The fourth and final week on Hvar witnessed us settling right into island life and running on island time. We know which beach stays quiet until what time in the mornings and which beach has the longest sunshine in the evenings. We can roughly tell how much a super yacht would cost for one week rental. We have our 8pm picnic dinner by the sea while watching the sunset, listening to the Game of Thrones soundtrack by 2Cellos. We visit our favourite bakery to get daily fresh bread or burek on the way back from morning walks. We eat a mediterranean diet - Brad now is an expert in cleaning fish from scratch as fish is not normally cleaned when bought. We pick cherry tomatoes and rosemary from our own vegetable garden.
We could keep living this island life forever! Sadly everything has to come to an end at some point and at the end of our fourth week on Hvar, that time has come. With a month of experience, here are a few thoughts on a Hvar long stay.
When people learned that we are staying on Hvar for a month, they often reacted with an immediate surprise at such an extraordinary length of time and then would comment "you must be rich!".
Compared to a "normal holiday" length of time anywhere from 3-10 days, we are indeed doing something unusual. But we are not on holidays and the beauty of slow travel is to enjoy a place for a decent length of time while living like a local at a local cost, not like a holidaymaker on a holiday budget.
Living like a local means that we stay at a local Airbnb apartment, do grocery shopping, cook meals and do our own laundry rather than staying in a hotel and eating out all the time. The not eating out all the time is the essential budget saver when on an upmarket island as the prices are really geared to the less budget conscious holidaymaker.
Pros of Hvar Town
Hvar is a living and breathing residential island with locals living on it for generations. It has all the general infrastructure that a normal city has - supermarkets, petrol stations, drug stores, markets etc. Here we are able to live a normal independent life just like those locals do. This wouldn't be possible if Hvar was a pure resort town.
Hvar is surrounded with natural beauty - various coastal walks, numerous beaches and two fortresses keep us busy and active. Each day, we do a different morning walk and two swimming sessions at a combination of different beaches. It has so much to offer that boredom is not even an option. We sleep very well each night because we have been very physically active since we arrived on Hvar.
Everything - beauty spots, shops, restaurants etc - are all within walking distance (a couple of kilometers) no matter where you are staying in Hvar Town. So it's easy just to walk out of the accommodation and arrive at the destination within 30 minutes, which is good considering we don't have a car. But if you want to go beyond Hvar town, there are regular buses connecting Hvar to other towns on the island, plus there are plenty of options for car and scooter rentals. Ferries connect Hvar with a few cities on the mainland including Split and Dubrovnik and other islands such as Brac, Vis and Korcula. Boat rentals and water taxis can take you to wherever you want whenever you wish.
Cons of Hvar Town
Internet hasn't been great. At our Airbnb apartment the internet connection is sporadic and frustrating. Our patience has been running low in dealing with the constant dropout and slow motion on a daily basis. When out and about the 4G signal is often quite weak depending on where you are. For digital nomads like us, this can be a major problem.
Product range in supermarkets can be limited and so is the range and quantity of fresh produce. We learned very fast to go shopping in the morning to secure any fish. Otherwise they tend to be all sold out by noon. Some sale items in the weekly catalogue are not offered on Hvar, as a result, they cost more to buy than in the mainland.
Restaurants and bars can be more expensive in Hvar Town. We used octopus salad as a price index and found that in Hvar Town it normally costs 90kn, but further from the center the price goes down to 70kn. Petrol price works the same way with Hvar Town being more expensive.
Hvar Town doesn't have any shopping malls or shopping centers. There are some boutique shops for clothing, but you will have to go to Stari Grad or Split to shop for general items.
Some Beautiful and Ugly Moments
A toddler wearing nothing but a diaper enthusiastically patrolling along the pebbly Pokonji Dol beach all by himself. He didn't seem to mind walking on those hard pebbles barefooted at all. He looked like a mini man, determined and indulging himself in the pleasant surroundings. Now and then he would go deeper so that water lapped his waist, teasing our attention. His mum was watching him at one end of the beach, but we felt very impressed and amused by this little man's independence and bravery.
A Labrador standing on a rock, staring at the sea longingly. After a few minutes he jumped in and swam towards a group of people playing a ball game in the water. The group broke their focus on the ball and happily extended their welcome when they noticed the stranger volunteered to join them. The Labrador circled around them, checking them out and finally turned its head back to the beach after assessing that these people were no competition of his when it came to the ball-catching game.
A baby girl was laughing hysterically when her dad dipped her into the water. She obviously loved the thrill of the sudden coolness on her skin, unlike most of us who complained about the exact thing. Her dad kept lifting her up into the air and then dipping her back into the water. The laughter was so pure and infectious that we found ourselves laughing with her too.
A woman sat on top of a set of stairs blocking the entrance to a stretch of concrete platform leading to the swimming ladder. I asked her politely that if she could move her handbag so that I could go down those stairs. She looked at me and said it was wet over there. I was perplexed - it's a beach, so of course it's wet; by telling me it's wet, she's discouraging me not going down. After processing all this, her intention became clear to me now - she wanted the whole area all to herself as if she owned it. I asked again politely that I would like to pass. Her response was that she was going to use that area after her reading, still not moving. At this point, I was shocked by her rudeness and selfishness and decided to proceed over her handbag. I would have never expected in million years that someone would behave like that! We were not sure if she was a Croatian or tourist as she swore at us in a foreign language after we forced ourselves past her.
A couple positioned one full length padded mat and two of reclining chairs along the beach horizontally rather than facing the beach like everyone else did. They also spaced out two standup umbrellas behind the two chairs. By doing so, they hogged up quite a percentage of the relatively short beach front. As the beach got busier, they minded their staked territory like a hawk without giving up any extra space even though they didn't need all three seatings between the two of them. Pure selfishness!
Despite some faults and negative experiences, which happen everywhere, Hvar Town is a true gem and we deeply fell in love with its incredible beauty and will surely miss it dearly. The one month stay on Hvar exceeded our expectations and reactivated the spark in life after the uneventful long three months lockdown. We would love to return one day rejoicing at all Hvar has to offer.