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Hvar Yacht Charter

If you’ve been following along with our Croatia Yachting Series, you’ll know what’s up next: the famously decadent island of Hvar, where hazy, blissful days of swimming off your charter yacht are followed by nights of champagne-spraying abandon on moonlit terraces by the sea.

Yet for all its sophistication, this is not just a party isle for the rich and famous. Hvar has many faces; ones that extend far past the romantic piazzas and glamorous rooftop bars of Hvar Town.

The coastline of Hvar in Croatia

Inland, rolling lavender fields sit silent under the Mediterranean sun, while in the south, lonely red cliffs fall away into a turquoise sea and vineyards cloak sunny hillsides. In the north, Ancient Greek villages sit on colourful harbours as they have for centuries, and offshore, the Pakleni Islands are scattered like jewels through a sapphire sea.

Sunset on the island of Hvar, Croatia

To help you plan your perfect Croatia yacht charter itinerary, we’ve created this in-depth guide to chartering a yacht in Hvar and the Pakleni Islands.

Be warned though: you’ll want to stay more than a day!

A Potted History : Pirates, Venetians, and the ‘Hygienic Society of Hvar’

If a person was to sit themselves down on the smooth marble that paves the edge of Hvar Harbour, and imagine the course of history, watching the centuries pass by in a time-lapse blur, imagine what a story this island would tell!

The first known inhabitants were Neolithic peoples, whose Hvar civilisation is dated from 3500BC. The next to arrive were the piratical Illyrians, who then fought with the Greeks when they arrived in 385BC to set up their colony at Pharos. The Illyrians later fought with the Romans (they were feisty like that) when the Empire conquered the island in 219BC, before the Romans fell, leaving behind ruins of their grand villas and mud baths scattered across Hvar.

Small church in Hvar, Croatia

The Croatians arrived in the 7th century and spread the influence of Christianity, before the island was passed around like a geographical hot potato between the Byzantines, the Hungarians, the Venetians, and the Bosnian King.

This went on for several centuries, before the Venetians, the great merchant power of the Middle Ages, took formal control in 1420, bringing in a time of prosperity that would make Hvar the richest area in Dalmatia. Yet the Venetian rule was not without unrest and disaster: the Croats rebelled in 1510, and in 1570, the Turks attacked and burnt Hvar Town to the ground. The Venetians retained control until 1797 and rebuilt the city in the Renaissance style, and leaving behind a resplendent town for the new Austrian rulers to enjoy.

Yachts on Hvar island in Croatia

Yet the world was in flux, and the Austrians weren’t in power for long. Napoleon’s soldiers arrived to hold the island for France for a brief six years from 1806, before the island would fall back under Austrian control. The next century was a time of peace, during which locals set up Europe’s first tourist board in 1868, ‘The Hygienic Society of Hvar’, dedicated to building Hvar’s tourist offering.

Power would change hands again in 1918, when Italy was given Hvar in the spoils of the Great War, and yet again when Hvar became part of Yugoslavia in 1922.

Hvar town rooftops

During the next 20 years, Hvar built its reputation as an Adriatic tourist destination, as glamorous hotels and beach clubs attracted an upscale crowd. Fascist Italy controlled Hvar during WWII, before Hvar became part of the communist People’s Republic of Croatia.

During the Yugoslav War in the 1990’s, Hvar was blockaded and its airstrip bombed, and its glamorous hotels were full of refugees. The war over, Hvar became part of the modern-day Republic of Croatia, and tourists flooded in again.

Today, as you dine and drink and dance by the sea, it’s hard to believe that there has ever been war in a place as beautiful as this, let alone millennia of invasion and conflict. But then, after a few days on a yacht charter in Hvar, you might be tempted to fight for it too.

What to do on Hvar Island

Explore the Historical Treasures of Hvar Town

Hvar Town is a place of magnificent contrasts. The modern superyacht port sits beneath a medieval castle – only a stone’s throw from a Benedictine Convent, where nuns sit in the cool stone cloisters, making delicate white lace from agave threads as they have for centuries.

Church in Hvar, Croatia

In Hvar Town, narrow laneways lead to the spectacular St Stephens Square, one of the most romantic piazzas in Europe, its pavement cafes dwarfed by the 16th century cathedral with its stunning Renaissance belltower.

After exploring the church, take a table at Placje Café, sipping a café frappe as you watch the lovely bustle of a summer’s day in Hvar – the locals selling lavender at the market, the celebrities in dark glasses laden down with shopping bags, young women in stilettos clip-clopping loudly on shiny flagstone laid by the Venetians and worn shiny and smooth by the passage of centuries.

