Sailing Holidays on Hvar: The Bays from Jelsa to Zavala
Sailing around the western part of Hvar Island offers hidden coves, stone towns and excellent food. A boating overview of what to expect West of Jelsa.
Sailing holidays on Hvar are an excellent way to discover the hidden gems and secluded coves of Croatia's premier island, voted as one of the world's top ten by readers of Conde Nast. Tourism is concentrated on the western part of Hvar, from Jelsa on the northern coast to Zavala in the south. Here are some tips for sailors to get the most out of the route.
From Jelsa to Vrboska, Basina and the Island of Zecevo
The pretty town of Jelsa, the third largest, is an ideal entry point to Hvar, with its compact central square the centre of its cafe culture, and several excellent waterfront restaurants tempting passing yachts with their traditional fare. Mooring for visitors is reserved on the western side of the harbour, opposite the harbour master's office, with the eastern side reserved for the daily catamaran to Split and the seasonal tourist boats.
A short sail round the Glavica peninsula brings the main ACI marina into view, a thriving business with the increasing popularity of sailing in Croatia. The marina is located at the entrance to Vrboska, also known as Little Venice, and well-known for its picturesque canal and church-fortress. On matters more practical, it also has a marine fuel station, showers and a range of boat repair and maintenance facilities.
A little out of the town is the naturist resort of Zecevo, a tiny island in deeper water, or continue on to the delightful village of Basina, ideal for a detour with its three inlets, excellent restaurant and inviting swimming.
The Rudine Peninsula to Stari Grad
Hvar is very long and thin, with the exception of the Rudine Peninsula which must be circumnavigated to reach the oldest town on Hvar, Stari Grad. Apart from two small settlements, the peninsula is almost deserted, and there are numerous inviting coves, but mooring is not allowed in many due to marine cables. Head instead for the deep bay of Zukovo, which almost resembled a lake and has excellent swimming.
Passing Kabal Point and into the Stari Grad channel, look up to the left to see the tunnels that Tito ordered for the islanders to defend themselves in case of attach, then choose between the various coves in Tiha Bay, before sailing into ancient Stari Grad, with its 2.300 years of history and UNESCO zone. Moor up at the southern part of the harbour after the lighthouse.
Around Pelegrin Point to Hvar Town
The journey west offers a enviable selection of hidden coves, and there are plenty to choose from, but among the best are Lucisce and Stiniva, the latter having a small jetty and restaurant. Rounding Pelegrin Point is the jewel in the island's crown, Hvar Town and the stunning Pakleni Islands opposite, where the boats and large and the clientele rich and famous. There are a few moorings on the eastern side.
Pokojni Dol, Dubovica, Sveta Nedelja and Zavala
Onward sailing from Hvar Town means an introduction to the south of Hvar, passing the lighthouse on the tiny island at Pokojni Dol, past the fishing village of Milna, home to south of the best restaurants on the island and a curious royal connection to Henry VIII, to leave three gems still to discover.
The hamlet of Dubovica is one of the most photographed in Dalmatia, and with good reason, as its few stone buildings encroach on an excellent beach. There are a couple of places to eat, but if sampling the local wine is of interest, sail on to Sveta Nedelja and admire the imposing cliffs before dropping into the curious restaurant at the jetty, owned by the Plenkovic family, purveyors of the island's best known wine, Zlatan Otok.
Continuing the journey, the resort of Ivan Dolac comes into view, and the smaller and almost uninhabited island of Scedro comes into view, which can be accessed by water taxi from Zavala, the final destination, popular for its southern sun, family beach and superb cuisine.
From Jelsa to Zavala by boat can take as long as the holiday pace dictates, but the journey by road is about 20 minutes through one of the most interesting tunnel journeys in Europe.