Splitksa harbour with small boats docked on the quiet waters under green pine trees and an imposing church

James Villas


Travel Diary: Dazzling Dalmatian Islands


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Croatia is a destination that has crept, climbed and soared its way to the top of many holidaymaker’s wish lists – and you don’t need a mystical, crystal ball to see why. From the idyllic Istrian countryside offering a rural retreat to the alluring Split Region and of course, Dubrovnik. Who could forget the terracotta tiled rooftop region which made its claim to fame as the backdrop to a certain fantasy favourite? You can’t help but wonder what could make this Adriatic Jewel glisten any more than it already does. But Croatia comes packing a punch with more than just a single diamond solitaire. The Dalmatian Islands: peppered with quaint, quiet harbour side villages, pure pebbly shores and sparkling sapphire seas – each offers its own traditional twist on Croatian culture.

Thanks to a family member picking the blissful isle of Brac as the backdrop to her wedding, I was lucky enough to tick this dazzling Dalmatian Island off my bucket list! Here’s what I got up to…

Day 1 – Touchdown in Split…next stop Brac!

Views over the village of Splitska on the isle of Brac, Croatia as the sun sets into the distance

Only a few short hours on the plane makes up for the early start and when you’re so close to discovering the beauty and bliss behind a long awaited break – you can’t help but beam with excitement! And Croatia was no exception!

As we touched down at Split airport and walked off the plane welcomed by the balmy Mediterranean breeze we knew it was holiday time! We swiftly made our way through customs, baggage claim and on to collect our hire car for the week. The benefit of having your own set of wheels is that it gives you the freedom to explore and discover your holiday destination the way you want to – and that’s just what we had planned! The drive along the Ivana Pavla II towards the ferry port gave us our first glimpse of what Croatia had in store for us. On the right, carefree coastline views out to the centre of Split and to the left mesmerising mountain range that towers into the sky.

After just a short 30 minutes cruise down the coast, we pulled up to the harbour in Split where we were able to park the car and stretch our legs. Whiling away the wait until the next ferry is worth it when you have chic, trendy boutiques and waterfront promenades at your fingertips – the perfect spot to enjoy a coffee as you admire boats, both big and small, bobbing along the tranquil waters. Not before too long, the ferry docked and it was time for the last leg! And after only a short 50 minute journey from the mainland, where we were able to enjoy stunning panoramas from the top deck, we had arrived! Just 15 minutes east along the winding coastal road to our home from home in the idyllic Splitska all that was left was to unpack our suitcases and pack our itinerary for the next 7 days as we watched the glowing sun set into the mountains…

Day 2 – Supetar

views out to the sea from Supetar's promenade and mixed grill platter with chips

After a brief snapshot from our first day, and some well needed rest and relaxation, we could only imagine what other picture-perfect beauties were yet to be discovered – and our cameras were at the ready to capture every moment! As we rolled off the ferry, we caught a sneak peek of Supetar town centre – the island’s largest town. Where better to start? A historic core of ancient white stone streets, a sweeping harbour, grand church and pebbly beaches made for the perfect café culture backdrop. Lined by individual eateries, quirky shops (the best place to bag a bargain or two!) and ice cream parlours serving all the classics as well as new, creative flavours – this is leisurely living at its finest. We wasted no time in picking the perfect little sheltered spot at the end of the harbour and enjoyed a few tasty treats before carrying on, after all it’d be rude not to!

As we made our way along the u-shaped harbour, and grazed in and out of locally owned shops, we were on the hunt to find a keepsake to take home with us. We were definitely in the right place! One thing you can’t miss on the island is the radiant white stone, gleaming all hours of the day from sunrise to sunset. Street markets see local artisans showcasing handcrafted jewellery, pestle & mortars and even clocks made from the same refined marble stone – a unique souvenir you can cherish.

 Fun fact: the white stone is the same used to build the famous White House in Washington D.C, imported from none other than this island!

As the sizzling sun and toasty temperatures started to rise – it was time for a spot of lunch. Dining out in Croatia and its Islands means you’ll be spoilt for choice. In the heart of the Adriatic means not only are you blessed with beautiful weather but also good food! With culinary influences from its Italian and Greek neighbours a sumptuous selection is always on the table! From authentic, rustic pizzas to freshly caught fish and gorgeous grilled meats, the hardest part of your holiday will be deciding what to have!