Between the square and the sea you’ll find the wonderful Arsenal building, the home of Europe’s first public theatre, built in 1612 on the site of a shipyard, and now a melange of Renaissance and neo-Baroque architecture. The Arsenal is also the home of the Gallery of Contemporary Art.

Port in Hvar, Croatia

Behind the square, a short walk leads up through the pines to Fortica, a Venetian 16th century fort on top of the hill. Inside, an archaeological exhibit gathers together relics from antiquity, while outside, the view is stupendous, with panoramic views across the town to the distant Pakleni Islands.

Back on the waterfront and strolling down beyond the marina, you’ll come to the superb Franciscan Monastery & Museum, a 16th century stone building perched on a pretty cove surrounded by lush gardens. While the setting is wonderful enough to warrant a visit, the real treasures are inside- including an edition of Ptolemy’s Atlas from 1524, and a painting of The Last Supper by Matteo Ingoli.

Dine Well in Hvar Town

Hvar’s food scene is rather special, offering Dalmatian traditional konobas alongside refined gastronomic restaurants.

Gariful restaurant in Hvar, Croatia

If you’re hankering for a fine dining experience, you need go no further than Gariful. If your charter yacht is docked in Hvar Harbour, you’ll just have to take a few steps from the passerelle to arrive at the waterfront restaurant. A terrace table with a view of the brightly lit superyachts is the ultimate spot for a summer’s eve, but if you are indoors, you’ll be more than consoled by the glass floor overlooking the aquarium.

There’s an exclusive ambiance at Gariful, complemented perfectly by its menu of lobster, caviar, and superbly prepared fish. And the people-watching isn’t bad either, with its past clientele including Abramovich, Georgio Armani and Prince Harry, to name but a few.

Divino restaurant in Hvar, Croatia

For another very fine restaurant with a spectacular view, Divino occupies the garden seafront terrace of a 19th century nobleman’s mansion, while Giaxia’s fusion of modern and traditional dishes impresses in a 15th century palace with vaulted stone dining room and a charming garden courtyard.

For those seeking a more traditional Hvar dining experience, you must try one of the ‘konobas’, an inn or tavern serving up rustic Croatian specialities. Konoba Luviji, set just behind St Stephen’s Cathedral, is one of the very best examples, run by a respected winemaking family and offering Dalmatian dishes. If you can, get a table on the upper terrace, where you can dine with views across the romantic piazza and the sea.

Palm trees in Hvar

Shop the unique boutiques of Hvar Town

While it’s not dominated by Hermes and Dior flagship stores like many other yachting destinations, Hvar town has its fair share of boutiques, with a particularly fine assortment of jewellery boutiques specialising in turquoise, coral, and amber.

Coral Shop, Tanja Curin, and Thesaurus Jewellery are the iconic jewellery stores to visit in Hvar, particularly if you’re looking for statement pieces. The winding, narrow back streets of Hvar town are full of quirky curiosities and beautiful pieces to admire or take home, including the remarkable artworks at Sosa Gallery.

Vilebrequin Swim Shorts

For those looking for new designer swimwear, the men will find the superyacht fashion staple Vilebrequin, while women will find swimwear in cool blue and white at the very beachy Aqua Maritime. For a striking boutique with a bit of everything (including evening wear), Noche Azul Gold has some very individual pieces.

Spend a day at a beach club

Find your bliss at Bonj les Bains.

The actual beach may be missing at this glorious 1920’s bathing club, but there’s glamour in droves. Take a table on the limestone terrace surrounded by columns and white gauzy curtains, or lie back on a deckchair on a pontoon, cooling off every now with a dive into the sparkling sea. It’s all very swish, with a feel of decadent Jazz Age glamour and summers past. And the massages on offer from the Sensori spa just add to the decadence.

Bonj Les Bains beach club in Hvar

Seize the day at Carpe Diem Beach Club.

This stunning beach lounge bar on the nearby island of Stipanska might be justifiably famous for its wild A-list parties after midnight, but it is pure heavenly tranquillity during the day. Take a soft white lounger shaded by pine trees, drink cocktails at the bar, or sunbathe on the sea terrace only metres from the glimmering blue-green water.

Carpe Diem beach in Hvar

Sunset bars and rooftop pools : bars to ease into the evening

Get your party shoes on (or kick them off) at Hula Hula Bar.

Hula Hula Bar is the infamous beach bar to head to at sunset, when the island’s party scene descends en masse for an après beach party as the sun sinks into the sea. This venue is more relaxed than the other Hvar beachfront clubs, with a young and carefree crowd that is determined to wring the most out of their Croatian holiday.

