Vis Island - Travel Guide

Vis Island - Travel Guide

Formerly known as a military island, Vis has now become a perfect getaway where the time has stopped. Stone houses, exteriors reflecting different parts of Vis history, charming streets, caves, and pebble beaches make a stunning escape destination, especially for couples searching for some quality time together.

Vis island is located far out in open waters. If you don't own a boat, you can go to Vis by ferry or catamaran from Split. Outside the summer season, Vis has only around 5,000 inhabitants who take pride in 77 kilometers of pristine coastline and a relaxed lifestyle emphasising quality of life and its beauty.

 

About the Mysterious Vis Island

About the Mysterious Vis Island

Intact nature and the simplicity of living are the main features of Vis. It’s peaceful and calm, even during the busy summer season, attracting those who want to relax to the max. That is the consequence of the long period of isolation due to its military purpose.

Vis has two great bays wedged deep into the island's contours - one on the North (St. Juraj Port) and one on the West (Komiža Bay). The majority of the island is made of limestone and dolomites, with some Triassic and volcanic rocks. The average annual temperature is 16°C, ideal for everyone who loves mild winters and warm summers.

Palm trees, orange and citrus trees, oleanders, aloe, prickly pears, and other subtropical crops thriving in this climate fill the air with unique scents. At the same time, pleasant water temperature offers refreshment on numerous well-maintained beaches.

History of Vis

History of Vis

The amazing geolocation of Vis has attracted many people over the years. Fertile fields and plenty of fish and marine life made Vis a melting pot from the early Stone Age. Different people with various cultural backgrounds heavily influenced Vis as we know it today, and you can see fragments of its rich history around every corner.

One of the first ones to inhabit Vis were Illyrians, led by the famous ruler Jonije. During the Greek times, Vis was a colony named Issa and shortly became an independent city (so-called polis), had its own money, and did business all over the Mediterranean. The hottest commodity from Vis was wine, and this tradition has continued even today. You won't be short of a nice glass of wine while on Vis.

Vis lost its independence during Roman rule, but it was still flourishing in economy and culture. Croats populated Vis in the seventh century when they quickly developed their maritime skills and crop cultivation.

Since then, Vis was conquered and ruled by the Venetians, Austrian, Frenchmen, Italy, and Yugoslavia. For a long time, it was used as a military base. The army abandoned it in May 1992, which opened new opportunities and brought prosperity to people living on Vis.

Top Locations on Vis

Town of Vis

Top Locations on Vis

Vis is situated in the bay on the North-Eastern part of the island. Stone monuments and houses tell stories about thousands of years, with a touch of Mediterranean charm and stress-free living. 

The remains of a theater built into the foundations of the Franciscan monastery, antique therms or the Hellenistic cemetery, Hellenistic gravestones, palace of the poet Petar Hektorović, Prdvarics palace and Gazarovics palace, the pre-Romanic Church of St. Jurje, the list of curiosities goes on and on.

Summer cinema Hrid is a fantastic day to unwind, which can be followed by traditional Croatian cuisine in one of the ten restaurants. Freshly caught fish and seafood, local produce, exquisite wines, and amazing sea view make the dream night that much better.

Komiža

Komiža

The small fishing town of Komiža is one of the warmest places in Croatia during the winter. Its archipelago is made of some of the farthest small islands in the Adriatic Sea - Biševo, Palagruža, St. Andrija, Jabuka, and Brusnik.

Fifteen beaches give you plenty of choices for spending a day bathing and getting some tan. Still, if you want some action while on holiday, you can try out diving, speleology, or parasailing.

After the long day, we recommend fueling up with Komiška pogača, a traditional dish made with yeast dough and filled with onions, tomato, spices, and salted anchovies.

Jabuka Islet

Jabuka Islet

Jabuka (eng. Apple) is an uninhabited volcanic island with a crazy effect on the compass. Due to the magnetite found in the black volcanic rocks on Jabuka, the magnetic needle in the compass becomes utterly useless in the proximity of Jabuka.

The sea surrounding this islet is very deep (260 meters), with strong winds blowing almost constantly. It isn't easy to approach, so only skilled sailors can cast anchor on Jabuka. It's also a home to endemic species of black lizard (Podarcis melisellensis pomoensis) and two types of Centaurea (Centaurea jabukensis and Centaurea crithmifolia).

The islet was declared a geological nature monument in 1958, and it's 97 meters high.

