The island of Hvar has made international headlines for a number of reasons this year. One delightful tourism town on its northern shores has escaped media attention until now. A wander round tranquil Jelsa on July 3, 2017.
I will confess to being a little nervous about relocating from my quiet new home in Varazdin County to the peak season of Dalmatia, a destination which is registering record tourism growth. My fears were not assuaged 10 days ago when I dropped the family off at the ferry in Split to take the boat home to Jelsa, while I continued on with meetings in Split, Trogir and Dubrovnik, before heading back to my little Varazdin hideaway. So many people! Tourism in Dalmatia was definitely booming, but would this boring old Brit be able to cope with the crowds? After 15 years living with the seasonality of tourism on Hvar, life in a northern rural village with no connection to tourism was refreshing indeed.
But Dalmatia is Dalmatia, and the call of the Adriatic will never die. And so it was that I picked the finest apricots from our Varazdin trees and headed home on a hot first day of July, arriving home after the last ferry and straight to bed.
The early morning view (above) from the terrace at 06:30 reminded me why I moved to Jelsa in the first place, and why it will always be one of the most gorgeous places on the planet. I was keen to wander around to see what had changed, and what had not.
The new welcome to Jelsa from the car park, aka Fountain Square. The fountain is on its way, but already a major improvement on its predecessor. The tourist board has also relocated to the square, a much more useful starting point for tourists.
And along the way, it was good to see that one of the Legends of Jelsa was still delivering liquid refreshment to the bars and cafes around town. Good to see you Mario, and thank you for the excellent work you do.
The entrance to the main square. A haven for pedestrians and cyclists, and if you like ice cream…
Cyclists are an ever increasing tourism group in Jelsa. With the coast and nearby resorts such as Vrboska and Stari Grad, Central Hvar is growing in importance as a cycling destination.
The main square at midday. Timeless. Tranquil.
Jelsa has undergone immense infrastructural change in the last few years, including ambitious plans to extend its riva. Part of the riva collapsed in the refurb, a situation which has all but been resolved in time for the season.
A small entrance to the water.
And some small, but negligible, finishing touches to be completed.
And good to see litter management given a more prominent position than before.
Moving along to Copacabana, the new town beach in Jelsa. Not quite finished, but almost there, and already in use.
The beach is surprisingly spacious, and its location just at the end of the waterfront past the rowing club is sure to make it a summer hit for those who do not want to venture too far.
And nice to see a dress code on Hvar for a change…
The new riva is ten metres deeper than before, and it is definitely taking shape. Several quality restaurants and bars have opened on the new waterfront, and this has helped to diversify all Jelsa’s daily life from the main square.
Some minor finishing touches to be done, but the overall look of the riva compared to a few years ago is on a different level.
A new entertainment centre for Jelsa, if what I hear is true.
Peaceful and far more relaxed that the busy traffic of Split, Dubrovnik and Hvar Town.
A family destination, with Jelsa’s donkey statue continuing to prove a huge hit with the little ones.
Come at the right time of day, and you will even find one of Jelsa’s most famous institutions all yours – The Bench!
A sailing paradise, Jelsa can be visited by your own boat of course – there are plenty of moorings – or by tourist boat from destinations such as Bol and Makarska.
Its historic old town has also undergone a recent renovation. St. John’s Square, home to the recently renovated St. John’s Church, where weekly wine tastings each Thursday evening from the Hvar Wine Association are just one of its attractions.
A destination away from the crowds. Simply gorgeous. I have a wonderfully chilled Dalmatian summer to look forward to.