Sunday, 13 October 2019

Kabal Peninsula, a Natural Hvar Paradise with Surprises above Stari Grad

October 13, 2019 - What exactly lies on the Kabal Peninsula above Stari Grad on the island of Hvar?

It is one of the most photogenic - and deserted - parts of the island of Hvar, voted last week at the best island in Europe by readers of Conde Nast. The lead photo above is one of my favourite of Hvar, taken by Mario Romulic and depicting a sleepy turtle watching a speedboat pass by.  

But for all its beauty from the air, not many people visit the Kabal Peninsula, which juts out into the Adriatic above Stari Grad on the north of the island. One reason, perhaps, for the lack of visitors is that there is also very little information about the peninsula. What exactly is there?

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As you can see from the aerial shots, the Kabal Peninsula is a green paradise, largely undeveloped and uninhabited. Indeed, there are only two villages, Mala Rudina and Velika Rudina, and Mala only has a full-time population of two! The peninsula enjoys a protected status, so there are unlikely more villages being built in the future, although there is a slightly different story on the coastline. 

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But while the Kabal Peninsula may look as though is it merely untouched nature, it does have a couple of interesting things to see. Did you know, for example, that at the very tip of the peninsula and at the entrance to the Stari Grad bay, Tito built some bunkers to protect the island from attack?

You can see them clearly from the ferry as you are entering the Stari Grad bay if you know where to look (on the left hand side of the bay as you enter), but if you want to explore them physically, a drive the length of the peninsula is called for. The road is not asphalt, but it is fine for a regular car, and about 12 km in distance from the Rudine villages. 

Take a tour in the video above. And a little tip - you can see some of the best sunsets on the island from the bunkers. A fun and alternative way to experience the considerable beauty of the island. 

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There may not be many villages on the Kabal Peninsula, but there are plenty of bays. And where you find an isolated bay in Croatia, you often find a house. And sometimes with a celebrity inside... Here is Goran Visnjic a few years ago boarding a seaplane in Jelsa after a visit to his waterfront house on the Kabal Peninsula. 

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Mala Rudina is tiny, but it is one of the prettiest settlements in Dalmatia, and it has been included in various projects with EU funding along with other eco-ethno villages on Hvar - Humac, Velo Grablje and Malo Grablje. Check out the video below. 

The area around Mala Rudina underwent a huge change about 15 years ago, when construction of a new villas project began. Eleven luxury villas, whose area was bigger than the village itself. 

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Paperwork issues meant that the project stopped shortly before completion in around 2005. And there the project lay, rotting, for more than a decade. 

Things changed this year, as a Czech company took over the project and managed to resolve the paperwork issues and complete the project. The villas finally opened for renting in August this year, some 15 years after construction began. You can take a tour from my summer visit here.  

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Velika Rudina, a much bigger settlement, is my favourite living village on Hvar. it is also a little different to the rest and is also known locally as 'Little Bosnia.' There is a small historic centre, but the village has expanded in various directions, and there is a great sense of community. Unlike most villages on the island, Velika Rudina does not have a historical tie with a bigger settlement - Vrisnik with Humac, Pitve with Zavala, Svirce with Ivan Dolac - and its population reflects that. 

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And if you are looking to swim in Stari Grad, the bay of Zukova is less than two kilometres away by car and a short walk from Velika Rudina. A gorgeous spot for a family day at the beach. Zukova is one of many bays on the peninsula, some much wilder than others. The majority are deserted, even in the season.  

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The biggest change to the peninsula planned is in Brizenica Bay, one of the many beautiful bays on Kabal, and very close to Stari Grad. The first Four Seasons resort in Croatia was due to open this year, a 140 million euro investment of luxury hotel and villas, which would raise the level of hospitality in the region. At time of writing, the project is inching forward, but a full building permit has yet to be issued. If constructed, the project will change the local landscape permanently, with some welcoming the development and others opposed. Time will tell is Croatian bureaucracy is the final arbitrator. 

The Kabal Peninsula plays an important role in the most challenging sporting race of the Hvar calendar, the annual Faros Marathon. Now in its 44th year, the Faros Marathon is a 16-kilometre open sea swim, which attracts some of the top names in international swimming, including Olympic medal winners. The race, which takes place in late August/early September starts and finishes in the harbour of Stari Grad, and the athletes swim the length of the Kabal Peninsula to its very tip 8 km from the town, before turning round and returning to the finish line in Stari Grad. 

Want to learn more about Stari Grad and surrounding area? Here are 25 things to know

Monday, 21 August 2017

Big Fire on Hvar: 30 Firefighters on Ground, Air Support Hopefully Arriving Soon

Yet another wildfire in Dalmatia this morning. 

Monday, 23 March 2015

Žukova

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