7 Things Not to Miss on Vis Island
When sailing the beautiful Dalmatian Islands, one not to be missed is Vis Island. Vis is one of the most remote inhabited Croatian Islands and, for many, one of the most charming. It has a long and fascinating history which stretches thousands of years and has changed hands many times between the Romans, Byzantines, Austrians, Venetians, English and French.
In more recent times, it was used as a military base by the Yugoslav army and therefore cut off from foreign visitors until the late ‘80’s. The lack of development and relative isolation over its 30 years of occupation is now the island’s trump card. Visitors find no signs of the gawdy high-rises and overdeveloped resorts that have spoiled so many islands and coastal spots across the Med.
Instead, sailors on a yacht charter to Croatia find an achingly beautiful island dotted with honey-coloured houses and Venetian harbours overlooking rocky bays and swallow, turquoise waters. Vis Island took the role of the island in the summer 2018 film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. There’s a sense of tranquillity on Vis and a pace of life that ticks by at a different rate to the mainland.
Sold on a visit to Vis? Here are 7 things not to miss during your sailing holiday to this beautiful island.
Swim the Blue Grotto
In Komiža, set aside a day to sail across to the little island of Biševo, an almost uninhabited island an hour’s sail away. While the island is pretty enough, most come to catch a glimpse of Modra Špilja, a submerged cave that bursts into vivid blue during certain times of day when the sun reaches its peak. If anything’s going to make you ooh and ahh, it’s Biševo’s Blue Grotto.
Visit Tito’s Cave
The island’s strategic and remote location in the Adriatic Sea made it the ideal choice for the Yugoslav leader Tito and his Partisans during WWII. While the war was still hanging in the balance, a fortified cave became the central headquarters of the dictator. While it’s possible to walk up to the site by yourself, it’s well worth joining a tour group whose guide can explain its fascinating history. Moor to the west of the island near Komiza and take a taxi up to the cave.
Discover history at the Issa Archaeological Museum
This treasure trove of ancient Greek sculptures and Hellenistic artefacts is a must-do for history buffs. Here, you’ll find everything from ancient pottery to 2,500-year-old bronze busts, not to mention a fascinating collection of artefacts found from local shipwrecks. Everything is housed within an extraordinarily beautiful 19th-century Austrian fortress and it’s easily accessed by sailing into the bay near Vis Town on the north of the Island.
Kick back in Stiniva Bay
Croatia’s answer to ‘The Beach’ in Thailand is Stiniva Bay. The small, yet perfectly formed pebble beach is surrounded by an amphitheatre-like cascade of limestone cliffs which hug a turquoise bay leaving just enough of an opening for passing boats to inch through. You don’t need to take our word for it though – in 2016 it was voted the top beach in Europe following a poll of over 10,000 travellers.
Sea kayak along the coast
There are few better ways to see the dramatic beauty of Vis close-up than by gentling paddling along its coast on sea kayaks. For the less energetic, take in the view from your deck and choose to stop at isolated beaches and lagoons, explore the Green Cave or simply cool off in the crystal-clear waters.
Amble along the harbour in Komiža
There are two main settlements on Vis – the main town of Vis, the likely entry point for most visitors, and Komiža, a sister-town that lies along the western edge of the island. This bohemian hangout is characterized by winding narrow streets flanked with 200-year-old townhouses and a pretty harbour teeming with bobbing yachts and colourful fishing boats. Moor here (book ahead during high season) overnight and head ashore to take in the delights.
Taste the island’s wine
The islanders of Vis have been producing wine for thousands of years. There are two main varietals – a white Vugava and red Plavac Mali. Today, oenophiles are starting to take the island’s wine seriously, mainly due to winemaker Antonio Lipanović who has been spearheading the grape’s revival. If you have an interest in wine, you can meet Lipanović and take a tour of the vineyards to learn about the production of Vis wine. Of course, there are tastings too and you will also have the opportunity to stock up for those peaceful evenings watching the sunset on deck. Well, it would be rude not to!