A COMPLETE GUIDE TO BEACHES, RESTAURANTS + THINGS TO SEE AND DO
I debated writing this story as I really didn’t want any more people to go to the island I have been taking my annual summer vacation for the last 14 years and yet all my squirreling away was foiled with the release of Mamma Mia 2. Even though the island portrayed in the movie pretends to be set in Greece, it is really the island of Vis, a place far away from mainland Croatia in the indigo of the Adriatic sea scented by pine and wild flowering herbs. So how could anyone have kept something so magical a secret for so long?
Exploring a monastery in Thomas Puttick
Even though it was under siege throughout history, the 20th century saw the Yugoslav army seal the island off to expand the military bases so it sank into obscurity for decades. Yet even with the fall of Yugoslavia, tourist invasion never came due to distance, as people tend to seek immediate gratification or flashier, more obvious islands.
Catching up on books at Srebrna beach in Zimmermann
There are two harbour towns on the island. Vis town is the main port but do stay a 20 minute walk away in Kut, a 16th century stone cobbled hamlet where flowering capers climb walls, grandmas sell wine out of their basement and kids run the streets unsupervised. It’s as Adriatic as it used to be yet trendy restaurants and bars now dot the streets too. On the other side of the island there is Komiza, an old fisherman town where men still repair their nets by hand, streets drop off into the ocean and sunset swims are a must. The rest of the island is dotted with tiny villages, vineyards and beautiful little coves. Choose to stay somewhere central for convenience or secluded for privacy but do book soon as accommodation on the island is scarce, often booking out a whole year in advance. Try Airbnb for some incredible holiday rentals or a boutique hotel like San Giorgio.
Village lunching in a Matin Studio dress
Take a speedboat or sailboat around the island starting with a skip to the islet of Biševo to see the Blue Grotto, then continue on to the majestic beach of Stiniva, followed by a visit to the Green Cave and lunch on the islet of Budikovac. Alternatively, hire a scooter and head into the green inner belly for a vineyard hop and beach cove discovery. There is also a tour of the abandoned military complex tunnels available for the adventurous.
Swimming in a Massimo Dutti shirt, Matteau swim bikini and White Story shorts
In Vis, Pojoda serves old school specialties, Villa Kaliopa is set in a beautiful garden, Konoba Lola has cocktails, a pretty yard and modernised favourites, Buffet Vis is all about the freshest seafood in an simple setting and Karijola is a pizza night favourite.In Komiza, Jastozeria had a famous scene in Mamma Mia and that said table now has a special plaque but the lobster dishes haven’t changed. Konoba Bako is perfect for date night, so make sure you book a seaside table in advance and visit just before sunset. Restaurant Hum has yummy favourites and Fabrika is great for a burger or breakfast.
If you are inland or at the coves visit Gušti Poja, Aerodrom Gostionica, Roki’s Tavern Peruka at Stiniva, Konoba Senko, the restaurant on Budikovac and Stončica for lunch. Make sure you order ahead and do try the peka, lamb or octopus slow cooked under an iron bell inside a fire oven.
Dinner at the table featured in the movie wearing Zimmermann and Stuart Weitzman
DRINK: Vis isn’t much of a party island like it’s flashier cousins but it does have some fun. My favourite is Lambik bar for a relaxed evening drink, or head to the centuries old Fort George for a late night DJ boosted boogie. Komiza sometimes has parties at Kamenica beach but I prefer to sample the unique native plavac mali red from the many wine bars and konobas instead
This story appeared on Vogue.com.au here!