We had our first bad experience renting a house and while we were struck by the importance of home, or in this case, the importance of a home base and what a difference it makes to have a good one you feel comfortable in, all I can say is this: what an amazing blessing it is that we got to explore this gorgeous and fascinating island together as a family!! Hvar is full of stunning vistas, interesting ports and towns, amazing food and wine, and thousands of years of history. Pine forests grow right up to turquoise Adriatic beaches, the climate is mediterranean with an almost-continual breeze and you can't go anywhere without running into another vineyard. It has been inhabited since the Stone Age (!), founded by the Greeks, and ruled by the Venetians. It's almost unbelievable how beautiful it is.
Here are a few fun things we did as a family and would recommend:
Oh, we LOVED this beach! Like most beaches in Croatia, it's rocky, but with the calmest, clearest turquoise water. On a hot summer day, the water is perfectly refreshing. We headed there after breakfast and for a good while, we had the beach mostly to ourselves. Grace kept screaming and crying and screaming some more, until I finally figured out what it was she was begging for... another swim !
The gorgeous hike to get down to the beach. We walked past olive groves, huge aloes and ancient stone walls to the sound of cicadas (a favorite mediterranean summertime melody of mine!) with this view.
The Hvar Fortress.
We got into Hvar Town before 9am and after walking around and eating our chocolate pastries (family tradition/vice) we almost left early to the beach to escape the heat and tourists, but we had an hour to wait while the gas station was refueled. We went up to the fortress, immediately thankful we didn't miss it. The views are spectacular and the kids had fun running around while we drank overpriced coffee ;)
We also took our time walking through the Franciscan Monastery. The Last Supper is one of my favorite paintings - not one in particular. I sent these photos to my Dad and loved what he said... "Playing in front of the Last Supper! Just what the Lord would want of little children."
Explore beautiful Stari Grad, the oldest city in Croatia.
We stayed in Stari Grad, just a short walk from this main square and loved the small, ancient city. It has been continuously inhabited for over 2400 years! We ate an amazing lunch right here at Kod Barba Luka of incredible homemade ravioli and šopska salata (Shepherd's Salad - similar to Greek Salad) and also came back the following day for a delicious breakfast. John Shea went crazy pointing out all the boats (boats aka million dollar yachts) and we had coffee each morning in this same square. We'd also recommend Antika but I think the very best find was a wine and deli shop hidden in one of the back cobblestone streets.
The Stari Grad Plain via the Old Road.
This may just be one of the most beautiful drives in all of Croatia. The Stari Grad Plain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, first colonized by the Ionian Greeks in the 4th century BC. Cultivation on this plain (mainly of grapes and olives) has continued ever since! We drove the old road from Stari Grad to Hvar Town. It winds up through the mountains, past ancient stone terraces and abandoned stone villages surrounded by grapevines, olive groves and wild lavender, all with stunning panoramic views over Hvar and neighboring islands.
We are thankful we finally made it to this beautiful island and truly understand now why it is one of the most popular and beloved spots in Croatia.