Anyone who’s been to Croatia will tell you a visit to one of the many islands is essential. Luckily, no matter how long your trip is you can easily visit one or more islands from the mainland in just a day. One popular day trip takes you from the mainland to see one of Croatia’s most famous islands – Hvar. Here’s what you can expect from a full day boat trip to Hvar from Split.
Which Boat Trip from Split Should I Choose?
Deciding boat trip package from Split is right for you is a toughie. Do you want to splurge a little to cram in as much as possible? Or would you rather have more quality time in just one or two stops?
We looked at multiple options before settling on our choice. We factored in the key things we wanted to see, budget, timeframe, and tour style.
Before choosing to take a day trip from Split to Hvar, we looked at multiple options to get a full picture of what would be possible.
What do you want to see on your day trip?
We made a list of the key things we wanted to see on our boat trip from Split:
- Hvar Old Town
- Pakleni Islands
- Golden Horn
- Blue Cave
When we eventually settled on just a 1 day boat trip to the islands, we realised that not everything could be seen in one day. We wanted to travel slower and reap the benefits of a more relaxed itinerary to mirror our style of the other 4 days we spent in Split.
Our decision to take a day trip rather than overnight boat trip meant cutting out some sights. We really hoped to see the Golden Horn on Brac island, but had to sacrifice this for other priorities.
We reasoned our choice but knowing that if (and when!) we return to Croatia, we could dedicate a whole trip to just the islands and hopping between them. For now, this would be just a sample to enjoy the highlights of the nearby islands from Split.
What kind of trip should I choose?
If you’re planning a full day trip to Hvar, it might be worth first considering the type of outing you want.
During our research, we noticed the following types of boat trips available:
- Party tours: Lots of drinking, rowdy behaviour and pumping music. The free booze on board will be in high demand.
- Educational tours: There might be a walking tour scheduled and the day is likely to be highly organised to fit in lots of key attractions. There could be a guide and flexibility/freedom might be limited.
- Outdoorsy tours: There’ll likely be an emphasis on stops on the boat that include swim and snorkel spots. They might also include adrenaline tours such as high speed boat rides.
- Bit of everything tours: This is what we ended up with. These tours are mostly to get you from A to B and give you some helpful ideas, free food, and a good time.
The type of boat trip tour you choose might determine the personalities you encounter. You’ll want to feel comfortable and relaxed on your trip, so do think about the vibe and style you’re going for when choosing a boat trip.
How much does a full day boat trip to Hvar cost?
Our full day boat trip to Hvar from Split cost £77 per person. This includes food, unlimited drinks, and the boat trip itself.
Other expenses when arriving in Hvar are up to you.
Hvar is known for being an expensive destination, so we opted to simply buy a nice drink and an ice cream. Other tours may offer a guided walk around the Old Town of Hvar, or even include entry to Tvrdava Fortica (Spanish Fortress). Of course, this will increase the cost of your day trip significantly. If you opt for a more affordable boat trip to Hvar from Split, you can always add on additional activities of your choosing.
Our token drink and snack cost us £10, so our total cost for the day came to £164 for two people. A pretty reasonable cost considering the extortionate prices we could have paid!
How long is a boat tour?
A full day boat tour will be around 8 hours in total. We departed from Split at 9am (but arrived at 8.30am) and were back around 5pm. This included cruise time (around 2 hours to and from Hvar island), stops, and free time in Hvar.
You can choose overnight tours or longer, but usually the trips won’t be less than 1/2 a day in order to actually get to and from the islands.
The day trip from Split to Hvar we chose:
After much deliberation, the boat trip we choose was booked through Viator with Summer Blues Excursions and offered a full day catamaran cruise to Hvar and the Pakleni Islands. The tour cost us £77 per person.
Other tours we considered (price comparison at time of visit – September 2019):
- Boat Trip: Hvar, the bays of Pakleni Islands & Bra? from Split – £157
- Blue Lagoon and 3 Islands Tour from Trogir or Split – £149
- Blue Lagoon/Trogir/Šolta Boat Excursion with Lunch – £90
- Hvar 5 Islands and Blue Cave Tour from Trogir and Split – £205
Why did we choose this boat trip to Hvar?