Day 3 – Splitska & Dol

Views of the verdant rolling hills of Dol and down to coastal villages with a mountainous backdrop

Ahead of the big day we wanted to make the most of the crisp Croatian sun. The best thing about a villa holiday is having the freedom to laze, lounge and unwind without any disturbance or care in the world – pure bliss! After a day of basking poolside, it was time to discover what was on our doorstep (quite literally!). With so many quaint, picturesque villages sprinkled along the alluring coastline you’re often only a short stroll away from more local delights. Only a short moment’s stroll down to the harbour front, and you’ll touch upon the tranquil town Splitska.  Oozing charm, tradition and a slice of authentic Croatian lifestyle, this little bolthole is an undisturbed utopia you’ll want to add to your itinerary. Paraded by luscious green pine trees, a selection of cafés as well as a few restaurants offering up some hearty cuisine, there’s no better way to spend the afternoon than enjoying a tasty tipple (or Grappa!) as you watch local life go by…

Make your way in land, only a few kilometres from Splitska, up a slight and steady incline and you’ll reach new heights in the hilltop town of Dol. With astonishing vistas of verdant rolling hills that lead down to the seaside villages – you’ll need a moment to take it all in. Still, serene and oh-so peaceful it’s as if it’s been hand painted right before your very eyes. A view this mesmerising goes best accompanied with a moonlight dinner in one of the hilltop eateries. Up here the sea salt in the air means that many of the meats need little, if not any, seasoning. Full of flavour and quite the delectable delight, the islander’s speciality is the grilled lamb. Served with a side of home-made pastas and roasted potatoes – it’s a heart-warming dish you won’t be able to resist!

Day 4 – Zlatni Rat

birds eye view of Zlatni Rat with a it's sapphire blue waters, lined with sunloungers along the pebble coast

Not having Zlatni Rat, or the Golden Horn, on your holiday to-do list is like going to Santorini and not watching one of the sunsets. The fascinatingly unique 500 metre long beach’s elegance and allure have made it the symbol for both the island and the mainland. From afar you’ll be lured to tropical cyan waters, bountiful space and of course those plush white sands… or that’s what you’ll think! Much like the beaches all around the island, and across Croatia, this beach is all pebble! So, say goodbye to sand in your bags, hair, and just about everywhere! Another thing to remember is to pick up some beach shoes! Sold all around the island at street markets as well as supermarkets you can pick up a pair that can be used time and time again – and they won’t set you back a small fortune! Win, win!

As we made our way through the pine covered woodland, we came to the heart of the action. Street (or should I say beach) pop – ups offer a variety of food, drinks and desserts so you can have a light bite ahead of your day of fun in the sun. If you’re looking for something a little more suave and sophisticated – you can pitch yourself in one of the beach bar clubs. Offering refreshing cocktails, soft drinks as well as some sea-side entertainment – this could just be the beach break you’ve been looking for! After an iced coffee (something Croatian’s have mastered the art of and truly word of mouth worthy!) we got closer to the blissful blue waters. It was only moments until we were straight in for a cooling dip. To venture out further, we tried our hand at paddle boarding. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a pro – it’s one thing to agree that there’s no better way to be at one with the serene seas. If you’re looking for more fun and thrills, there’s banana boats, parasailing and even some healthy competition to be had on the inflatable assault course. You’ll even find a submarine experience where you can get up close and personal with marine life. Magical memories – especially for little ones! With so much to do at this Blue Flag beauty, whether you’re ready to take the plunge or just happy to paddle your feet – Zlatni Rat is a world wonder like no other!

Small boats in the harbour of Supetar, lined by eateries, cafes and shops

If my Dalmatian island discoveries has you wanting to explore these beautiful islands for yourself, then take a look at our villas in the Dalmatian Islands. From postcard-perfect Brac to the up and coming holiday destination of Hvar, find something new on your next villa holiday.

Ben Cameron

Ben Cameron is a at James Villa Holidays.

See all articles by Ben Cameron

See all articles by Ben Cameron


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