Beautiful Bays and the Blue Cave on the Island of Vis
Posted on June 21, 2010 at 11:12pm Madrid / 5:12pm Cincinnati by Kelly Larbes
I woke up to the sun shining into our room and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore beneath our balcony. I rolled over and looked at my watch. It was only 5:00 am. I got up to close the balcony shutters and the view just blew me away. It was beautiful, so much more than I expected. I looked at Jay and seeing he was sound asleep I knew he wouldn’t appreciate being woken up, so I took a few photos to share later.
We had arrived on the island of Vis after dark late the night before. We rented a room in the little town of Komiža from the tourist agency, Alturnatura. The room was small, basic and old fashioned, but clean. And the bathroom was in the hallway – all on par for the just $37 per night we paid. We couldn’t see the view in the darkness when we arrived, so waking up to such an astonishing site was pretty special, and made us feel like we could not have found a better deal. Plus our room was practically on top of the sea, so the sound of the waves was superb for rocking me right to sleep.
Vis is Croatia’s most remote island (24 miles away from the mainland). From 1944 – 1989 it was a military island and off-limits to most visitors. Tito commanded the Yugoslav army from the island during WWII and the island stationed Yugoslav, British and American troops. Now the island is home to a small military base and just 3,000 residents. Many Croatian islands have begun to swell with tourists in the last few years, but Vis hasn’t become overrun yet. There are just four hotels on the island (as well as vacation apartment accommodations). It has maintained its feel of a sleepy island paradise.
We had heard great things about all of the unique bays on the island, so we rented a car for the day to check out a few. We rented the car from Darlić & Darlić, another tourist agency in town. The owner’s mother was working that day and she was super sweet. She talked about all of her favorite places to visit, marked spots on our map, and checked us over to make sure we had proper shoes for hiking down to Stiniva Bay. She gave us her blessing and we were off to our first stop: Hum, the highest peak on the island. It gave us a perfect view of Komiža and to Split looking the other way. Supposedly you can see Italy from this point too; we weren’t sure if we were seeing Italy or just a hazy horizon.
Early June was still before high tourist season, so driving around the island we rarely passed another car and the bays were scattered with just a few other people. It made an ideal setting for a peaceful and romantic weekend.
The first beach we visited was the most stunning, most difficult to get to, and we spent the most time there. The entrance to the cove of Stiniva Bay from the sea is rather small through two towering cliff walls. Inside it opens up to a secluded little beach. The cove has been able to maintain its natural beauty because there is no road leading to it. Approaching the bay from above we had a half hour hike down a steep path. The views from above were the best and they constantly changed as we made our descent. Once at the beach we had a picnic lunch and waded in the cool crystal emerald water.
After a strenuous hike back up, we headed to the bays of Srebrna and Rukavac where we walked along large flat slat rocks the gradually sloped into the sea. The sea was blue and turquoise and the smooth rocks felt nice on my feet. It was such a contrast to the pebbly beach at Stiniva.
We stopped in Vis town for an ice cream and directions to Stoncica Bay. Driving around the island was fun as we were constantly winding our way around hillsides, through vineyards, and along cliffs overlooking the sea. Our time to return the rental car was quickly sneaking up on us, so we had a very short time to see Stoncica Bay and its sandy beach. It was hard to believe that these very diverse bays were all on the same small 55 square mile island.
The day had wiped us out, so we enjoyed a quiet evening dinner in Komiža and watched the excellent movie, The Blind Side, on our laptop before heading to sleep.
We were up early the next morning to join six other visitors with Alternatura for a visit to the Blue Cave (Modra špilja) on the nearby island of Biševo. Jay and I had been looking forward to Biševo’s Blue Cave since we missed out on seeing the Blue Grotto on the Italian island of Capri last summer due to high waves.
We entered the cave in a small boat, all ducking our heads down to fit through the low opening. The water inside of the Blue Cave glowed a stunning bright blue (just like the Blue Grotto). A natural phenomena occurs as sunbeams penetrated through the underwater opening in the cave, reflected from the white bottom floor, and brilliantly lit up the inside of the cave. It was beautiful. I only wished we had gone with a tour that gave us the time to swim inside. It just went by too quickly.
We spent the afternoon walking around Vis Town and along the sea out towards an old British cemetery and relaxing at another pretty pebbly beach. We headed home on the fast evening catamaran ferry – 1 hour 15 minutes and we were back in Split.
It’s hard to believe we have less than two weeks left in Croatia. Time has flown by as we try to pack a lot into our final few weeks here. Vis was the last place on our “must see” list for Croatia. We’re sure glad we made it there; it takes the spot of our favorite Croatian island and one of the prettiest places we’ve ever been.