September 6th marked our two year wedding anniversary. Say what?! Yes, two years already. It’s crazy how fast they went by. Well you know what they say: time flies when… Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’re definitely having fun. And since we’re always looking for an excuse to get out of town for a few days, we thought our anniversary was a good enough reason. Oh right, and the fact that I would be 32 weeks pregnant by then – so my last chance to get on a plane pre-baby.
We wanted sunshine, palmtrees, a nice hotel, cool excursion options, and well, it had to be within a 2 hours flight radius. And I forget the most important thing: it had to be a new country for the both of us. Yes, we’re super snobbish and competitive about our “been there, done that” travel map. And since the husband just got back from Israel and I got to check off Russia earlier this summer, we figured it would be fair to go somewhere that was new to the both of us. Yes people, these are the important things in #marriedlife.
Anyway, I recently saw some amazing photos of Hvar, a beautiful – like extremely pretty – little island just off the coast of Croatia. So we contacted our friends at Official Travel Company (they really are our friends) and they booked a lovely room for us at the perfectly located Amfora Grand Beach Resort. You can easily get to Hvar by ferry from Split – another very lovely destination on the Adriatic Coast.
And although we think Hvar is a fantastic destination for an European babymoon, it’s also known as “the new Ibiza”, so if you’re looking to get your fiesta on this is also the place for you. Just don’t behave like you’re tacky party trash because that can instantly increase the price of your trip. Just saying…
Here’s a little (photo heavy) roundup of our amazing 5 day babymoon on the gorgeous island of Hvar!
Exploring Hvar Town
Hvar is not only the name of the island, but also the name of the island’s capital. It’s a very nice town with a lovely atmosphere and the cutest little streets and alleyways. You can roughly divide the town into three areas: the harbor area, the alleys leading up to the fortress, and the boardwalk along the stunning Adriatic Coast – leading to the Amfora Hotel and the famous Bonj Les Bains Beach Club.
The climb towards Hvar Fortress is a steep, but doable climb (even with baby bump), that will have you walk along the cutest streets you’ve ever seen. There are a lot of fantastic restaurants in this area, although you might find your table (and yourself) a little uneven due to the many, many steps.
Make sure you start making your way up to the fortress at least an hour and a half before sunset. Because trust me: the sunset view over Hvar town is absolutely worth the workout.
Bonj Les Bains Beach Club
Attached to the wonderful Amfora Grand Beach Resort is the stunning 1930s Bonj Les Bains Beach Club. Yes, it’s super expensive to get a bed here for the day, but I recommend doing it anyway. Treat yoself! On the day we were here there was a wedding in the evening, so they closed a little earlier than usual. Which meant a slight discount, and also: we had the entire place to ourselves! This is really what your babymoon dreams are all about. Assuming you have those. Well, I guess most of you don’t… Anyway, check out this gorgeous place and you’ll get it.
Right? Right? There was a bottle of wine included in the price, which I was told was very good, but obviously I just stuck to my fresh fruit juices. It was also very nice that we had a cute cabana where this preggo wifey could take a little nap in the shade while the husband could continue to work on his tan.
1974 VW Beetle Road Trip
So most of my friends and family probably know that I am the master of trip researching. Yes, I said it. It’s not only a skill, it’s an addiction. It truly is. I can spend hours and hours trying to find the best deals, the cutest restaurants, and the coolest activities. And I have to say: for our Hvar trip I really nailed it. What can I say, modesty is overrated right?
It’s no secret that the husband and I are big road trip lovers. When we met at Harvard in the summer of 2010 our mutual love for the open road – him being the king of the road, me being the queen of navigating – is probably what drew us closer and closer together. Since then we’ve taken many, many, trips and we definitely plan on continuing to do so after the baby is born. So combine that love for road trips with the husband’s deep love for vintage cars (when we bought our new family appropriate SUV there was NO WAY IN HELL that he would sell his mint green vintage BMW), and you get why he was the happiest boy on the planet when I told him I rented a vintage convertible VW Beetle for the day. What is it they say? Happy
wifey hubby, happy lifey…
“What color do you want? I have purple, red, yellow, orange…”. “ORANGE! We’re Dutch, so definitely orange”. And although Star (born 1974) only had 4 gears, was missing a mirror, and I had to hold onto the side window the entire day, she really is a star. A fabulous bright orange star.
We did a little loop road trip starting and ending in Hvar, while crossing off three of the island’s cutest towns. First up: Stari Grad. If you take the car ferry from Split this is where you first arrive (pro tip: don’t take the car ferry, take the smaller and faster catamaran that goes directly to Hvar town). Stari Grad means “Old Town”, referring to the fact that it was founded in 384 BC by the ancient Greeks. It’s much quieter and laidback than bigger brother Hvar, and especially the back alleys are extremely cute.
