Cycling on the Island of Hvar
Cycling is growing in populatity on Hvar, and no wonder! Where else in the world can you enjoy so a diverse range of routes and spectacular scenery? From the gentle and flat coastal routes in and around Stari Grad (a unique chance to cycle through a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to the more demanding challenges of the old road to Hvar Town, cycling tourism on Hvar is booming. In order to meet this demand, efforts have been made in recent years to make cycling more accessible, and there are now numerous marked cycling trails, as well as a cycling map of the island. Simply visit the Stari Grad Tourist Board office and pick up your copy.
Swimming on the Island of Hvar
What to do on the sunniest island in Europe when you come on holiday? Head for the beach of course! With an infinite number of bays and coves, Hvar is blessed with some of the best beaches in the world, and whatever you are looking for, you will find it on Hvar. From pebble to sandy, romantic to family, a little research will bring you to the beach of your dreams. Stari Grad has several beaches within close walking distance of the town, but a little extra effort will bring even greater reward. The Kabal Peninsula north of the town is one of the island's least visited and least inhabited places, with beaches and coves aplenty. Simply find the one for you and enjoy your dream holiday in peace. Looking for a little south side sun? Head through the tunnel to Hvar Town to the first two bays on your left – Dubovica and Zarace, two slices of Hvar beach heaven, both with restaurants, and among the very best beaches on the island.
With its pristine sea, clean beaches, hidden coves and numerous small islands nearby, Hvar is the perfect base for a water-based holiday, but what is on offer for tourists who want to go a little deeper into the Adriatic and spend a day or two scuba-diving?
Although diving centres have been in existence for more than 50 years in Croatia, there has been an explosion of interest in the last 10 years, and there are several dive centres on the island.
The best are Nautika in Stari Grad and Hvar Town, adn Viking Dive Centre, which operates out of Hvar Town, and whose experienced teams have years of diving experience, both internationally and around the island. The main diving attractions in the Adriatic are wrecks, caves, some coral reefs, and an unlimited selection of interesting fish. Here is a brief overview of the diving highlights near Hvar.
Vodnjak– one of the most popular diving points is Vodnjak, the last of the Pakleni Islands opposite Hvar Town. Vodnjak was in the news recently as the town's mayor offered to rename it Facebook Island, but divers will be more interested in the canyon with red gorgons at 15-40m and the 5m long tunnel at 35m underneath the Campanile, a tower rising from nowhere to about 10m below the surface.
Vela Garska – a good place for beginners, there is a 70m long wall at a depth of 30m, which masks a 20m cave just 5m from the surface. There is some very colourful sea-life to enjoy.
The Wreck – the English trading ship, Paulina was sunk 150 years ago in a lagoon a half-hour boat ride from Hvar. Small sea creatures and a sandy sea bed give way to the wooden boat at a depth of 30m.
Poseidon Pile – a good dive to see scorpion fish, moray eels and sometimes a lobster is the Poseidon Pile, a chimney dive starting at 30m and exiting at 11m. Cracks in the ceiling allow sunlight to create some spectacular effects.
Anchor Wall – a drop of at 35-40m ending with an Admiral anchor hanging on the edge of the cliff, this dive is a great place to spot lobster, seabream and sleeping spotted dogfish.
Happy and engaged children are of course the key to any successful family holiday, and Stari Grad is an excellent family destination for many reasons. The beach will obviously be the key focus of the day in the summer (and don't miss the excellent Stari Grad ice cream at the end of a long day's sun worshipping on Hvar), but there are also plenty of other events going on to entertain the little ones, allowing parents to relax a little.
During the summer, Stari Grad hosts a lively entertainment programme, with many concerts and activities, including several geared for children. Check the Stari Grad Tourist Board website for more information. Other things not to miss include a kids swimming school and kids sailing school, while the biggest secret of Hvar for kids is Atelier Marinka in Dol, run by a lovely Slovenian artist who offers excellent art classes for kids of all ages from the age of three in her delightful stone house and garden at the edge of the village.
Stari Grad really is a sporting paradise, the perfect base for an active holiday, and how many other destinations offer one of the most competitive races of them all, a race that regularly attracts the world's best swimmers? The Faros Marathon is now over 40 years old, one of the most gruelling swims in the world, a 16km swim in open seas from Stari Grad bay to the top of Kabal Peninsula. Olympic gold medal winners and World Champions have competed in the past, an essential piece of sporting tradition in the last weekend in August. It is not the only marathon in town...
For the last few years, Stari Grad has hosted the Hvar Half Marathon, being the starting point of the 21km run over the old road to Hvar Town, surely one of the most beautiful marathon routes in Europe. But running and swimming are but two sporting activities on offer. There are excellent opportunities for sailing, sea kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, cycling and triathlon training. Hvar truly is an adventure playground not to be missed.