Hello hello! This post is over 1.5 years in the making because it's from Vince's and my honeymoon in July 2014! The day after our amazing wedding we hopped on three planes to Croatia. Thus began our wanderlust as a couple, and the rest is history!
Today's post is about all things Vis, one of over a thousand tiny islands off the coast of Croatia. (Fun fact: Croatia totally came out ahead in the Croatian War of Independence because they regained all of their coastal and island territory. What do tourists love? BEACHES.)
NOTE: To see more photos than the ones below, visit our Vis photo portfolio!
If you're considering Croatia for a honeymoon, or any sort of sunny/romantic/couples getaway, GO TO VIS. We cannot stress this enough. This little gem is a whopping 34.5 square miles of nearly untouched Mediterranean perfection, with a population of just under 3,500. (What is it with us and choosing sparsely populated places to visit?)
It's got all the necessities for a romantic island getaway: √ no crowds √ extremely clear, warm water √ beaches on beaches √ delicious mediterranean food √ local wine √ plenty of space to roam
Can you believe that people live here? Who wouldn't love to step outside their front door onto a luxurious island beach?
The town of Komiza was founded prior to the 12th Century and is located on the western coast of Vis. It is a fishing town in the most authentic sense of the word. Mediterranean fishing was practically invented here!
Komiza is a great starting place for many tours around Vis, including trips to the Blue Cave, beach hopping, SCUBA diving, and more!
We randomly chose to visit this beach while cruising along the coast one day. This was definitely the most crowded beach we encountered, but it was still a great one to see. The water gets deep really quickly, which is a fun experience, and you can swim a long ways along the shore between rocks.
Even though this was a "crowded" beach, Vince and I were still completely comfortable leaving our belongings on the shore while we swam together. Vis is the kind of place where everyone is just there to relax and no one wants to be in anyone else's business. Keep in mind, we had our scooters, so most of our valuables were locked in their cubbies, but we still had things like clothes, shoes, and phones with us on the beach.
On our last night on the island, we raced our scooters up the steep road to the top of Mount Hum! We'd heard that you could get a great view of the sunset from there. We barely made it (I didn't even have time to take off my helmet before I had to whip out my camera!)
It was a perfect way to say goodbye to this beautiful oasis.
We tried unsuccessfully 3 times to visit the Blue Cave on the nearby island of Bisevo. The first day, we were late arriving at the tour agency. The second day, it was closed for bad weather, and on the third day the waves were too high so we couldn't safely enter the cave!
Huge shout out to our tour company, Vis Special, for still being awesome! When we found out the cave was closed, our guide offered to take our small group to a nearby beach for the day! While I'm sad that we didn't get to swim inside the Blue Cave, I really enjoyed our relaxing afternoon on Bisevo. The beach even had a cafe for lunch!
Now this is a beach!
Our incredibly helpful hotel staff recommended we visit here and I'm so glad we did. Stiniva is a beach that was formed long ago by a collapsed limestone cave. It's about a 20-minute hike down the cliff edge into the cove, but it's completely worth it! When we came here, there were only about six other people on the beach so we practically had the place to ourselves! We set our stuff down on a rock and dove right in. And there was a small cafe where we could have a quick lunch of sandwiches.
Grandovac was the first beach we visited on Vis on the morning we arrived from the ferry. It's located just east of the main town of Vis (to the right in the photo above).
This was our first taste of Vis's rock beaches. They're surprisingly uncomfortable for having such smooth rocks! We saw a lot of locals wearing Croc-like sandals on the beaches. We never bought any, but they probably would've been a good idea.
After dropping our bags at our lovely new hotel we headed straight back into the main stretch of Vis's town for lunch. Pizza to the rescue! Our first meal on Vis was at Pansion Dionis right on the boardwalk. We sat outside in the shade of a large tent and watched yachts from The Yacht Week sale in. Lunch and a show!
The Verdict: This pizza was nothing to write home about, but it was quick and the price was right. Plus, the serving staff was friendly and had a wealth of knowledge when asked about the island and recommended activities. We'd give it 4 stars.
By our first dinner on Vis, we knew we were somewhere special so we decided to have a fancy dinner to celebrate! We'd walked by Kantun on our many walks through town that day and decided to stop to check out the menu. I wasn't completely sold until a woman walked by and told us that she'd eaten there four years ago and had come back to Vis partially to eat there again. How can you pass on a recommendation like that?
The food turned out to be completely fantastic. I even ate a steak, which I rarely do! I prefer steaks that are prepared in olive oil.
Kantun is also where we sampled our first Croatian wine: Lipanovic. We enjoyed a bottle of 2010 plavac mali over dinner and liked it so much that we each got an additional glass with our dessert! We split a chocolate cake that left much to be desired (not the most flavorful), but at least we had the wine :)
The Verdict: We'd rate Kantun 4.5 stars. The entrees, wine, and staff were tremendous, but the dessert wasn't very exciting.
We dined here on our second day after a morning of riding around on our scooters and soaking up the sun on beaches. It is here that we tasted our first WHOLE fish! The house special for lunch was a fish dish that came with vegetables and orzo. Since this restaurant is situated on the shore, we figured fish was a smart bet.
For the less adventurous, I'd advise staying away from tackling an entire fish until you're more comfortable with fish fillets. Not many can stomach the sight of attached fins and beady little eyes staring at your from your plate.