Firstly, it was the most affordable! As mentioned, Hvar is expensive and we knew that if there were attractions we wanted to see or maybe a bigger bite to eat we’d be coughing up more money. Luckily, we chose to not tour inside any attractions but to admire them from afar. Also, the food served on board the boat was plenty for us!
Note that prices will vary dramatically depending on the season. We went at the end of summer not long before tours end for the year but still paid a rather premium price. Looking at the cost for tours at the start of the season in May the cost is much lower.
Secondly, we wanted a catamaran boat trip. In past experience, catamarans are much more comfortable in rough weather. Not taking any chances, we thought it would be sensible to give ourselves the smoothest experience possible. Other boat options included speedboats and sailboats, which also looked comfortable.
Flexibility & Reliability
We also took into consideration the booking site and benefits. Viator is a trusted booking site that we recognised and felt assured we wouldn’t be paying for anything dodgy! The added peace of mind provided by free cancellation also helped us confirm the day trip and continue researching if we wanted. On the Viator site we also trawled through the many reviews to check it was up to our standard and would meet our needs. With a 4.5/5 star rating we were satisfied this would be a good choice!
Another factor we considered was the vegetarian food options. A lot of the reviews for these tours comment on the nosh provided! We noticed a lot of the meals appeared to be the same (simple salad and sandwiches), which was totally fine by us. However, a few reviews also highlighted that dietary requirements weren’t met. We eat a vegetarian diet, so it was important to us that we wouldn’t be going hungry, least of all for such a high-cost outing. Seeing that we could request a veggie meal on this boat trip was another tick on our list.
I mentioned earlier about the kind of trip you’re looking for. It mattered to us that we wouldn’t feel like the sad sack oldies with a bunch of gap year kids, nor would we be the younguns with an outing full of OAPs. We meticulously analysed reviews, images, and the description to check the atmosphere would suit our vibes.
Lastly, we were on a tight 10 day itinerary during our time in Croatia. Although we were fairly flexible, we’d had an ideal date in mind for our day trip to Hvar. Looking at the day of departure and availability, we saw that several excursions are not available on a Sunday. This was a bit of a bummer, but at least it narrowed down and confirmed which one to choose!
Remember when you select the date of your day trip to consider the seasonal factors. Some boat trips run less frquently in the off-peak months, and you might need to adjust your plans accordingly. Similarly, no one can control the weather! We purposefully tried to choose a day when the weather forecast looked pleasant. Of course, you can’t do this too far in advance. If bright sunshine is important to you take a look at the contingency plans with your tour operator for rescheduling.
What to expect from a full day tour to Hvar from Split
The food you’ll receive on a boat trip tour to Hvar will probably be fairly simple. The staff have to cater for up to 100 people, so don’t expect 5 star cuisine!
We requested vegetarian meals ahead of arriving, and double checked this was received when we boarded. If you have any dietary requirements definitely be sure to check before you depart, and even bring your own small snack. In the unlucky case that they’ve made a mistake with your request, you don’t want to go hungry.
The food we were served was timed well to coincide with rest stops and evenly throughout the day:
- 11am – Baguette with cheese and salad (and sliced meat for meat-eaters)
- 2pm – Caesar Salad box with crutons, cheese, tomatoes (with chicken for meat-eaters)
- 2.30pm – Apple pie & watermelon slices
- All day – Unlimited soft drinks, wines, beers
Yes, there were unlimited drinks!! Some people made more use of this than others. The problem with the drinks on board was that with the movement on the boat we had more than one spillage… Luckily a refill wasn’t hard to come by just as long as you don’t mind smelling of Chardonnay for the rest of the day!
We found the food pretty satisfactory for our needs. It filled us up, tasted good, and didn’t cause any upset stomachs. Even with the rocky cruise back to Split and we were starting to feel the effects of a full day boat tour, I was glad to have only had a light meal that wasn’t sitting badly in my tummy.
One thing to be aware of is that there are only 2 toilets on board. One female, and one male (not that it mattered too much). Thanks to all the free-flowing drinks these were almost always occupied. If you’re the type to suffer from a small bladder, time your drinks well and take a seat near the toilet to keep an eye on the queue!
