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Dalmatian Coast & Islands (Split to Islands to Dubrovnik) - Help!

Dalmatian Coast & Islands (Split to Islands to Dubrovnik) - Help!

Old Jun 23rd, 2012, 04:54 AM
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Dalmatian Coast & Islands (Split to Islands to Dubrovnik) - Help!

We're headed to Croatia to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday in early Sept - once our family has arrived from around the world we'll be 7 adults and 1 toddler. I'm the lucky one doing the trip planning and logistics!

My parents have already been to Northern Croatia (the Istrian Peninsula, Plitvices, etc.), so they will meet the rest of us in Split to tour the Dalmatian Coast before we all fly out of Dubrovnik about 1 week later. Besides my parents and our toddler, the majority of our group is in our mid-30s. We like swimming/sunbathing, kayaking/hiking/bicycling, markets and local shops, and yummy seafood...and we'd like to avoid rowdy party scenes.

Here's what I'm thinking (Hvar dates based on Jadrolinija car ferry schedule):
Fri, Aug 31 - Split
Sat, Sept 1 - 7:30am car ferry to Hvar for 3 nights
Tues, Sept 4 - 9:45am car ferry to Dubrovnik (return car)
Wed, Sept 5-6: we've got people flying out starting the afternoon of Sept 5.

Questions:
1) Hvar vs Korcula for our group? It sounds like Hvar has more going on (tour the town, day trip to Pakleni Islands, explore beaches on the island...) and therefore might be a better fit. Or we could do both (2 nights on Hvar, then 1 on Korcula)...we're all light packers, but it's still a pain to pack and move, so I want to make sure it's worthwhile.
2) Take our car? Dropping it off in Split means we save on rental fees and it allows us to take the more frequent/faster/cheaper catamarans, however it seems like it'll be worth it to have the car given the number of people in our group (esp w/the toddler's nap schedule), the ability to load up on food in Split, and in case we want to tour the island. Thoughts?
3) Assuming we only stay in Hvar and keep the car, should we ferry back to Split and drive the coast (maybe a pit stop in Brela) or should we ferry from Hvar to Dubrovnik? Seems like we should drive the coast to take advantage of having the car in this scenario.

I'd appreciate any suggestions...this is by far the most time-consuming trip I've ever had to plan!!
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Old Jun 23rd, 2012, 12:08 PM
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Arg, after reading more, now I'm thinking it makes more sense to stay in Korcula. People can day trip into Hvar on the 6am-5:05pm catamaran if they'd like to see Hvar and it seems more relaxing. While I keep thinking on #1, any advice on the car for questions #2 & #3?

If we were only 2 people and no baby, I'd leave the car and take the catamaran. But with 7 adults and a baby, it seems like it's worth the hassle just so we can easily stick together and have flexibility...
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Old Jun 25th, 2012, 03:38 AM
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As an antidote to Dubrovnik I preferred Hvar to Korcula - they are both lovely, and arguably Korcula is prettier, but Korcula is a small walled town, like a mini Dubrovnik. Hvar has a very different buzz about it and I think is a nice contrast. Both are good options though.
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Old Jun 25th, 2012, 09:15 AM
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I wouldn't skip Korcula. It was one of my favorite places in Croatia (along with Dubrovnik and Rovinj). It is a small walled town but very different than Dubrovnik.
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Old Jun 27th, 2012, 04:53 AM
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So one vote for each... It may just come down to where we can find lodging (I'd rather not leave it to figure out there with such a large group) and the car ferry schedules.

I'm seeing a Tues & Sat car ferry to Hvar/Korcula on Jadrolinija's website. That's very limiting and doesn't quite fit out schedule (only 1-2 nights on the islands works better for us). I found a schedule on an unofficial site showing daily car ferries to Hvar during our trip (early Sept). The southern land route to Korcula is probably going to be too much for our group.

Would still love to hear any other input on the islands for our group, car and car ferries, and the route to DBV. Thanks!
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Old Jun 27th, 2012, 05:30 AM
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I didn't much care for Hvar. Too many over-the-top floating penthouses and "beautiful" people. But I haven't been to Korcula.

I would also urge you to consult the cruise ship schedules for Dubrovnik before fixing your dates, or you may find you're sharing it with 8,000 cruisers. http://www.portdubrovnik.hr/girica1.php
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Old Jun 27th, 2012, 09:58 AM
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There are car ferries from Korcula to Orebic on the Peljesac peninsula. Is that the southern land route you're talking about?

With so large a group maybe just stick to Plan A, Hvar. There should be more bigger hotels on Hvar. That's the Jadrolinja ferry south on Tuesday?