Hula Hula Bar in Hvar

Get up high at the Adriana Hotel.

The swanky Adriana Hotel is Hvar’s finest address, and its rooftop pool bar is a mecca for the beautiful crowd in high summer. Overlooking the superyachts in the port and offering a breathtaking view across the Pakleni Islands, the Top Bar has a saltwater pool, multi-level garden terraces and an upper deck VIP lounge for passing a glittering evening under the stars.

Rooftop bar at Adriana hotel in Hvar

Find your brand of late night madness

At around midnight, yacht tenders and water taxis laden down with glammed-up guests start to cut their way across the moonlit water to Carpe Diem Beach, where one of the biggest Mediterranean summer parties takes place. Whether you’re drinking cocktails on the pool terrace, in deep, life-changing conversation on a deckchair by the silvery sea, or dancing to international DJs surrounded by a beautiful, champagne spraying crowd, this ultra-chic destination is one of the best party scenes/venues of the Mediterranean summer. It goes until dawn, so don’t plan on an early start on the yacht tomorrow!

Pink Champagne club in Hvar, Croatia

If you don’t feel like going to a beach club, Pink Champagne is an underground club with legendary themed parties, a strong DJ lineup, and a décor of minimalism, plush lounges, and glowing neon.

Visit Milna’s pretty coves and memorable restaurants

Milna is just a few kilometres from exclusive Hvar Town along the south coast, but it feels like a world away. Cypress pines and Mediterranean marquis edge the turquoise waters along the coast, and it’s an exceedingly pleasant place to drop anchor and enjoy the day. However, the real attraction of Milna are three rather special restaurants that have none of the glitz and glamour of Hvar Town, but deliver unforgettable local experiences.

On a pretty cove near Milna, there’s a dining experience so deliciously rustic, that it will stick in your memory for years to come. At Robinson, you arrive by boat in a little cove, where a little stone house is surrounded by cypress pines and olive trees. You take a table on the shady terrace overlooking the sea, and you order off the simple menu— perhaps lobster, or octopus, or maybe the house seafood stew speciality, Crusoe’s Pot.

Milna in Hvar, Croatia

You could linger there while your meal is being cooked, but most people elect to swim in the crystal clear water, before being summoned to their table with a yell by Domagoj, Robinson’s owner, who delivers the food with cold, delicious beer to wash it down with. As you eat and drink, feeling the salt drying on your skin, breathing in the smell of lavender and pine hanging in the warm air, and listening to the chorus of cicadas buzzing in the trees all around, you may think you have found a wild Mediterranean paradise. And you’d be right.

Yet Robinson’s is not the only one of Milna’s dining treasures. Moli Onte in Milna is genuinely outstanding, and you’ll almost certainly be torn between the delicious aroma of spit-roasted pig, and the sizzling of fresh-caught seafood on the grill. The seafront terrace has a wonderful casual atmosphere that has guests swimming between courses, chatting with the family owners, and returning year after year.

And if you’re up for an adventurous dining experience you’ll never forget, then head up into the hills behind Milna to the abandoned medieval village of Malo Grablje, where a local called Berti has returned to open up a konoba called Stori Komi in his historic family home. The restaurant’s terrace is surrounded by boulders and climbing vines, and overlooks the deserted village, which has been empty since the 1950s when an outbreak of phylloxera devastated the local vineyards. This is atmospheric dining almost beyond measure, and well worth a spot on your Hvar yacht charter bucket list.

Beach on the Croatian island of Hvar

Take a motorbike ride into the wild interior

You’ll never forget a motorbike ride into Hvar’s sage and lavender scented interior, where craggy hills are lined with vineyards and tumbledown drystone walls. Feel the breeze in your hair as you follow winding roads through fields of lavender, and if you’re visiting in June/July, you’ll find the lavender festival and a 2,500 year old olive tree while visiting the miniscule village of Velo Grablje.

Cruise lagoons and towering cliffs on the quiet southern coast

Many yacht charter guests are so distracted by the heady pleasures of Hvar Town and the tranquil Pakleni Islands, that they don’t venture anywhere else. That is a very understandable mistake, but it is a mistake nonetheless.

Boats on the sea in Hvar, Croatia

For Hvar’s southern coast is breathtaking. Rugged red cliffs soar above turquoise coves, and vineyards and orchards sprawl down steep hillsides to the sea. A multitude of blue-green inlets are shaded by huge boulders and pine trees, and you’ll be hard pressed to decide where to pass your time – the stunning Zarace Lagoon, Lucisce Beach, or Dubovika Bay, where a beautiful stone house sits perched on the edge of the water.

