Travel to Croatia: Discover the Rudine Peninsula on Hvar Island
Croatian tourism is ever more popular, but there are still hidden gems to be discovered, such as the tranquil Rudine Peninsula on the island of Hvar.
Most tourists who travel to Croatia head for the Adriatic coast, drawn by its breathtaking beauty, pristine water and 1185 islands, of which the island of Hvar is arguably the best known and most popular. Away from the glitz of Hvar Town, which attracts the likes of Bill Gates, Paris Hilton, Roman Abramovich and Kevin Spacey, there is much to discover on the island of lavender, officially the sunniest island on the Adriatic, including the delightful Rudine Peninsula, north of Starigrad.
Welcome to Little Bosnia, on Hvar
The peninsula is a tranquil place, almost devoid of human habitation, and an excellent place to enjoy a peaceful vacation, while being close to civilisation, with the port town of Starigrad a two kilometre walk down the hill.
There are two villages on the peninsula, Velika Rudina and Mala Rudina (literally Big and Little Rudina), with Velika Rudina the central hub of activity, with a full time population of nineteen, of which seven are children of school age. Local parents are hoping for an increase in child numbers, as the State provides a free school bus service for villages with ten pupils or more.
Velika Rudina is known as 'Little Bosnia' and is a sociable and welcoming place, popular with Bosnians who have holiday homes in the area. Unusually for the island, the majority of the house is relatively newly built, although there is a small central square with traditional stone housing. The main employer in the village is the local fish processing factory, which employs people from the village, Starigrad and beyond.
Male Rudine Villas and the Croatian Property Rush of 2004
Driving from Starigrad onto the peninsula, the road forks and a right turn will eventually arrive in the tiny hamlet of Mala Rudina, an exquisite stone hamlet with a full-time population of two. There are perhaps a dozen authentic stone houses assembled around a pretty courtyard. Real estate is sought after in this peaceful setting, with one stone ruin changing hands three times in 18 months in 2004-5, from an initial sales price of €43,000 to €150,000.
The main real estate story on the peninsula are the Male Rudine villas, billed as the ultimate in luxury villa accommodation during the Croatian property boom. Billed as a unique luxury villa complex, complete with individual swimming pools, the almost-finished development is deteriorating slowly, a symbol of the collapse of the Croatian property market.
Beaches in Croatia: Zukova and Kabal
An essential part of any Croatian island holiday is a trip to the beach, and the Rudine peninsula has much to offer in this regard. While beaches in the main resorts can get overcrowded in the season, this is rarely the case on the peninsula, as it is off the beaten track. The most popular beach is at Zukova, a few minutes' walk from Velika Rudina, while Kabal on the other side is also worth trying. For the more adventurous beach hunters, the rough track heading north out of Velika Rudina travels the 12km to the head of the peninsula, and there are many pretty beaches and coves to be discovered, although access is not always easy.
Things to See on the Rudine Peninsula: Tito's Tunnels
Tourists who do make the trek to the head of the peninsula are rewarded by a curious man-made attraction – tunnels created on orders by Tito to defend the island from attack. They are positioned at the top of the Stari Grad channel and can be seen from the ferry on the left as the ferry approaches the port. Apart from being a fun thing to investigate, the sunsets from the tunnel parapets are among the best on the island.