This is part three of our guest post series on Croatia by my good friend, B. Check out their visit to the city of Brac!
As if our time in Croatia wasn’t perfect enough, it’s also home to an amazing archipelago. Close to 80 islands linger off the coast just waiting to be explored and discovered, so we thought it would be the perfect way to end our stay. We found another great place through Croatian Villa Holidays, and settled on a cottage just outside the tiny town of Murvica on the island of Brac. (The ‘c’ is pronounced with a ‘ch’, as in Bra-ch)
We drove the rental car about two hours north of Dubrovnik to the town of Makarska and hopped on a car ferry to Sumartin on the island of Brac. The ferry was fun for the boys. They loved it and really enjoyed running all over the boat and checking out the views. Once we docked in Sumartin we had a 40-minute ride to the town of Murvica just outside of the resort town of Bol. The island is small so it’s very easy to find your way around.
Once there, we realized we were in the middle of nowhere waiting for some guy to pull up and show us to our cottage. Talk about trust! After Ray got off the phone with the landlord he said he didn’t speak much English and since I didn’t take Croatian in college, I was a bit worried. But we are always up for an adventure!
While waiting for our mystery man to show, our youngest son face planted in the gravely dirt road right beside a roadside cafe. As I’m yelling at my husband to grab the baby and give him to me, the bar keep runs up the hill to the main restaurant and brings back some wet paper towels for us to wipe his face and makes sure we are ok. What a sign, I had a good feeling everything would be ok after that.
Sure enough it was! Soon after, our landlord arrived and we followed him down a gravel road on the edge of a cliff for about 5 km. The scenery was amazing as we slowly inched along. My husband and I looked at each other a few times though, where on earth was he taking us? Finally we rounded a bend in the road and we saw the cottage and it was literally an AHHHHHHH moment. The house was just as it was pictured and we couldn’t wait to get inside to see if the rest of it measured up. “Always lock gate” he said, ‘The goats, they eat, very bad for grapes.’ That’s the first time I ever heard that, adventure indeed!
After the tour we realized we really were off the grid. Power lines haven’t been extended to this part of the island yet but the cottage was perfectly equipped. They had a water collection system for bathing and we used bottled water (provided by the owners) for cooking and drinking. We were on solar power and if the batteries dropped below 24 they told us we would have to boot up the generator. We decided to make a game of it and enlisted our oldest son’s help. We tried to see how little electricity and other resources we could use during our stay. He was our eco-cop and would turn off lights and make sure no one was wasting water. It was a fun eco-lesson for everyone.
The cottage was amazing but it was only a base for our exploration of the island. On the way to the house we passed some ruins up on a hill and after some research found out it was an abandoned Dominican monastery. It wasn’t a safe hike for the kids so while they napped Ray checked it out on his own and took some amazing photos. He told me it was a bit creepy because he didn’t see anyone the entire hike up and down. Plus, it wasn’t the safest place in the world; it was a ruin after all. He recommends it but doesn’t think small kids should hike it. This mom agrees!
The biggest resort town on Brac is Bol. It’s really busy June-September so the last week of May the tourist traffic wasn’t all that bad. Actually, it was pretty dead which was fine by us. The biggest draw in Bol is Zlatni Rat, or the Golden Beach. It’s a huge draw for windsurfers and kite surfers but also offers a great family friendly beach with a bar, food, gelato and plenty of sun! I loved the fresh fruit stand and so did the kids. Why don’t U.S. beaches have options like this?
We were only able to go to Zlatni Rat for one day because of the weather and we wanted to make sure we had time to enjoy our private beach at the cottage. Bol has some restaurants and bars and a lot of rental apartments and villas. The island is very well known for their Brac marble and is home to a stonemason school. You can take tours of both although they don’t open until June. One rainy day we decided to head out and explore. We winded our way across the island to the seaside town of Supetar, which is a very busy ferry port. We walked around the town enjoying the sights and settled into a café for lunch. They also have a nice little playground tucked behind some hedges along the waterfront where we let the boys burn off some energy.
The main goal of our stay on Brac was sun and relaxation. The Adriatic is blue and gorgeous and the white rocky beaches of Croatia are among the cleanest in Europe. We had our own little private beach down the hill from the house so when we had our sunny days that is where we spent our time. But unfortunately, they were few and far between. One such rainy day we headed to the town of Split on a ferry out of Supetar. Thankfully for us the mainland was not having the same rainy weather as we were.
Split, a large port city in the northern part of Croatia, is mainly known for the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s Palace. It sits on the harbor and is an easy walk from the main ferry station in Split. This large metropolis has a hip and young vibe and is home to many bars, restaurants and shops. We saw quite a few bachelorette parties and loads of young folk ready to party. Perhaps that’s why we had a harder time finding a baby seat in the local restaurants. We eventually gave up and settled on a café with tables outside so at least the pigeons could help out with the mess we knew we would be leaving behind. On this day we also brought the stroller and didn’t encounter too many issues getting around with it.
Diocletian’s Palace is inside the old city wall of Split and if you didn’t know where it was you might just walk right past it. The Roman Emperor Diocletian chose Split as the location for his retirement home and construction began in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries A.D. He knew what he was doing because the weather and view must have been amazing even then. It was established as a UNESCO World Heritage Center in 1979. It has architecture spanning centuries and is a must do while in the area.
Another great day trip from Split is a visit to the Plitvice Lakes National Park. It’s the largest National Park in Croatia and is a cluster of crystal blue lakes, rivers and waterfalls dotted with pathways and bridges across the water. Just punch the name into your web browser and you will think that you are looking at doctored and fake photos. But it exists and from what we hear it’s worth the trip. We didn’t get there because our base was on Brac and we felt it would be too much travel for the kids in one day. But it is something I know we will do when we return.
Croatia. The people are friendly and kind and it’s no wonder, their country is incredible and the views alone should put you in a good mood. Add some wine from the local vineyard with the sunny Mediterranean temps and if that doesn’t get you in the vacation way, then nothing will! We will always cherish our first trip to Croatia, she was good to us (despite the rain!) and we know that we will return to her someday.
Next up, a side trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina.