Exploring every bay of Hvar island by sea kayak
Exploring every bay of Hvar island by sea kayak was an idea born out of pondering how to make the best of the free summertime created by the pandemic situation. We have decided to start off by kayaking around our home ground: a loop that is 228km (123nmi) long and has 253 bays and coves to explore 🙂
Our home ground is the island of Hvar, an island known for its history, climate, cuisine and wine. Parts of our island, namely town of Hvar, attract many guests in the summertime, and in winter our island attracts athletes and professional cycling teams that are looking for a mild, sunny climate. But large parts of this 68km long and 10km wide island are unexplored and uninhabited. The sheer number of bays and coves make it a perfect destination for some adventurous multi-day sea kayaking!
It is mid-June. Four of us: Vese, Bruna, Kristan and Vedran, packed and started our journey from Jelsa, a charming little coastal town on the north side of the island. Girls have gone with the nimbler Prijon Tourjaks and the boys preferred the comfort of the longer and spacious Prijon Kodiak sea kayaks. Rest of the gear is standard for any of our sea kayak guides (paddles and spares, PFDs, spray skirts, first aid, tow lines, and water pumps) plus food and water (and some of the best wines from local island producers) for 3-4 days. We’ve planned it would take us 10-12 days to do the loop and explore everything we find, and that we’ll resupply in the coastal towns along the route. We’ll camp overnight, so we brought tents, sleeping pads, bags, stoves, and cookware. See the full Packing List for Sea Kayaking in Croatia here.
The decision where to go from Jelsa was left to the weather forecast. Wind in favor is always a good idea, so we headed east, towards Sućuraj. Each of us had some knowledge about what lays ahead, but we all had a big gap of unknown territory to fill, and we were excited to explore every nook and cranny of Hvar island!
DISCLAIMER: We have decided to mention every single bay that had a name on the map, and we’ll tell a little bit more about the ones that we found interesting. Our decisions to describe a bay here, or present it with a photo is driven by the beauty of it, not accessibility by other means, or the availability of bars, restaurants, or accommodation. Also, we’ll use words like charming, amazing, pristine and picturesque way too often, and we
apologize for that in advance 🙂
PART 1: FROM JELSA TO SUĆURAJ
Leg lenght: 54km / 29nmi
Number of bays: 60
As mentioned, we started from Jelsa . We will come back to Jelsa at the end of our adventure, for now, here is a photo of us departing:
Just around the corner, we have found a couple of bays that are beautiful, but also very well-known and easily accessible.
Mina is a big bay with a narrow sandy beach at the end. There is a hotel Mina (recently renamed to hotel Hvar), and a camping spot. It is a beautiful bay, but not what we were looking for:)
Grebišće bay is a popular camping spot. Bay has two inlets and two sandy beaches. On its eastern point is the “Corni Petar” beach bar, a popular place for swimming and chilling for locals.
Pogomilje is one of those bays that have a name on a map, but in reality, it is a rocky notch with a scarce offer to a kayaker. We have found plenty of these kind of bays along the way.
Zenčišće is the home of an abandoned Childrens resort and the rehabilitation center of the city of Belgrade. Developed and used in the Yugoslavian era, only to be abandoned and devastated during the turmoil of the Croatian war for independence. Bay has a nice beach and large concrete sunbathing areas.
Crkvica bay is where the sights we were looking for started appearing:) It is quite a large bay with a stonewall dividing large plots of agricultural land from the sea. One beautiful summer house close to the sea, and a beautiful chapel from the 14th century of Sveti Luka (St.Luke) at the east end of it. The bay was once home to Romans and features ancient ruins which are still visible.
Mačica is a notch on an otherwise rocky coast.
Prapatna (somewhere referred to Velika Prapatna, ”Velika” meaning big) is a big bay with some 30 summer houses and a beach that stretches from one side to the other. Accessible by car and definitely worth visiting.
Makarac is a cute little inlet with a small beach at the end, and one small summer house in the shade next to it.
Mala Stiniva on our 10th km is an amazing, charming, picturesque bay colored with pristine blue and green shades of water. “Mala” meaning small and ”Stiniva” is often used to name a rocky, cliffy bay. Many islands in Croatia have “Stiniva” bay; one on the island of Vis is by now globally famous. This one on Hvar is not so famous, but still beautifully divided by the cliffs into two little inlets. One on the west, we had for ourselves during a short break:
The one on the east has more activity and a few summer residences.
Mala Stiniva bay has two beaches, so getting in/out with a kayak is a breeze. It is also connected to the main road by an unpaved one.
Velika Zečja is a cute little beach bay with one fishermans cottage. On a map also looks like it is accessible by a car.
Mala Zečja is a small notch in a rocky coast, just big enough to fit a small summer house placed in the middle.
Plažica is nice as all of the Hvar coast but nothing to write home about.
Vela Stiniva is a coastal village where we decided to end our first day due to wind picking up. “Vela”, like Velika, also means big, and it is. Vela Stiniva is a mix of old and new. A couple of taverns next to the beach and a lot of private accommodation options tells us that this place can be popular in the summer. Locals were preparing for the religious festive of Sveti Ante (St Antoine), and we were able to get a bite in the otherwise closed tavern. This is also a place where Bruna got stung by a poisonous fish we call spider-fish. Her hand was in unbearable pain, and we needed to take her to a hospital and rearrange our plans for the day ahead.
Stanjimir is a wide, open, rocky bay with a couple of summer houses widely spread around.
