Hvar, the Croatian Island Which Has It All: 5 – Adventure Tourism

Total Croatia News

Copyright Romulic and Stojcic

Continuing our indepth look on January 21, 2018 at 2018 European Best Destinations nominee, the island of Hvar, today’s focus is on the fabulous adventure tourism options on offer. 

It is easy to live on an island like Hvar and completely miss so many of the things which make it such a unique part of the planet. If you only came in summer, for example, you would have no idea about its rich religious traditions, such as the UNESCO Za Krizen procession in Holy Week, which has been taking place each year for over 500 years. Chances are you would not realise what an incredible wine island it is, with its wines exported as far away as California and China, while the only Master of Wine to make wine in Croatia is doing so on Hvar. 


Being the sunniest island in Europe with some of the best beaches in Europe, it is no wonder that most tourists opt for a lazy holiday by the sea – with one of the cleanest seas in the world, who wouldn’t? Which is why so many visitors do not really what a spectacular adventure playground Hvar really is.

On so many levels. 

Did you realise, for example, that some of the world’s best swimmers, including Olympic gold medal winners, head to Hvar each August for one of the most challenging races in the world? The Faros Marathon has now been going for over 40 years and has been included in the International Marathon Hall of Fame. It is a gruelling 16km swim from the harbour in Stari Grad to the tip of the Kabal Peninsula and back, and the male and female races attract high-quality competitors each year. It is a fabulous weekend to be in Stari Grad. Check out the video above to learn more. 

It is not the only Hvar marathon which takes place each August, however, and a popular addtion to the summer tourism calendar for the more active visitor is the annual Hvar Half Marathon, which takes place in the early evening along what must surely be one of the most spectacular marathon routes in the world – starting from Stari Grad and taking the old road to Hvar Town, where you can see the Adriatic from both sides of the road, before descending to a fast finish on Hvar Town’s historic main square. Too lazy to do the run, but want to see the route? Hop on the motorbike in the video above. 

Hvar’s international sporting credentials were given a huge boost in 2017 by two separate events, both of which took place outside the main tourist season. The island’s diverse terrain was judged to have been ideal to host the first Otillo Swim Run race of the season (now THAT is a tough one – see the video above), and Suncani Hvar’s bike hotel, Pharos bayhill hosted one of the world’s top cycling teams for winter training, as the 75-strong team of cyclists and support team from Bahrain Merida, descended on the island in December. It was a very successful trip, showcasing both Hvar as a cycling destination as well as its ability to host international sporting teams for training, something it has a long history of. 


Full credit to the development of Hvar as a sporting destination should go to a group of local enthusiasts called Hvar Adventure, who came together in 2005 to promote the island as an adventure tourism destination, and with considerable success. They have also pushed for a special focus on cycling, and Hvar Life evolved a few years ago and has done much to push Hvar’s cycling story forward. Apart from being the catalyst for the Bahrain Merida training camp, Hvar Life is in excellent contact with the international cycling community, and it offers a wide range of innovative tours offering the very latest equipment. Check them out here. Full credit should also go to Suncani Hvar Hotels, who are always ready to support sporting initiatives on the island with accommodation packages and promotional activities. They have a rage of sport-related offers, including the Active Hvar Package.


Hvar Adventure is continually looking to expand its range of activities, attracting sportsmen from different disciplines to the island, including a relatively recent addition with top athletes as trainers – Ironman training.  Indeed, there is an initiative to bring Ironman events to the island, which will be one more string in Hvar’s bow of adventure tourism. 

Other main sporting activities offered on Hvar include:


Sailing – Hvar is one of the most popular sailing destinations on the Adriatic. With two ACI marinas (Vrboska and Palmizana on the Pakleni Islands) and a myriad of islands and hidden coves to explore in close vicinity, more and more people are discovering Hvar by boat. Don’t have a boat of your own? Hvar Adventure has an excellent range of sailing options, from romantic half-day sunset cruises of the Pakleni Islands (fantastic), to multi-day island-hopping trips and participation in local regattas. Check out their sailing offer here. And to learn more about sailing in Croatia in general, visit our Total Croatia Sailing website


Rock Climbing – Looking for the very best views on Hvar, that few others get near? There is some excellent rock climbing to be had, and in a variety of locations. Arguably the most popular is the climbing at Sveta Nedjelja, but it is also worth checking out the climbing on the cliffs above Vela Stiniva east of Jelsa, while if you want some truly unique views of Hvar Town, that can be arranged as well. Learn more with AndAdvenure


Sea Kayaking – If there is one sporting activity which has really grown in recent years on Hvar, it is kayaking. With programmes for first timers, kayaking is available to all, and with a range of options rom a half-day romantic sunset paddle around the Pakleni islands or a tour to some of Hvar’s more hidden bays, to fully organised island hopping tours, kayaking offers a totally different perspective of Hvar. Learn more with AndAdventure.

Windsurfing – Although not as popular as other nearby destinations, such as Bol and Orebic, windsurfing is possible on Hvar, and the best place to head to is Vrboska, where the BOTA agency offers courses. 

Sky Diving – Hvar – Hvar has a small airport, so you can arrive by small private plane or helicopter if you choose. It is also the base in the summer for a little skydiving. Located in the heart of UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Stari Grad Plain, the views are spectacular – where else in the world can you land on such ancient heritage? Check out a typical descent in the video above. 

Diving – From the skies high above Hvar to the secrets of its waters. Hvar has a fairly well-developed scuba diving scene, with centres in Hvar Town, Jelsa and Stari Grad. Last summer, there were even free diving courses on Palmizana from a world champion. Check out Total Croatia Sailing editor Tash Pericic learning more on her first free dive last summer, below.


Hiking – Hvar is often referred to as one of the ten most beautiful islands in the world, and wherever you go, there is spectacular scenery. It is also a hiking paradise, and Hvar Adventure has a range of options to discover the lesser visited parts of the island, from half-day hikes to the lavender village of Velo Grablje, to multi-day expeditions the length of the island. Learn more with AndAdventure

Wakeboarding, SUP and Flyboarding – Tourism on Hvar is constantly evolving and new attractions are coming online all the time. A great small business called Mario Rent has added considerably to the adrenaline in recent years – choose from wakeboarding, SUP and flyboarding – Mario and his team have a small place just past Hula Hula – find them online here

The island of Hvar – a truly magnificent adventure playground – and to think most people come to lie on the beach!

Hvar you voted for Hvar as European Best Destination 2018 yet? You can do so here.


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