Monday, 21 August 2017

The Island of Vis in Croatia: From Isolation to Tourist Destination

Although reaching the island of Vis is a challenge, the nature, colourful Mediterranean streets and squares packed with fish restaurants are worth visiting.

Text by Natasa Radic for Southeast European Times*

As the outmost inhabited island of the Dalmatian archipelago, 45 kilometres from the middle-Dalmatian city Split, Vis is an ideal vacation spot for those who try to avoid crowded, touristy places. The island has preserved its authenticity with its crystal blue sea and beautiful caves.

"Vis is unlike any other Croatian island. It is out of easy reach, but unique. You can still relax during a vacation without having to mingle with a crowd full of tourist expectations," Zagreb resident Ivana Devic, who is planning a Vis vacation, told Southeast European Times.

During World War II, the island was the main hideout of Josip Broz Tito, who would become a leader of the former Yugoslavia.

Before Yugoslavia dissolved, Vis was a forbidden island with a military naval base -- foreign tourists were not allowed. However, the last military submarine left the island in 1989, and Vis became home to private yachts.

Access remains the biggest problem, especially for its 3,500 inhabitants. For those without a boat, the only way to reach Vis is by ferry or hydrofoil. Once on the island, however, the roads are easy to travel.

One of the best-known spots in Vis is Bisevo, an islet near the city of Komiza. The inlet is home to the Blue Cave, dubbed the "gem of the Adriatic", famous for its iridescent reflection of blue and silver shades, a natural phenomenon evoking a fairytale-like atmosphere. The cave is reachable by boat, and visitors can go diving inside.

Croatian diver and apnea world record champion Karla Fabrio is a longtime fan."Vis is beautiful when diving and training, because the underwater scenery is breathtaking. It's my favourite place to combine training and leisure," says Fabrio, who chose the island as the venue for her wedding.

Vis and Komiza -- the two largest villages on opposite ends of the island -- offer a range of hotels and private accommodation. Vis residents are friendly, but speak a dialect of Croatian that even natives from the same-region have a hard time understanding.

So, when you decide to set sail for Vis, here's a tip -- try to communicate with the locals in English; you'll have an easier time.

*This text is courtesy of the Southeast European Times (SET), a web site sponsored by the US Department of Defense in support of UN Resolution 1244, designed to provide an international audience with a portal to a broad range of information about Southeastern Europe. It highlights movement toward greater regional stability and steps governments take toward integration into European institutions. SET also focuses on developments that hinder both terrorist activity and support for terrorism in the region.

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