Lesser Visited Gems in Dalmatia: October on Hvar

Paul Bradbury

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October 9, 2023 – Peak season has passed, the locals are relaxed – the magic of October on Hvar.

One of the things I really appreciated during my 13 years living on Hvar was the different experience each month would bring.

With its fantastic nature and climate, Hvar is a joy any time of year, but it could not be more different as an experience in August and January. As such, it attracts different visitors at different times of the year. After several years there, I found myself actually preferring the tranquility of January to the peak season vibe.

One of my favourite months to visit Hvar Town is on October, with the peak season a distant memory, and with locals gradually winding down from another successful season, and with more than one eye on their fields. Hvar, as most of Dalmatia, is an agricultural society, and the posh restaurant owner in August can be spotted in his working overalls in his olive grove come the end of October.

The olive harvest, and the culture of community that it embodies, is one of the strongest things in Dalmatian society, and if you have the chance to experience it (just ask around, most people will be very grateful for the extra pair of hands), it will give you a superb insight into the way of life here, as well as a day in Hvar’s fabled nature, some oil to take home, and usually a fabulous lunch on the grill in the field.

And in years with wonderful Indian Summers such as this, October is a great time to visit. The sea is still warm enough for swimming, the beaches almost deserted, and the locals have that most precious commodity, which is non-existent during the season – time. A chance to experience true Dalmatian hospitality and warmth at a more relaxed pace.

The roads are different at this time of year. Gone are the ubiquitous scooters hired by tourists in the summer, to be replaced by cyclists taking advantage of the challenging terrain, milder climate, and exquisite views. Hvar’s stock as a cycling destination rose considerably a few years ago when one of the world’s top cycling teams, Bahrain McLaren, came to the island for winter training, three years in a row.

There are few better places I have found in life to start the day than with breakfast on the terrace of Hotel Adriana (open to non-residents) where one can while away an hour or three people watching, as well as enjoying the maritime traffic entering the habour – fishermen, catamarans, water taxis and private yachts.

As chilled a start to the day as I can remember, and with a great breakfast spread, and one which is local and seasonal. This month, for example, breakfast jams will include those made from the famous Dalmatian Plavac Mali grape, as well as Petrovaca figs.

As the biggest hotel presence on the island, the Suncani Hvar hotels are an important component of a successful late season, and they are enthusiastic supporters of one of the best (and lesser-known) events in Hvar Town, which will be taking place for its 12th edition later this month. When I first heard about the Peskafondo squid fishing competition back in 2011, I did not think it would have much of an appeal, but 12 years later, it attracts teams from all over Europe, as well as about 2,000 visitors. A nice end of season boost.

How much fun can squid and big game fishing be? I sent three sceptical Kiwis to find out a couple of years ago – they were simply stunned – check out the video above.

To coincide with the event, luxury 5-star Palace Elisabeth hvar heritage hotel will be celebrating Champagne Day on October 27 with three beautiful displays, the first one located at the entrance of the hotel, the second at the entrance of The Bar and the third at the entrance of the stunning Mediterranean restaurant San Marco.

They will be offering a selection of different old-fashioned champagne cocktails and spritzers from Bellinis to the pinnacle of champagne drinks, Kir Royale. The champagne selected is the sensation Baron Philippe de Rothschild, which is the champagne of the house.

Olives, cycling, champagne, people-watching, beaches, squid fishing, culture, great food, great wine, relaxed company – October on Hvar, why aren’t you here?


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