Looking at a map of Croatia, it’s near impossible to miss the abundance of archipelagos dotted along the coast line. After a few days exploring Split, we knew we wanted to spend the last part of our trip on one of these islands. I’d been reading about Croatia for a little while, and although I’d seen plenty on Hvar, Brac or Vis, I was quite intrigued by the little information on the island of Šolta, considering the proximity to Split. This intrigue swayed our decision, ferries were booked, and Air BnB was scoured for the next leg of our adventure.
GETTING TO ŠOLTA
Being just a 40 minute ferry from Split, this small, wooded island has been a firm favourite for Split residents past and present. The limestone island was once a summer residence of the Emperor Diocletian, whose palace walls we resided in in Split.
We’d been advised to book our ferry tickets online before we left England. We picked a time we thought might be good, booked the tickets and then promptly forgot all about them until the morning we were supposed to head to Solta. Luckily, although you choose a time online you’re not restricted to being on that ferry. As long as you use your ticket on the day, the time of day doesn’t matter. The ferry we were on was pretty empty too, so if you’re going as foot passengers like we were then don’t worry about booking in advance. Just rock up when you’re ready to escape the city and get your ticket.
The ferry from Split to Šolta takes just 40 minutes and costs 33 kuna, about £3. In peak season (July and August) the ferries run 6 times a day. We showed our true Britishness and formed an orderly queue to board the ferry. Locals bustle past eager for island life to begin. Cars, bikes and foot passengers pile on to the little ferry together, with a refreshing lack of healthy and safety! Fresh island supplies and a washing machine were loaded onto the boat and we were ready to go.
Sitting on the top deck, you can’t help but be amazing at the incredible number of varying shades of blue. Cloudless blue skies that are so bold overhead fade out to mountains in the distance. Brilliant blue waters are punctuated with little white boats sailing the Adriatic, and suddenly Split is the city on the horizon
FROM ROGAC TO NEČUJAM
Arriving in Rojac the two island buses were waiting for us. One bus runs west to Maslinica, the other east to Stormorska, and they both run to the timetable of the ferry ensuring you never miss it and it’s always there when it arrives! We hopped on the Stormorska bus and tried to guess when we arrived in Nečujam. The bus from Rogac to Nečujam is one the most picturesque bus journey’s I’ve been on. The winding roads lined with vineyards, olive trees and dry stone walls, lead up to Grohote, the island’s administrative centre, before heading back down hill to some of the most breathtaking scenery of the Adriatic ocean, islands and across to Crotia’s mainland.
On arriving in Nečujam our Air BnB host was waiting for us. She spotted us immediately, bundled our belongings into her car and drove us the two minute journey back to her home.
Our little studio was just as it was on the listing, and our host was wonderful. Lunch had been prepared for us and was on the table when we walked in. There was water cooling in the fridge along with some homemade wine from the nearby vineyard her father worked at. This warm welcome really encapsulated how friendly the people of this island are.
Tomatoes, lemons and limes grew along the pathways of our Air BnB, with kiwis and grapes hanging overhead. A sheltered outside spot was home to a couple of nesting birds and an array of large butterflies. We quickly unpacked and set off to explore the area. We followed dusty paths down to rocky coves, caught a glimpse of a rather bemused nudist who thought he’d bagged the best secluded bay in the area, and watched boats sail around the island.
Our days on Solta were fairly lazy. I spent the majority of my time with Tess and Gabriel Oak, interrupting their frustrating interactions only with a dip in the sea from out private beach to spy on the Croatian sea life, or for a stroll to bakery. (Note: sea cucumbers and anemones are not my friends, but Croatian pastries definitely are – sorry waistline!)
Despite wanting a few days of relaxations, I tend to get a little fidgety if I’m lying still for too long. So although our island days were lazy, we did try to get a little walk in each day, before lounging in the sun. We attempted to walk to the neighbouring town of Stormorska after spotting a cycle path on a map left in our apartment. Off we set up hill out of the village with images of a flat, pine tree lined dusty trail ahead of us – we couldn’t have been more wrong. The crumpled geology of the island meant that we spent a lot of time walking up hill, and just as you reached the summit there would be another hill waiting. We kept climbing the rocky trail for a couple of hours, but in 34ºC heat and with no shelter, it certainly wasn’t ideal. After eyeing up another hill, and drinking all of our water, we decided to ditch our attempt to explore Stormorska and headed back to Nečujam to cool down in the sea – at least we tried.
We also had a failed attempted to visit the town of Maslinica on the opposite side of the island, but after talking to our Air BnB host, we realised the bus routes we’d mapped out weren’t quite as simple as we’d thought! She did offer to drive us to the Maslinica bus if we wanted, but we felt bad for the last minute change of plan to her day, so we decided to spend the day exploring the coves around Nečujam instead. We followed more dusty trails past the beach, yachts moored in the bay, little fishermen’s shack until we found a secluded spot shaded by pine trees and spent the morning snorkelling.
I don’t know why there is so little written about Solta. In Nečujam alone there are stories of Croatian poets and the Emperor Diocletian’s fisheries. It’s an island with incredible local produce, with winemaking, olive growers and bee keepers at the heart of the communities. Plus, it is insanely beautiful. I’ll definitely be heading back to Solta at some point, but next time I’ll be hiring a moped!