Croatia Island Hopping.....Bol, Brac Island
Island hopping through Croatia is booming so we wanted to see what all the fuss is about by doing our own island hopping with kids!
Fortunately it was everything we had hoped for and after three weeks of backpacking with kids through Croatia I found that Bol on Brac Island was one of our absolute favourite places.
Bol is reknowned for famous Zlatni Rat beach which is a spectacular and unusual horn shaped beach jutting out into the Adriatic. Whilst the beaches are fantastic, Bol has so much more to offer for family travel. The village is chilled and homely, the views are soothing to the soul, there are some great walks and the food is amazing.
How to get to Brac Island
The island of Brac is serviced over the summer by a number of ferry services from both Split in the North and Dubrovnik (Hvar) in the South. For ultimate convenience and cost savings you will want to ensure the ferry stop is at Bol rather than one of the other towns on the island. You can check out jadrolinija.com for the latest timetable to match your travel dates.
We travelled to Bol from Dubrovnik with an overnight stop in Korcula (another Croatia island hopping fav) and the boat ride itself is super enjoyable. Unfortunately, the Croatian ferries don’t have any outside viewing areas but nevertheless the scenery of the Makarska coastline and other nearby islands is really beautiful and well worth the trip itself.
Where to Stay in Bol (Best Family Accommodation)
You really have two options for accommodation styles when visiting Bol. There are a number of fairly expensive resort style hotels which are located on the strip close to Zlatni Rat beach. Whilst their location is fantastic you will be limited to quite small hotel rooms which won’t allow the family to find their own bit of space.
To be completely honest I also found the prices for these hotels to be quite exorbitant for what they actually were. They are not flash by any stretch of the imagination yet are charging five-star luxury prices.
Alternately you can check out the wide array of private holiday rentals through booking.com.
We stayed at Apartments House Durdica and were extremely happy with the place – it receives 9.8 on booking.com reviews and deserves this score.
The apartments are a ten-minute walk up the hill from the centre of town which not only gets you away from any noise at night time but means you have the most amazing views from the two balconies in the apartment.
We stayed in the deluxe apartment which has two upstairs bedrooms and a fully equipped living area downstairs with kitchen, dining table, lounge area and bathroom/laundry.
This place really is perfect for a family visit and at a fraction of the cost for a hotel room down the road. You can check Apartments Durdica - availability and prices here...
Things to do with kids in Bol
To really enjoy Bol it is essential to pack away any expectations that are often associated with travelling with kids. What do I mean by this? There are no ‘amusement’ style entertainment options or ticketed entry into any attractions.
What I love about this is that you can bring your kids to Bol and enjoy some really simple and fun family time together. You really can live like the locals… stroll down and grab a croissant as you head to the beach for the morning, head home for a snooze in the heat of the day, dip back in for another cooling swim in the evening before enjoying a relaxing drink and meal in the evening.
It is a place where time stands still and you stop looking at your watch. You become content with wandering aimlessly to find the best gelati to watch the sunset over Zlatni Rat beach.
My advice for Bol is to arrive, unpack and simply chill out. It is a rare opportunity and place to just BE without worrying about anything.
A relaxing stroll along a paved promenade will take you to the postcard perfect Zlatni Rat beach. Although tourist sites will tell you this is a sandy beach it is very definitely a pebble beach (especially by Australian standards). The white pebbles however are what gives the water its crystal-clear appearance and you will find it difficult to find more perfect waters to swim in.
You can easily spend multiple days swimming and playing at Zlatni Rat however if the winds pick up and start hitting like they did during our stay then you will want to head for the protected and child friendly Borak beach.
We found this to be the best beach for kids as it was sheltered from the swells of passing ferries and boats and once you walked across the pebble at the shoreline you find some lovely sandy parts where the kids could play easily without sandals.
Simply the most pristine and stunning place to test your hand at some of the watersports on offer.
At Borak beach you can have a go at paddle-boarding which is a little harder than it looks but lots of fun with the kids sitting on the front of the board for a ride.
In the far corner of Zlatni Rat you will find a pedal boat hire. Pedal boats in Croatia amp up the fun levels compared to what we have back home as you can pedal out and slide off the attached slippery dip to add to the adventure. Our kids absolutely loved this!
Although our kids were a little small there are also a number of inflatable play areas complete with on-water trampolines, giant slides and balancing beams. Definitely a fun option for older kids and teenagers.
Walks and sightseeing
You don’t need a map or a plan in Bol. Just head off in any direction and you can find interesting walks and places to stop along the way. Head one direction and stumble into the monastery or another direction to follow the beach promenade with all its wonderful photo opportunities.
It was also interesting to take a walk high up in the village and along some of the roads heading out of town to see the mini farms that people have set up in their backyards. On a tiny scale and cared and tended to by hand the simplicity of lifestyle is really interesting and will have you questioning the complexity of life today.
Catch the tourist train
If the kids are a little worn out after a big day at the beach there is a tourist train that runs between Bol village and Zlatni Rat beach. A cheap and entertaining option to get the family back into town and eating ice-creams sooner!
Wander through Bol village
I really loved Bol town itself. It is super cute and pedestrian friendly and spending an hour or so wandering through the little hand-made souvenir shops makes for a pleasant afternoon. There are bright fruit markets to tempt you and lots of other yummy food stops that might entice you along the way as well.
So where should you eat if you come to Bol?
There is a good variety of cheap and easy eats throughout town including some really delicious bakeries. There is a good-sized supermarket right near the port if you want to self-cater – and really, why wouldn’t you if you have an apartment with never ending views over the Sea.
A little out of town but on the street of Apartments Durdica you will find a tiny takeaway pizzeria – simply delicious! No more needs to be said.
Hands down though the best place to head for a nicer meal is the Belvedere Restaurant in town. You can’t miss this place as from the street is completely surrounded by the most beautiful flower boxes. We walked up to check out the menu fully anticipating it would be too fancy to take kids in and were met by a friendly young guy who welcomed us in.
The restaurant is so beautifully designed yet still very homely and the staff were more than friendly and accommodating with the kids. The seats at the front have wonderful sea views but our kids were drawn to the tables next to a huge fish tank which kept them entertained the whole meal.
The food at Belvedere was absolutely fantastic and specialised in wood fired meats and vegetables and healthy, tasty kids’ menu options. We were all super happy with our meals and highly recommend this place for both its food and friendly staff.
So that’s my wrap on Bol, Croatia. My only regret with this place is that it is so damn far from Australia otherwise I would definitely return over and again. If you are after a place with huge natural beauty, friendly locals and fun beach time with the kids then this has to be top of most lists.