Sinjava is an unusual, cliffy bay that we entered and floated around trying to comprehend it. It is just unusual:
Tetikovac and Kotal are two nice bays but don’t offer much to a sea kayaker.
Dubac is somewhat cute. A small beach shared by just a couple of summer houses.
Gnjila (translates to rotten) is actually one big rocky nothing:)
Kljušna is a cute little bay, with what appears to be a small fishermans cottage next to the beach. Not much else going on around it, though, but sometimes this is all we need .
Mali Radonjac was nothing to take a photo of and Radonjac very much reminded us of Mali Radonjac:)
Kruševa has a pebble beach and just a couple of summer houses. While entering it, we have noticed two little caves worth checking out:
Pokrivenik is quite large and diverse, with five little inlets to choose from. The biggest one, carved out in the cliffs, has a beautiful pebble beach, and a camp where we have spent our second night waiting for Bruna to re-join us.
In another one, there is a small hotel and a restaurant. Pokrivenik is easily accessible by car. One very special thing about Pokrivenik is the Badanj cave which guards the remains of the island’s Neolithic life. It can be seen from the sea, but the path to it is hidden between the summer residences, so ask the locals for directions. Pokrivenik is also popular as a rock climbing spot. The small campsite is located in the same inlet where the cave is.
Zaraće looks like a harmonious little community neatly packed in a bay. Not many beaches around, but still charming. Note that there is another Zaraće bay on Hvar island.
Mala Lučica and Velika Lučica had nothing particular we felt worth pointing out.
Veliki Kučac is a tiny little bay with a small pebble beach and a couple of cottages high above it. The name (Veliki = big) indicates that there is Mali (small) Kučac somewhere nearby, but that is not the case:)
Pobij is also small, but overbuilt.
Pakomina is a cute little coastal village that looks like it could be offering accommodation and local food in a tavern in non-pandemic circumstances. We were impressed with this beautiful little fishermans cottage in the middle of the bay.
Virak is pretty open, and the summer houses are scattered along the coast. It has few lovely small pebble beaches. This is where the unpaved road connecting all the mentioned bays from Pokrivenik to here ends.
Tvrdna pazuha bay is not particularly interesting except for its name translating to “hard armpits”.
Šolatuša is quite open, with a pebble beach and just a couple of summer houses. Judging by the plants growing around, there is a source of freshwater here.
Zavala is big and interesting. On one side, a couple of summer houses are hidden in the shade, and on the other, there are cliffs and large rocks in the shallows. Note that this is not the only bay named Zavala on the island.
Stara meaning old is actually pretty modern, judging by the architecture of the 5 or 6 summer houses positioned around a pebble beach.
Vele gaćice is another one of the bays with funny names. This one translates to “large undies”. It is a couple of summer houses scattered around a small green bay. There is also Male gaćice or little undies.
Bristova has a nice beach, but it is a bit overbuilt for our taste.
Vela Pogorila has a big beach and just one or two summer houses on one side of it. We kind of liked it.
Mala Pogorila is an overbuilt little bay, skip it.
Vodice doesn’t have a beach, and it is not a kayakers paradise, but it is beautiful. One abandoned old stone house, and a lot of green. Usually, a name like this refers to a water source nearby.
Mala Moševćica is just a small beach in the rocky notch. But the Aleppo pines around give it a nice touch.
Vela Moševćica – we loved the simplicity and the beauty of this bay. It is worth mentioning that nearby, above is one of the rocky fortifications called Gradine, that is over 4000 years old, dating back to Illyrians is still visible.
Vela Maslinica is a small beach in the shade. Mala Maslinica is a notch in the rocky coast, but there is a cute little cottage above it.
Didina donja translates to grandpas lower bay and it is a pretty nice area of beach with shade.
Didina gornja translates to grandpas upper bay, quite nice. There is some kind of tourism developing here. Looks like a nice place to vacate.
Divlja mala or the little wild one is a deep notch in the terrain, and if there is a beach, it is quite rocky.
Divlja vela has a beach and a couple of cottages and summer houses above the beach, all on one side, very cute.
Studenac is a rocky little inlet not accessible by kayaks. This name often refers to a water source.
Krivodolac is just a little pebble beach.
Lasice or weasels is a little cave and some kind of a beach at the end of a bay.
Turišnja is somewhat cute. See it for yourself:
Kovačna is pretty open, and with no beach. Stonewalls visible form the sea tell us that this land was farmed in the past.
Mlaska bay could be a well-needed break on any multi-day adventure. It was just what we needed after a few days in the open, and we were kindly greeted by the camp owner to spend the night there. Camp Mlaska is quite big, has a restaurant, bar, a small market, and all other usual facilities.
Dupca, Sorčina and Prapratno are like three peas in a pod; wide, open bays with a rocky beach in each. A lot of stonewalls along the coast here, all the way to the eastern tip of Hvar island.
Few more kilometers of paddling and we are approaching Sućuraj, town and a port on the far east of Hvar island. The lighthouse of Sveti Juraj is an impressive sight.
In Sućuraj, we have stopped for a cup of coffee before tackling on Part 2 of our trip, the south side of Hvar island. Sućuraj is a home for some 350 people, and it is oriented toward tourism and fishing. It is also a ferry port, connecting the east part of the island to the mainland. Sućuraj got its name from the patron Sveti Juraj (St George), and more and more people are discovering the beauty and rich history of this smallest town of Hvar island.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our adventure. There we will discover the south side of Hvar island, from Sućuraj all the way to the town of Hvar.