Travel writing has been hijacked by articles with titles such as ’10 things to do while in Boston’ or ‘the five best tapas restaurants to visit while in Barcelona’. Helpful lists indeed, especially for those wanting to fill their Instagram feed with pictures of the Eiffel tower, the Mona Lisa and a plate filled with food in an ‘it’ restaurant while in Paris. But lies the charm of travel not in you discovering a city, an island or the remote? Doing all the things YOU love…
And sometimes you stumble upon a destination. In this case an island in Croatia called Brac. A beautiful island not yet discovered by ‘the list writers’ , with little coastal towns that attract tourists yet not enough to have no English spelling mistakes on its restaurants menu’s. Hotels with big swimming pools are present though and so are facilities such as boat rental, bike rental and a little nightlife. Yet the vibe on the island is tranquil, no pressure to do anything. But if you want there is a whole island to explore.
The joy in visiting a Croatian island like Brac is foremost that there are no ‘must-sees’ or ‘must-do’s’ to be found. Island life is simple and guess what? Let’s make your life as simple as possible too during your visit. Feel like only eating and sleeping on repeat? Yes, you finally can!
A bit of background on the island
Although still very tranquil, the economy of Brac is based on tourism and farming. Tourists, wine making and the yearly olive harvest constitute to most of the income of the local population. However, the island is also famous for a particular type of white stone which has supposedly even been used in the construction of the White House in Washington.
The largest settlement on the island is the coastal town of Supetar. Classic Mediterranean other towns on the island are Bol, Milna and Pucisca. Most of the islands inhabitants live near the coast. Towns are built around a small harbor and the inlands of the island are scarcely inhabited.
Mention of Brac was already made in findings dating back to the 4th century. The island was situated on one of the main Mediterranean trading routes and has been inhabited by Greek settlers, Roman occupiers, Slavs, Hungars, French and Venetians. In the early 19tth century the island became part of the Yugoslav empire, finally gaining independence as Croatia in 1991.
The town of Bol
During the summer there are two ferries leaving for Brac from Split on a daily basis: a ferry with a car deck to Supetar and a smaller ferry taking the longer trip to the town of Bol. Bol is one of the more picturesque coastal towns of the island. An old watchtower overlooking the small harbor, little fish swimming visibly in the water near the boats and lovely traditional brick houses. Near the harbor you will also find a few restaurants, pizzerias and wineries. No intrusive waiters and only good quality, often local, cuisine though.
In the near vicinity of Bol lie some of the bigger hotels of the island (most of them situated in pine woodland) and Zlatni Rat, voted as Croatias most beautiful beach. The path leading from the town of Bol to Zlatni rat is situated near the coast leading through a forest of pine trees walking past the villas of Bol’s wealthier inhabitants. If you don’t want to walk (or can’t ) there is also a boat dropping leaving from Bol harbor dropping people at the Zlatni Rat beach.
Other than that Bol is a pretty quiet town. Most of the towns joys consist of enjoying a good meal with a nice glass of wine while staring at the ocean. Afterwards visiting a wine tasting and purchasing a few good bottles. You see a pattern here?
Sailing the Adriatic Sea
Vacationing on an island gives you two options to explore your surroundings (at least for those without a flying permit): you can discover the island by land via roads or you can decide to explore the coast by boat. Experienced sailers can rent a sailboat and sail via Brac to neighboring island Hvar, to the city of Split or sail from harbor to harbor around the island of Brac. Unexperienced boating enthusiasts can rent a small motorboat in the harbor of Bol. Again, little boating experience is required to be a captain of a motorboat for a day just don’t make the mistake not to pay attention during the short explanation on ‘how to start your engine’ or ‘what to do when your anchor stays stuck in the water’. Not fun!
Sailing by the coast of Brac does give you the opportunity to discover quiet bay beaches (just you and the fish) and small remote eateries located near the shore. Not to mention the mighty feeling you get when steering your own little boat in rough waters!
Grilled lamb with potatoes
A local specialty on the island of Brac is grilled lamb combined with veggies and potatoes also prepared on the grill. The dish is served in many restaurants all over the island but sometimes you have to make a reservation, and specifically mention that you want to eat grilled lamb, in advance.
One of our favorite restaurants on the island is called Konoba Kopacina, which is situated in Donji Humac. They prepare this dish to perfection and no reservation is required. Donji Humac is a remote village on the island and it is necessary to rent a car or scooter to get there. In addition to the good food views from the terrace of the restaurant over the islands inlands are amazing too.
Should you want to take a break from beach visits, eating and sleeping and do something active? How about any of these day excursions?
- A boat trip to Hvar island
Hvar island is the cosmopolitan version of Brac. With many different restaurants, shops, and an ancient castle high up on the hill above town it makes for a nice day trip. The journey on the boat to get there takes about 2 / 2,5 hours.
2. Hike up to Vidova Gora
Vidova Gora is the highest point of the island of Brac. The hike up the mountain from the town of Bol will take you approximately two to two-and-a-half hours but is well worth it. If for some reason you do not feel like hiking up the mountain it is also possible to bike or drive to the highest lookout point. Standing at the high point of Vidova Gora you can see whole island of Brac and on clear days some of the other islands in the vicinity of Brac.
3. Bike on the bike trail near the coast of Bol or Supetar
On several locations on the island it is possible to rent bikes. Above the beaches of Bol and the coastal towns situated near Supetar you can find a few amazing biking trails suitable for the average biker.
4. Wine tasting
Check with the Stina winery in Brac whether they can arrange a visit to the wine-maker. Learn more about the creation of these specific Dalmatian wines and enjoy a tasty lunch – wine included of course!