave every hour to the central bus station of Split. You will find them right outside of the entrance. The ride takes about 45 minutes and the price is 40 kuna per person, that is about €5,00. It’s possible to pay in cash only so make sure you withdraw money from an ATM at the airport. And make sure you get a seat because they tend to oversell tickets which results in people standing the entire way to Split and vice versa.
Welcome to Croatia On August 23rd we flew with my favorite airline KLM straight from Amsterdam to Split in only 1h45m. One of the reasons we chose to go to Croatia: it’s relatively close and easy to acces in summer. As you step out of the aircraft, you are greeted by the splended sun and the heat rising upon you from your toes to your head. It feels like a welcoming hug: let the holiday begin!
Our best stay in Split: The Indigo Inn
It was only a 2 minute walk to the city center, 10 minutes to the ferry/ bus station. The shower is spacious and the bed is comfortable. My favorite thing was that they had a long mirror! Vitor didn’t even notice this practical detail but I loved that I could check my outfit before we went out. It’s so vain but it’s the little things that make your stay complete.
Restaurant tips in Split
Portofino: we had to make our reservation 3 days in advance but it was worth it. It felt like we waited for a beautiful dining experience with a chique touch. The personal was utmost friendly and the food was tasty and delicious. The wine menu diverse and the atmosphere cozy! Portofino is situated on a square between buildings which makes it feel like a hidden gem. It really adds on to the dining experience.
Bajamonti: situated in the Venice inspired Republic Square is Bajamonti restaurant. They have a menu that is to the liking of the meat, fish and veggie lover. We ate a delicious burrata and pasta tartufo here. It’s also quite popular so if you are taking a stroll in the afternoon, come by to make a reservation.
Pumpalera Icecream: Go for an icecream at my favorite ice cream shop in Split! Their pumparela taste is amazing: honey, nuts and seasalt caramel. Yum!
Buying souvenirs: it is bombarded with souvenir shops in each town. I could not leave without a fridge magnet. But I would advise you to buy lavender bags or lavender oil. It’s a natural relief against headache and good for when going to bed. It’s local produce and it smells delicious. As a gift for myself I bought a beautiful red coral bracelot with a pearl from the Adriatic Sea. I don’t take it off and wear it everywhere as a beautiful memory of my Croatian holiday.
Split Market: before you go, don’t forget to visit the market of Split. Buy organic figs or lavender honey, garlic from Hvar or veggie’s from the gardens of the marketmen and women. There is so much local produce and you can enjoy the sun-filled fruits of veggies from Croatia.
Practical information + booking a ferry
This coastal charming city is the perfect gateway to the big and smaller islands in this area. The well developed tourist industry makes it very comfortable for you to book interesting day trips, withdraw the local currency Kuna out of the plentiful ATM’s and book your ferry or bus tickets in advance. Or last minute. It is organized, scheduled and thus very pleasant for the planners among us. We booked at the port and online, payment goes via creditcard or cash. There is not always a direct connection from island-to-island by ferry, many return to mainland to catch a direct ferry to another island. In the peak season there are a few popularisland-to-island connections by catamaran, speedboat or ferry but if you visit in the low season, I can help you out with transport from Hvar to Brac by a captain we befriended. More about that later! Our entire trip felt like a smooth operation logistically. Except for our arrival in Basina.
When I saw the images of the remote village of Basina with it’s turqoise waters, gently bobbing boats and tranquil atmosphere, I knew immediately: this is where I NEED to be. My soul is just being pulled to this peaceful heaven. We booked our stay through Booking and it went through a second agency called Adriatic. They forgot to do one little thing: sent us the exact location and the name of our hosts after our pre-payment. All we had was a pin-point location on the map and as we were driving the taxi-driver that picked us up from Stari Grad became more and more anxious. “It is a catastrofa!! A catastrofa! No exact adress, no telephone number. Catastrofa!”. His stress was tangible.
I sat in the back consciously breathing and not letting him influence my peace. When someone’s losing his faith and patience, it is more likely to also be pulled into that negative vibe, this is where you need to guard your peace. I felt we would eventually end up where we needed to be and feeling this, let me stay relaxed. The taxi driver dropped us -more or less- at our pinpoint and had to say goodbye due to another appointment.
A local woman came to help out and offered us to sit and drink something at her beautiful terrace, outlooking on the bay. “Do you want home made wine to take off the stress? Maybe tea or coffee?”
We sat down at their table and drank a water together. Then she said:
“I am also expecting guests today but I didn’t receive information on when they would come.”
I was silently wishing it was us she was expecting.
Then Vitor said: “Adriatic replied. This is the name of our hosts.” and showed it to her. “Oh, that’s us! I am your host. You have arrived at the exact right spot.”
Within myself I said: ‘Thank you universe! Thank you for the reminder that when you may seem lost at times, you are exactly where you need to be. And thank you to my soul for choosing the right place with the right people because those that offer a helping hand to strangers in their moment of need can only be kind of heart.’
Our idyllic stay in Basina, Hvar.
In the lovely home of Katarina and Damir Arambasic we rented a room with a balcony that offered us the perfect view on the bay. We welcomed the new day each morning on that little balcony, with a healthy breakfast and delighted to be in the abundant rays of sun.