The Spanish Fortress in Hvar offers incredible views over the harbour and Pakleni Islands. The climb up the stairs from the the Old Town takes around 15 minutes and is pretty steeps, but it’s so worth it!
You can pay 40hrk to enter the fortress. However, most would agree the main appeal is the view which doesn’t require an entry fee. If you do choose to pay the entry fee, there is a small museum and cafe as well as seeing the inside of the fortress itself.
Other tourist attractions in Hvar Old Town include a visit to St Stephen’s Cathedral, the monastery, and the clock tower. You could also spend hours winding through the cobbled streets and getting lost in search of the best ice cream and wine bars. That’s what we did at least!
You can go in search of delicious (but at times overpriced) food, or pick up a lavender souvenir in recognition of the lavender fields on the island.
There are a few museums and paid entry attractions in Hvar, but it’s mostly known for being a very laid back, relaxed place to simply enjoy the benefits of island life. If you end up staying on Hvar, you can also enjoy the vibrant nightlife that the island is known for. With more time on the island, it would also be worthwhile to hire a car and explore further inland or visit the main port town of Stari Grad.
Hvar is the sunniest place in Croatia with 2,760 hours of sunshine per year. That’s 115 days! The saying goes “if it rains you get your money back”. And we seriously thought we might be visiting on the unlucky day it did rain! Not this time though, we actually arrived to magically clearer skies than when we left Split… funny that.
However, remember that you’ll be on a boat in the middle of the sea. It won’t always be easy to predict and you might not be so lucky! Much of the cruise time between Split and Hvar was quite windy and at times choppy. Bring some extra layers and even a light rain jacket for the journey.
You should be aware that Hvar is a popular stop for cruise ships. You can’t miss the gigantic ships as you make your way into the port! This will definitely make the Old Town much busier, and you might find it a bit crowded at times.
There are enough alleyways and areas to go that will avoid feeling cramped, so if this is something you’d like to avoid then stay away from the main St Stephen’s Square and the fortress. Also note that as the passengers begin to leave the queue will extend allllll the way along the waterfront, so take your photos early and avoid getting trapped!
On any tour you’ll be travelling alongside strangers for the duration of your trip. With around 100 passengers joining us on the catamaran, we were glad to have arrived much earlier than needed at 8.15am to get a good place in the queue, and subsequently on the boat too.
As the boat was a full capacity trip it did feel busy at times. Lots of people chose to be at the front of the boat to enjoy the (limited) sunshine, but they also had no seat and faced most of the sea spray. We opted for a table at the rear, near the bar and toilets.
As mentioned, the type of people you meet on a boat tour in Croatia will largely depend on your tour type. On our boat tour to Hvar, we encountered a generally relaxed crowd.
There was the odd group of excitable guests (a hen party perhaps) who were embracing the free drinks all day, and good for them. They didn’t bother anyone and the boat was large enough that any loud squeals were drowned out by crashing waves.
Other people on the boat seemed fairly quiet and kept to themselves. Also fair enough! Everyone on our boat was an adult with ages ranging from early 20s way up to 70s. The boat played a mix of music including popular charts hits and old favourites. It seemed that everyone was catered to and satisfied.
We had the pleasure of being seated opposite two delightful Canadian retirees, John and Bev. They were smart, witty, and entertaining as hell. We got along with them and chatting with our neighbouring passengers throughout the day.
They were wonderfully kind to us. We told stories, laughed about travel encounters, and swapped ideas for our continuing travels in Croatia. They travelled as a larger group of friends and boy, do I wish to be them when I’m older! These guys knew how to have fun (they were certainly enjoying the bar!). Their youthful spirit actually made my day so much brighter.
As we came to part ways, they said how in love Kaz and I seemed and oh my I wanted to hug them so bad, they were great. Just goes to show you never know who you’ll meet while travelling, even on a day trip!
Overall, we’re so glad we opted for this boat trip to Hvar. It was so great to sit back and let someone take you from Split to the island and feed you along the way. If we’d gone alone by ferry I’m sure we would have been a lot more stressed out! This way, we got to enjoy the scenery and company with no interruptions.
Do you enjoy day trips? Have you taken a boat trip to Hvar from Split? Was it what you expected? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Need more Croatia inspiration? See what else we did on our 10 day trip in Croatia!
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