This is a day for sunbathing and cliff-jumping into crystal clear seas, playing on the yacht’s watertoys and having a long lunch on deck. For charterers seeking action and adventure, there’s a splendid hike up behind Sveta Nedjela to a spectacular cave with a 15th century church and monastery ruins built inside it, as well as some excellent free climbing on red rocks high above the cobalt blue sea.

Visit world-class wineries

For wine lovers, Hvar is unmissable. On the south coast at Sveta Nedjela, St Nikola Mountain rises up behind the village, and vines slope down to the water. These sunny hillsides grow grapes for some of the Mediterranean’s best wines, at the celebrated Zlatan Otok winery, where the late owner Zlatan created award-winning wines for global export, including Croatia’s first Grand Cru, the internationally acclaimed Zlatan Plavac Grand Cru, and a superb Posip wine.

Zlatan Plavac wine from Hvar, Croatia

While Zlatan passed away in 2016, his sons continue the family wine-making business, and a very pleasant lunch can be taken in their waterfront restaurant, Bilo Idro, at the small marina where the winery meets the sea.

On the direct opposite side of the island, the town of Jesla is a necessary stop on any Hvar wine tour. Andro Tomic creates some spectacular wines at Vina Tomic, including a Beleca white wine, and Plavac Mali Barrique, and his acclaimed Prosek dessert wine, considered the best in Croatia.

Vines in Hvar, Croatia

The final ‘must-do’ on your winery tour is in the nearby town of Vrboska, known as ‘Little Venice’ for its canal and baroque and renaissance villas.

Ivo Caric has a tasting room on the canal, and this passionate winemaker has received growing reknown, earning international awards for his Bogdanusa white, with his Plovak Ploski chosen as the centrepiece of a three Michelin star restaurant menu in Amsterdam.

Stroll along the waterfront of Stari Grad, Hvar’s historic jewel

If Hvar Town is a glittering celebrity haven, then quiet, ancient Stari Grad is its perfect opposite. Dating back to the 385BC, Stari Grad is one of the oldest settlements in Europe, and its charm lies in traditional waterfront lined with little fishing boats and colourful stone houses.

The waterfront in Hvar island Croatia

This quiet, beautiful little town is home to a 15th century Dominican monastery with an old library and archaeological relics, as well as Tvrdalj, a fortified castle with a tower.

Float through the Pakleni Islands

The Pakleni Islands are a favourite with the superyacht set for all the right reasons. Drop anchor off crystal clear coves, dry off after a swim under the sweet smelling pines, and dine at some seriously good restaurants.

At Palmizana on the island of Sveti Klement, you’ll find Zori Restaurant and Lounge. Providing one of the best dining experiences on Hvar from its terrace on the Vingradisce Lagoon, Zori definitely deserves a place on your Hvar charter shortlist. Nearby Totos and Meneghello restaurants are also very good indeed for Dalmatian specialities, while Laganini Lounge Bar and Restaurant is an idyllic place to grab a lounger and drink cocktails by the sea.

There’s an ACI Marina at Palmizana, as well as an art gallery, an arboretum, and some fine villas to admire. On the quieter side of the island, you’ll find old Roman mud baths vineyards at Vlaka, as well as Dionis Restaurant.

Pakleni Islands in Hvar, Croatia

Stipanska on Marinkovac Island is home to the very swish Carpe Diem Beach Club for day or night-time decadence, while Zdrilca and Mline Bays on the other side of the island are lovely spots to drop anchor, with two very decent restaurants, Patak and Tri Grede to enjoy nearby.

The other popular island is Jerolim, a gay-friendly naturist’s paradise, where you might see the resident donkey walk past your table as you dine on your organic, free range brunch. This is a free-loving, friendly island where pretty much anything goes. Amo Beach is more touristy, while Kordovan Bay is more relaxed. Mare’s Place is the spot for lunch.

With such a beguiling mix of glamour, historic charm, and natural beauty, it’s easy to see why Hvar and the Pakleni Islands have become the byword for superyacht charter glamour in the Adriatic. At Bespoke Yacht Charter we’ve spent a great deal of time on the island of Hvar, and have the local knowledge to help you craft the perfect tailored Hvar yacht charter.

Yet Hvar is not all there is to the Dalmatian archipelago. Watch out for the next destination in our Croatia Yachting Series, the mysterious island of Vis.

For more information about planning your dream yacht charter in Hvar and Croatia, contact Bespoke Yacht Charter, who create tailored yacht charter itineraries expressly based on your holiday tastes:

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