Five Inland Treasures Not to Miss
With such glorious sunshine and pristine waters, it is hard for some visitors to image a holiday on Hvar away from the beach, but for those willing to explore a little, there are some absolute gems to be discovered. Inland Hvar is much less crowded, and it offers a completely different, and yet equally stunning, aspect of Croatia's premier island. Here are five favourite spots many tourists never even hear about.
1. The oldest olive tree on Hvar (Zastražišće)
Eastern Hvar is much less visited than its more popular western neighbour, but it is home to some remarkable things, including the oldest olive tree on the island, which has a diameter of 5.1 metres, and has been dated by experts as being 500 years before Christ. If true, that would make it one of the ten oldest olive trees in the world. It is a majestic tree, which has been under protection since 1964. It is impossible to find without local assistance. Drop in to the Rubin olive press on the left as you drive through the village, and ask about the possibility of a visit while sampling and buying some of the excellent Rubin olive oil and honey.
2. Agroturizam Pharos - the best family day out? (Stari Grad Plain)
In the heart a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Stari Grad Plain, one of the island's most successful recent tourism addtions awaits you to give a wonderful family day out. For the parents, a taste of local olive oil, cheeses, wines and various meat products, sitting on a divine terrace and accompanying stone house overlooking 2,400 years of history, while the little ones play in total safety with an impressive array of animals, including horses, donkeys, ducks, chickens, goats and Vietnamese pigs. Something for all the family, and with fresh organic vegetables and goat milk also for sale, one of the healthiest days out on Hvar.
3. Humac and Grapčeva Cave
For many, Humac is the most beautiful village on Hvar. Located 6km east of Jelsa, the abandoned 15th century shepherd's village is the premier eco-ethno village in Dalmatia, and a walk around its abandoned houses with astonishing views down to the Adriatic is a must-see. Take the guided tour of the nearby Grapčeva Cave, a fabulous Neolithic cave experience, and end the trip with a meal in the rustic and highly authentic Konoba Humac (no electricity or running water here) and you will leave with one of the more memorable experiences Hvar has to offer.
4. Sveti Nikola, the Peak of the Island of Hvar
How does it feel to be on top of the world? Take a trip up to Sveti Nikola, 621 metres above sea level and the highest point on one of the world's most beautiful islands. From the peak, you have gorgeous panoramic views of the island. Choose a sunny day to see the most of the mainland and neighbouring islands, or if there should be a freak snowfall which covers the whole island, bring your skis and ski down to Dubovica bay, as one crazy Slovakian did in 2012.
5. The Grabljes - Lavender and Legend Heaven
The two villages of Malo and Velo Grablje, a short drive from Hvar Town, are among the least populated on Hvar, but they have many stories to tell. Once the centre of lavender production in all Dalmatia, today Velo Grablje has just five permanent residents and is home to the annual lavender festival, while Malo Grablje below has none, with the only real sign of life being the excellent Stori Komin restaurant which is open in the summer. Legend has it that a bastard son of Henry VIII founded the village after being shipwrecked and finding a local maiden. Whatever the truth, a visit and hike between the two is an excellent way to discover the nature of Hvar.
*Author - Paul Bradbury
*Photo Credit - Romulić & Stojčić multimedia studio / Grapčeva Cave