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Destination Dispatches: Hard at Work Relaxing on Croatia’s Hvar Island

- Nicole Savini, Guest Blogger

No trip to Croatia is complete without a stay on one of its thousands of islands. And when I heard about the island Hvar’s reputation for having the most sunny days in any place on the Adriatic Coast, my choice was made.

I’m not the first to hear Hvar’s siren song. It has become the choice of the jet-set, and local fishing boats now share the harbor with giant yachts. It also serves as inspiration for the name of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s daughter, Blue Ivy. Reportedly, when on an afternoon stroll through Hvar Town, Beyonce was inspired by the beauty of its natural surroundings.

My boyfriend and I began our journey in Dubrovnik and, after a 4-hour drive and hour-long ferry, we arrived weary from the journey. The Adriana spa hotel, located right on the harbor promenade in the car-free old city of Hvar Town, was our destination for the “ultimate in relaxation and romantic experience.”

Our superior seaview room was petite but modern and sleek, with a big view. The giant window opened to a scene out of a movie—boats bobbing merrily in the harbor, tile-roofed houses rising above the sea, and mountains towering over the whole of it. It was stunning. I spent a lot of time with my head resting on the windowsill, mesmerized by the scene before me.

We made a beeline for the roof deck, about which we’d already read rave reviews. Stopping at the Adriana roof for a sunset cocktail seems to be on everyone’s must-do list. Isn’t it the best when the hotel you’re staying in is the place everyone else wants to be?

The view from the roof at the Adriana was a showstopper and the vibe at the pool/lounge was just right. After a quick dip in the enormous salt-water pool, we grabbed towels, ordered a few cocktails, and flopped down on one of the perfectly situated couches to enjoy the panoramic view. That’s when total relaxation set in. “Aaaaaah Hvaaaaar!” (Side note: drop the “H” and pronounce it “Var” so as not to sound like a total tourist).

We ordered the bread with dips as a cocktail hour snack, along with a glass of the local white wine. This would become our cocktail hour ritual for the next three nights: Roof deck, couch, cocktails, repeat. I’m not sure life gets any better.

Once the sun had set, we descended to our room to shower up and head out. We found ourselves dining later each night because the July days are gloriously long in Croatia and the opportunity to linger on the Adriana’s rooftop too lovely to cut short.

We were armed with dining recommendations, but decided to stop at the front desk to ask if we were on the right track. Tony told us we had made the perfect choice in Giaxa (also referred to as Yaksa or Jaksa but the sign says “Giaxa”) and he offered to call ahead to reserve for us. A short and charming walk later, we found a small alleyway filled with tables and were lead to our reserved table (thanks Tony!). What followed was several hours of gastronomic delights: scallops with risotto, beef medallions with truffled gnocchi, and the highlight “gregada”, the fisherman’s traditional way of preparing fish on the island.

The nightlife heats up in Hvar Town around midnight and as we strolled along the Riva (pier) we watched 20-somethings begin to crowd the restaurant turned clubs along the water. Nightlife is a big attraction here and if you’re single and ready to mingle, it’s the place to be. If you’re attached and looking to relax, like us, there are plenty of wine bars and late night café options. Light sleepers will be happy to know that the Adriana has installed some serious noise-blocking windows so while the pretty young things were whooping it up outside, we slept like babies.

We started our first morning in Hvar with a leisurely breakfast at one of the many cafes that line the plaza; the ideal spot for enjoying a coffee and people watching. We were, frankly, overwhelmed with all options for diversion on the island, which includes boat tours, wine-tasting, exploring the island by scooter, or relaxing at the many beach clubs. In the end, we decided to hop on the first water taxi we saw to the nearby island of Marinkovac, which is where the famed beach club Carpe Diem is located. The sundown disco beach parties here are legendary, but we were on early side and arrived to find a small crowd and plenty of open beach chairs. We spent a perfectly quiet afternoon jumping from the rocks into delightfully warm waters of the Adriatic. We brought along goggles and were able to see schools of small fish gliding along and sea urchins along the bottom. It’s worth noting that Hvar’s beaches are rocky, and we were glad we brought water shoes.

We decided to check back in with our new best friends, Tony and Christina at the front desk and planned on Macondo for dinner. Once again we were treated to multiple courses of fresh, delicious seafood paired with wonderfully light and crisp Croatian wine. This time, we also got a side dish of playful ribbing from the waiter when we asked for the English menu. Almost everyone in Croatia speaks English and it is embarrassingly easy to get what you need as an English speaker. As is my custom, I at least learned to say thank you (“hvala” pronounced like “fa-la”), which I used generously.

On our final day, we rose early and spent the day exploring the Pakleni islands. As I mentioned, Hvar is a place where yachters flock and it was time we joined the jet-set. So we rented a boat for the day. Beyonce and Jay-Z, eat your heart out, check out our boat!

Our final night, we hiked up the steep steps to the hilltop Spanish Fortress to take in the sunset. This is a must-do. Looking down, we could see the entirety of Hvar Town hugging the harbor, and picked out the Adriana, its awesome roof deck visible from above, on the right side of the harbor.

From start to finish, the Adriana delivered on their promise: all of the relaxation and romance we could ask for. My one regret was that I never found time to visit the Adriana’s award-winning spa. I had planned to book an outdoor couples massage, but I was too busy relaxing to make it happen! But I think it’s always best to leave something undone as an excuse to return and I hope it’s not long before I am back on Croatia’s gorgeous island of Hvar, sipping wine on the roof of the Adriana and blissfully sighing, “Aaaaah Hvaaaaaar!”

Nicole Savini is a field producer at Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. To learn more about her, read her Proust Travel Questionnaire.

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