Guardian 2011 Readers' Competition: Hvar, Croatia Story Wins
The 2011 Guardian Readers' Writing Competition has been won by Dana Smith for her encounter with a naked octopus fisherwoman in a secluded cove.
The island of Hvar has picked up numerous awards in recent weeks - Top Destination in Croatia 2011 (Vecernji List), Top 5 Destinations for 2012 (Lonely Planet) and Top Ten Islands in Europe 2011 (Conde Nast) - but the accolades are also being won by its tourists, with Dana Smith winning the prestigiousGuardian Readers' Writing Competition on November 11, 2011.
The story was based on their experiences of a recent holiday to the island, and highlighted a side to Croatia's premier island that receives less coverage than the nightclub antics of British royalty or baby bumps of American pop stars.
Smith and her husband found and booked an all-inclusive deal with a local family with the Adriatic their front garden. Fresh produce brought by the family - squid, aubergines, salads, wine - were the backdrop to the perfect holiday, but the memorable experience happened on a nearby seemingly deserted cove.
The superbly-written piece - which earned the author a 7-day all-inclusive holiday to Cancun - tells of the couple's tranquility being disturbed by a lithe naked woman who appeared from nowhere, disappeared into a nearby cave, only to reappear with a harpoon and then emerge an hour later with an octopus. The story highlights three aspects of Hvar which are not as well publicised as the vibrant nightlife in Hvar Town:
Hvar as a Destination to Escape the Stresses of Life
The couple found evidence that the naked lady was spending time in the cave, and the author's husband speculated that she was perhaps a loss-adjuster from Dubrovnik living out an island fantasy.
Hvar is in fact a very popular destination for executives to de-stress, and there are a surprising number of North Americans who travel large distances for the solitude and peacefulness of its clear turquoise waters and pine tree background. Away from the bright lights of Hvar Town, the majority of the island is relatively de-populated, and small settlements on the eastern side of the island - Vela Stiniva, Pokrivenik, the Gdinj bays and the small island of Scedro - offer a different type of tourism, whose thrust is peace, nature and the transparent Adriatic
Hvar's Abundancy of Hidden Coves
Hvar is rich in beaches, and for tourists willing to travel a little off the beaten path, it is possible to find a choice of coves with complete privacy, where the chance of an encounter with a naked harpoon-bearing native is limited. The Kabal peninsula north of Stari Grad, for example, is rarely visited, yet offers some of the best beaches on Hvar.
Hvar as a Premier Naturist Destination
Ever since another British royal went skinny-dipping with his new wife on the island of Rab, naturism has been part of the Croatian tourism offer. Edward and Mrs. Simpson's infamous swim 75 years ago is credited as a major factor in the development of nature tourism in Croatia, and it caters to a significant number of the country's visiting tourists.
Hvar is an important centre for naturism in Croatia, with the island of Jerolim off Hvar Town given over to naturists, while the outskirts of the pretty town of Vrboska house a popular nudist camp and beach. Read on for more information about Hvar as a naturist destination.