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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

head shot of kelly

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.

Komiza harborJay and Kelly at Kor Cafe

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.

Our Fiat Punto convertible rental car from Darlic & DarlicVis's Stiniva Bay as we hike down to the beach

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.

Jay enjoying the view during our hike down to Stiniva BayJay in the Stiniva Bay cove

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.

Kelly at Rukavac on the flat slat rocksSv. Nikola church near Komiza

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.

Winding hillside road near Vis TownStoncica - the sandy beach

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.

Bisevo island's Blue Cave - awesome!Exiting the Blue Cave -- duck!!

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.

Bisevo island's Blue Cave - awesome!Church near British cemetery outside of Vis Town

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.

Click here to view more of our photos from our trip to the island of Vis.

7 Reader Comments to “Beautiful Bays and the Blue Cave on the Island of Vis”

  1. Krista on June 21, 2010 at 11:31pm Split / 5:31pm Cincinnati

    Such a wonderful post! I was in Croatia a year ago and I just love your photos and descriptions. I want to go back so badly. :-)

  2. Jay Larbes on June 21, 2010 at 11:41pm Split / 5:41pm Cincinnati

    A thought and an anecdote — I really enjoy the opportunity to drive a car when we take these trips. Especially when I’m driving on a sunny day in a convertible on a beautiful island and I’m the only car on the road! My only wish is to just once have a car with a decent engine inside of it, none of the cars I have driven have had much power. Too bad I’m too cheap to rent the more expensive cars.

    Regarding Stiniva Bay: Wow, was it gorgeous. Tied with Plitvice Lakes as my favorite sight in Croatia. As Kelly said, it was about a half-hour hike from where we parked our car down to the beach. However, she left out our hike back up. The trail was pretty rugged and not very clear, and I managed to guide us right off the trail. Before I knew it, I had walked into about a dozen giant spiderwebs and had to keep grabbing spiders off of me. Nasty. We realized my error after a couple of minutes off track and managed to get back on the proper trail pretty easily, where we avoided spiders and spiderwebs the rest of the hike.

  3. Jon on June 22, 2010 at 1:11am Split / 7:11pm Cincinnati

    I loved the Blue Caves, too, and wanted to swim out through the opening…I don’t know of any guides that let you out of the boat for a swim…I’d do it in a flash, though!

    Great pictures!

  4. Elisa on June 22, 2010 at 8:25pm Split / 2:25pm Cincinnati

    Hey these photos are beautiful! So this island also belong to Tito hu? After visiting the Brjun Islands now we must also visit Vis. and the Blue Cave is spectacular, great shot!

  5. Kim Snapp on June 22, 2010 at 9:36pm Split / 3:36pm Cincinnati

    Wow….that’s all I can say…besides you two are so lucky to be experiencing this…I am just glad you are taking it all in, and documenting as well as you do…amazing!

  6. Kelly Larbes on June 24, 2010 at 5:45pm Split / 11:45am Cincinnati

    Krista – Definitely come back to Croatia if you can make it. Vis won’t let you down.

    Jay – Yes, I left the spider web story for you. Looking back, it would’ve made a funny video seeing you flail around to get rid of the spider webs, but at the time it was just grose.

    Jon – I’ve seen photos of people swimming there, but I am guessing that is off season and they probably had their own boat.

    Elisa – Sí, Vis es muy bonita. Lo recomiendo mucho.

    Kim – Thanks for keeping up with us. I always appreciate your comments.

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