Palagruža

Palagruža

Palagruža archipelago is a group of islets and cliffs with an arid climate, resulting in a specific type of vegetation. There are around 200 endemic plant species and approximately 120 animal species that evolved to prosper in this type of surroundings.

Due to the tremendous force of the waves in this area, the docking pier has never survived long enough, so even today, people use one of two beaches to disembark. The Northern side of the island hides caves that were the shelter for the Mediterranean monk seal. Unfortunately, the last one was seen in the late 60s and early 70s of the 20th century.

One of the first attempts to use olive oil as fuel for the lights of the sailing ships was made right in Palagruža. 

Stiniva Beach

Stiniva Beach

In 2016, Stiniva won the title of the most beautiful beach in Europe. The bay was designed during the ice age, but today attracts tourists with crystal clear sea and impressive cliffs in the background.

The beach can be accessed by the sea or by the land, coming down by a steep dirt trail, which isn't suitable for kids under the age of seven. Going down the trail can take over 20 minutes, and it's advised that you do it in good shoes such as sneakers. We know that sneakers aren't really summer shoes, but safety first! Once you reach this heaven on earth, you'll forget all about the shoes and the trail.

This charming beach also features a small beach bar.

Underwater Treasures of Vis

Vis is THE place to go for diving enthusiasts, thanks to the various attractions in a fairly small area. The clear sea, countless reefs, amazing wrecks of iron ships, warships, and even aircrafts combined with colorful marine life provide visitors with experiences to remember.

The Steamers’ Wrecks

The Steamers’ Wrecks

Steamers Teti, Vassilios T., Brig, Ursus tug, Tulsamerican B-24 Liberator, Fortunal fishing boat… The wrecks of all these vessels (+ more) can be found around Vis island. The stories behind these ruins are very different. However, they still attract the attention and admiration of numerous divers from all over the world.

For example, the Italian cargo steamer Teti was built in America in 1883, and after thousands of miles, the wind and waves stranded it near the Little Barjak islet on 23 May 1930. The fishermen from Komiža managed to save the crew, but Teti stayed forever on the Adriatic bottom.

Located at a depth of between 42 and 55 meters, the Ursus tug tells a story from 1941. It went on a trip from Zadar to Albania with an armed pontoon GM 239. Just one day after its departure, it stumbled across the British submarine-minelayer Rorqual. The submarine started with the open fire from the cannon, which was the end of Ursus.

Waters surrounding Vis are full of these stories, waiting for you to discover them!

Cape Stupišće

‍Cape Stupišće

Outer Reef of Cape Stupišće

This is actually a peak of the underwater reef with a round cluster of great stones that you can see from the surface. The depth goes from six to 35 meters, and from the 15th meter, you can see red gorgonias soft corals. By diving deeper, the sea reveals a whole new world of species, including big yellowbelly rock cod and soft pink colored swallowtail sea perch.

Inner Reef of Cape Stupišće

This cluster of big rocks covered with Mediterranean tapeweed may seem uninteresting at first, but just a few meters down, the marine life shows its full beauty. The Salema porgy, the common two-banded seabream, the greater amberjack, Peter's Fish, the yellowbelly rock cod, the spiny lobster, and the yellow tube sponge will be your companions if you decide to take a dive.

Volići Islets

Just one kilometer from the Vis town bay, hide Volići islets. It's a part of a large submarine reef that steeply reaches a depth of 50 meters. The reef is full of life, and the main inhabitants are pink swallowtail sea perch, Peter's fish, scorpionfish, the forkbeard, and the grouper. You can also see some Mediterranean morays or Mediterranean lobsters peeking through the cracks.

Green Cave

Green Cave Croatia

The Green Cave is often considered one of the most beautiful half-submerged caves in the Adriatic Sea. Since the opening is relatively big, you can easily enter it with a small boat, but diving in is a much better adventure. The cave got its name from the breathtaking green glint reflecting from the light sand bottom.

Blue Cave

Blue Cave

We saved the best for last.

The pearl of the Adriatic and definitely the most popular place for tourists is the Blue Cave. The entry to the cave was done manually in 1884, on a proposal from the baron Eugen von Ransonnet. It's accessible only with a small boat and a few people at a time. The entrance is only 1.5 meters high and 2.4 meters wide, while the whole cave is 10-12 meters wide and 24 meters long.

Although the cave technically belongs to Biševo island, Biševo is part of the Vis archipelago, making it an inevitable attraction for everybody visiting Vis.

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