June 7, 2016
We rented a car for a day trip around the island. We really didn’t have a plan of what we wanted to see. The attendant at the Luka rental agency gave us a map and some suggestions, i.e., a sort of loop drive starting with the old road in the hills north of town, then heading east past Stari Grad to Jelsa. Heading south via Pitve we went through the Pitve tunnel to connect with the small road on the south coast to a winery.
On a pretty day it would be beautiful with great views of the neighboring island. Today we had blue but hazy skies that cleared as the day wore on. There is nothing really spectacular to see but it’s an interesting slice of Dalmatian tourist life. Europeans come here for a longer beach holiday with great opportunities for bike riding, swimming in the sea and just hanging out.
The drive starts along the old road through terraced fields. A patchwork of stone walls divides the plots.
Once there were lavender fields. Today there are remnants of their former glory, looking more abandoned than tended.
Some of the plants, however, are gigantic and were just beginning to bloom.
We didn’t stop in Stari Grad and continued on to the coast along Vrboska and Jelsa. The interior landscape flattens out with vineyards and olive groves. The pretty, rocky coast has great pine trees that shade the water front. This pleasant flat stretch would be great for bike riding.
The rocky shore is also ideal for a picnic in the shade. This side of the island feels far removed from the upscale Hvar harbor. More ordinary people and family oriented than the yachts scene of Hvar.
We stopped in Jelsa for lunch. Pape pizzeria with good salad and pizza made for a pleasant stop on their harbor terrace. Nothing fancy buy just the right thing on a lazy afternoon.
From Jelsa we headed back up into the hills to Pitve and through the old tunnel . For me the tunnel was one of the highlights of the island.
I wasn’t expecting this long and what looks like a hand dug tunnel.
Cars are only allowed in in one direction at a time.
On the other side of the tunnel a pretty coastal road winds down to Zavala through a rugged Mediterranean landscape.
More rugged and prettier than the hills of the old road with vineyards starting high up in the hills and spilling down the steep slope to the sea. One of the more dramatic places I’ve seen grapes growing anywhere.
Zavala has a pretty harbor with clear blue green waters.
The winery in Sveta Nedilja at the end of the paved road was closed, still I thought the scenery made the drive worthwhile.
We retraced our tracks back through the old tunnel – love the tunnel – and back near Stari Grad where we hit the new road, 116, that goes through the new tunnel. On the other side this section is also quite dramatic running along a steep coastline with sea views into Hvar.
Near Hvar we stop for a quick cool off dip in the sea at one of the many pull offs along the outskirts of town.