In the summer season of 2023, we will have been running our ‘RelaxinglyActive’ business on Vis Island, Croatia for 18 years. We thought it was about time that we shared some of the reasons why this Dalmatian Island has stolen our hearts.
In no particular order..
We didn’t realise it before Croatia and living on Vis Island, but we love pebble beaches! We always knew we loved hidden coves, crystal clear seas and generally hanging out on a beach, but we never truly understood the pebble. Pebble beaches are warming to lounge on, they are clean and full of artistic potential. You can make sculptures, build walls and then throw the pebbles back in the sea. Pebbles make the water even clearer and we don’t have to spend time after the beach getting rid of irritating hidden grains of sand. Vis has a few sand beaches but we love these for different reasons. Sand beaches are fantastic to play ball games. We never sit on these beaches, we just throw balls, hit balls and then catch balls! Our dog Zora also loves to dig, have an attack of the zoomies and roll around on the sand. On Vis Island our favourite pebble beaches are Srebana and Pritišćina.
Vis is fantastic for kayaking. There are so many different types of kayak experiences around Vis island. We love them all! You can kayak to the island of Ravnik from Rukavac and paddle into the Green Grotto. Inside the cave you will see the sun illuminating the sea with a shaft of green light, it’s truly beautiful. From the cave you can then kayak to another island and have a cold beer in the shade of a restaurant. Along the south coast of Vis you can kayak close to dramatic cliffs, into caves and then onto beaches that are not accessible by foot. Along the south side of Vis is Stiniva cove, a beach that is accessed by kayaking through a narrow entrance. Stiniva is also a great place for climbers as there are lots of overhangs and climb routes that safely deposit you into deep water should you fall!
Everyone on the island produces, drinks and speaks passionately about their wine. It is even suggested that you must drink wine to maintain good health! The grapevines give the island a cover of greenery during the summer and then in late September the island becomes a grape picking frenzy, scooters with trailers, cars and even a donkey can be seen taking the picked grapes to be pressed. Some of the most exclusive wine in Croatia is produced on Vis due to the Vugava Grape which is a white variety and can only be found on Island. At WearActive our house wine is from Rokis, which also happens to be our favourite wine on the island.
The interior of the island is still relatively untouched. Most people in the Summer stay in Vis town, Komiza or on their boat, inland Vis remains quiet. As a result, biking and hiking is fantastic. One of our favourite hikes during the late spring takes us up to Mount Hum (560m) and then through abandoned vineyards and olive groves down into Vis town. For three hours of hiking you will see lots of herbs, orchards in Spring and the occasional sheep, but no other people. Biking can be quite diverse for such a small island. For the more adventurous biker, Vis has some really challenging but scenic single track paths. There's not much flat terrain after you leave the comfort of Vis waterfront and you have to be prepared to embrace the hills. For every uphill there is equally a wonderful scenic downhill.
Cycling on the roads are equally enjoyable as they are always very quiet, with hardly any cars. You can always see the sea as you circle the island, which following the road is 40km loop.
Vis is the oldest established town in Dalmatia, founded in 397 B.C, with the Latin name of the island being Issa. As a result of being occupied by the Austrians and also the Italians, Vis has some gorgeous architecture that has recently started to be carefully renovated. The island also has a strong military history with the British having a base here in WW2 and then the Yugoslav army closing the island off to the public for 30 years. As a result Vis has many traditions that have strongly remained and which are starting to be embraced within tourism.
Craig was born in Yorkshire, England. Cricket in Yorkshire is like breathing, it’s essential to life!
The British first arrived on the Croatian island of Vis in 1811 when Captain William Hoste established a naval base from which to exert British sea power in the region. Whilst on Vis Captain Hoste decided it would be good for the men's morale to play cricket.
Vis was without the highly engaging spectator sport of Cricket for almost 200 years (this is being written by a Welsh girl!) It was Oliver Roki – cricketer, restaurateur and wine maker who stumbled across Vis long forgotten cricketing history. Despite having the smallest player base in Croatia, The Sir William Hoste Cricket Club (SWHCC) currently hosts 8-12 touring teams from around the globe each year. The MCC had 5 days of Cricket here in 2009, and SWHCC hosted Griff Rhys-Jones, Rory McGrath and Dara O Briain of the BBC’s ‘3 men go to Venice’ in the spring of 2011. Last season Vis, for the first time in the 12 years of the tournaments history, the Vis Cricket team was successful in winning 'The Vis International 6's' They will be attempting to retain the trophy in May 2023.
The longer we live on Vis the more we are attuned to what the island can provide for us and what we can forage from nature. Fresh herbs, vegetables, fruits and sea life can be found all year round. In Autumn you can hunt for mushrooms, fish for squid (for the non vegans), pick oranges, pomegranates and lemons from the trees. Early spring has wild asparagus, artichoke, walnuts, broad beans and plums. Summer has wonderful sun kissed tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, peppers, watermelon, apricots and peaches. It’s also the start of the sardine season. Around the island you can always buy Vis olive oil, honey, wine and various grappas. Vis also provides domestic specialities such as Hib, which is a pressed fig, grappa and rosemary cake and also Pogaca, which is a traditional fish pie.
To get to Vis you need to get the ferry from Split. Vis is the furthermost inhabited island from the Croatian coast and the closest to Italy. Due to taking a little bit longer to get to Vis than other Croatian Islands, it only gets overnight tourists and travellers that have researched the island, happy to make that extra little bit of effort.
We love Vis because of the people we have met and the friends we have made on the island. We have had lots of support for our business on the island and genuine enthusiasm about the sort of tourism we provide on Vis. Our Croatian language skills are still terrible but we have very understanding friends! We also love Vis because it's where our gentle dog Zora was born and she has allowed us to feel even more rooted to the island.
Pomalo Pomalo is something we heard constantly when we first arrived on the island. It means slowly slowly. We needed to adjust to island life, we needed to understand that things will get done eventually and if they didn’t get done then maybe that was okay. The weather, wind direction and the sea dictates a lot of the island pace. If you come on holiday to Vis, stay for at least a week. Slowly adjust to the Viski pace, no one will rush you and when you eventually leave you will be very relaxed, wondering about what you did in your time on the island and when you can next return!
If you would like to spend time being 'RelaxinglyActive' on Vis Island then send us a message...
Thank you to Abbie Merrit and Amy Warren for some of the wonderful Photographs of Vis Island and for the video depicting a week with us at WearActive.