Planning the Getaway
For Beach Layabouts
Island- and bar-hopping along the Adriatic
When to go: May through September
Hours from NYC: Eleven
Cost: $6,000 for ten days
What to Expect
Until recently, Hvar was one of the Dalmatian Coast’s best-kept secrets. Its hidden beach coves, lavender fields, and sleepy fishing villages were untrampled by tourists during Croatia’s turbulent years. Today, new boutique hotels and a non-euro economy attract European sybarites, who are transforming it into a glamorous party place.
Where to Stay
Most of the island’s accomodations, left over from the drab Communist era, are being refurbished as designer hotels, with cool lounges and brasseries. Stay at the Riva Hvar Yacht Harbour Hotel (from $365; suncanihvar.com/riva), housed in a century-old stone building. Ask for a junior suite (from $570) with a balcony overlooking the busy harbor. You won’t have to wander too far to enjoy cocktails on the water—the hotel’s BB Club happens to be one of Hvar’s best bars.
Where to Eat
The Old Town’s elegant 13th-century Venetian piazza is lined with restaurants where the grub is secondary to the people watching. If snagging an outdoor table proves impossible, the narrow streets off the square have more interesting culinary options: Ivan Buzolic, the chef-owner of Zlatna Skoljka (zlatna.skoljka.com), rarely repeats a menu at his Slow Food restaurant, where dinner can take several (pleasurable) hours. Order a glass of Medvid, a sweet red wine from one of the island’s vineyards, and be patient. The fresh seafood, prepared with simple, local ingredients (figs, olives, truffles), is worth the wait.
To Do, By Day
Relax in a private stone cabana at the sleek Bonj les Bains (suncanihvar.com/bonj-les-bains), a thirties marble bathing deck with daybeds, umbrellas, and massage tents for two. Or, to lie on sand, skip Hvar’s rocky beaches and take a water taxi to the Pakleni islands, a pine-covered archipelago lined with secluded coves and unspoiled beaches. Palmizana’s bays are the most popular with sunbathers, while Jerolim’s beaches cater to nudists. In the afternoon, ride out to the inlet-island of Stipanska, and head to Carpe Diem Beach Club (carpe-diem-beach.com), a daytime offshoot of the mainland’s best-known disco. Should you start feeling guilty about your lack of cultural immersion, attend a classical recital in the courtyard of the Renaissance Franciscan monastery in Hvar Town. Another day, visit Vrboska, a neighboring village set on a curving fjord, often referred to as “Little Venice” because of its small bridges and postcard views.
To Do, By Night
Megaclub Carpe Diem ( carpe-diem-hvar.com), with its arched patio, low-slung sofas, and international roster of techno D.J.’s, is the closest you’ll come to Ibiza-style partying on this side of the Mediterranean. Before sunrise, follow revelers to Veneranda (veneranda.hr), a former military fortress built in 1561 that’s now an all-night disco. If you prefer a more low-key atmostphere, go to the more intimate Zimmer Frei (385-98-270-500) a candlelit room where you can relax on floor cushions with an Ozujsko beer. Before turning in, grab a nightcap at The Top (suncaninvar.com/adriana), a split-level rooftop garden terrace that overlooks the harbor.
The romantic island of Korcula is famous for Moreska, a sword-dancing festival that happens each summer in the medieval town. Unpack at the simple but comfortable Hotel Korcula (from $192; 385-20-711-078) before setting out into the maze of dark narrow streets flanked by stonewalls and red-roof houses. Rent a scooter (two for $45; korcula-rent.net) to explore the outer reaches of the island and its stunning bays. Come sunset, pick up a bottle of locally-produced Posip, a dry, golden wine, and hide out in Pupnatska Luka, a secluded cove fringed by forests.
With no direct flights from New York to Croatia, you’ll have to fly to a European hub serviced by Croatia Airlines (croatiaairlines.com) and connect to the city of Split. Jarolinija (jadrolinija.hr) offers one-hour ferry service from Split to Hvar, and a 90-minute ferry ride from Hvar to Korcula.
From the Winter 2008 New York Wedding Guide