The Coastal Route
After Leg 5 of our Croatian Road Trip, we were supposed to switch to public transportation. The plan was to drive along the coast and explore Paklinica & Krka National Parks, then return the car at the Split airport before taking a bus the rest of the way down the Dalmatian coast to Dubrovnik. That plan changed when we saw the road wind along the base of the Dinaric Alps as they dropped into the Adriatic Sea when we left Krk Island. How could we pass up the chance to drive the entire length of a coastline like that? We couldn’t.
Random fortification wall
Makes me wonder what it was like new
He’s in abandoned building heaven
The Million Dollar View
Abandoned children’s resort in the middle of a functioning campground
Trogir – Tvrđava Kamerlengo
Trogir – Tvrđava Kamerlengo
Former palace courtyard
Because we decided to keep the car all the way to Dubrovnik, the options for where to stay after Šibenik opened up and I discovered an area called “The Makarska Riviera”. It is 60 kilometer stretch of coastline in central Dalmatia around the town of Makarska. The slender region is cut off from the rest of the mainland by the Biokovo mountain range (part of the Dinaric Alps) and has only one main access road connecting a long string of small towns with populations of 300-1500 people each. Many of the former fishing villages have developed tourism economies where there are up to 4 beds to every inhabitant. The attraction to the area for tourism is obvious…beaches, dramatic landscapes, and fantastic weather. We were there for a full week at the beginning of June, and the average daily temperature was about 75˚F. Perfect for lounging on the beach and swimming in the sea.
We chose to stay in the town of Podgora because we found an amazing seaside apartment. It was within walking distance of several different beaches and any service we needed. I expected we would try out a different beach every day, but we ended up going to the same one for 3 out of our 4 beach days. The reason is that it was in a small secluded bay away from the road with a view of the dramatic coastal landscape and plenty of shade trees.
Nik in the Adriatic
The only excursion we took from Podgora was a trip to Hvar island via the car ferry from Drvenik to Sućuraj. Once on the island, we drove its entire 82 kilometer length to Hvar city with only a few detours along the way. We parked the car in a paid lot on the outskirts of town and walked through the main square to the port. From what I read before the outing, I expected the city to be lavish and glitzy because this is where the rich and famous came to vacation. On the Friday afternoon we were there, it was just like any other small historic coastal Croatian town with a few extra yachts in its harbor.
After lunch, we began the drive back to Sućuraj with the hope of finding a nice secluded beach along the way to spend the afternoon. Our first try near Zaraće didn’t work out because there was no obvious beach and the road to get there was extremely steep and windy. Our second try took us on a meandering route through the towns of Vrbanj, Svirče, Vrisnik, and Pitve before we entered the most bazaar one-way, rough-cut car tunnel there ever was. At the end of the road, we were in the town of Zavala where we parked and walked along a coastal path to the perfect inlet with just enough level beach to spread out two towels. After relaxing in the sun a bit, we took the plunge into the cold water and enjoyed our seclusion. Five minutes later, a family of 5 plopped down to share our tiny beach. I couldn’t blame them. It was perfect.
After about an hour, we were getting tired and we knew the drive back up the hill and through the tunnel wouldn’t be easy, so we packed up, got in the car, and began our return trip to the ferry. Just before we got to the car, it started raining and we were amazed that we timed it perfectly. The steep uphill road was fairly empty, but we did have to play chicken with an oncoming car in the tunnel. That is not an experience I ever want to repeat.
By the time we pulled up to the Sućuraj ferry port 20 minutes before departure, the sky was dark with storm clouds. I ran up to buy our tickets while Nik waited in the car in line. As I got back into the car, the rain and wind picked up and a perfect rainbow formed an arch over the truck in front of us. We sat and watched the lightning and wondered if the boats would still cross in this weather. The answer is yes, but the rain stopped shortly after we boarded and we were able to go up on deck and watch the storm from a distance as the sun set.
Passengers enjoying the view
Goodbye mainland…we’ll be back in a few hours
Where the Dinaric Alps meet the Adriatic
Hvar Island from the south
Farm town on Hvar Island
Abandoned children’s resort pool in Jesla
Rooms of the resort
Blue, Yellow & Red on Stone
Croatia knows how to do boardwalks
Nik chomping on Carob
The listing for our apartment
Our AirBnB Croatia Wish List
Makarska Riviera Beaches
Great Hvar Restaurant: Dalmatino
Croatia Ferries: Drvenik-Sučuraj
Nik’s Blog: Abandoned Hotels and Beach Days in Podgora, Croatia