For many, the island stops at Jelsa. The majority of tourism is concentrated on the western side of the island – Hvar Town, Stari Grad, Jelsa, Vrboska, Ivan Dolac, Zavala – and most people who do venture further east are only doing so to make the ferry at Sucuraj.
This is a shame, as the eastern half of Hvar is arguably even more beautiful, and it certainly has its own treasures for those wanting to explore. Here are five things not to miss.
1. One of the oldest olive trees in the world at Zastrazisce
It was one of the most interesting little excursions of last year – a trip east to find the oldest olive tree on Hvar. To be honest I was not expecting much, but decided to check it out in combination with some other things on the eastern side, but I was soon standing back in awe. To give you a feeling of how impressive this majestic tree is, I asked my daughter to climb into the middle of it. The tree is now protected, and some Italian specialists have dated it at 500 years before Christ, which a quick check of the Internet will tell you it is one of the ten oldest olive trees in the world. Whatever its age, it is magnificent. Not that easy to find, though, and you will have to ask in the village of Zastrazisce.
2. The fabulous Gdinj bays
Living in Jelsa, we are a little spoiled for choice with beaches, but one thing that eastern Hvar has in abundance is great beaches and, because most people choose to stay on the western side, they are much more deserted. One fabulous place to check out is the so-called Gdinj Bays, on the southern side of the island – turn right by the church coming from Jelsa, and prepare for a hairy and winding descent – and you are soon presented with a string of fabulous beaches in small bays, most with a bar or restaurant. Check out more info here
3. The largest island vineyard in the Mediterranean
I drove along the road to Sucuraj for years without knowing about the secret on top of the island – the largest single vineyard on the Adriatic islands, some 261 hectares in all once planted. About 10% is currently under cultivation, but to give you an idea of the impact it could make on the Hvar wine scene, the island used to have 5700 hectares under cultivation, but these days it is just 280, so once this vineyard is fully planted, it will almost double production on Hvar.
It is an impressive 4.7 km long, and an incredible amount of work has gone into it crushing stones. It belongs to the Plancic winery in Vrbanj.
4. Croatia’s premier eco-ethno village
There is much talk these days about developing eco-ethno tourist attractions, and nowhere in Dalmatia has more treasures in this department than Hvar. Top of the list is the magical shepherd’s village of Humac, just 6km east of Jelsa. Totally abandoned and fully protected as an eco-ethno village, there are few places with more atmosphere or clues of life in Dalmatia in years gone by. The excellent Konoba Humac at the front of the village is one of the best dining experiences on the island, while it is possible to stay in the village. No running water or electricity here, but there are tours to the outstanding Neolithic Cave of Grapceva – check it out here
5. The magical Stinivas
The most bizarre road on the island is located on the edge of Poljica. Take the turn north to Mala Stiniva and eventually you will come to a fork. Turn right and it leads nowhere, ending abruptly above a bay you have to scramble down to reach. Turn left and it stops high above another bay with a small settlement with no car access. Mala Stiniva, one of the most picturesque places on the island.
Continue along the main road past Poljica to Zastrazisce, and another left turn brings you to the impressive Vela Stiniva, with its impressive and imposing cliffs, cliffs which have made it one of the most popular places for rock climbing on Hvar. For more information about climbing.