Make sure to pop into Za Pod Zub, a lovely delicatessen shop that sells Hvar’s best local products. We bought a little jar of delicious Tartufa, so we’ve been eating truffel pasta multiple times a week since we got back. Yes, it’s a hard knock life. Also: definitely buy some of the artisanal ice cream they sell here. I can highly recommend the mint with black currant flavor.
If you think Stari Grad is quiet, you’ll be amazed by the tiny town of Vrboska. I don’t think we saw any tourists here, although this is probably very different in the middle of summer. It’s just a lovely, sleepy harbor town at the end of a long fjord. It is said to be the safest harbor on the Adriatic Coast because of the wind protection provided by the 1.5 nautical miles long fjord. And it has definitely kept its authentic old world charm.
After Vrboska we moved on to another wonderful harbor town on Hvar’s northern shore, Jelsa. It is surrounded by lovely teal-colored swimming bays and lush green pine forrest, so it’s a perfect stop for a stroll and a dip.
We especially loved the 15 minute walk through the pine trees from the town’s center to Mina Bay, where we spotted some lovely elderly swimming ánd singing in the beautiful Adriatic waters. Of course, I wanted to take a dip too, even though it meant finding my way down across some slippery rocks. I know, I know: when will I learn…
Obviously we had to take a little detour back to Hvar town so I could check off the tiny (like super tiny) town that was named after me. Sort of. Actually not at all. But still, it’s one of my nick names. So yeah, I had to.
Vintage Car Galore
Where I usually am the one screaming “STOP THE CAR NOW!” when I see something I want to snap a picture of, the husband always hopes I take photos of old vehicles we pass along the way. Although he never really asks for it, I know he wants me to. Yes, I know him oh so well. And since Hvar really has a nice collection of vintage cars, I managed to get a few of them on camera. You’re welcome, honey.
Sailing The Paklinski Islands
In my opinion you can’t really visit an island without getting out on the water. And since I basically was being the perfect wifey already, and I know how much the husband likes to sail, I arranged for a relaxing sunset sail around the stunning Paklinski Islands (for some reason also known as the Pakleni Islands).
Oh wait, did I say relaxing? Well, that was part of it. The other part consisted of jumping off the boat into the beautiful blue water surrounding the islands for a little snorkeling safari. And again: yes, I know, I need to take it easy, but I just couldn’t help myself. I mean, this water looks sooooo inviting, right?
And after our swim it was time for even more action. It was racing time! Say what now? Yes, we went race sailing (I can see you shaking your head at me). It was super intense, but also super exhilarating. We really had to hold on for dear life otherwise we would have been thrown back into the Adriatic waters. I kid you not. There was a lot of tacking (overstag gaan) and zigzagging through the wind and I had super sore arms the next day because I had to hold onto the railing very tightly.
See the images below to get some idea of how our boat was leaning into the wind: both pictures have an absolute straight horizon but you can see the boat is heavily leaning towards the port side (left side). It was awesome. And such an amazing way to end our time on Hvar!
Trogir aka Qarth
There was a little hiccup on our travel day back to Amsterdam. First of all: the catamaran between Hvar town and Split got cancelled due to strong winds (which the hotel very kindly informed us of the day before our departure). So we had to take the bigger – and slower – car ferry from Stari Grad. This meant that we had to leave the hotel earlier and would arrive in Split later, so our half day exploring Split got cancelled. Bummer, but okay we’ll live.
When we got to Split Airport (aka the saddest airport I’ve ever seen – and that includes Lusaka Airport in Zambia) we soon learned that our flight was at least 2 hours delayed. Instead of getting grumpy and wait around at the sad, sad, oh so sad airport, we looked at Google Maps and noticed a tiny little island only 10 minutes from the airport (note that Split is 40 minutes from the airport). A quick Google search informed us that it was the best kept Roman/Gothic town in Central Europe ánd that it featured as Qarth in Game of Thrones. Needless to say: we hopped in a cab instantly and it was the best decision of the day. I love it when you unexpectedly get to explore more cool places! So if you’re ever stuck at Split Airport: head to Trogir. Tip from Larey. You’re welcome.
A Trip To Hvar: The Little Details
- Closest international airport: Split (SPU). Mind you: there are basically no shopping/eating facilities at this airport, so bring your own snacks.
- Croatia is one of the sunniest destinations in Europe. Hvar is the sunniest destination in Croatia.
- Although Croatia is part of the EU, it’s not within the Euro zone: you pay with the Kuna.
- Book the Catamaran from Split to Hvar town in advance with Jadrolinija. Mind you: take the catamaran, not the car ferry.
- You don’t need a car in Hvar town, but if you’re up for an island road trip: check Rapidus Rent A Car.
- For an exciting and relaxing day out on the water: check Hvar Adventure.
- Check the calendar before you book: try to avoid Yacht Week and Ultra Music Festival. Unless, that’s why you’re going obviously.