Updated: Aug 15, 2019
Europe beckoned us. Captain K and I had not been to Europe, together since 2010. so we decided to use our reciprocal benefits through the Moorings to see Croatia like the Greeks who first settled it, from a boat. Cruising the smaller islands of Croatia from a small yacht or sailboat, has all the history and culture of a European vacation with all the autonomy and connection to nature of bareboating. The delight comes in seeing these islands
up close and at a slower pace.
Our second and third days on the water were on Vis, the furthest Dalmatian island from the Croatian mainland. Croatia became part of Yugoslavia in 1943 and because of Vis' strategic location and limestone caves, it became an important base for the Yugoslavian military. The island was closed to visitors until 1992 when Croatia became an independent state. As we sailed into VisTown, we stopped in a small harbor to see an abandoned submarine pen built into a hidden cave. Visions of Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark flashed in our minds.
The waterfront at Vis Town is bustling with activity. It is very pleasant to sip a coffee or a glass of wine and watch the sailors come and go. Vis Town is actually two small cities, Kut and Luka. After deciding to explore the area by scooter we rented with Vis Special, which is conveniently located on the quay. Our first scooter did break down, but the owner, affectionately known as "Teddy" quickly brought us a second one. They earned high marks for convenience and customer service.
We headed out to search for Lipanovic Winery, where Antonio Lipanovic’s family has been making wine on Vis for 5 generations. After the Yugoslavian military retreated from Vis, the Lipanovic family purchased a hillside tract of land that included underground tunnels, which previously housed a power plant for the military bases on the island. While their grapes are grown inland on a fertile plain, the wine is created and stored in these tunnels. Whites, reds and dessert wines are produced, my favorite is Lipanovic Plavac Mali. An earthy full bodied red of with subtle undertones of berry and toasted almonds, we enjoyed a bottle with dinner in the walled garden of Villa Kaliopa in Kut.
Created by the pressure of teutonic plates, Vis’ topography is reflects the diversity of the island and majesty of its landscapes. This contrast was very apparent in our morning sail around the island to the fishing Village of Komiza. Passing by jagged coastline, dotted with gun mounts left by the Yugoslavian Army, we saw the Green Cave, colored by the sunlight pouring through a small hole in the roof of the cave. We also stopped at Steiniva Beach, named the Best Beach in Europe 2016. Barely visible by a passing boat, it is a beautiful cove surrounded by tall cliffs. Best enjoyed in the morning, the area was a bit crowded with boats carrying bathers wishing to swim into the famed beach.
The town of Komiza is tucked into the corner of a wide bay. The long seawall and defenders tower, Kastel, look as they did in the time of the Venetians. The town is know for its sailing boats, called Falkusa, which are used in anchovy fishing. You can find these unique vessels in the harbor alongside more modern fishing boats, yachts and sailing vessels. After a burger at the quayside restaurant Fabrika, we wandered through the cobblestoned streets of the old town, ending at the bayside beach in front of the 16th century Church of our Lady of the Pirates. Inside you can find the image of the Madonna that was stolen by pirates and miraculously floated back into the bay after the pirate ship was shipwrecked in a storm, the very next day, as the story goes.
A few miles inland, we were treated to another unique wine experience later that evening. Dining on Peka at Roki proved to be a culinary highlight of our journey. Roki will pick up diners in Vis Town or Komiza for wine tasting and dinner at their vineyards and restaurant in Pisko Polje. Their speciality is the traditional Croatian dish Peka. A dish made with beef, lamb, fish or octopus with herbs, seasonings, vegetables, rice and wine baked in a round dish with a bell shaped lid. The dish is placed on an outdoor grill and coals are placed on the lid. This dish must be ordered in advance because it takes several hours to cook. We celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary with the octopus Peka, a bottle of their Plavac Mali and a piece of traditional carob cake for dessert.
In the morning we hiked through the vineyards to the Benedictine Monastery on the hill above the town. The Monastery is about half way up Mt. Hum. It is a peaceful stop for bikers and hikers making the trek to the top. We wandered back to town, for a swim and a coffee on a small pebbled beach before heading back to the boat.