The Verdict: We'll rate this place 3.5 stars. The fish dish was surprisingly good once you got over the shock factor. That said, it was a bit difficult to separate the meat from all of the tiny little fish bones. This would be a good meal for a leisurely. If you're in a hurry, consider a burger or a quick snack from the nearby grocery store.
We chose to eat at Karijola one night to get a taste of a local hangout. While Vis is barely touristy by many standards, but there are definitely restaurants that cater to tourists more than others. We'd passed Karijola many times on our walks through Vis and it always seemed packed with people and young families speaking Croatian. We decided this was a good sign that the locals enjoyed this food.
The Verdict: This pizza did not disappoint! Not only were the prices great, but the pizza itself was delicious. They had a fantastic flavor from the brick ovens and the cheese : sauce ratio was on point. We'd give Karijola Pizzeria 5 stars!
Roki's is a winery located in the central valley of Vis. We drove through this area a number of times and were excited when we had the chance to actually eat (and drink) at a real Vis winery!
We booked our dinner reservation early in the day since we were going to be ordering off the traditional menu. (These dishes take hours of slow cooking to prepare.) Plus, the restaurant was going to send someone to pick us up so they needed to know that ahead of time.
Roki's itself was a treat to visit. We arrived about a half hour before our food was ready - plenty of time to take a tour and visit the wine tasting room. We even got a tour of the outdoor kitchen where they were slowly preparing our meal in traditional Dutch ovens. we dined in the courtyard under a romantic web of tree branches and lights.
The food was absolutely delicious. I've never been a huge fan of lamb, but the way they prepared it had me sold. On top of that, the wine great to try! We rode back to our hotel stuffed and content.
The Verdict: We'll give Roki's 4.5 stars for its delicious food, romantic ambiance and fantastic service.
Restoran Kod Jakse
Beach fries have always held a certain allure to me. Beach fries on a Croatian island? Sold.
Restoran Kod Jakse is a small cafe/bar on a beach on Bisevo Island. We ate here on the day we were supposed to go to the Blue Cave. I had beach fries and a salad (they balance out, right?) and Vince had a burger with fries. All in all very tasty, especially when your view is as good as the one we had.
The Verdict: We'll give Restoran Kod Jakse 4 stars. Its food hit the spot, its ambiance was on point, and I got to wear my swimsuit to the table. Island life at its finest.
This restaurant is located on the grounds of our hotel. One of our little room's windows was right above their outdoor oven, which was pure torture. It always smelled so amazing! We dined here twice (once for appetizers and once for dinner). The food and decor was fancier than anywhere else we'd eaten on the island, which was kind of nice as a special treat. The ambiance especially was enjoyable since the restaurant is situated inside an old courtyard with awnings over the tables to provide shade.
The Verdict: This place was a great date night location with romantic lighting and ambiance and fancy food. The grilled feta and gnocchi were particularly excellent! We'll give this place 4.5 stars.
We stayed at Hotel San Giorgio while on Vis. We couldn't have asked for a more wonderful place to stay! The hotel is made up of multiple old buildings in the same block south of the main street of Vis. Our room was the top floor of the second building. It was a great size with a small bathroom and a little sitting area in the corner. Plus, we had a great view above the hotel restaurant's courtyard. At night we could smell their outdoor ovens heating up - delicious!
The hotel staff was incredibly friendly - they even wished us a happy 4th of July! We also got free breakfast and WiFi. #priorities
RENT A SCOOTER ON VIS. That's all there is to it. Since the island is so small, and there are few roads, this is a fantastic way to get around, even if you've never been on a scooter before! We rented ours for about $30 apiece each day (and kept them for 3 days). They came with little cubbies in the back with locks, which came in handy when we drove to beaches and wanted to store our clothes, wallets, camera, etc. in them.
Try the local wine. Because it's delicious! Vis is mostly made of limestone and volcanic rock with a Mediterranean climate. The inland valley is where the majority of the grapes are grown, as they have been for decades. That makes for some interesting and delicious wine! Vince and I brought back three bottles: one to enjoy on our 1 year anniversary and two more to enjoy whenever!
Get yourself to Vis - NOW. Croatia is just now gaining traction as a tourist destination. Every year since its war for Independence in the 90s, its economy has grown. While this is great for Croatia, it can be less great for tourists. If you want to experience Croatia in its less crowded state, get there NOW!
Try to get lost. The island of Vis is less than 40 square miles. That's tiny. We could circle the island on our scooters in less than 2 hours. Therefore, I encourage you to try to get lost on Vis! There are very few roads, so you'll never be truly lost, but imagine all of the great places you'll find when you take that left turn down that interesting-looking road?
Pack your sunscreen and swimsuit! Vis is all sun all the time. It's the perfect place to soak up the sun with a good book and a cool drink, be it at one of its many sidewalk cafes or stretched out on its beaches. Either way, you'll come back with one heck of a tan!
Sandals recommended. As we mentioned, most of the beaches on Vis are pebble beaches. This may sound great since typically more sand = more problems, but the rocks are actually quite painful to walk on. I recommend getting some beach shoes or Crocs to walk around on when you're at the beach. You may look a bit dorky, but you'll look way more dorky limping around from rock to rock (like I did).
The locals know best. Ask the friendly locals where to eat, drink, and soak up the sun! They know all of the best spots and are excited to share them with tourists. Croatians take immense pride in their country, and they were always eager to share information with us when we asked!
Questions? Leave them in the comment section and I'll tell you everything!
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