It felt like the perfect spot. Untill we found out that Basina doesn’t have a supermarket and you need to book a day in advance at the only local restaurant. We went there and were ripped off, it was the most expensive dinner in our entire stay. Damir was so kind to offer us a ride to the nearest supermarket so we could buy our supplies. It’s handy if you have a car or a scooter at your disposal. We had neither. Only tram 11 as my mom would say, meaning your own two legs.
The house was built by her father in the 70’s, where they used candlelight in the evenings due to lack of electricity. Her father took a chance and it was a good decision because for more than 20 years they are welcoming guests into their home. We celebrated our arrival day with a little barbecue; delicious and young grilled corn. Yum!
Discovery by kayak
You can make use of their kayak and explore the stunning coastline of several bays. We were in for an adventure and decided to kayak to the uninhabited island of Zecevo. It took 30-40 minutes of kayaking and we snorkelled around and took beautiful drone shots. It’s even more beautiful from up high!
Book your stay with Katarina and Damir directly
Save yourself the hassle and trouble we went through and book directly with our lovely hosts if you fell inlove with it too. This is their information and they would be happy to welcome you to their small paradise on the island of Hvar.
Visiting Bol on the island of Brac
I saw a picture of Bol on instagram when planning out our holiday and I said: THIS.IS.WHERE.WE.NEED.TO.GO! Vitor was also immediately charmed by the pictures of the monastery next to the beach.
It is the oldest town on the coast of Brac and it used to be the home of fishermen, winebrewers and sailors. Now it’s a place for rejuvenation, relaxation and enjoyment. Let me take you to the beauty of Bol.
Our accomodation: Villa Juraj
The kindness of the staff impressed us! We were welcomed with an open heart and a welcoming drink. This is the most spacious place we stayed and we loved to drink a tea on our balcony. When we were about to leave, the owner offered us a ride to the ferry. We didn’t ask for it but he offered it to us, out of understanding. I thought it was so kind.
Rent a electric scooter for an hour and ride along the promenade to Zlatni Rat, you get a good idea of the distance and see the promenade.
The most beautiful beach of Croatia: the Golden Horn or Zlatni Rat
This would be the biggest attraction that is about a 20 minute walk from the center of Bol. A beach in the shape of a horn. The big surprise you will get is the white that you see is not sand! Those are little white stones so bring your water shoes with you. As a seeker of peace, this beach was too touristic for me, even though it was not overcrowded when we were there. If you don’t want to walk 20 minutes, there are water taxi’s or a small train you can take for 20 kuna per person. Easy-peesy!
Go for a relaxed boat excursion with Captain Milan
There are tons of boat excursions, the most popular being to the famous blue cave. The downside is that you could wait 2 hours in line for your boat to enter into this hotspot. We just wanted a relaxing day on the water and that’s exactly what we got.
“I don’t do drama tours: only relaxing ones!” captain Milan said. We had a nice chat with him on our afternoon stroll. His father built the boat with his own hands, skill and creativity. A family business now passed on to his son, it is his pleasure to take tourists out on relaxing days in the turqoise waters.
Vitor took the drone and Milan said: “oh! do you want to exchange a drone shot of my boat for a bottle of my own olive oil?”
Before Vitor could think about it, I said; “Yes! we will take that deal!” That olive oil is the best one I have ever smelled or tasted.
We spent 5 hours on the boat in a tranquil bay: snorkelling, sliding down the water slide and sun-tanning on the SUP. Our Captain grilled local fish and baked pancakes for all of us.. what a treat.
Need a direct crossing from Hvar to Brac in the low-season?
You can contact Captain Milan as a water-taxi from the island of Hvar, either Hvar-town or Basina to Bol. He regulary brings tourists by boat to the islands. Prices can be discussed with him. This is his WhatsApp number: +385 95 742 0929. He can only take you and your luggage. Enjoy the crossing!
Restaurants in Bol
Vendetta by Vagabundo
At the seashore, on the promenade, you can find Vendetta restaurant. We were magnetically pulled here because of the sushi bar and the varied menu. In the evening we enjoyed live keyboard music and the lights around. Also handy to make a reservation.
A little less cozy restaurant but a delicious treat! A stone-oven pizza with a thin crust that doesn’t feel like a stone in your stomache.
Krka National Park
When you are standing on that famous bridge and looking at the cascading waterfalls, it feels like a place of your imagination rather than a reality.
The park is enchanting with it’s clear waters and numerous fish. It is illegal to fish and it makes me incredibly happy that there is such a thing as animal protection here. A place like this needs to stay as beautiful and paradise-like for future generations to experience and enjoy.
Vítor and I only saw a fraction of the park since it’s 109 m2 big.
It is not allowed to swim anymore in the waterfall pool. Since the beginning of 2021 it is protected and preserved, as it should be. It was on the planning for years but the park was afraid to have less visitors if they closed it. When the pandemic hit, they finally made the decision to prohibit swimming. Excellent choice! Even though I also wanted to take a dip, just for the experience to bathe in this beauty! But if 6000 people on the daily do this, imagine the consequences in several years. We took a bus excursion here since we didn’t rent a car but next time: I am exploring this park on my own terms.
Thank you for traveling with us and I hope this information has served you! If you are soon off to Croatia: enjoy it all!! It’s a beautiful country and you are going to have an amazing time, wherever you choose to stay.
sending you love,