There's another car ferry from the south end of Hvar to Drvenik, about halfway between Split and Dubrovnik. It runs frequently so would offer more alternatives.
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Old Jun 27th, 2012, 07:29 PM
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I thought Hvar Town beautiful - but I wasn't interested in staying in a resort town, so I spent only a few hours there. And that means I can't really tell you much about it, except it was lovely and was glad I made a choice to stay elsewhere.

Instead, I stayed on Hvar in Stari Grad, which I really enjoyed, but from what you say, I think you and your family would find the town itself it too far off the beaten track. There are some resort hotels there, though, so you might want to check them out.

I also spent a day and night in Korcula Town, which I loved. Again, I'm not sure it would meet your interests. If you do choose Korcula, try to be there on an evening when the moresca is performed.

I tried to respond to your post on ferry schedules a few nights ago and have NO idea why I don't see my answer there. My experience with the Jadrolinia ferry schedule was that you need to check EVERY link and look for EVERY ferry destination on each island by the city/town name, not the island name (so, for example, look for both Hvar and Stari Grad for Hvar Island). AND pay very careful attention to the dates, as the difference between high and low season schedules is dramatic. I would NOT count on ferry schedules listed elsewhere unless you can confirm them with the ferry operators - from my research, some websites hadn't been updated in years.

Good luck!
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Old Jun 27th, 2012, 08:24 PM
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I enjoyed both of the islands. The main towns are busy and fun to explore, however there are additional towns on the islands which are less hectic. I don't think you would be disappointed with either.

Not sure what you meant by loading up on food in Split, as both islands have plenty of small markets and restaurants.
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 03:01 AM
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Thanks, thursdaysd - If we end up in Hvar then maybe we'll stay in a different town to avoid the party scene. As for DBV, unfortunately there will be TONS of cruise ship folks out the same days we're there (9/4-6). There's not much we can do about it though because we all fly out on 9/5 & 9/6. Oh well...one can only plan so much!

mimar - yes, the southern route I'm talking about to Korcula is through the Peljesac peninsula, which wouldn't be that convenient for us. Also, per the Rick Steves' guide, the roads aren't great and my sister gets terrible car sickness.

Kja - someone managed to get me links from the official Jadrolinija that show car ferries to/from Split-Hvar every day, but thanks for trying! I still don't see them on the site, but at least I know it's not just twice per week.

dmelo1 - a friend said groceries seemed to cost twice as much on Hvar than in Split, so they were really happy to have brought stuff with them in the car. I'd imagine it'll add up for our group (esp if we end up in Hvar Town), so that's why we planned to stock up a bit on snacks and drinks.

ALL - thanks so much for your input so far! I was concerned about going to Hvar and not staying in Hvar town, but it sounds like other towns might work out just fine. As for Korcula, it just seems hard to get to (esp from the north)...but I'll keep studying the ferry schedules and looking into accommodations for Hvar, Korcula, and also Vis.

So did anyone take a car and regret having it there? From reading trip reports, those who take theirs seem to be glad to have had them.

Also, did anyone do the coastal drive from Split to Dubrovnik? I'm thinking we'll do that instead of messing with the ferry to get there from the islands.
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 04:51 AM
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I loved Hvar Town but I definitely would not want to be there in July or August.. I was there earlier this month and it was not that crowded. I stayed at a wonderful place outside the main area called Apartments Komazin and I think they have parking. Here is their website if you want to check them out.
http://croatia-hvar-apartments.com/
It is an excellent place for families, there was a huge one from Norway staying there when I was there.

I did wish I had a car there! Next time.

There was a grocery store close by and the groceries were not expensive.

As for Dubrovnik the best thing to do to get out of the crowds is to climb up the stairs...
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 06:53 AM
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I think by skipping all islands you're cheating yourselves.

Let me expand on my previous reply. There's a several-times-a-day ferry from Sucuraj at the south end of Hvar to Drvenik on the coast. That would cut a lot of time off the drive from Split to Dubrovnik. However the road to Sucaraj is said to be bad.

About the drive from Korcula to Orebic and then Dubrovnik, if you're foodies, then a stop for wine and oysters on the Peljasac peninsula might break up the drive. Although it's only about 2.5 hours.
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 11:25 PM
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Thanks rialtogrl for helping to solidify the decision to take the cars!

Thanks Mimar for the input on the Peljasac Peninsula drive. We are foodies and love oysters...so I'm more OK doing that drive instead of the direct ferry to Dubrovnik and instead of going back to Split for the coastal drive.
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 02:30 PM
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If you're foodies, have you seen Anthony Bourdaine's show on Croatia, specifically the Dalmatian coast? It's worth seeking out. He loved the place
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Old Jul 14th, 2012, 12:21 AM
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I'm sometimes disappointed with his show if it's a city I know well, however I've heard his Croatia is fun to watch so I'll check it out. Thanks!
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