The Island of Bol
I didn’t expect much in terms of hiking in Croatia. My decision to come to Croatia was based me initially on doing a more relaxing trip as my friend from Germany joined me. As she enjoyed the beach more, we visited the island of Bol. Before that, we spent time roaming the streets of the super touristy city of Split. Split has definitely attracted tons of tourists who go via cruise ships. I was not expecting that much tourism in Croatia so I was a bit taken aback how crowded it got on the streets. Hoards of tourists would come from early morning until early afternoon. It was an interesting phenomenon as someone who was staying in Split for a few nights. The city has interesting architecture, no doubt; but the level of tourism was rather too much that you have to be prepared mentally for how crowded it can get.
Hence, we decided to find a low key place for more nature and beach scenery. Going back to Bol, we decided to visit this island mainly because it was an easy ferry ride away. Croatia is a long narrow country and is dotted with pristine white pebbled beaches all along its coastline. You have to just decide which shoreline town and/or island to visit.
Bol was a pleasant surprise as it is a tiny island with a quaint town. It is a touristy town but nonetheless it is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the sun. My friend and I booked a $25 one bedroom studio apartment via AirBnB. It was such a lovely stay that I even considered staying put here for the remainder of my one year travel and do nothing. However, as expected, the mountains always lured me and I ended up trekking in the Dolomites for the last part of my Europe travels.
In Bol, I managed to hike up its highest peak from which one can see the beautiful coastline and the town below. At the top, there was a restaurant which was under renovation at the time. Of course, people can easily drive up to the summit as there are roads leading up to the peak. The nice thing about hiking in Bol is you can hit the water after the hot hike, that is if you are okay with cold ocean water. And afterwards, there are many places to get decent seafood even if the price is a bit more. Spending two nights in Bol was more than enough. After Bol, we worked our way further north, to Zadar.
Zadar: This city is most definitely less crowded than Split although cruise ship tourists do still manage to come to Zadar, mainly to visit the falls in the Kver National Park. Our plan from Zadar is to spend a day at the falls and the only efficient and cheap way to do this is to sign up for one of the tour buses that will take you there. This can easily be done via any hostels.
Kvar National Park: As I managed to see Juizhaigou in China beforehand, my experience in Kvar wasn’t as great as I would hope for. I still enjoyed hiking within the park and seeing the various waterscapes, however. It was as crowded as Juizhaigou and with the same set up even – easy paths to have you walk through various parts of the park. The only difference is that there is a ferry that connects two areas that you are likely to make use of.
On a side note, I vividly recall my conversation with the driver of our tour bus that day. He is from Zadar who plays drums in a band. He spoke of the economic hardship that the locals were facing and how finding employment in Croatia has been a challenge. He confirmed my suspicion that tourism has now been the major source of jobs for most.